El Rubio with a painfully awkward stage hair cut. "How To Deal With Awkward Stage Hair" overlaid.

The Uncomfortable Truth About Awkward Stage Hair

In Advocate, Educate by El Rubio352 Comments

You’re In It

Awkward stage hair. You’ve had enough. You’re cutting it off.

You have awkward stage hair and you’re convinced it looks awful. You feel weird, sloppy, unprofessional, and you don’t know what the hell to do with it. You get comments from people, even your mom, telling you your hair looks bad and well-meaning advice that “you should just cut it honey.”

They mean well, but they don’t understand. They’re thinking short-term, not big picture. You’ve got a date with destiny and you need to look good for it. What they don’t realize is your shoulders are throwing a party and they’re waiting for your hair to arrive.

Your shoulders are throwing a party and they’re waiting for your hair to arrive.
- Fact

Key Takeaways

  • Embrace the Journey: Understand the awkward stage as a natural part of growing long hair.
  • Style Smartly: Explore hats, headbands, and hairstyles to manage unruly lengths.
  • Psychological Boost: Stay motivated with positive self-talk and goal-setting.
  • Maintenance Tips: Regular trims and proper hair care can ease the transition.
  • Patience Pays Off: Commit to the growth process for the reward of long, healthy hair.

Yet, with every naysayer and glance in the mirror, doubt creeps in, as slowly as your awkward length hair seems to be growing. You question your resolve, and each day a fresh, clean haircut sounds ever-more enticing.

Well friend, we’re here for you. The inspiration and education you need to power through your awkward stage hair is right here.

Man with awkward stage hair looking stressed

Define Awkward Hair Length

The awkward stage can take many shapes and forms, but the generally accepted definition for awkward length hair is from the point when it starts to look like you need a haircut until the time you can tie it up.

It starts when you start to look shaggy, not so neat and tidy, a little unkempt. When the first person politely asks when you’re getting a haircut.

It’s over when you can tie up all your hair—front, back and sides—into a high ball or other sick mens long hairstyles.

Man with awkward stage hair about to have a trim

Where Long Hair Dreams Die

At some point in life you become curious. You ask yourself, “what would I look like with long hair? What if I could do that thing in the water where you whip your hair back, or the slow jog beach exit? What if I could tie it up like that?”

Most guys give it a try somewhere between high school and college. It starts as a novelty, driven by curiosity. Which is all well and good until awkward stage hair arrives, when your last clean cut is a distant memory. It becomes noticeable. Conspicuous. Uncomfortable.

You effectively conceal it with hats and beanies, but sooner or later you’ll be exposed.

It might be a business meeting, a wedding, or some formal affair where a hat doesn’t fly, and that despicable rag on your head is revealed for all the world to see. You have full-blown awkward stage hair, and you’re a shaggy, dogged-looking scoundrel.

That’s when they start chiming in. Shaking your confidence. Doubt grows strong within you. It’s a crucible moment.

Man with awkward stage hair with a baseball hat

“That’s it. I’m a dignified man. Enough is enough,” you tell yourself as you slink off to the barber shop.

“Long time no see!” your barber greets you, all smiles.

You make small talk to drown out the voice on your shoulders screaming don’t do it, until the scissors have done irreversible damage and your promising youthful strands lie shorn and mutilated, dead on the barber shop floor.

It stings for a fleeting moment, but you walk out feeling fresh and clean, looking sharp, and the voice is quieted. “I’ll let it grow out next time, when I don’t have _____ to attend,” you console yourself, as your longhair dreams are swept into a dust pan and discarded unceremoniously.

But you’re only lying to yourself. And this is why curiosity alone won’t carry most men to the promised land.

The Center For
Awkward Stage Hair
Visit The Center

Anyone Can Have Short Hair

Most men never make it through awkward stage hair. Because while short hair is instantaneous and easy, long hair takes time, and there’s no way around it. You can't get it overnight. It’s not something you can run out and pick up at the store.

When you want a tattoo, you sit through a few hours of pain, let it heal for a few days and you’re done. To get in the beard club it’ll take a few months, but there’s no discernable stage that’s difficult to make it through. There’s little discomfort.

Money cannot buy it. You cannot steal, inherit, or borrow it. It can only be earned through dedication and commitment.

To get long hair you’ve gotta pay your dues. It’s like physical fitness in that regard: money cannot buy it. You cannot steal, inherit, or borrow it. It can only be earned through dedication and commitment.

That’s why when you see another guy with long hair, there are certain things you know about him. You know he’s been through awkward stage hair, which demonstrates to some degree he doesn’t care what other people think. You know he was willing to bear the temporary discomfort and complete his long hair journey. And he’s probably not a banker.

Man with awkward stage hair looking surprised

How Long Must I Suffer With Awkward Length Hair?

There’s a goal on the horizon: when you can tie it up, you've arrived. But how long will it take? It depends on where you start, how fast your hair grows, and how you take care of it.
Realistically, it will take at least 18 months to get completely free and clear of awkward stage hair.

Most people’s hair grows about a half inch per month. If your hair needs to be at least six inches to tie it up, that puts you at a minimum of one year. Realistically, it will take at least 18 months to get completely free and clear of awkward stage hair.

While you cannot actually make your hair grow faster, there are things you can do to promote faster growth: keep it healthy and strong, avoid breakage, and keep yourself in good health. But no matter what you do, it’s a waiting game.

Man with awkward stage hair looking at the camera

Tactics For Dealing With Awkward Hair Length

Hats & Headwear

The easiest and most obvious method is wearing a hat or a beanie to disguise your awkwardness, and knowing how to use a headband for awkward stage hair is a must. But as we know, these aren’t always acceptable and can’t be relied upon in more formal settings.

Styling Awkward Length Hair

There’s a few things you can try. Parting it can be risky, but worth a shot. You can comb it forward and straight down, but you might look like Lloyd Christmas.

You can slick it straight back, which will require a powerful bonding agent, but using products is a slippery slope with awkward stage hair. It starts to look like you’re trying too hard, like this is actually your intended style, rather than a desperate means to an end.

That’s not even getting into curly hair in the awkward stage.

The safest bet is simply going with a “messy look.” It shows you’re not trying too hard, that this is intentional. It says, “yes, my hair is messy as hell and I’m comfortable with that.” And that portrays confidence.

See these and more, and how to do them in Awkward Stage Hairstyles. Whatever you try, it’s never a bad idea to brush it, comb it, and keep it tidy.

Trimming In The Awkward Stage


It’s a good idea to trim your hair in the awkward phase, which can help set you up for success growing long hair. Aim to get it cleaned up around the ears and the neck—however, be cautious with any foray into a barber shop or salon; your resolve may be tested.

It’s all covered in, Should You Cut In The Awkward Stage?

Growing Facial Hair

Not every guy can grow facial hair, but this can help if you’re so endowed. Not only will it take some attention off your awkward stage hair, but it tends to balance the face—in fact we’ve found in our research that a clear majority of longhairs also wear facial hair. Turns out longhairs and beardsmen may be in different clubs, but they go to the same bars.
“Turns out longhairs and beardsmen may be in different clubs, but they go to the same bars.”

Timing It

Opportune timing can help mitigate the four awkward stage resistance points. Plan your awkward stage hair around a break, holiday, or vacation, where you won’t have business or formal nonsense with expectations for your appearance.

The Naysayers


Part of a concrete long hair gameplan is responding to negative comments about your hair—and there will be plenty.

First of all, it’s your hair. But it can be helpful to have a prepared statement.

One such response is, “I’m growing long hair to donate it to charity.” This will stop most naysayers in their tracks, but shouldn’t be used cheaply. If you use this to deflect negative comments, you must do so with intent and sincerity.

Beyond that, a confident statement of fact that you’re growing long hair and this is simply part of the journey will serve you well.

The Center For
Awkward Stage Hair
Visit The Center

Other Men’s Awkward Stage Hair Journeys

In his groundbreaking 3-part series, Andy documents his pilgrimage to long hair, starting with Early Phase Awkward Stage Hair, painfully progressing to Mid Phase Awkward Stage Hair, and mercifully concluding with Late Phase Awkward Stage Hair.
After getting to know him in An Awkward Interview With An Awkward Guy In The Awkward Stage, El Gnarstavo reveals how he ultimately persevered.

After cutting and donating his hair to charity, the Co-Founder and President of The Longhairs vlogs his entire odyssey from awkward stage hair to a long flowing mane in his Grow With Moreno series.

And there's an enormous volume of additional awkward stage hair content right over here.

If Not Now…When?

You're growing it out, and you're not turning back. However you mitigate the situation, you must overcome awkward stage hair.

It will be a test of resolve, character and confidence…but you don’t have to do it alone. When you’re ready to get serious, visit The Center For Awkward Stage Hair.

Until then, be proud. Claim it. Rock the shit out of it, and power through the awkward stage with courage and commitment. The Longhairs are waiting for you on the other side.

The Center For
Awkward Stage Hair
The definitive and unequivocal resource for growing long hair and overcoming the awkward stage, based on the experience of thousands of men who’ve made it through.


What is the 'awkward stage' in hair growth?
It's the period when hair is too long to be short and too short to be long, often looking unruly and hard to style.

How long does the awkward stage last?
Typically, it lasts for a few months to a year, depending on hair growth rate and personal hair goals.

Can I speed up my hair growth during this stage?
While you can't significantly speed up growth, maintaining a healthy diet and proper hair care can promote optimal growth.

What are the best ways to style hair during the awkward stage?
Hats, headbands, and light styling products can help manage hair during this phase. Experiment with different styles to find what works for you.

Should I get my hair cut while growing it out?
Occasional trims can keep your hair healthy and manageable without significantly slowing growth.