When it comes to haircuts, not every trim is a PR. From styles that flop into your eyes, to others that stick uncomfortably to the back of your neck, some styles are more suited to R & R than running hard. But when you find the right cut, it’s a thing of beauty! Your hair stays out of the way so you can focus on your pace. It doesn’t take hours to style. And—finally!—you find yourself buying all the race photos.
We spoke with experienced runners and stylists to get their recommendations for runner-friendly haircuts in a variety of lengths and styles. Read on to find the do that’s right for you.
Runner do: Long Blunt Cut
Why we love it: After years of layers, layers, layers, this new again style looks fresh and feminine. “The long blunt cut is great for runners and it’s actually the cut I have right now,” says marathoner Amy Penna, stylist and chief operating officer at SalonCapri in Boston. This look withstands frequent washing and exposure to the elements during long runs: “A blunt cut has fewer wispy ends, so there’s less of a chance of breakage,” she says.
How to wear it on a run: “I’m loving two French braids, or a very high bun. For the bun, I use one hair tie for a high pony, and then wrap the hair with the second tie, for the bun,” says Penna. A combo of a braided bun is pretty too, or opt for that #fitspo fave: the fishtail braid.
Runner do: Lob
Why we love it: The long bob channels a posh vibe—even if you live in leggings. It’s also a cut that works equally well for straight or curly hair, says Ana Paula Costa, a marathon runner and senior stylist at Devachan Salon in New York City. She says to make sure it hits just above your shoulders, so it’s “long enough to allow you to put up your hair, but short enough to wash and go.”
How to wear it on the run: Before a workout, apply a deep treatment masque to dry, curly hair to protect it from sun and wind, says Costa, who recommends DevaCurl’s Heaven in Hair. “If you’re putting your hair up, keep it loose to allow the hair to breathe without disturbing the natural motion of your curls. Try a loose pony or use a clip,” she suggests. For straight hair, consider braids.
Runner Do: Pixie
Why we love it: An under-appreciated choice, this short cut is more wearable than you might think, says Caroline Muller, a fun-run enthusiast and stylist with Studio B in Cranston, R.I. “The pixie really is a beautiful cut that can be adjusted to look wonderful on everyone,” she says. What’s not to love? It’s short and sweet, stays out of your face and doesn’t require hours of styling.
How to wear it on the run: Wear a fabric headband, or pin back any fly-aways with bobby pins. “You can add multiple bobby pins in vibrant colors—I buy my bright ones from H&M—to brighten and differentiate your look,” suggests Muller.
Runner Do: Short Afro
Why we love it: “A great style that is currently on-trend and runner-friendly is the short ’fro. It’s easy to maintain and the bigger, the more fun,” says curly hair specialist Costa, who touts the freedom of natural, non–chemically treated hair. “I always recommend going the natural, relaxer-free route,” she adds.
How to wear it on the run: If it’s short enough to stay out of your face, you’re good to go! Otherwise, use a soft headband or Bu to keep it o of your forehead and cheeks. Costa recommends refreshing your curls and minimizing post-run frizz with a couple spritzes of hydrating mist.
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Runner Do: Asymmetrical Bob
Why we love it: A hipster favorite, this longer-in-front-shorter-in-back bob channels an edgy, street-savvy style and it only looks high-maintenance. “It’s a great option for runners, because it is lightweight and easy to style,” says Muller.
How to wear it on the run: “If you went for a shorter cut, I would recommend pulling the front section into a half ponytail, which will allow you to run without distractions. This look also allows for minimal creases and lets you style it easily post-run: Just add dry shampoo or baby powder,” says Muller. For longer asymmetrical cuts, a low-to-mid pony is a sleek workout look.
Long Hair, Don’t Care
For extra-long strands, standard-issue buns and ponytails may not be an option. Avid runner Jayme Lamm, who lives in hot, humid Houston, keeps her hair in a topknot for non-cardio workouts, but finds it won’t stay put during runs. “I can’t run in a bun, because my hair is so heavy and long that, piece by piece, strands fall out until I have to stop running and fi x it,” she explains. Ponytails can be equally frustrating: “Sometimes on longer runs, the ponytail itself is too long and literally wraps around a necklace, my headphone cord or tank top straps, which takes my focus o my running.”
Lamm, who blogs at TheBlondeSide.com, says her best runner do is a combo pony-braid, “So two ponytail holders: one up top to hold the ponytail and the second one to hold the end of the braid.” This style has the added benefit of staying tangle-free and not sticking to her neck. Two other ideas for super-long hair: Wear a running-specific headband for a brunch-ready look or a cap for the added benefit of sun protection.