Men’s Long Hair Tips: How To Grow, Style & Maintain Longer Locks
Everything you need to know about long hair, from the initial growing out stage through to required maintenance and how to style it.
The 20th century gave us the funny idea that men are somehow ‘supposed’ to have short hair. According to the theory, only hippies, 80s hair metal musicians and a young Brad Pitt could get away with long flowing locks. Which is nonsense, of course. Men have worn long hair for centuries, and why not? On the right guy and with the right styling, long hair is every bit as masculine as a buzz cut or skin fade.
Fade haircuts aren’t going anywhere but the trend is becoming ubiquitous – and that often triggers a swing in the other direction. Take a look at popular culture as it stands today and it’s clear more and more men are playing the long game.
Influential leading males across TV, film and music such as Jason Momoa, Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Harry Styles and Kit Harington are all showcasing longer, more natural-looking hairstyles. This exposure of long and arguably more interesting cuts has undoubtedly encouraged others to ditch the clippers and at least try growing longer hair.
The movement was also helped, of course, by the coronavirus lockdowns, when most of us had no choice but to let it grow. Being kept away from our barbers meant that living with longer hair changed from being unavoidable to preferable for a lot of us. Not that it happens quickly.
The decision to grow your hair can’t conjure results overnight but it is the crucial starting point of a long journey that will test your patience. Frustrations can come thick and fast along the way, but with perseverance (and the right styling and maintenance) you can achieve a stand-out hairstyle that not only suits you, but also looks and feels much better than the shorter cut you left behind.
So how do you actually grow long hair as stress-free and painlessly as possible? Preparation is key, so read on to take the first of several important steps.
How to grow long hair
Deciding to grow your hair long is one thing. What men aren’t always aware of and often don’t take into account at this stage however is the tedious amount of time and eﬀort it takes. Depending on the style and length you’re aiming for, it’s going to take months – possibly a year or more – to grow your hair as long as you want it.
There are no shortcuts and no miracle grow. The truth is you’ll have several different hairstyles on the way to the one you set out to get. Once you’re at peace with the notion that this is going to be a long-term project however, you can make the best start possible.
First thing’s first: keep seeing your barber. Don’t just cancel your next appointment and hope for the best by letting nature take its course. This is where a lot of guys slip up: after a few weeks you can end up with a hairstyle that’s uncomfortable and awkward to keep growing.
As well as being the best qualified person to shorten your hair, your barber will also know exactly what to do to help you successfully grow it. So keep that appointment and go in to explain your growth mindset. At this point they should be able to cut in a starting template from which to comfortably grow out from.
This is commonly a one-grade clipper cut across the back and sides with a little more length left on top that can be texturised. It doesn’t have to be this short, but it works as a perfect starting shape for most guys that still oﬀers a suﬃcient amount of flexibility to create a decent style while in-between lengths.
How to maintain long hair
Once you’ve begun to grow your hair out, you need to keep on top of any potential irritations that sometimes lead to regretful panic cuts. Have your barber provide regular MOT check-ups, as opposed to a full-on service every few months. They don’t have to attack much length in order to ensure your hair is kept in good health as it grows.
Instead, they will be able to identify any areas that are getting particularly heavy and remove the annoying bulk. A good barber will also maintain clean layers that keep the overall shape of your hair looking natural. Split and broken ends are not uncommon as the hair grows – your barber will take care of these, too.
When it comes to self-maintenance, be wary of how heat can adversely affect long hair. Blow drying, straightening and even just the environment in general can make longer hair more fragile and prone to breakage, so be cautious with daily activities such as running a towel over your head (pat, don’t rub). And loosely tie your hair up before a workout to keep it in its best condition.
How to wash long hair
Washing your hair should be a given. You need to keep it clean and healthy at any length, but if you’ve spent your life so far only using shampoo then now is the time to introduce a conditioner as well.
Breaking it down, shampoo is the product that’s going to clean your hair and scalp and remove any product build-up, whereas conditioner is going to bring your hair to life by strengthening, softening and detangling it. The longer your hair gets, the more important running conditioner through it is going to become.
Take a nickel-sized dollop between your palms and rub it through your hair from root to tip. Give it a few moments to absorb into your hair before rinsing it out.
If you have naturally greasy hair, then you may find that washing it every other day or even two-to-three times a week is enough to keep it looking and feeling good. Then, you can try a leave-in conditioner on days when you’ve skipped a rinse.
How to style long hair
Whether you’ve grown your hair to a mid-length point and want to enjoy more playful, textured and messier looks, or have gone beyond the shoulders for a natural, easy-going style, applying a leave-in conditioner will see that your longer hair doesn’t become too dry and frizzy. The product helps you maintain a healthy amount of moisture and volume.
You can even craft a finished style using just a little leave-in conditioner. It will allow you to pull the hair backwards with ease into a tidy and fuss-free ponytail, leaving your face open and clear of any irritating strands. It also makes for a great foundation to apply further styling products to.
The matte clay or gel-like pomade you once used on shorter, sleeker styles no longer warrants a place in your grooming cabinet. Instead, look to lighter styling creams, texturising sprays and mousse that can easily glide through longer hair from the roots or be scrunched in sparingly to create a light and loose but more defined finish.
If you have a natural curl to your hair, a defining cream or sea salt spray is particularly effective at giving those curls definition and texture.
Men’s long hair tips & hacks
Comb regularly and comb dry
Long hair becomes quite vulnerable when it’s wet. Brushing through even damp hair can chip away at its structure. So, once yours is long enough to need a regular comb to keep it smooth and neat, try to do so when your hair is dry.
Have an off day
It may sound counterintuitive, but you don’t need to be washing your hair daily. When you grow your hair long, keeping your natural oils balanced is important to ensure your hair thrives. Too much washing can encourage dryness on the scalp and through the hair, while not washing enough means you lose that healthy shine and smooth texture.
You’ll work out what’s best by experimentation, but aim for two-to-four washes a week. And, as mentioned above, you can always sub in a dry shampoo in-between proper washes.
Take a cold shower
Few of us relish the idea of a cold shower, but washing your hair with colder water (or at least not a steaming hot jet) can benefit its moisture, shine and overall health.
Cold showers are worth talking to your doctor about because they can adversely affect your health if you have certain underlying conditions, but assuming they’re safe for you, they’re also reportedly good for your energy levels and immune system.
Invest in your hair
The longer your hair, the more you should invest in it. Don’t scrimp on the quality of your shampoo and conditioner if you can afford to buy salon-grade products.
Know what you’re using
Many hair products are still made with potentially harmful formulas. For your next grooming haul, read the ingredient list and be wary of things that are going to do more harm than good. Avoid sulphates, silicones and phthalates, which won’t do the health of your hair (or body) any favours in the long run.