Competitive ballroom hair is the polish on top of gorgeous dancing and a great costume. Messy hair on the competition floor tends to draw attention in the worst way possible. In comparison to other couples on the floor, it can come off as sloppy and unfinished. On the comp floor, you want to present the judges with the full package: technique and artistry as well as the presentational details like costuming and hair. For all, hair is an important detail. It really does finish off the look. You don’t have to go all out and create an elaborate sculpture–let’s leave that to the pros–but you can easily do a tidy look.
For men, break out that comb and some hair gel. Even if you have short hair, it needs to look tidy and put together. The bedhead look does not fly regardless of hair length. If you have longer hair, slick it back in a low ponytail or up in a bun.
Ladies have more options, depending on hair length, dance style, and other factors. Remember that hair should be out of the eyes and face. After all, not only did you spend time applying ballroom makeup, but hair in the face can be distracting to you, your partner, the judges, and the audience. Play it safe and let people see your face. As a general rule, a tidy bun is almost always a safe bet with many options: high, low, braids, etc. Best of all, the bun is easy to transition between dance styles for those packed comp days. Note that in standard, the bun is the more traditional hairstyle.
Latin and rhythm dances have a little more leeway with regards to hair. Again, there is no hair in the face but it doesn’t have to be slicked up in a bun. Low ponytails, braids, and even a half-way up hairstyle are seen on the latin/rhythm floor. Movement of the hair, like fringe on a costume, can help emphasize movement. Keep in mind, however, that you are dancing with someone–fast turns, unsecured braids, and your partner’s anticipating face don’t tend to make the best combination.