Our Southern Grandmothers Would Not Approve Of This Popular 2023 Hair Trend

Were you allowed to leave the house with wet hair?

Two women gossiping in studio vintage photo

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For the past couple of years, the “wet hair look” has been a mainstay of red carpet beauty for celebrities, embraced by everyone from model Hailey Bieber to actress Zendaya; and the hair trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The "wet hair look" is exactly what it sounds like—a coif that’s styled to look damp. Some celebrities have opted for subtler takes on the trend, with hair pulled into modern, slicked-back buns, while others have leaned into more on-the-nose interpretations, with tousled hair that looks like they just emerged from the ocean. But while our Southern grandmothers may be fully on board with some of our favorite current beauty trends, like "glazed donut nails," we’d be willing to bet that they would absolutely loathe the damp-looking hairdo. 

“My Southern grandmother couldn't stand when I left the house with even slightly wet hair,” recalls Senior Social Media Editor Brennan Long with a laugh.

For some Southern women, having dry locks is a matter of good manners. Growing up, if my friend’s mother answered the door with a damp bob, she’d follow up her gracious welcome with an immediate, “I’m so sorry to offend you with my wet hair.” I, of course, was not distressed in the least, especially given that I often spent summer afternoons at her house swimming off the dock and resembled something of a swamp creature by the time I left.

“I was not allowed to go to bed with wet hair, let alone go outside with it like that,” notes Editorial Fellow Mary Alice Russell. “Whenever I would try, my mother would give me this sort of look that without words told me, ‘You will regret this.’ If my hair somehow did end up being wet before church (Lord help me) or school, it would end up in a very tight bun to ensure no one knew it was wet.”

For other Southern women, dry hair is essential to the preservation of your health. “My mom and grandmother would always tell me I was going to catch a cold if I left the house with wet hair—even though we lived in Mobile, Alabama, where the chances of that based on temperature are highly unlikely,” says Associate Social Media Editor Mary Shannon Hodes. 

And, of course, there are those who hold a deep conviction that the state of your hair reveals something about who raised you. “My grandma told me I would ‘catch my death of cold,’” remembers Senior Staff Writer Meghan Overdeep. “But if the risk of death-by-cold didn't [convince me to dry my strands], she would tell me that going out with wet hair made me look like a ‘ragamuffin’ with nobody at home who loved me.”

So while we may be tempted to try one of the year’s most popular haircuts or experiment with one of 2023’s most covetable hair colors, we probably won’t be entertaining the damp ‘do—at least not when we’re going to see Grandma.

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