I had a weird thought the other day.
I stepped onto the scale to weigh myself, and I happened to notice in the mirror that my hair looked especially long and shaggy.
For whatever reason at that moment, I stopped and thought: How much does your hair actually weigh?
Does growing or cutting your hair make a noticeable difference on the scale?
So I decided to find out!
Turns out, if your hair is very long and thick, it might weigh around 2-5 ounces. If you tend to keep your hair shorter than around mid-back length, you won’t even notice a change on the scale at all if it’s a little shorter or longer. When your hair is wet, it will likely weigh more, but it’s almost impossible to estimate the extra water weight accurately.
At the end of the day, hair weight isn’t something I would worry about much when dieting for weight loss or fat loss.
But if you want to dig in with a little more information on how much your hair weighs and how to account for it, read on!
What is hair, anyway? And how much does it weigh?
You might have heard the old notion that hair is just dead skin.
That’s not completely true.
Hair is made up of a protein found in your body called keratin.
Each hair on your head consists of three parts:
- The follicle, which attaches the hair to your skin
- The bulb, where the hair grows from
- And the shaft, which is the actual length of the hair itself
Living cells in the hair bulb divide over and over to form the hair shaft, according to WebMD.
Though these cells are no longer living by the time they reach the shaft, they still receive nourishing hormones and nutrients via the bulb.
Skin, itself, is a little more complicated, though it does contain keratin (as well as collagen) and other compounds.
For our purposes, just remember that hairs are essentially long strands of dead cells. They’re extremely, extremely lightweight — the average hair that’s less than a few inches long weighs less than 1mg on average.
For most people with short to average length hair, all of the hair on their body probably weighs less than a couple of ounces. That’s very, very difficult for a consumer-grade scale to detect with consistency and accuracy.
If you have thick hair down to your butt, you might find it’s slightly heavier — up to 5 ounces or even a little bit more.
(Even dreadlocks, which are extremely thick and dense, don’t weigh that much. I read an account of a man with world-record 62-foot long dreads that only weighed about 3 pounds, total. I read other accounts of people with 10 foot long dreads that only weigh about half a pound.)
Still, you’d only really notice this during weight loss or weight gain if you had a high-grade scale and you lopped up a substantial portion of your very long hair all at once!
How much does wet hair weigh?
Again, this depends dramatically on how long and thick your hair is.
But when you first step out of the shower (or in from the rain — who knows!), your hair is bound to retain a lot of water.
For that matter, water will also pool and stick to your skin in small amounts, as well.
It’s almost impossible to say how much extra weight water will add to your hair.
If you have really long and thick hair, it might weigh a pound or two when it’s completely soaking wet.
Otherwise (for short haired or average length haired people) expect your hair to only weigh a few more ounces, even when it’s drenched.
Your skin might also carry an extra couple of ounces of water if you’re completely fresh out of the shower or bath. But if you’ve dried yourself off at all, the extra weight should be close to negligible.
Overall, I would avoid weighing yourself when you’re really wet or if you’ve just walked out of the shower. The water weight is going to be too variable and hard to predict (especially for you long haired folks), so it’s better to get a more consistent reading when completely dry.
And speaking of getting consistent weigh-in readings…
How to weigh yourself consistently for accuracy
There is a bit of an art and science to weighing yourself properly for the best results.
A lot of people make the mistake of weighing themselves too often and at different times of day, in wildly different circumstances.
So it’s no wonder they think their weight is all over the place!
To get the best possible reading of your true weight, follow these guidelines:
Weigh yourself at the same time every day:
First thing in the morning is best. Why?
Because you’ll almost always have a completely empty stomach. If you can hold off eating until after you’ve gone #2 and weighed yourself, even better!
This will help you get the most consistent results.
Weighing yourself later in the day after you’ve eaten and had something to drink will throw a lot of uncertainty into your scale reading.
Weigh yourself naked:
For consistency’s sake, naked is the best way to go. You can also weigh yourself in just boxers or underwear if you prefer.
But avoid weighing yourself wearing a full outfit and shoes.
Gym shorts and sandals will weigh a lot less than jeans and boots.
You’re not trying to figure out how much your outfit weighs, so better to leave it off until after you’ve weighed in.
Weigh yourself dry:
When it comes to your hair, by now we’ve established that it’s not making that big of a difference on the scale.
Unless you go from hair down to your butt to a buzzcut overnight, you won’t see any change or fluctuation in the scale just because you trimmed it up a little (or it grew a tiny bit).
Your weight will fluctuate by a pound, or even several pounds, on any given day (this is especially true for women) depending on weight loss, weight gain, bloating, food fullness, and more. One or two ounces of hair really won’t make a difference!
I would, however, recommend weighing yourself dry — maybe right before you get in the shower. Soaking wet long hair could potentially throw off your reading by a pound or so.
Don’t weigh yourself every day:
You’ll find that your day to day weigh fluctuates a LOT.
You might be up or down 2 pounds, easily, just depending on what you ate the day before and how bloated you are.
Frustratingly, the fluctuation may not even have anything to do with actual fat gain or fat loss!
I like to weigh myself 3x per week, right before I go to the gym on workout days.
But you may see even better results from twice a week or even just weighing yourself once per week!
You’re looking for a clear trend and you don’t want to be distracted by the day to day fluctuations.
I wouldn’t worry a whole lot about how much your hair weighs when you’re dieting for fat loss.
Even if it’s REALLY long, it still probably only weighs a few ounces dry.
And besides, do you really care if you actually weigh 132.2 pounds versus 132.0?
If you’re looking to lose fat and get toned, it doesn’t really matter what the number on the scale says. Sure, you can cut your long hair off and bring the number down by a fraction of a pound, but it won’t change your bodyfat percentage or physique.
My best advice for getting lean and toned? Eat in a small calorie deficit every day, get lots of protein, and strength train.
Weigh yourself just a few times per week to track overall progress, but don’t get hung up on the day to day variance of minutiae like how much weight your hair is adding.
Let me know below how much your hair weighs if you keep it long. I keep mine short so I don’t have any good personal data to go on, just research. I’m interested to hear from you!