Stars like Jared Leto and Brad Pitt make long hair look easy, but getting it to look good requires months of fine-tuning – and at least a week where you look like a somewhat grungy hipster.
"The hardest part is the last four or five months in," says Justin Virgil, a barber at Brooklyn's Persons of Interest [and a former men’s grooming director for Kiehls]. "It looks weird, maybe a little hipster-Jesus-y, but you just have to bite your lip and push on."
There are loads of oils and creams that claim to speed up hair growth if you want to give your follicles a nudge, but Virgil says you're better off with a few key products and patience. If you're thinking of experimenting with longer hair, here are five tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Wait it out: Once you've decided to grow out your hair, wait as long as possible – aim for 10 to 12 weeks – before getting a trim. Most hair grows about a half-inch to an inch per month, so give it time to take shape. And keep the trims modest. When you've cleared the 12-week mark, it will be more obvious how your hair behaves at a longer length so you can determine how best to proceed. "A lot of guys break and come in for a trim too soon because they're antsy or uncomfortable," Virgil says, "but it interrupts the process. Push on."
2. Don't over-shampoo. Even though many men wash their hair daily, Virgil says once a week is plenty unless you work outdoors and it's a necessity. "Shampooing makes hair silky and light and hard to control," he says. "If you must shampoo, do it before bed so that some of the oils return to your hair overnight."
3. Keep the neck and face tidy: If you start to feel unkempt, stop by your barbershop for a quick clean-up. "A sideburn trim and a neck shave can hold you over for an important meeting or special event," Virgil says. Call the barbershop ahead of time and let them know you're not coming in for a haircut – most stylists will squeeze you in between appointments.
4. Change Your Hair Products: Danny DiMauro, a seasoned hairstylist who now works as Baxter of California's style consultant, says long-haired guys need to be familiar with products like gels, waxes, and pomades, especially in humidity which causes hair to kink and frizz. He recommends a clay pomade to tame the spot behind the ears that tends to wing out. Use it to delicately tuck it behind your ears. Drag a comb through the hair to distribute any product evenly.
5. Know Your End-Game. When you head in for trims, be vocal with your barber about your long-term goals. Don't be shy with photos; they'll help the stylist advise you on upkeep. Your hair might begin to look a little helmet-like after a few months, but that's natural in the beginning. "Just have your barber knock the ends off and cut in some texture when it's dry," DiMauro says. "That'll reduce the mass but retain the length, making it more manageable."