Growing Out Your Hair: How to Survive the Awkward Stages

Did we say awkward stages? Pshh. This advice will transform them into awesome stages.

Man looking at shaved face and beard in mirror.

The timeline of a guy growing out his hair normally goes like this: Perfectly fine short haircut → several equally terrible stages of embarrassing bad hair days → perfectly fine long haircut. Those dreaded stages in between are ultimately the reason most men chop their locks off long before reaching their goal.

To help prevent that, here’s a simple guide, courtesy of hairstylist Natalie Rose Dixon, for surviving awkward-length hair that just won’t do what you want it to.

Thin the Herd

If your hair grows straight out, like you’ve just stuck a fork in an outlet, Dixon recommends having a hairstylist thin it out. “Thinning the hair allows it more room to move and to be styled properly, rather than constantly looking like one giant helmet of hair,” she explains. “Once your hair has been thinned, style it with your preferred product by smoothing down the sides around your ears.”

Get Product Crazy

“If your hair falls forward when in an awkward stage, use a paste or clay to slick it back — apply the product when your hair is 60 percent dry,” Dixon explains. “If your hair naturally falls backward (or is really thin), lightly apply pomade or cream to keep it from looking disheveled.” The latter is primarily meant to prevent flyaways and frizziness.

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Trim the Back

There’s a good chance you’ll end up with a hockey mullet during the growth phase, since hair sprouts lower from the back of the head than it does from the front. To prevent this, Dixon recommends visiting your hairstylist for a trim every four to six months. Just make sure they only trim the back — any unnecessary shearing up front will only prolong the awkward stages.

Call for Backup

If all else fails, an elastic headband worn close to the hairline and high around the nape of the neck will keep your awkward locks out of your face — and keeping the hair out of your face is usually enough motivation to persevere through the awkward phases. It’s an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing. Alternatively, you could skip all of this and hide your not-quite-flowing locks under a hat until they’re to your liking. Hey, whatever gets you from point A to point B.