You can only maintain the same crew cut or high and tight for so long before you wonder how to grow out your hair—and what life is like on the other side. What is it like to grow your hair out? you wonder to yourself. It must be so nice to run a hand through it, to slow-motion shake it back and forth after a shower, like a dog that’s drying itself off. And let us tell you: Yes, it is so nice to do these things. Plus, long hair looks really good on most guys, when it’s healthy and grown out with a bit of care and planning.
But you need to know that growing your hair out requires far more than simply growing your hair out. It’s not an excuse to wear a hat for 18 months and expect a neatly layered, nourished, Jason Momoa or Jared Leto moment on the other side. Instead, it starts with a few products, and proper intervals with your barber and eventually, with your stylist. (Yes, you are about to graduate from barbershops to salons. It’s one of the many exciting parts of the journey ahead.)
Here is our advice for how to grow out your hair, with as few headaches and awkward phases along the way.
The first thing you need to accept is that it’s going to be a tedious, often awkward journey. You’re going to have a few new haircuts en route. You’re going to learn how to use new products and style your hair in different ways, only to change them out as it continues to grow. It’s kind of like losing or gaining a bunch of weight: You don’t fit in the stuff you used to, and so you have to adjust for the change and grow comfortable with constant change. Eventually, though it’s a year or more away, you will tuck that hair effortlessly behind your ear, or feel it sweep across the tippy tops of your shoulders. And it’ll all be worth it.
Speed Up Hair Growth with Supplements
One way to grow your hair out faster (and stronger) is to supplement it with the right pills and potions. Some doctors will tell you to take biotin and call it good, but there’s more out there that will expedite hair growth and strengthen it at the follicle, so that your hair stays strong for the long haul. Find vitamin-enriched serums that you can massage into the scalp, or ingest herbal supplements that thwart things like stress, hair-thinning hormones, and environmental toxins.
Nutrafol hair growth supplements
Prose scalp and hair supplements
The Ordinary hair density serum
Consider Proactive Hair Loss Measures
While you’ve got enough hair in the first place (after all, you’re growing it out and showcasing it), it’s not a bad idea to fight hair loss simultaneously. That is, to slow down its advances, so that you can maintain your enviable hairline, or fortify the hairs you do have. This way, each follicle continues to grow strong, and you might even resuscitate some dormant follicles in the process, meaning you’ll have even more hair to show off. Visit your doctor to discuss prescriptions for finasteride (now available as a generic, though you might know it as Propecia), and minoxidil (often called Rogaine, and available over the counter). Finasteride blocks the hormones that lead to hair loss, allowing it to grow undeterred (or with slower advances of loss), while minoxidil increases blood flow and nutrient delivery to the scalp and the hair follicles, making them stronger. Your doctor will help monitor the process and will warn you of any risks involved with taking these drugs.
Some companies, like Hims and Keeps, also allow you to “meet” with a dermatologist online, and then receive these products (prescription included) via the mail. It’s fast, cheap, and easy—just don’t forget to check in with your doctor regularly.
Roman monthly hair loss treatments
Switch Your Hair Products
Gone are the days of waxes, fibers, and clays. You’re in a new lane now, so the texturizing products that you relied on for short, choppy styles are no longer suitable. Instead, you have to switch to lighter products that you can apply to towel-dried hair, in order to tame it as it grows.
We suggest familiarizing yourself with the best men’s hair products to read up on the differences between each one. That’s because the products you need will be drastically different for every person and their unique hair texture and density, but in general, you should familiarize yourself with smoothing and hydrating creams. They focus on lightweight control with touchable texture, so that your hairs don’t stick together.
Get Strategic Haircuts as It Grows
It may seem like backwards thinking, but you need to get haircuts as your hair grows out—particularly if you expect it to look presentable along the way. Think of the upside: You get to wear all kinds of hairstyles en route to the end goal. Moreover, it needs to be trimmed and texturized in order to look good. And a haircut need not be drastic; it just needs to be strategic, so that it looks good without compromising overall progress. (The same goes for growing out your beard, too.)
Secondly, this strategic trimming will help layer the hair to continue growing in the way you want it to. You can cut the back in a way that allows the top to pour over it, until it’s time to let it all grow in unison. (This will spare you from having a mullet along the way.)
Lastly, the barber or stylist will trim the ends ever so slightly, just to manage any splitting or breaking.
Shampoo Less, Condition More
Short hair or long, you do not need to shampoo daily. It dries and damages the hair, and signals to the scalp to produce even more oil than is natural, since you’re constantly depleting its sebum supply. (It’s weird that shampooing less in the long run makes your hair less greasy, but bodies are intuitive and brilliant.) You will also minimize the frequency at which you strip the hair of these same oils that have slid their way down each strand (aided by nightly brushing, of course). This natural oil from your scalp keeps everything soft, healthy, and shiny, and shampoo compromises that.
Shampoo is still good, but it isn’t a daily necessity. (Stick with a hydrating one, which will be gentle on your hair.) On the other hand, you need to be conditioning every other day, if not more frequently. It’ll help rid of excess grime as well, far less abrasively than shampoo. More importantly, conditioner is nutrient-rich and plumps the hair full of vitamins that keep it strong and soft. So, shampoo 1-2 times weekly and condition every time you shower. (Always shampoo before conditioning, always condition after shampooing, and don’t combine them, since conditioner restores moisture lost in washing.)
Get the Right Tools (And a Few Other Products)
Besides cream and paste, here are the other things you should have in your bathroom, so that your hair looks its absolute best every day.
Dry Shampoo: For the days between washes, spray dry shampoo at the roots of your hair to soak up excess oil and give everything added volume. It makes your hair more textured and lively, instead of limp and greasy.
Hair Spray: This is the finishing touch for any style. A quick zap will preserve your hair for the day. Just don’t touch it!
Salt Spray: A texturizing spray that also doubles as a pre-styler, which gives you beach-like grit for a piece-y finish, as opposed to straight, lifeless hair.
Byrd texturizing salt spray
Blow Dryer: Helps volumize hair or activate styling products, to magnify their effectiveness. Get an ionic one to minimize heat damage, and get a diffuser and concentrator attachment for curls and root targeting (respectively).
Conair ionic blow dryer,1875-watt, with diffuser and concentrator
Hair Brush: A nightly brushing will help distribute the natural oils from your scalp, so that your entire hair strand is nourished. This prevents split ends, and can also be imitated with hair oils that you apply yourself. More curly or coiled hair types will want a brush that targets these things—it’s not always a one-size fits all.
Sabado detangling brush for curly and coiled hair
Kozis wooden hair brush for straight or wavy hair
Hair Oil: A lightweight, nutrient-rich, and fast-absorbing conditioning agent. Apply a couple drops in the palms, then rub together and distribute through the hair evenly. Gives hair a healthy shine, plus prevents frizz and split ends. Can be brushed through for even distribution, and added to hair products for an extra pinch of shine and nourishment.