Every guy has looked in the mirror and wondered what would happen if they just forgot to go to the barber for a while.
Long-haired guys have arguably become more fashionable since the 60’s – thank your hippy parents. Men like Jared Leto, Kit Harrington and Chris Hemsworth have made the man bun their own and we have followed.
But how do you do it properly? Well, there is a lot more to it than just not going to the barbers.
I’ve been growing my hair now for a little over 2 years. I learnt a lot the hard way as I asked and sought for zero help – my own fault. In this blog, I will take you over that I learnt and what I wish I knew when I began.
So let’s start from the start.
Is it for you?
If you’re thinning on top, long hair isn’t for you. It’s just going to emphasise what you don’t have. The same goes with thick coarse hair, as that’s just going to ‘fro out.
Be warned – if you decide to tread this path, it will take time, patience and commitment to pull off properly. There will be awkward phases where your sides make you look like Krusty the Klown (second Simpsons reference already) but you need to persist. You will get sick of conditioning your hair every 2nd shower and you will always be short of hair ties. But you need to persist.
Not-so-even playing field
I started growing my hair long from a number 3 on the back and sides and long on top. I believe my ultimate goal was Jason Newsted circa 1989:
Looking back, the short sides were a perfect starting place. The sides of your hair grow faster than the top. This meant that by the time the top was long enough to tie back, I could style in the sides or at least tuck them behind my ear. You can also use a little beard oil to hold the sides in place.
Unless you’re rocking the skinhead, your hair probably isn’t even anyway. Wherever you’re starting from though, remember that having length on the back will lead to a mullet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
The hygiene complex!
So you’ve decided to commit to long hair? Well growing it is half the fun. Washing and caring for it is the other half.
Long hair sticks to the back of your neck and absorbs so much sweat, so it can really stink (you’re going to possibly get more pimples on the back of your neck and shoulders, by the way). Washing it every time you sweat does more harm than good, though. Shampoos with high levels of synthetic detergents and sulphates wreak havoc on the follicles.
These crappy chemicals strip your hair of sebum and natural oil that is needed for keeping your hair strong and healthy. Luckily, we know some good shampoos and conditioners that are sulphate free. However, greasy hair from excess oil and not enough washing smells awful.
Stick to shampoo twice a week, maybe three times if you sweat a lot. Our Hair & Beard Shampoo is extremely gentle and free from synthetic fragrance, sulphates, silicones to ensure your hair isn’t being stripped of it’s necessary oils. Condition every 2nd day to help keep your ends from splitting.
When you’re stressed, you don’t perform your best- the same with your hair. Stress causes you to go grey early, remember? Food also plays a big part. Foods like nuts, avocado and fish will make sure your follicles (the hair factories) are working the best they can.
Don’t touch or play with your hair, as this takes away the good oil and spreads whatever else you’ve been touching all through your hair. Avoid blow drying (except for emergencies) and don’t brush your hair when it’s wet. This stretches the hair and does a ridiculous amount of damage to it.
No more violent rubbing of your hair to dry it. Gentle squeezes are the best way so dry your mane after a wash. Learn how to make a towel turban. This makes you look extra tough as you apply your beard oil after a shower. Avoid putting your hair up when it’s wet, too. Believe it or not, this can lead to your hair rotting.
Upgrade your routine.
Your washing habits aren’t the only thing that will change. With longer locks, your gels, pomades and styling waxes just aren’t going to cut it. This stuff is made for short hair and won’t work the same way. You’re asking it to control a lot of hair that has a lot of weight.
A hair cream or serum that is left in overnight should be added to your list. This stuff is made for the longer mane to make sure it stays luscious.
Combs and brushes are a whole new world. The only thing I use to comb my hair is my ‘Tangle Teezer’. Made of a stiff rubber, it will not pull on your hair but instead gently works its way through. I’ll give my hair a good comb twice a day.
Protip: Massage a few drops of beard oil into your scalp once a week after a shower. It’ll do the same thing it does for your facial hair – encourage healthy skin and hair. More about that here.
Hair ties are your new best friend, too. But take it easy, there is no need to choke your hair or pull it so tight that your forehead triples in size. When removing hair ties, don’t pull. With one hand, hold your hair are the base of the ponytail and with the other hand, roll the hair tie off.
My guilty pleasure as of late has been a hair claw. Hold your hair as if to put it up into a high ponytail, but instead fold it forward to your face. Place the clamp just in front of the fold. Now you can sit in a high-backed chair, or drive a car with your hair up.
Headwear can be a challenge. I regularly wear a beanie with my hair in a bun and have no problems. Wearing a cap or hat with your hair down presents some interesting challenges. Going hiking or for a long walk, I love my bandana. Hair out of the eyes, easy to readjust and it sucks up the sweat.
A beard and facial hair will always go together, regardless of which one is longer. You still need to regularly see a barber every few months to take care of split ends and make sure that your sideburns are under control.
Long hair will also change the shape of your face. If you’re a youngin’, you’ll look a little older. If you’re a little older, you’ll look a little younger. Maybe.
Hair up and hair down are two different looks and there are many ways to wear hair in both ways. Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp have a side-part that suits their faces whereas Jared Leto often has a centre part. Something that I cannot do as it makes me look like Jesus.
In hot weather or when you’ll be without a hair tie, consider plaits or braids. Much easier to manage some well-plaited or braided hair than a ponytail.
Don’t know what suits you? Throw it all behind your ears and let it make up its own mind. The true essence of long hair.
If you can grow your hair long enough to tie back, you just about have the patience for anything. Long hair is a very different creature to a fade. Treat it gently, and it’ll keep you looking wild and free.
Let your locks flow and show them off. You’ve earned it.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Phil Forbes – The Aussie in Poland. Dinosaur nut, Simpsons quote fiend, post-rock enthusiast with a strage addiction to all things mint. When he grows up he wants to be a dinsosaur and/or stormtrooper. Writer at shoplo.com/gb