Do nuns have to cut their hair? (why do nuns shave their hair?)

As a theologian and devout Christian, I take an interest in the religious practices of different Christian groups. The nuns especially intrigued me when I discovered that they cover their heads for various reasons. I decided to research whether nuns are allowed to have long hair and visited a Catholic Church. I interacted with a couple of nuns and learned much about their beliefs on hair. Last month, as I was teaching my college theology class on tonsure, one of my students asked me whether nuns are forced to cut their hair. Another wanted to know whether all nuns have short hair. Having interacted with them from the Catholic Church, I had all the right answers at my fingertips. So, do nuns have to cut their hair?

It depends on the religious order the nun joins. In some religious orders, nuns have to cut their hair as a sign of devotion to God. However, a few religious orders allow their nuns to keep long hair. A nun with long hair has to cover it with a veil. Though haircutting has been practiced for many years among nuns, the Catholic Church stopped considering it a requirement after the 1960s.

In this article, I invite you to join me as we examine why nuns shave their hair. Keep reading to find out whether nuns have regular haircuts, whether they dye their hair, and much more!

Why Do Nuns Shave Their Heads?

Nuns in different religious orders shave their heads to emulate Jesus, who they believe had short hair when he lived on earth. They also shave their heads to show their total commitment to God.

When a nun shaves her head, it is believed to signify that she is ready to leave behind earthly pleasures like vanity. It shows that the nun is ready to give up her femininity and beauty for the greater good. Shaving the head for religious beliefs is referred to as tonsure, and it is believed to be a sign of humility. Some religious orders imply that long hair may distract their nuns from their calling.

Do Nuns Get Regular Haircuts?

why do nuns shave their hair?
Do Nuns Get Regular Haircuts? Image source: Pixabay

Yes. In most religious orders where cutting hair is required, the nuns get regular haircuts. Some nuns cut each other’s hair occasionally, while others are cut by their superior. A few get regular haircuts from local hairdressers. Additionally, some religious orders also have a haircutting ceremony at different times. However, not all nuns cut their hair.

How short should a nun’s hair be?

The religious orders that ask the nuns to cut their hair do not specify how short it should be. While some nuns keep their hair short, some only cut a few inches. The nuns shave their heads to the point that hair will not interfere with wearing the veil. Those who do not cut much of their hair wrap it into a bun underneath the veil and habit to make it less visible. As long as the hair does not prevent a nun from her service to the community, hair length is not considered.

Does Your Hair Have To Be Long To Be A Carmelite Nun?

No. Carmelite nuns keep their hair short, wear the habit, and cover their heads. Therefore, if you have long hair and want to be a Carmelite Nun, you should be willing to cut it. The Carmelite nuns believe that maintaining short hair helps save time since one does not have to keep combing it. They also believe that it is easier to manage compared to long hair.

Carmelite nuns also follow other strict rules. For instance, they are not allowed to have mirrors to admire themselves.

Do Sisters Shave Their Hair?

Do nuns have to cut their hair?
Do Sisters Shave Their Hair? Image source: Pixabay

Some groups encourage sisters to shave their hair together. The sisters practicing tonsure believe it keeps their skin healthy and smooth since the lack of hair means no dirt or sweat trapped in the scalp will irritate. However, note that not all sisters in the modern day shave their hair. Therefore, this practice depends on the group one is in and personal preference.

Can nuns dye their hair?

Most religious orders do not allow hair dyeing since it is believed to be worldly. They discourage nuns from focusing on outward beauty practices like dyeing their hair and tell them to cover their heads at all times in public and during prayer. While some communities may be okay with allowing nuns to have long hair, they draw the line at hair coloring. The nuns are encouraged to be uniform and avoid things that may stand out, such as dyeing their hair. Dyeing the hair is discouraged since it draws people’s attention.

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