Long Hair Lab Hack

At the end of my recent glove post I mentioned that I wear my hair down in the lab, and was admonished for doing this (and rightly so). My reason for wearing my hair down to work is pure vanity, I prefer the way I look with my hair down and I’ve also found that wearing my hair in a ponytail all the time leads to a lot of breakages where the elastic goes which makes my hair look quite yuk.

But, what I didn’t mention earlier is that when I am doing ‘wet chemistry’ type activities in the lab I usually do have my hair secured away from my face. I want to share the way that I do this in case there are any other long-haired lab lubbers out there who have the same problems as me, like:

  •          Not carrying hair ties
  •          Not wanting to use rubber bands
  •          Generic laziness
  •          Extreme vanity

OK so here goes. How to secure your hair away from your face with a pen (or pipette):

  1.        Using both hands, sweep your hair into a ponytail
  2.        Keeping the ponytail straight, twist the entire ponytail very tightly (but not so tight that it kinks back on itself) in a clockwise direction
  3.        Coil the twisted ponytail around itself, starting at the base, to form a bun and hold the end with your left hand
  4.        With your right hand, grab a pen and with the pointy end skewer the bun. Start by incorporating some of the non-bun hair (see pic) and push/weave through so you skewer both ‘sides’ of the bun ring. Using some non-bun hair is important as this will help it be weighted correctly and stay secure for longer.

I have used the (clean and disposable!) pipette here mainly to illustrate this point. It’s too long to actually be practical. I find a pen is the perfect length and it’s pretty much hidden when done correctly – see pic at the bottom.


Extra tips

  •          Instructions are for a rightie, if you’re a leftie do it in reverse I guess
  •          Your hair needs to be past shoulder length for this to work
  •          Make sure if you use a pen, that the tip is pointing upwards. If it’s pointing downwards you may end up drawing all over the back of your shirt (yes, I learned this the hard way).
  •          I suspect this might not work with super straight or fine hair.



Flawless execution of pen hair using this pen.


Let me know if you have any lab hair hacks!


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