Why Do Surfers Have Long Hair? (+5 Tips for Long-Haired Surfers)

Robert Elgar

When we think of a surfer, the image that pops into our minds is usually long blonde hair and tanned skin.

It almost seems as though most surfers have long hair, but why is this?

Surfers tend to have long hair, not because of its functionality, but because of historical stereotypes.

However, long hair is not ideal for surfing, which is why you will find most pro surfers keep their hair short.

Below we will take a look at how to deal with long hair as a surfer, what benefits it could entail, and why surfers seem to have long hair.

Do Most Surfers Have Long Hair?

When we speak about surfers having long hair it is usually about male surfers.

This is simply because society has normalized women with long hair and males with short hair.

The surfing world is abundant with men that have long hair, although they do not make up the majority of the surfing community.

There are approximately 17-35 million surfers worldwide. Of these surfers, most will have jobs and careers outside of the surfing world.

According to studies done in California, the highest concentrated job for surfers is in the health sector.

When last did you see a male doctor or nurse with long hair?

Taking this into account, and further considering all the institutions that require men to have short hair, it is easy to see that most surfers actually have short hair.

The Reason Why Surfers Have Long Hair

As stated above, some surfers have long hair, not because it benefits them, but more because of a stereotype that revolves around extreme sports such as surfing.

Surfing in the past, and to an extent in the present, is seen as a rebel sport.

An activity for those who do not go to work or school, but simply spend their days at the beach in the sunshine, playing in the ocean.

This, although true to an extent, is of course not the entire story.

However, surfers who lived this lifestyle tended to have long, salty, and curly hair.

The long hair represented a sense of freedom and was a demonstration of how surfers do not conform to the norms of society.

Although males with long hair are more acceptable nowadays, the stereotype and the “surfer look” remain the same.

Are There Any Benefits of Having Long Hair as a Surfer?

Ironically, long hair does not bring any real benefits to surfers, and in most cases can be more disruptive than helpful.

Constantly needing to move your hair out of your eyes and accidentally putting your hands on your long hair when trying to stand up are regular occurrences.

That being said, having long hair as a surfer is not an entire loss.

One major benefit that having long hair as a surfer could have is added protection from the sun.

Even if you wear a wetsuit, your neck and face will be exposed. Long hair can protect the back of your neck which is otherwise constantly pointing to the sky and the open sun.

Another side benefit of long hair as a surfer is that it may help you fit into the surfing community.

As you “look like a surfer”, it might be easier for you to integrate yourself into a new surf spot with new locals, although this is in no way guaranteed.

What Do You Do With Long Hair When Surfing?

There are only two options when dealing with long hair and surfing. You either tie it up or leave it down.

Most surfers will choose to tie their hair up before hitting the waves as it prevents it from ending up in their eyes.

One of the best methods of dealing with your hair while surfing is to braid it and tie it at the end with a small hair tie to prevent it from falling apart.

Doing this will secure your hair in a single piece which means there is less chance it will get in the way.

If you have bushy, curly hair or dreadlocks, this method does not work as well, in which case tying your hair in a way that it will remain secure is the best option.

Is It Harder to Keep Long Hair Healthy As a Surfer?

Long hair is harder to look after than short hair. This is true at all times, and when spending a lot of time in the ocean, the task becomes even harder.

Salt attracts water and is therefore dehydrating. Spending a long time in the ocean will dry out both your skin and your hair.

Dealing with salt water as a surfer is simply part of the sport, but for those that are trying to maintain silky, soft long hair, it can become a challenge.

If you are trying to manage long hair like as surfer, you should always shower after a surf.

Not only will this help remove the excess salt from your hair, but will keep your skin softer and help prevent infection from ocean bacteria.

5 Tips for Surfers With Long Hair

Although the majority of surfers may not have long hair, there is still a large part of the surfing community that does.

If you are one of these long-haired surfers, then the following tips may help you find a better way when dealing with it.

1. Tying up Your Hair Encourages Tangling

Tying up your hair before surfing is the best way to keep it out of your face, but will encourage tangling and dreading.

To prevent this, surf with your hair down or tie it into a braid.

2. Experiment With Different Tying Methods

What works for some is different for others. Some surfers never have a problem with leaving their hair down.

Some prefer to braid their hair, while others prefer a bun.

Only you will know what is best for you, and the only way to find that out is by experimenting.

3. Rinse Your Hair After Surfing

Removing the saltwater from your hair as soon as possible is important to keep your hair smooth and healthy. 

Unless you are going for a dry surfer hair look, you should always clean your hair after leaving the ocean.

4. Keep Your Hair Hydrated

Using coconut oil or other natural oils before surfing will insulate your hair and keep the saltwater off of it.

If you do not have any natural oil available, simply wetting your hair with fresh water before going for a surf will create some protection, although not as well as the oils.

5. Avoid Excess Shampoo

Shampoo strips our hair of its natural oils which leads to drying out. This is the reason we use conditioner after shampooing our hair.

As the ocean dries out our hair, over-shampooing it as a surfer will speed up the damage.

Conclusion

Although there is a stereotype that surfers have long hair, this is not as true as it has been in the past. 

With more people around the world experimenting with the sport each year, the diversity of people that surf is increasing.

What was once a rebel sport for the societal outcasts, has become a common practice among all walks of life.

Long hair does not make surfing easier. In fact, most professional surfers have short hair, and this is for a reason.

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