Do Wives With Long Hair Have Better Sex Lives? Here's What The Research Shows

By now, it’s old news that men like women with long hair. But do the effects run deeper in our sex lives than we thought?

By Alina Clough3 min read
Pexels/Daniel Kondrashin

Long hair gets a lot of press. While it may go in and out of vogue as a hairstyle (and Gen Z is currently dismissing it as “cheugy”) in favor of shorter snips, long locks have managed to stand the test of time. From the Bible saying women’s long hair is their glory to Paul McCartney swooning in the song “Long Haired Lady,” it’s clear there’s something uniquely feminine about letting your hair grow long. Until recently, though, it’s been unclear whether long hair is just a slight aesthetic preference for some men, or a sign of something deeper and more evolutionary. After all, could a hairstyle really affect your relationship?

A new study shows exactly that, specifically when it comes to the bedroom. Researchers at Yonsei University in South Korea wanted to understand more about whether the purported evolutionary benefits of long hair actually translated to increased sexual interest. Scholars have already determined that women’s long hair works as a signal to men, both of their health and reproductive potential, but also in terms of first impressions of attractiveness, as men will rate the same women as more attractive with longer hair. But while men might be more attracted to women with long hair, researchers wanted to understand whether that impacted people’s sex lives, specifically for married couples.

Hairy Pairs

To get to the bottom of this question, Yonsei’s team of evolutionary psychologists studied hundreds of married couples. They then compared the woman’s hair length and the quality of her hair with the frequency of intercourse in her relationship. As it turns out, the results spoke for themselves. As the study states, “The results indicated that women with long and high-quality hair experienced more frequent sexual intercourse with their spouse, as it heightened their husband's perception of their attractiveness and, consequently, intensified their husband's sexual desire towards them.” Predictably, a man’s hair quality and length had no impact on the couple’s sexual frequency.

There are of course plenty of different variables that could be at play here, especially since conservative women are more likely to have longer hair to start with, and we already know that conservatives have better sex. It’s also possible that women who prioritize self-care (and we all know how much upkeep long hair can be) are in healthier marriages, leading them to feel loved, cared for, and supported enough to relax with their husbands when it comes time to get physical. Then again, it could just be that men are such visual creatures, something that’s even visible in their sexual arousal when they’re placed in MRI machines. While women may not be hard wired to appreciate men’s luscious locks, men certainly pay attention to women’s.

Reverse, Reverse

But here’s another thought: What if frequent sex is the cause of great hair, and not just the other way around? Sex can have plenty of benefits for your hair and skin, helping your body to keep both looking in tip-top shape. “Research has shown that sex improves the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize nutrients effectively,” says dermatologic surgeon Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “An increase in those essential vitamins and minerals means healthier hair and stronger nails in the long run.” For couples who are dancing the horizontal tango frequently, it could be the case that wives’ hair is longer and healthier as a result.

Sex has other downstream effects on your looks too. For one, its effects on your stress levels mean that women who are getting it on frequently have lower cortisol. There’s even some emerging evidence that the estrogen released when women reach climax boosts collagen levels naturally, which sounds way more enjoyable than drinking powdered collagen supplements. Finally, the hormonal effects of sex are great for improving sleep quality, which is known to help hair growth. “Often referred to as the cuddle hormone, oxytocin floods the brain when we have sex,” says Nicholas Sieveking, M.D. “This is what gives us that sleepy, relaxed feeling after an orgasm.” Getting enough sleep prevents hair loss by preventing hair follicles from entering their final life stage prematurely, and helps promote healthy hair by promoting the body’s natural production of melatonin, which has been shown to increase hair growth.

On the Chopping Block

Men’s desire for women with long hair hasn’t changed for centuries, but there’s an evolutionary reason that it’s not uncommon to feel social pressure to do a big chop. The pressure can come from fashion trends, which periodically declare long hair as out-of-style, or it can come from more interpersonal pressure. Short hair comes into vogue every so often, usually because of cultural forces. The bob became popular in World War I, for example, when women working as nurses found it more convenient and hygienic. In other eras, it has simply been a fashion statement, often signifying women’s liberation. But if long hair is attractive, then why would other women tell you to cut it off? Well, to put it bluntly, not everyone is a girl’s girl.

New research shows that pressuring other women to cut their hair is often a result of competitiveness, something researchers call “intrasexual competitor manipulation.” In a recent study that asked women to advise hypothetical salon clients on how much hair they should cut off, it was found that women typically recommended the more extreme haircuts to women they thought had similar attractiveness levels. Women were also the most likely to recommend haircuts when they themselves were more competitive, regardless of whether or not any men were present or whether they knew the women, suggesting that for women who want to decrease other women’s attractiveness, it doesn’t make a difference if she’s an immediate threat. In sum, the researchers say, “These data suggest that just like mating, intrasexual competition may be assortative with respect to mate value. They also demonstrate that competitive motives can impact female-female interactions even in scenarios which feature no prospective mates, and are nominally unrelated to mate guarding or mating competition.” With the exception of women who truly just like shorter styles, there’s a good chance that the girl telling you to do something drastic is just not doing you any favors.

Closing Thoughts

It’s important to note that male desirability is just one thing you should take into account when choosing a hairdo. Upkeep, convenience, and aesthetics other than looking good to men are all totally valid reasons to shake it up and try something different. At the end of the day, it’s just hair, and hair grows back. Still, if you’re optimizing for the male gaze, and especially if that involves activities in the bedroom, research shows it’s all about going full Rapunzel. Long hair is good for your sex life, and a healthy sex life is good for your hair.

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