When Is It Time For A Trim?

In Educate by Trav White5 Comments

Cut Your Hair? But Why?

Long hair forever...right? Why would you want a trim if you’re growing long hair?

Actually, there are times when cutting your hair is a good idea.

Let’s say you’re on your hair growth journey and your mane starts looking a little...unmanageable. Maybe you have a mullet forming, your sides are uneven, or your thick coarse hair refuses to grow down instead of out.

And everyone is asking…“sooooo, you gonna cut your hair?”

Here I’m going to cover three of the most common trims you should consider while growing long hair. These cuts will set you up for the best long hairstyle possible, while keeping your awkward stage manageable in the meantime.

3 Potential Trims When Growing Long Hair

1) The Set Up Trim

The first trim you might get while growing long hair is The Set Up Cut.

Have you ever played chess? I just watched The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, so I have been sharpening my chess game lately.

If you’re familiar with the game, you know that you don’t think one move ahead. You think two, three, or four moves ahead. Grandmasters think 10-12 moves ahead. The best players set up their end game beforehand so they can put themselves in position to win.

When you’re growing your hair out, it helps to have an end goal in mind. What is your hair going to look like when you reach the length you want? A set up trim will help make sure you’re on the right path to get there.

You can usually make a more definitive decision on a set up trim when you’re about 6-10 months in, depending on your hair type and growth rate. It’s possible you might not even need this step if your hair is already growing towards your goal.

If you’re unsure how to tell, schedule an appointment with your barber or stylist, take your end goal photo in to show them, and ask what needs to happen to hit that goal.

This might mean trimming the back, around the ears or evening out the top and sides.

This does two things:

  1. It allows your awkward stage to look much cleaner.
  2. It puts you on the right path to hitting your desired style.

When I was growing out my hair from a scissor cut, I went to see my stylist after about 12 months and my sides were growing unevenly. I brought my end goal image to her and she gave me a set up trim.

She evened out the sides and layered the top a little bit. This helped my awkward stage look not-so-awkward, then my hair grew in exactly as I wanted it to.

Before the set up trim growing long hairAfter the set up trim growing long hair

2) The Maintenance Trim

The next trim you might consider when your hair gets longer is The Maintenance Trim. This is optional depending on whether your hair is damaged.

The ends of your hair have been exposed the longest to the environment, pollution, the sun, and daily wear & tear. So they run the highest risk of damage.

If you start to notice knots, split ends, or any sort of breakage happening on your ends it’s time for a trim. This could be every 6-12 months depending on your hair type and how well you care for your hair.

Diagram of types of split ends.

To give you an example, I got my first maintenance trim about 18 months into my hair growth journey. I was well beyond the awkward stage and my hair was about shoulder length.

Here El Rubio documented his first maintenance trim, while El Moreno took off a whopping four inches his first time. The guys also dive in depth whether you should cut in the awkward stage.

In any case a good rule of thumb is to get a maintenance trim every six months just to keep your hair healthy. Even if you don’t have split ends or extensive damage, it’s a good habit to get into to preemptively care for your hair.

3) Choose Your Own Adventure

The last last trim you might consider when growing long hair...is whatever trim you want!

I threw this one in because I don’t like ascribing to the idea that you must do something or else…

This adds unneeded pressure from people telling you there’s only one right or wrong way to do something. Don’t make your decision based on pressure from friends or family, make your decisions based on your own goals.

If you want long hair, try one of the trims above or something different or don’t cut it at all. There’s no rule book here. It’s all about you feeling confident and knowing who you are as a man and living that out.

And if you change your mind, that’s okay too. You don’t need anyone’s permission. Just stand by your decisions.

When To Trim When Growing Long Hair

That pretty much covers it, so I’ll end with a quote by Epictetus: “Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”

He didn’t say, “Listen first, to what everyone tells you to do, and then change who you are accordingly.”

He said know who you are first. And that’s what style & grooming are all about. Knowing yourself. Expressing yourself. And doing it unapologetically.

Trav White

Trav White

Founder of Mannered Manes, Travis is a men’s style & grooming expert with a passion for helping guys look & feel their best—inside and out. Life and hair growth is a journey, and you’re most fulfilled when you’re always growing.

See all Trav’s guest posts for The Longhairs.

Any questions for Trav? Leave a comment.


  1. 21 months in (officially 10/7/22), and I still haven’t trimmed my mane yet. It reached the shoulders this month, and seems to be quickly advancing down my back half way to my shoulder blades. It’s curling at the ends and starting to tangle/knot a lot more, but they don’t look that badly damaged yet, a few splits here and there for sure, but nothing widespread. I’m really trying to hold off till 27-30 months before going in for my 1st clean-up maintenance trim, during which I might take an inch maybe 2 off, then probably wait another 9 months before trimming again, then go with the 6 month schedule once I get to my desired length or see that it isn’t growing much longer (meaning terminal length has or is soon to be reached). I’ve tried to be pretty gentle to my hair and never blow dry it or use heat or harsh styling products so that’s probably why my hair has been doing so well despite my lack of trimming of any kind.

    Definitely going to be nervous when the time comes, especially considering how bald I was when I started growing. My hair has been very kind and exceeding my expectations, it’s going to be a sad day when the day arrives, but at least it’s for the better and survival of the rest of the hair.

  2. It’s been about 16 months growing out my hair, and I think it’s time for my first trim. Not sure where to go. There’s a place near me called 18/8. Anyone have experience with that place?

  3. what you showed as split ends are known as forks… but, in this case, the trim is obligatory or your hair will grow with a negative speed

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