Since just before the turn of the new year, we’ve been one of the mane advocates (not a typo) of letting hair grow long in 2017.
Of course, we took our lead from the experts in the hair world, and later the runway shows and designers at men’s fashion weeks all over the globe.
However, it’s all well and good aiming for Austin Butler’s surfer waves or Prada’s seventies shag, but how can the everyday man put these looks into practice?
Once again, we turned to a selection of our barbering pals to get the advice that’ll make sidestepping the scissors a snip.
Before Getting Started
Before you commit to growing your hair out for the next six to eight months, it’s important to tick off a few basic considerations.
Figure Out Your Face Shape
Long hair isn’t just for models and celebrities; it’s a look that can suit a range of men, providing the stylist takes into account the wearer’s face shape and personal style.
“Square jaws and chiselled features are great for this,” says Daniel Davies of Pall Mall Barbers “[Defined features] add a bit of edge to the soft and potentially feminine hairstyle.”
Depending on the shape, a stylist will cut in layers that are designed to work with the head and its features.
(Related: How To Determine Your Face Shape In 5 Easy Steps)
Will It Work At Work?
Though a greater number of work environments are now more relaxed about this sort of thing, it’s best to double-check your office isn’t bothered by non-traditional hairstyles.
If they are, it doesn’t mean you have to swerve long locks altogether. “Keep your hair tied back, and make sure you don’t have any fly-aways,” suggests Joe Easton of Man Made. “Also, make sure that you frequently trim any hair growing on your neck, to keep your overall look tidy and professional.”
Do I Have Enough Hair?
Unfortunately for around 40 per cent of men aged over 35, those with noticeably thin hair should not attempt to grow it out. As Ruffians artistic director Denis Robinson explains: “Straight, wavy and curly hair can all work well longer, but the hair must be full and healthy, or you’ll draw attention to potentially balding hot spots that are best left unseen.”
(Related: 5 Steps To Take If You’re Losing Your Hair)
Growing It Out By Hair Type
The natural state of your hair will determine the process and styles available to you when it comes to growing it longer. As with any dramatic change, follow general guidance and tips, but also seek a consultation with a professional.
Hair straighter than a die? Use the original grunge frontman Kurt Cobain as a visual reference when getting in the chair. “There are plenty of 1990s-style variations for this look,” says Davies from Pall Mall. “Most have been cut with a razor, achieving a soft and feathery effect.” So don’t be too worried if the stylist whips out a blade and takes it to your hard-grown locks.
There’s no need to over-style this look, either, as the whole idea is for it to appear effortless. Having washed your hair with a moisturising shampoo and conditioner, while still damp, spritz in a small amount of salt spray to de-frizz and give the hair a bit of hold. Don’t blow-dry a parting, instead, create one with your fingers, rake the hair back and allow it to fall naturally.
(Related: 40 Of The Best Men’s Long Hairstyles)
There are several ways to wear this look. Will you tuck it behind the ears? Do you need it out of your face at work? “It’s important to have a proper consultation with your barber,” advises Davies. “They should be able to work out the best length and way of cutting your hair to suit your lifestyle and face shape.”
Growing out curly hair comes with its own unique set of problems. Though the abundance of hair makes it easier to conceal uneven lengths, you run the risk of it looking like a bird’s nest, if not tamed. One top tip from James Carroll at Murdock Barbers is to, “stick to regular, healthy trims and avoid trying to craft a new style mid-way through the growth phase”.
To style this look, you’ll need your trusty salt spray: “Blow-drying it into wet hair before styling gives a boost to the body,” says Carroll. “Alternatively, apply to hair when it’s dry to increase volume and create a matte effect.” Work in the spray with your hands and scrunch around the head to increase definition and curl.
(Related: 37 Of The Best Curly Hairstyles For Men)
This look is all about bounce and texture, so embrace it: “The longer the hair gets, the more susceptible it is to looking lifeless and limp,” adds Carroll. To avoid lacklustre locks, use shampoo and conditioner regularly – but don’t shampoo daily as washing can strip natural oils that benefit the hair’s health.
Hair with a natural wave is the ideal type to grow out, according to Easton from Man Made: “It looks great when long and flowing, and is easier to both manage and style once the desired length is reached.”
(Related: Men’s Curly & Wavy Hairstyles Gallery)
To style Thor-inspired waves, blow-dry the hair on high heat and medium speed. “Not only does this give control over the hair, but it’s also the most efficient way to dry it quickly,” says Easton. Scrunch in a hair cream that offers a natural shine and re-workable hold to add extra volume and texture.
It’s quite an easy style to maintain, too: “The best thing about long, wavy hair is that you can allow it to dry naturally while you continue with your day.” But if you’re not rushing out the door, try attaching a diffuser to your hair dryer and slowly and consistently dry the hair – this will help accentuate its natural movement.
Like all styles, long afro hair requires a specific approach when it comes to growing it out, but has the added benefit of being a key hair trend for 2017.
“Ask for a round afro, which is cut with soft edges,” suggests Ruffians’ Robinson. “It’s a bold look that can be worn well by those with confidence.”
To achieve the perfect finish, wash and condition the hair with a moisturising shampoo and conditioner, as afro hair can get quite dry. Additionally, Robinson advises that you should only brush and comb the hair when freshly washed – never when dry. Having avoided explosive frizz, allow the hair to dry naturally, then use a styling cream or pomade to soften.
(Related: 50 Of The Coolest Men’s Black & Afro Hairstyles)
Deciding the exact shape should be based on personal preference and hair type. However, if feeling adventurous, you can massage a mixture of leave-in conditioner and curl cream into the hair and twist into fatter curls. This will give a more relaxed look, which makes the most of the natural bounce of the hair.
Now that you’ve figured out what style will work best for you, your hair type, and a plan of action; it’s important to bear some general guidelines in mind.
Hair grows at the rate of about half an inch per month. There will come a time when you suffer an awkward in-between stage – with locks too short for one style, too long for another – and be tempted to lop them all off. Push through with the occasional trip to the barber (see below) and the odd hat, and remember that the end result will be worth it.
Start off on the right follicular foot by having the back and sides of your hair cut shorter. These areas typically grow faster than the top so wait until you have a few inches of growth up above before starting to grow them out also.
“This is the single most critical step for healthy hair,” says Glenn Lyons, clinical director of Philip Kingsley. “Rinsing it in water is insufficient in ridding the hair of pollutants.”
Conditioner should always be applied to long hair, after every wash. It will help to retain moisture and make the hair easier to comb.
Be aware of what’s going on inside, as well as outside. As Lyons explains: “Hair is mostly protein, so a diet rich in this food source is essential.” Who knew that eggs and steak could help your hair growth?
Comb, Don’t Brush
Wet hair is more susceptible to damage, so after showering, grab a comb and gently ease out the tangles. Use a saw-cut, flat tooth comb, rather than a nylon brush, which can snag on the hair.
Ditch The Barber
You might think growing your hair out will save you money, with less trips to the barbershop. Not so, unless you want to end up with an unmanageable mane. Look to book yourself in every six-to-eight weeks to keep your neck, hairline, sideburns and facial hair in check.
Blow Dry & Straighten
Of course, it’s hard to avoid entirely; but when you can, reject tools which produce high levels of heat. “[Straighteners] emit temperatures of above 200-degrees, which is extremely damaging and can result in breakage,” explains Lyons.
Well, you are allowed to swim. But neither chlorinated pools nor salty seas are going to do your tresses any favours. The former will cause chemical damage, while the latter will dry it out. If a regular swimmer, consider investing in a swimming cap to protect your hair.
Use The Same Products
There’s a reason grooming aisle shelves are full of pomades, waxes, clays, pastes and creams. It’s not all a confusing marketing ploy. Each product is suitable for different hair types, and what worked for your short back and sides won’t necessarily work for your seventies shag. If in doubt, ask a barber for advice on your next visit.
As if it wasn’t bad enough for your general health, urban living can also affect the look of your locks. “Pollution from dirt, dust and exhaust fumes will cause dullness and dryness,” says Lyons. Buy yourself a contingency hat, just in case.