Amish follicle facts


photo:  Randall Persing

Amish women let their hair grow from birth.

If you ever catch an Amish female with her hair down, the sheer length of it can be surprising.

In fact, with locks often reaching well past waist-length, the typical Amish head-covering seems to somehow bend the laws of physics.  Where is their room for it all up there?

A quick diversion: A follicle produces about 20 hairs over a lifetime. The typical hair will grow to around two or three feet in length before falling out.  But the ultimate ‘max-length’ depends on the individual.  The world length record-holder is a Chinese woman by the name of Xie Quiping.  Seems she last cut her 18-foot-plus mane in 1973.

When an outsider comes around, the covering-less Amish woman usually acts a bit embarrassed, and jets off to grab it.

The official basis for the ‘scissors-shall-not-touch-these-locks’ edict, as for much of Amish custom, is Biblical.


photo:  Bill Coleman

And what about the guys?  Dads and moms shear their boys with Germanic efficiency, sitting them down outside on the porch or on a chair, lining them up and running them through.

Wives do husbands likewise.  There are a couple of different styles popular among males.  The no-nonsense dutch-boy/bowl is one, while others like to keep the hair trimmed clean off the forehead, bang-less.

Swartzentruber and more conservative Amish wear the colonial ‘William-Penn’ cut, with much longer sides covering the ears.

Amish proscriptions on hair may be biblically-based, but the implications are wholly practical.  With no trips to the salon, perms, trims, dye jobs, extensions and the like, just think of how much more cash that adds up to over a lifetime.

Especially when you might be talking a dozen (or more) hairy heads in a family.

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    1. Marlene

      Amish female hair rules

      Scripture says that a woman’s hair is her glory. A woman’s husband is the only one who is privy to this view. Many other conservative religions have similar beliefs about women’s hair.

      1. jean selman

        long hair

        the idea of never cutting hair may be Biblical in nature…but that was of the Mosaic law. The law of the gospel has no such law…this is basically become tradition…..I think it’s lovely…until the lady really begins to be bothered by its length…I admire all these women. I am not Amish but I too cover.,.. I am finding one thing out…..washing…tending to hair is an extreme hardship the longer it gets…jean

        1. It is in New testament

          1 Corinthians 11:6 ESV
          For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head

          Why did you say it was in the old law?

    2. Brittany

      I know of some Amish women who do actually trim the dead ends off their hair to keep it healthy. But of course, some don’t =]

    3. Sadie

      No Salon / Hair Change


      I was doing a Google search for head coverings, and came across this article. As it’s from 2007, I’ve never seen it because I didn’t even know about this site then!

      I just *had* to add, no, no salon trips for Amish women to get all sorts of things done to their hair. But, if a woman ( sadly ) had to undergo chemotherapy, she might be in for a surprise when her hair would grow back.

      I know this from personal ( non-Amish ) experience….

      My ( then ) long, stick-straight, ash blonde hair, “fine” ( as in thickness ) hair that would not even hold a hairsprayed-curl, well, it all fell out when I underwent chemotherapy treatments in early 2011. Did you know, when your hair begins to fall out that way, it itches? Oh, well, your *scalp* itches and if there is any positive in losing your hair, it’s those few “itchy” days; it’s like getting to scratch a mosquito bite without worrying about making it worse — it feels wonderful! *laughs* I have wondered since then whether animals, when shedding, get that same itchy feeling, also.

      Once my chemotherapy ended, I assumed my hair would grow right back in, looking the same as it always had. I had a wig — I think I wore it twice; scarves are so much more comfortable!

      Well, my hair grows *fast* and it always has. As I write this today — with no salon help, either — I now have dark brown, thick, wavy hair, with natural blonde and reddish highlights! It reaches a bit more than halfway down my back. What a surprise that change was!

      So, just thinking — I wonder if any Amish women have had similar hair changes following chemo; I think that would surprise the people around them quite a lot if they did!

      If I were Amish and had to put my hair up under a prayer kapp, I can’t imagine how many hairpins it would take now, let alone when it gets even longer! I do like my coverings, because I can wear them with my hair up, down, braided, in a ponytail, or anything in between. *grins*

    4. Denise

      What if...

      What if a woman cannot grow her hair long? My own hair is naturally baby fine and doesn’t grow past my shoulders and even then it would look scraggly so I keep it a bit shorter so it’s healthy. That’s what brought me here but I cannot find the answer anywhere.

      1. Stephanie Cote

        Fine hair

        In the Bible it just has to be uncut. It’s not that it’s long or short. It says to be uncut or shorn. So if you trim you might as well shave it. Hair is your glory whether it be long or short it just has to be uncut. There is protection from the angels if your hair is uncut.