Hair For Air
Last weekend I was performing at a local music festival, giving it my all mid-set with guitar and vocals on a cover of Thin Lizzy’s Whisky In The Jar. Next thing I know, I’ve inhaled a whole bunch of my hair and sucked a few strands down into my throat. No option but to keep on singing, smile on through and ignore it till the end of the song.
That’s just one of the surprises that lay in wait for you when you’re on the journey to becoming a longhair.
Planning Your Exit
In this installment, the final part of my three-part series to help you through the awkward stage, we’re looking at the period between 12 and 18 months into your hair growth. Here’s where you start planning your exit strategies and begin to enjoy that mane you’ve spent so many months cultivating.
I’ve been growing out my hair for 20 months now and the hellhole of awkward stage hair is becoming a fading memory. I’ve been through the thick of it, where things got very messy, and I’m now enjoying my long hair at last.
If your journey is anything like mine, right around the 12 month mark you should be getting through the worst of it and your head no longer looks like someone’s been using it to grow watercress.
There are a few things you won’t need to worry about any more, that’s for sure.
My hair is wavy, and when I was in the thick of it, from around eight months in, I was using my girlfriend’s hair straighteners. I needed them to get my locks to look longer and give me a bit more of a style. Now those hair straighteners are long gone and I can just let my hair do its own thing.
Around the same time, I started to get a lot of smaller hairs sticking up out the top of my head, which needed flattening with shaping creams and fluff tamers. Looking back, I think these were only noticeable because I was using the hair straighteners. I still get these hairs a bit, but I’m letting my natural wave do its thing so they aren’t obvious any more.
I’ve also found as my hair has grown out I’ve needed to use less and less hair products. After 14 or 15 months, my hair started to take care of itself, with enough length to fall into place and start looking moderately cool.
The hellhole of awkward stage hair is becoming a fading memory.
I’m breathing my own hair in now, which I never expected. It’s annoying and pretty gross, having to pull a few strands out of my nose once or twice each week. Congratulations to you if you’ve reached this stage. Hopefully it’s a temporary thing and as my hair grows longer it’ll get beyond that danger zone.
Head gear will become a big part of your life too. First off, make sure you have a supply of hair ties, as they’re essential when you’re shaving, and for plenty of other activities. Headwraps are also kickass, especially if you’re doing anything heavy duty and need to keep that mane in check. Head over to the Longhairs shop to stock up on your hair hardware.
As your hair grows longer, you’re going to get more knots and tangles. It’s unavoidable. You can use a detangling conditioner, but you are going to need to comb it more too. Don’t use a brush, instead get yourself a wide-toothed comb. It has to have widely-spaced teeth, as a brush or a fine-tooth comb can be a quick way of breaking your hard-earned hair. A wide-toothed comb is less aggressive on your locks and still gets the job done.
I bought myself a wooden comb, not plastic. Do the same and you’ll avoid putting static electricity into your hair, which is going to make it harder to style. Also, try not to brush when your hair is wet; that’s when it’s at its weakest and you’re going to break a lot of it.
Salon: Get It On
By now you should be seriously considering swapping out the barber’s chair and heading for the salon, if you haven’t done so already.
As we’ve said before, even when you’re growing your hair you need to tidy it up once in a while. There’s been plenty of articles on what to watch out for at the salon, so I won’t dwell on it too much. The main thing is that you do get it trimmed, maybe as much as two or three times a year.
Wherever you go, make sure your hairdresser doesn’t use thinning shears to take the bulk out of your hair. These are scissors that have notches built into the blades that let the hairdresser snip deep, removing some strands of hair and leaving others long.
Make sure your sideburns don’t go out of control.
My hairdresser did this on my first visit and I think it may have made my hair look more frizzy. I didn’t know any better, so I just agreed when she said she’d like to “thin my hair out a bit.” It’s fine if you’ve reached your desired hair length and you’re getting regular cuts, but otherwise you should stay clear, because it’s cutting into your hard-earned length.
Also, as you’re having infrequent haircuts, make sure your sideburns don’t go out of control. Use an electric trimmer on them every couple of months or prepare to look ridiculous.
Let It Ride
I’ve found I don’t need to spend as much time on my hair now it’s got a bit more length grown into it. As mentioned earlier, I’ve been able to ditch the hair straighteners and I can just let it ride. I still wash it twice a week, maybe more if I need to, and I always use a conditioner.
I mainly just let it dry on its own and might use some hair oil once in a while, which helps it dry faster. Now that it’s got some length, it tends to fall into place and look good without much work.
As my hair’s gotten longer, sometimes I think there’s not enough volume on the top of my head. All the action is around my shoulders. To make it lift and curl a bit more everywhere, when it’s damp I scrunch hair mousse into it, tilt my head down and use a hair dryer. That’s a great tip from my hairdresser.
I honestly thought that the longer my hair got, the more products I’d be using, but it’s turned out to be the opposite. Now I’m through the awkward stage, I’ll use a leave-in conditioner every so often, maybe some hairspray or mousse, but most of the time it’ll just do its own thing.
The End Is Nigh
So, I’ve finally powered through the late phase awkward stage hair and I’m in a whole new world of manageable hair. I am massively stoked that I stuck with it and battled against the awkward stage demons, and you can do it too.
All those times when I nearly caved and got a cut, all the days when my hair looked like a piece of scruffy crap no matter what I did. Then, those little wins. The first time I could actually see my hair out of the corner of my eye. That first time I felt it blowing in the wind. The first time I could get it in a hair tie.
What a journey! I wouldn’t change a thing. If it was easy, then lots more guys would do it. I feel like I’ve earned my stripes. I’ve made it through the shit storm and out the other side. I am a longhair!
Thanks for reading about my journey so far, I hope these posts have helped you. Let me know what works for you (and what doesn’t) and how you’re getting on as you walk the path less travelled. And above all: Do. Not. Cave.
I am massively stoked I stuck with it, and you can do it too.
Andy lives in the UK, leaving the London city life in 2015 for the rolling landscape of North Yorkshire. He’s a fitness, science and property renovation writer, marketing strategist, guitarist and singer, and he’s been growing his hair out since February 2016.