Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/25/2021
Ever wanted to grow your hair but haven’t had the nerve to go through with it? Just a few short years ago, epic beards and longer hair styles were still a bit taboo.
These days, not so much. Long hair and beards are just as popular as they’ve ever been, with many guys shunning the short haircuts of years past in favor of hair that extends to around the chin or well past the shoulders.
With more people than ever receptive to long hair and beards, you’re less likely to be judged for having either. What a time to be a man!
While growing out your hair might seem like a simple process, the reality is that it requires a little more work than you might expect.
From basic hair care to styling techniques, the right tactics can keep your hair looking its best as it grows and help you avoid many common long hair problems.
Below, we’ve shared 10 tips to help you grow out your hair while looking good, along with expert techniques to keep your hair healthy at any length.
If you’ve been thinking about growing your hair out but never pulled the trigger, there’s no better time to start than now.
After all, your hair needs plenty of time to grow. Once you commit to growing it out, you may be surprised by how easy it is to pull off the long hair look.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the hair on your head grows by about six inches every year.
Since hair needs to be around 12 to 14 inches in length to reach to your shoulders, this means that you’ll need about two years of consistent growth to have shoulder length hair, or around 18 months for hair that reaches down to your chin.
Put simply, growing long hair requires patience. If you’re hoping for Fabio-style hair in a year or two, you may need to temper your expectations.
Growing your hair out doesn’t have to mean deleting your barber’s phone number. Although it’s obviously not a good idea to cut your hair short while you’re growing it out, having your hair cut on a regular basis can help to keep it looking its best while it’s growing.
Try to visit your barber at least once every three to four months to get a mild trim (make sure to let them know you’re growing your hair out) and to fix any areas that aren’t looking their best.
While cutting your hair might seem counterintuitive, cutting off a small amount of hair every now and then is a good way to deal with common annoyances such as split ends and keep your hair looking more like a lion’s mane than a bird’s nest.
Taking care of your hair is important regardless of how long it is, but it’s particularly important if your hair has some serious length to it.
Luckily, practicing good hair care isn’t very complicated. You should start by washing your hair based on how oily it feels.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the oilier your hair and scalp is, the more important it is to wash it frequently.
On the other hand, if your scalp feels dry, you may only need to wash your hair every few days or once a week.
Contrary to advice that claims you should wash your hair every one, two or three days, you only need to wash your hair when you feel you need to.
Use your best judgment and treat any “rules” regarding hair washing frequency as guidelines rather than iron-clad laws of hair care.
When you wash your hair, it’s important to do it the right way. Choose a shampoo that’s free of harsh chemicals and concentrate on cleaning your scalp instead of rubbing shampoo into your hair. This helps to control oil without making your hair feel coarse.
After you’ve finished washing your hair with shampoo, focus on applying conditioner to the tips of your hair, which usually need the most attention.
The longer your hair gets, the more important it becomes to protect it from common sources of damage.
These include excessive heat (for example, using the strongest setting on your hairdryer), sun (which can damage the outside of your hair and burn your scalp) and overly harsh hair styling products (which can irritate your skin and harm your hair by pulling on its roots).
Another common source of hair damage is chlorine -- a chemical that’s often used in swimming pools to prevent bacterial growth.
To keep your hair safe when you swim, wear a swim cap and rinse your hair with water as soon as you get out of the pool.
If you swim on a regular basis, consider using a swimmer’s shampoo that’s formulated to remove chlorine from your hair.
Long hair can look great, but unless you’re aiming for the aging ‘80s rockstar look, it doesn’t go well with a receding hairline or baldness around your crown.
As such, it’s important to be aware of the early signs of male pattern baldness if you’re growing your hair out.
Common early signs of hair loss include any noticeable change in your hairline, thinning that’s visible on the top of your scalp, or excessive hair shedding.
While it’s normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, anything beyond this may be a sign that you’re starting to go bald.
If you notice any of the signs of hair loss, it’s important to take action as quickly as possible to protect your hair from any further damage.
Male pattern baldness -- the most common form of hair loss in men -- is caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
If you’re genetically prone to hair loss, DHT can bind to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to gradually stop producing new hairs.
While male pattern baldness can start slowly, it can get worse at a surprising pace over time as DHT takes its toll on your hair follicles.
As such, it’s best to treat it as soon as you notice any of the common signs of baldness developing.
Finasteride works by blocking DHT, while minoxidil works by encouraging hairs to enter into the active growth phase of the hair growth cycle.
We offer both hair loss medications together in our Hair Power Pack.
Are you growing your hair out so that you can wear braids, dreadlocks or a man bun?
You might want to reconsider, because these hairstyles, as well as others that pull on your hair roots, often contribute to a form of hair loss called traction alopecia.
Traction alopecia develops when a constant pulling force is placed on your hair. This can loosen the hair from the follicle and, over time, cause scarring that stops the follicle from producing new hairs.
Hairstyles that may cause traction alopecia include braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, man buns and even overly tight ponytails.
The most effective way to prevent traction alopecia is to stay away from high-tension hairstyles altogether.
However, if you’re set on wearing your hair in a certain way that pulls it back, you can minimize your risk of developing this type of hair loss by wearing it as loose as possible.
When your hair extends below your chin, even a modest amount of gray hair can become much easier to see.
Unless you’re going for the Geralt of Rivia look, you’ll probably want to color your hair when too much gray starts to show.
While coloring your hair isn’t necessarily bad for it, it’s important to take some precautions if you have long hair that you want to look its best: Try to:
Stay “on shade” with your color. You’ll usually get the best results by choosing a color that’s within three shades of your natural hair color.
Protect your hair from sun damage. Try to apply a leave-in conditioner with zinc oxide and use a hat to shield your hair from UV radiation, which can make your hair faded and brittle.
In winter, give your hair plenty of time to rest. It’s best to color your hair every eight to 10 weeks during the winter to prevent damage.
The gentler you are with your hair, the healthier it will be and the better it will look. Try to avoid common hair care mistakes, such as brushing your hair 100 times a day (something it doesn’t need, despite popular belief) or pulling on your hair when you style it.
After you finish washing your hair, it’s best to let it dry naturally or use a hairdryer on the lowest possible setting.
Try to avoid drying your hair roughly with a towel, which can both mess it up and irritate your scalp.
Finally, if you’re going to tie your hair back, use a proper hair tie. Not only are rubber bands an annoyance to remove -- they can also pull on your hair and contribute to breakage.
Although this is more of a social tip than a hair care one, it’s still worth mentioning. As your hair gets longer, it pays to be prepared for some jokes and friendly banter from your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and just about everyone that’s a decade older than you.
Seriously. Expect a few Beatles jokes to start with, then hair metal, disco or grunge references once your hair has a little more length.
Whatever happens, don’t take it personally. They likely grew up in an era in which long hair on men wasn’t such a common thing. Either brush it off, enjoy a laugh about it together or have a good comeback ready -- it’s your choice.
Growing out your hair requires plenty of time. However, once you’ve mastered the basics of hair care, it’s a relatively simple process.
Whether you’re planning on chin or shoulder-length hair, the right hair care products can make a major difference.
Likewise, our range of science-based hair loss treatments are designed to keep your hair as full and thick as possible, no matter how genetically prone you may be to male pattern baldness.
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