Is Curly Hair Unprofessional?

Curly hair and the workplace

In 2022, we may hope that experience, talent, and suitability play the biggest part in helping us secure a new job or advance our careers, but as many Latina and African American women will have experienced firsthand, hairstyle can be a contributing factor, too. Unfortunately, curly hair isn't always considered professional hair. It's such a common problem that there's even a Reddit thread about what curly girls do for job interviews. So, can you afford to wear your hair in its natural state at the office? Read on to find out.

How Curly Hair Affects Employability

How curly hair affects employability

A 2020 study conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found a bias against Black women with natural hairstyles in job recruitment compared with Black women with straightened hair and White women with curly or straight hair. Unfortunately, there’s no controlling bias when it comes to interviewers, and appearance can often matter, regardless of ethnicity. However, new laws being passed in states across the country will soon make it illegal to discriminate against prospective employees based on hair style or texture.

Social media is full of career-driven influencers offering advice to other women trying to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder. They often have a similar look, sharp clothes, and straight hair. Women in a male-dominated job market are already at a disadvantage without having to worry about the hair they were born with affecting their chances at landing their dream job, or any job for that matter.

Unfortunately, curly hair is still seen by some members of the workforce as unprofessional and even wild. And even people with curly hair will be quick to admit that frizzy, messy, and dry curls aren’t the most professional look, especially when you have those renegade strands and flyaways adding to your unkempt appearance.

What's Being Done About It?

Is curly hair perceived as unprofessional?

Introduced in 1964, Title VII prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, national origin, religion and sex. But, as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business’ study found nearly sixty years later, this law alone isn’t enough to protect would-be employees from bias. Enter lawmakers in California, who created The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair.” This game-changing act was passed into Golden State law in 2019 and prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture in the workplace and public schools. It's designed to protect people who rock braids, twists, knots, and other "unprofessional" styles. Since the law passed in California; Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey have all passed The CROWN Act, too, making it clear that natural hair is becoming more and more acceptable in the workplace. Additionally, other states like Illinois, Virginia, Washington and Maryland have amended discrimination laws to protect natural hairstyles. The CROWN Act passed the House of Representatives in March, 2022 and is expected to be approved by the Senate this year.

How Your Curls can Wow an Interviewer

How Your Curls can Wow an Interviewer

It’s time for curls to help candidates stand out rather than holding them back. It’s time for curls to show what they can do. Here are a few tips to get your curls looking and acting their best at the job interview or in the workplace:

  • Avoid Wet Hair: Letting curly hair air dry is an age-old tip to get ringlets looking their best. Be sure to leave enough time before your interview for this process to complete, because curly hair or not, wet hair isn’t a professional look.
  • Don’t Let Frizz Win: Need a frizz-free guarantee for your next interview? Lu's got your back! Every hair care product we make features Impossible Keratin by Lu, a patented formula that improves moisture retention, which reduces frizz caused by humidity. And if you need more control over your curls, our Control Shampoo and Conditioner will get you out of the shower and ready to conquer the world. Eliminate flyaways and frizzy strands, and show your boss who's boss with a perfectly put together 'do.
  • Use Styling Cream: Use our Free To Be Styling Cream while your hair is still damp to lock in your hair’s bounce and let your curly hair stand out from the crowd.

And if they still don’t want to employ you, their loss is another company’s gain!

The Final Word on Curls in the Workplace

The Final Word on Curls in the Workplace

Is a curly style unprofessional? The right answer is, it shouldn't be. Unfortunately, in real life, many people admit that it can be. But there are ways to wear your curls in a more polished, professional way. Just as bedhead might have your coworkers talking behind your back, a curly style that looks like you got right out of bed and into the office won't do you any favors. Rock your natural look with confidence, add a dash of professional style, and let your smarts, personality, grit, and diligence lead the way in your career.

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