Awkward Stage With Andy, Part I

In Educate by Andy Watson18 Comments

Early Phase Awkward Stage Hair

Instant Eyeball Shred

I'm Andy. I can almost say I kinda have long hair now. I recently struggled through early phase awkward stage hair and have finally punched through to the other side.

That doesn't mean I'm in the clear.

This morning I managed to trap a strand of my hair between my eyeball and my contact lens. As I was getting sorted for the day I popped in a lens and ‘boom’, instant eyeball shred.

That hurt. A lot. And it took seven minutes to pull the contact lens out, leaving me with a blood red eye and desperate determination to never do it again. In the 17 months since I decided to grow my hair, that’s the second time I’ve managed to do that.

I guess it’s just the price you have to pay.

Entering The Early Phase Awkward Stage

I’m still not sure exactly why I decided to grow my hair. I guess it was a combination of things. I’d just relocated with my girlfriend for a new life in a rural location, I’d taken up woodworking and was rediscovering old bands from way back.
The Center For
Awkward Stage Hair
Visit The Center

I’d just started bashing around on guitars again too, maybe those long-haired rockers were influencing my thinking. Part of it also, I think, was I wanted to look a bit different from everyone else.

So, I missed a haircut. And then another. And another. That’s when things started to go very wrong on top of my head, and I entered the early phase of awkward stage hair.

Andy before reaching early phase awkward stage hair

It’s a Long, Hairy Road

From that point and through my long hair journey I took note of my experiences, including the many problems I faced and the tips and tactics I tried—some successful, others not so much. Now, having finally made it out of the awkward phase warzone, I want to help other guys power through.
Making it through the awkward stage is a test.

Which brings us here, to Part I of this three-part series on awkward stage hair.

If you’re just setting out on your hair journey, this post will give you a few tips that will help you navigate the first 4-8 months, or what I affectionately call early phase awkward stage hair.

In part II I’ll share tactics and tools that will help you get through mid phase awkward stage hair, or “the thick of it.” And finally in part III we’ll cover exit strategies for late phase awkward stage hair.

I’m not gonna lie. Making it through the awkward stage, and particularly the early phases, is a test. It’s not gonna be easy—and fortunately I got a lot of inspiration and staying power from The Longhairs—but these tips and lessons learned helped me battle it out, and they’ll help you make it too.

Pompadour or Full-On Awkward?

First things first. Once you begin growing your hair, it will look crappy. For months. I read a lot about keeping the back and sides short and growing the top in a pompadour style. In theory you reach a point where you can start growing the rest in stealth mode, underneath the extended pompadour.

Do. Not. Cave.

My hair was very short when I started, so I figured the pompadour route would mean I’d be growing the top for at least 18 months before I could start on the sides. That just wasn’t an option for me, as I wanted to jump right in to full-on, all-round long hair right from the start.

The pompadour would mean I’d only just now be starting to grow out the back and sides. Plus, I kinda wanted to suffer a bit for my art. I wanted to experience the true journey.

Andy in early phase awkward stage hair

Holding Out When It Gets Tough

The best piece of advice that I can give anyone who’s struggling with the awkward stage is: Do. Not. Cave.

Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game.

It’s easy to say, so that doesn’t help you at all on its own. However, I figured out a way to get through it and not give in. Sure, there were a bunch of days when it looked like a buffalo had taken a crap on my head. You will have those days, too.

This is what you need to do when you’re about to throw in the towel and head over to the barber’s chair.

Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game, the goal of having kick ass long hair. Not a lot of guys grow their hair long and there’s a reason for it. It is hard to power through the awkward stage.

Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game.
The Center For
Awkward Stage Hair
Visit The Center

I decided that if I ever wanted a haircut, I’d remind myself of why I started doing this in the first place, and I made a pact to wait at least two weekends before quitting. If there was even just a glimmer of wanting to carry on in that time, then I would keep on going.

Easier to keep creeping forward than to hack it all off in a moment of weakness and regret it a few days, weeks or months later. Use this ‘two weekend’ rule yourself. It worked for me.

Andy thoroughly engulfed in early stage awkward stage hair

Hair Hacks: No Wax

One thing that took me some time to realize is that hair products for very short hair do not work well as the growth begins to take hold.

Not a good look when you start getting some length.

For me that meant ditching my gel and wax, replacing them with hair cream and conditioning oil. If you make the switch early enough it will save a lot of hassle. We’ll dive a little deeper next time on those kind of products.

As for the gels and wax, once you get to a certain length, you just won’t see good results. Those products tend to make your hair firm or even crispy, which is not a good look when you start getting some length.

You end up trying to comb or style it full of goop, it’s hard to find any style that looks passable, and you end up just looking like you’re trying too hard.

Punch Through Early Phase Awkward Stage Hair

There you have it blokes, a few tips that helped me through the hard times, and I hope they help you make it to the promised land.

I’ll be interested to hear any other tips, what works for you (or doesn’t work), and how you’re getting on as you walk the path to becoming a longhair.

For now, just dig in, take the crap the awkward stage is going to throw at you and hold out for better days. Until then, ride it wild!


Get Awkward With Andy

Residing along the rolling landscape of North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, Andy is a fitness, science and property renovation writer, marketing strategist, guitarist & singer, and a serious hair guy.
And even more content about awkward stage hair.
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.


  1. I thought I was only dude going thru this… obviously not! So I have always had long hair most of my life. As a kid my folks didn’t cut it as they thought I was such a cute baby boy, their 3rd & last but whatever. I always wanted to be like my favorite heroes of that time Tarzan & his long wild hair. So only recall a few times in my youth hating my hair… when it was short!!! But after high-school kept it long… until my unfortunate brush with the police. Long story short, was put in coma, had both knees crushed, broke one tiba/shoulder bone & had my head cracked/ frontal portion of my skull cracked/broken… several months in a coma & no memory of what happened. Yet all things point to a very suspicious situation that was never investigated as it should of been. NONE the less, had hair shaved off from what had happened… broken skull etc, etc.. but that was in 1991 tho. Been growing my mane out since then. Have it long & wild… just like I like it. Don’t look my 53 so I been told many many times b4. Regardless, never gonna cut it short in this century!!! A trim every once in a few years.. perhaps! But my question is this, what products are best for long curly hair though?????

  2. When I graduated from high school, it was not called the “awkward stage”; it was how most of us guys looked. Good times!

  3. I’ve been following your page and blog for a while. I’m three months into my hair growth, last cut in September. I have very thick, coarse, wavy hair. My wife loves to give me a hard time about it but deep down she likes it. I usually don’t have issues and don’t really care what people think. However, I just recently took a new job and don’t want to give a bad impression. Dress is business casual.

    The mornings aren’t bad, where I have issues is the afternoon. Reason being, I go to the gym during my lunch break. I have a hard time not showering after my workout. I’ve tried not rinsing my hair and that seemed to make things worse. I only rinse, no shampoo after my workout. I’ve found that shampooing once a week works best for me. I co-wash every day in the morning to keep things clean. I’ve also found that Argan oil helps to tame my hair. Any other suggestions for post workout?

    I’m very dedicated to the gym and can’t give that up. The hair is starting to make things a challenge and I’ve contemplated cutting it. I really don’t want to but it’s almost too much of a hassle. Help!

    1. Author

      Hey Gene,
      Thanks for your comment. Have you seen this post about working out and hair care? It’s tricky growing out your hair while working a new job. I did the same, heading up a group marketing department which managed three digital agencies. I sometimes felt uncomfortable about my awkward hair, but made sure my attitude was ultra-professional and I always dressed sharp. I think that helped get me through and very few people mentioned my hair at work.
      Have you used dry shampoo once in a while after your workout? That could help. Make sure you’ve toweled the sweat out of your hair first. It could give you the edge you need.
      Hang in there, Gene, and use my two-weekend rule if you;re ever feeling like you want to cave. Good luck buddy!

  4. I am a newbie to THE LONGHAIRS but I’m already in lockstep with your mission, have faith in what your doing hook, line and sinker! I’m a mere weeks away from my 1 year anniversary of hair growth (Oct 14th). I’ve just received my first order of Sunshine Citrus serum (feels great!) and the hair bands and head wraps are on the way. I’ve scoured the web for information from your videos.

    I must say I probably would not have made it this far without your support. Your serious, yet lighthearted approach to hair growth is just what is needed. Other sites tend to restrict the possibility of hair growth possibilities to guys who are young and have a full mane. I’ve seen none of that negativity here. In my 50s, age and biology has shown that the gorgeous mane I grew in my 20s is no longer a reality, but through the support of your website, products and instructional videos, I’ve maintained the courage to give it another try and not give up.

    You guys ROCK! Keep up the good work and valuable mission. You are having a positive impact on men out there, believe me. A big hearted THANK YOU!

    1. Vince, hell yes man! That’s exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing and your message is inspiring. We’ll keep lettin’ it ride, hope you do also. And by the way, send us your hair update photos on Instagram or Facebook! @thelonghairs Thanks for writing in!

  5. My inspiration for the awkward stage always was Johnny Depp. At times he had long hair, but most of the time he’s kinda in between. The funny thing is, people think, he has a great style and he puts a lot of thinking in his hair style, with all those people wanting their barbers to cut it exactly like Johnny. But in reality, this guy just has a haircut for a particular role he’s playing and in between his roles he just let’s it grow and doesn’t fucking care! It helps that he’s a cutie, though…

  6. Just say NO to Awkward!

    I’m 3 months past my last haircut. Awkward just smacked me in the face. If I hadn’t found The Longhairs website I’m sure I would have caved. I’ve read quite a few posts and watched many of the videos which have been inspirational and informative. I’m new here so I apologize if I repeat something that’s been said before.

    Realizing you have a problem is the first step. I’m a problem solver by nature so identifying the real problem was my first step. Is it really “awkward” or is it “undesirable?” Yes, “awkward” is a pretty good description of the disaster atop my head, but more to the point, it’s “undesirable.” I want to look like El Moreno not Phyllis Diller. (Yes, I’m old, look her up if you have to.)

    If you’re twenty-something, you can probably rock awkward hair. If you’re a fifty-something accountant for a construction company…not so much. I watched El Rubio’s “Traveler” video yesterday. It was amazing and inspirational, but what I learned is that you have to adapt to different hair styles along the way. I think shorthairs are laser-focused on the final destination of long hair and anything along the way is just frustration. That’s why I think you can kick Awkward in the ass once you realize that you’ll have to live with a few “undesirable” hair styles along the way. Not ugly hair styles, just not the final goal.

    I don’t know how often I’ll need to trim, maybe once a month? I have searched the internet for pictures of men with medium length hair. Instead of just sitting in a stylist chair and expecting to leave with a cut that I can live with for the next month or two, I’ll take a few pictures of styles that I think I can live with and ask the stylist to try to match that.

    The next thing I realized was that I had to change my daily schedule. If I had to spend more than 15 seconds on my hair in the morning I knew it was time for a cut. Now I hop in the shower 10 minutes earlier. I got a hair dryer, wide-tooth comb, and quality shampoo and conditioner. I blow dry my hair about half dry, work in a dab of Axe pomade, then finish drying with a style that works for me (this week). Last week I was using extra pomade and slicking it back while still wet. That worked for a while but it started looking like plastic hair. I’d appreciate recommendations for creams or oils that will give me a better slick-back look. My hair is very fine and very straight. I have a massive quantity of hair, but the individual strands are thin.

    When I figure out how to use Instagram, I’ll post a few pics.

  7. I am in the awkward stage right now. I have a habit of using shampoo everyday. I just read it somewhere that it is no good. Can you help me with shampoo routine in detail?

    1. Author

      Hey Adarsh,
      Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I’ll be covering some of this in a future post and I’m sure the Longhairs have mentioned their take on it. I’ve a bit of knowledge on this, as years ago I used to work in the labs at a global personal care and household products company, plus I have a lot of first-hand experience now! Washing your hair every day can strip too many of the protective oils from your hair, leaving it prone to damage, breakage and general nastiness. If you have fairly normal hair then it’s best to only shampoo it maybe 2 to 3 times each week. You can condition it as often as you want though. Remember, focus the shampoo mainly in on the roots and the conditioner mainly on the ends.
      I hope that helps and good luck on your journey!

      1. i add at the comment from Andy that longhair can get tangles more often than short hair; use a conditioner detangler on the lenghts ( not the roots), and you can also use a detangler spray on dry hair if necessary when you brush it
        caution: in America, very few conditioners are also detangling produces ( verify in the inci list there is a quaternary compound XXXium, but avoid polyquaterniums which are occlusive)

      2. Thanks a lot. My hairs are very thin. When I wash them, I can see portions of my scalp but not when they are dry. Will that be a problem when I tie them?

    1. Author

      Hah hah, thanks for reading my Science Cavern blog! As you can see from the photos, no Longhairs referral cards were harmed in the making of the menger sponge, those cards are just way too important 🙂

  8. I’m an 88 year young guy. Had twenty years of rigid hair and beard rules as a naval man. Early this year I decided to give the longhair style a go.. Well, the term style is hardly appropriate, considering all I have left is on the sides and back. Anyway, what I have is silver and the only way to do it is in a small (but very neat) pony tail. I certainly don’t miss going to the barber ever two weeks or so! Just recently switched my Tundra for a GM VOLT. . Let me say this about that: It is the best car I have had; everything from a Model T Ford, Porcshe and even a Borgward and many more. It is the definite
    way to go – little or no more fossil fuels polluting our air and operational cost s a fraction of an ICE powered vehicle. We are a two car couple and are going for a replacement for the other polluter ASAP !
    PS Come on Longhairs, save your hair and help save the planet, get an electric vehicle !


Leave a Comment