Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and that’s precisely the case when it comes to someone touching their hair. Even the appearance of your hair or your haircut can send non-verbal cues, such as others can assume that well-styled hair means the person wants to be considered attractive and values other people’s approval (via Changing Minds). Former FBI Agent Joe Navarro told InStyle, “Anytime a woman moves her hands to her hair, we are immediately attracted, and we want to see what messages are there.” It is one way to look at it.
You can twirl it, toss it, run your fingers through it or hold it in the back, there are tons of ways you can touch your hair or play with it, and they can all have hidden meanings. According to Body Language Project, playing with hair is a sign of self-grooming or a way to draw attention to oneself in dating. But sometimes, it means more.
This doesn’t mean that everyone playing with their hair is flirtatious. Did you notice how often Meghan Markle played with her hair before getting married? Some people touch or twirl their hair in awkward, social situations when they feel anxious or nervous to calm themselves (via Good Housekeeping). It can be compared to a grown-up version of holding on to your blankie. It is best to also pay attention to other body language signals to confirm what it might actually mean before assuming that anyone touching their hair means they are flirting.
The key to decoding the secret to hair-touching is context
Blanca Cobb, body language expert and author of “Method of the Masters,” told Good Housekeeping, “Context is key when distinguishing a habit from a nonverbal tell.” She added that some people touch their hair when they are (probably) nervous like Meghan Markle, but some people feel their hair during non-stressful situations like reading a book, and in that case, it is just a habit. However, if someone is touching their hair in the middle of an argument, it shows discomfort.
One of the most common reasons someone plays with their hair is to self-soothe as it can be very calming. Still, others might misunderstand it as having a hidden meaning and being more mysterious than it actually is (via The Trust Ambassador). According to Changing Minds, most people perceive someone touching their hair as mainly flirtatious. If the person is feeling their hair while smiling at you or solving a math problem in the library, it can mean two completely different things. Still, it might be best to proceed with caution when it comes to decoding someone else’s hair without being 100% certain.
Kérastase teamed up with a former FBI agent to decode how people use their hair to communicate. They shared that when people tuck their hair behind their ears, it means interest because they are trying to give you their undivided attention (via InStyle).
Originally published at https://www.thelist.com on January 22, 2022.