Get Hairy or Get Hired?
Around eight months into my hair growing journey I started thinking about leaving my full-time job to go part-time, freeing up some of my week to focus on my own projects.
That gave me a monster of a problem. I was moving into mid stage awkward stage hair hell, and the sort of work I’m qualified for involves wearing a dress shirt, tapping on a keyboard and helping companies work out their business strategies.
Should I get a haircut to make me look more presentable for interviews? Or attempt to get hired looking like somebody went and stuck a bunch of dead worms onto my head?
That’s just one of the predicaments you can find yourself in when you start your journey towards longhaired magnificence.
At this point things can get messy.
Welcome to The Thick of It
I broke on through early phase awkward stage hair in part I of this series and learned a few tricks along the way. As you know if you’ve been there, it wasn’t easy, but I stuck with it.
In this installment, part II of my three-part series to help you through the awkward stage, we’re focusing on the period eight-12 months into growing it out, or what I like to call “the thick of it.” At this point things can get messy. They definitely did for me.
The Gruesome Descent
As my hair was so short to begin with, it was around the four month mark when the awkward stage kicked in. And it kicked hard. For a good few weeks, no matter what I did, it didn’t make that much difference. I looked like an idiot, but whenever I felt like I was going to crack, I made sure I used my two-weekend rule.
Whenever I wanted a haircut, I’d remind myself of why I started doing this in the first place, and I waited at least two weekends before diving in and quitting it. There was always at least a glimmer of wanting to carry on in that time, so I just kept on going.
Get Your Mop Tidied, But Not Too Often
Some people say get a trim when growing your hair, others say don’t. We covered this whole dilemma in a “Should You Cut in the Awkward Stage,” and it’s worth checking out.
One trick I tried to stop my hair from looking completely ridiculous was to get some of the length cut out of the back. Around nine months into my journey, my head was beginning to look like it had just emerged from the 1980s, with a full-on mullet hairstyle. For me, that was a step too far.
At the time, my end goal was to go for a style that was a fairly even length on the front, sides and the back, so I decided to have the barber cut some length off the back to allow the rest of my head to catch up.
This did even things out, but unfortunately the resulting hairstyle temporarily made me look like I’d just stepped out of medieval England. In any case, it’s not a bad idea to at least get your hair trimmed up around the ears and the back of your neck. Always tell your hair cutter you’re growing it out and to keep the length.
Straighten To Lengthen
Another technique I learned, maybe a little too late, was using a hair straightener. I have wavy hair and once I got a bit of length in it, the sides curled out and flipped up to make my head look rather like a mushroom.
Displeased, my girlfriend suggested I try her hair straightener. To this I sneered at first, but eventually figured I’d give it a go. It was one of the best things I did and I recommend to anyone with wavy hair. As my hair was straightened, it made it look longer and it sat more agreeably on my head. It still didn’t look like I had much of a hairstyle, but it definitely helped and gave me the slightest boost of confidence.
My head looked rather like a mushroom.
Lay Down That Lotion
In part I of this series I talked about hair products and ditching the hair gel and wax. Those products are better suited to short hair and will make your hair look too firm and crispy or full of goop.
It took me a while to realise this, and there was a string of weeks when my hair was fighting my hair products and it was a complete mess. If you make the hair product switch early enough it will save you a ton of hassle.
First up, my hair began to have a lot of smaller hairs sticking up out the top of my head near the parting. That was annoying. I sorted these by using products called shaping creams and fluff tamers. They feel more like cream than gel or wax and do a great job of smoothing down any stupid fly away hairs without making your hair look sticky or greasy.
Experiment with a few and find the one that’s right for you. For me, a product by Fish Original worked at first, but as my hair got longer I switched to VO5 Casual Control Fluff Tamer, which I still use occasionally.
Next up, do not fear the hairspray. It can be your friend. I was surprised about this, as I thought hairspray was something that had died way back in the 1980s. Once I get my hair how I want it, a few squirts of the stuff keep it in check. Go for something with firm hold, but not a full-on hair welder.
Hair oils and leave-in conditioners are great too. Once my hair started to reach a length where I could abandon the straighteners, the oils and leave-in conditioners gave me the scope to get wavy, but still keep control. More on these kickass products next time.
It took me a while to realise this, and it was a complete mess.
Get Hairy AND Get Hired!
And that job interview? I decided there was no way I would get my hair cut to get a job. I wasn’t prepared to throw away the months of dues paid just to step into an interview room. The hair straighteners came to my rescue on that occasion and made me presentable enough for interview. Yup, I got the job, and all without ditching my long hair aspirations!
Do. Not. Cave.
There you have it guys, a few tips and tricks that helped get me through the thick of it. I hope this will be of use to you and keep you nudging your way to longhaired glory.
Stay tuned for part III, where I’ll cover the exit strategies for final phase awkward stage hair, including hairstyles you can start to rock, as well as tips for the hair salon.
Until then, do not cave to the head shave! Ride it out through mid phase awkward stage hair and stand proud. Some day soon your locks are gonna rock!
Are you in the thick of it? Any more tips you can share? Let me know how it’s going in the comments, chap.
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.
Follow Andy’s fitness blog at www.hackthegym.com or get your science fix at www.sciencecavern.com. You can also follow Andy’s musical progress as Kurt Faraday on www.twitter.com/kurtfaraday or www.facebook.com/kurtfaraday.