Andy breaking through late phase awkward stage hair

A Farewell To Awkward: Breaking Through

In Advocate, Educate by Andy Watson20 Comments

Say Goodbye to Late Phase Awkward Stage Hair

Here is just one example of what lies in wait when you're in late phase awkward stage hair...

I was recently performing a cover of Thin Lizzy’s, Whisky In The Jar at a local music festival, mid-set, giving it my all with guitar and vocals. Next thing I know, I’ve inhaled a whole bunch of my hair, straight into my trachea. No option but to keep on singing, smile and ignore it till the end of the song.


Planning Your Exit

In this final installment of my three-part series to help you through the awkward stage, we’re looking at the period between 12 and 18 months of hair growth, also known as late phase awkward stage hair.

Here’s where you start planning your exit strategies and begin to enjoy that mane you’ve spent 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 watercress growing out of an egg.

Andy emerging from late phase awkward stage hair

Burdens Relieved

There are a few things you won’t need to worry about any more.

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 hair product. 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.

Hair For Air

Now I’m breathing hair instead of air, which I never expected. It’s annoying and pretty gross, having to pull a few strands out of my throat once or twice a week. Congratulations if you’ve reached this stage, and hopefully it’s just a temporary thing. As my hair grows longer I expect it’ll get beyond this danger zone.

Hair gear will become a 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 the mane in check.

As your hair grows longer, you’re going to get more knots and tangles. It’s unavoidable. You can use a detangling conditioner and hair serum, but you'll need to comb it more also. 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.

Andy at the end late phase awkward stage hair

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 susceptible to breakage.


Get It On at the Salon

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 get out of control. Use an electric trimmer on them every couple of months or prepare to look ridiculous.

Andy with long hair

Dominate Late Phase Awkward Stage Hair

With the additional length I’ve found I don’t need to spend as much time on my hair. As mentioned earlier, I’ve been able to ditch the hair straighteners and I can just let it ride. I still shampoo and condition twice a week, sometimes more as needed.

I mainly just let it dry on its own and might use some hair serum once in a while, which smooths, detangles and 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 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 a lot 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 traveled. Above all: keep letting it ride.

I am massively stoked I stuck with it, and you can do it too.

Get Awkward With Andy

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, greenhorn guitarist and singer, and he’s been growing his hair out since February 2016.

Andy’s 3-Part Series on Awkward Stage Hair
Breaking Through The Early Phases of Awkward Stage Hair
Mitigate Your Suffering Through Mid Phase Awkward Stage
Surviving Late Phase Awkward Stage Hair

Andy With Late Phase Awkward Stage Hair Playing Guitar


  1. Hey Andy,

    I’m also from Hertfordshire, small world!

    Man just wanted to say that your locks are killer, the things I would do to have hair that thick and bouncy!

    At 11 months myself in late-awkward stage, my hair’s kinda thin in some areas and they grow slower, so think I’m going to be another 4 months yet…trying to hang in there. Almost caved the other day until I saw once of El Rubio & El Moreno’s awesome vids!

    Thanks for sharing your journey bro!

    1. Author

      Hey Aaron! Thanks man, hang in there, do not cave!!! You are so close now that you can almost smell the victory.

  2. Well, that’s day one out the way 🙂
    Why is it that wherever I go or whatever I watch on tv there always seems to be a guy with a great looking mane?! Annoying.

    1. Hi Andy, thanks for the blog, it’s an excellent read! I’m well and truly, “In the thick of it” just now, think I have a similar type of hair to you although mine is now going grey. I’ve been stuck in the awkward phase for what seems like an eternity, mainly because 2 months after a trim I have horizontal ledges above my ears, so I go for a trim and basically reset myself back to the end of the early awkward phase! I’ve decided that this time I’m just going full steam ahead, no trim until April at the earliest.

      Thanks for the tips & advice so freely given, it’s great to learn from another’s experience.


      1. Author

        Hi Al,
        Thanks, it’s great to hear that my articles have been useful to you! Yeah, it’s easy to keep thinking about the barber’s chair and go get too many tidy-ups. Hang in there, Al, and just let it flow!
        Good luck,

  3. Hi Andy, that 2-weekend rule was definitely a good call!
    Where about are you in the UK?
    I’m a Cheshire man 🙂
    Thanks for the kind words. Nick.

    1. Author

      Hey Nick,
      Yeah, that 2-weekend rule is definitely worth using! I’m in North Yorkshire, moved up here from Hertfordshire in 2015.

  4. Two years in and I have just cut it! Spiky. Wanted a change and have felt almost depressed ever since that fateful visit to the hair dressers about a week ago. My advice to anyone else thinking going down the same route, take about a week to really think it, it’s taken so long so to lose it all within half an hour is a big call. And I really, really regret it!!!!
    Anyway, a new year beckons and I am starting the journey again! One positive is that your hair doesn’t stop growing so the opportunity is always there 🙂
    Quite looking forward to the challenge again tbh! Having been there once before I will at least know what’s coming and this time there will be no bleaching or cutting the back! Trying daily 5 minute head massages (head in between knees) at present to try to get the growth moving 🙂 Roll on this time next year!
    Happy new year to all.

    1. Author

      Hey El Nico, that’s harsh man, sorry to hear you’re back to the beginning.
      I decided fairly early on to have a ‘2-weekend rule’. If I ever wanted to get my hair cut I’d wait at least two weekends, and if during that time there was even just a small doubt about getting it cut, I’d keep it long. That saved my locks on more than one occasion.
      But, as you say, hair doesn’t stop growing, so you can go for it again. Good luck on the journey, buddy, and just enjoy the ride! Happy New Year

  5. you have exited from the akward stage for your hair is curly, and now you wear the same “wig” as Georg Friedrich Haendel…lol ( you are twice english musicians)
    for those who wear straight hair, there is another annoying phase: that when the hair come to shoulder lenght and a few longer; the ends become curly before the mane float on the back side

  6. Amazing work Andy! The wooden comb tip is a great idea! I’ll be picking up one of those immediately. Thanks for sharing part of your journey!

  7. Awesome Andy! It’s been great following your journey. I totally know the breathing issue, full gag when you suck it into the back of your throat. Also eyeballs take frequent damage.

    1. Author

      Cheers dude! It’s great there’s a site like this for fledgling longhairs like me to visit for advice and tips. I’m stoked that I could contribute and hopefully help some of the guys who are following behind me.
      Yeah, the whole breathing in thing is a pain I could do without. Well worth it though 🙂

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