Having read a lot of fanfiction, I just realized that the Potion Master's hair has never been described in a flattering manner. The phrase greasy-haired has been used to describe Severus Snape in most fanfiction where Snape is portrayed as an antagonist.

Does this common theme have an origin in canon?

The following are a few examples of such fanfic instances for your perusal.

"I shall take your wisdom into consideration," Severus said neutrally.

"Also, try a different brand of hair shampoo."

A wry grin crossed Severus's face, and Harry thought it might have been, for the first time, that man's true smile. "Drop dead, Potter."

-Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

  • 1
    Have you actually read the canon books?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 16:17
  • @Randal Of course, why do you ask?
    – Simpleton
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 16:19
  • 3
    I just found it strange that you noticed frequent descriptions of his hair in fanfiction and not the equally frequent descriptions in the canon.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 16:21
  • @Rand It's been a long time since I read the canon books... On the other hand, I read fanfic more frequently.
    – Simpleton
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


JKR is in the habit of giving readers a pen portrait of each character once per book, including a physical description. These tend to be fairly repetitive.

Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose and sallow skin.

HP and the Philosopher's Stone


Harry spun around. There, his black robes rippling in a cold breeze, stood Severus Snape. He was a thin man with sallow skin, a hooked nose and greasy, shoulder-length black hair, and at this moment, he was smiling in a way that told Harry he and Ron were in very deep trouble.

HP and the Chamber of Secrets


Snape approached their table, stared down his hooked nose at the roots, then gave Ron an unpleasant smile from beneath his long, greasy black hair.

HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban

etc etc

  • This is true, but to me does not answer the question. There is no comparison of his hairstyle to that of other witches and wizards
    – Ginge
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 22:42
  • @Ginge - The word greasy-haired cannot possibly indicate a good hairstyle
    – Simpleton
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 17:07
  • That refers to the look of the hair, not the style. One could use a lot of hair gel, which would make their hair look greasy, while still having an amazing hairstyle.
    – Ginge
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 17:13

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