Help a perennial dork get some fashion up top!
August 13, 2010 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying (again) to grow my hair out. Every time I've tried this before, my wavy, somewhat poofy hair looks terrible after a couple months - like the geeky kid in period 70s movies. Help me maintain a fashionable hair style until it gets where I want it!

My whole adult life I have worn the same generic, Southern American hairstyle: Buzzed with a 2-guard on the sides, slightly longer on top, gelled. Boring and dated, but safe and very easy to manage. I have always wanted to grow my hair out to see if I like it, but have never succeeded. My philosophy has always been to just let it grow and refrain from getting a haircut. Predictably, this just makes me look goofy and unkempt when the hair reaches about 1.5 inches long on the sides, which results in me making a bee-line to the nearest Superlative Cuts. I have no idea how to make hair look good at these lengths, which is where you come in!

My specific problems:
1. I don't know any fashionable medium-length styles. I need to learn some and how to reproduce them every day.
2. My hair is wavy and thick. This means that it poofs up and is frizzy, by which I mean little hairs are standing out from the main wave all over the place. I don't even know what to do about this.
3. There are no actual stylists in my immediate area. This is why I haven't just run down to the experts and asked them what to do about this.

So hopefully some of you fine folks have gone through this or at least can point me in the right direction!
posted by Willie0248 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps the fine folks at Superlative Cuts can help? Have you ever, during your bee-lines, asked them about growing it out. Perhaps they are more knowledgable than you think.

How often do you usually go when you're maintaining your current style? Every 8 weeks or so? Maybe wait it out a few extra weeks, then go in and explain what you're trying to do. Even when you're growing your hair out, you should be going for regular trims. I know you said their not in your immediate area, but it might be worth seeking out a stylist for advice even if you go to S Cuts for maintenance in between trips to a nicer place.
posted by hungrybruno at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2010

When my son is between haircuts I'll trim up around his ears and his neck to give him a cleaner look. That might help you.

Also, can you just own it? I knew a guy in High School who had wild hair and he just let it do it's thing. When he tried using product it looked like he was trying too hard, so he just kind of let his hair be. It worked for him and once it got longer he was able to deal with it a lot better.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:49 PM on August 13, 2010

You are male, yes? (Not that it particularly matters, except perhaps for the hairstyle suggestions.)

2. My hair is wavy and thick. This means that it poofs up and is frizzy, by which I mean little hairs are standing out from the main wave all over the place. I don't even know what to do about this.

Brylcreem. It's greasy and horrible, but it's the only thing that works on my very similar hair.

Boar bristle brush. Oh my god. It is a magic wand. Seriously.

For long hair, you may want to consider chemical straightening. Maybe.

Thinning shears, thinning shears, thinning shears.

Also: Hats!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:56 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't know any fashionable medium-length styles.

There aren't any. This is what makes the middle-length time so tortuously difficult. Do not give in to those good shears and you shall prevail!

My hair is wavy and thick. […] I don't even know what to do about this.

If you take lots of showers, try cutting back on the shampoo and let your scalp do its thang. Also, the 70s hair styles are in again. Go wavy-crazy.

There are no actual stylists in my immediate area.

Good! Less chance you'll get it cut before its time. PATIENCE.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:58 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another option to Brylcreem is a bit of wax pomade. I'm a lady with long, thick hair that tends to frizz, and swiping a tiny dab of pomade (after it's been vigorously rubbed between my hands) over the surface of my hair goes a long way towards taming flyaways.
posted by ladybird at 2:00 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Combat the frizziness using conditioner. Keep the puffiness down by just asking your stylist to "keep the length but remove the thickness", which as sys rq suggests will prompt the less talented (cheaper) to whip out the thinning shears, and the more talented (more expensive) to do it 'manually', as it were.
posted by modernnomad at 2:00 PM on August 13, 2010

If you have thick and wavy hair, then most of your in-between options will look...somewhat poofy. There's really not a lot you can do about this, except wait for optimal shaggy goodness. What you can control is the frizz factor, with both conditioner and a bit of product. Instead of gel, you'd be looking for an anti-frizz wax pomade -- something like American Crew's Grooming Cream (my housemate had this in our bathroom, and his hair always looked decent) might be a good choice.
posted by thisjax at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I am a girl with curly hair, and I have had it short and grown it our twice now -- really the only answer is, You have to suffer through sub-optimal (euphemism for "dumb") looking hair for awhile. A stylist (a proper, somewhat pricier stylist) may have a slightly better answer involving tricksy haircuts and products, but really, it is just going to look awkward for awhile. I used headbands. Wear a hat?
posted by emumimic at 2:24 PM on August 13, 2010

3. There are no actual stylists in my immediate area.

Is there a possibility you're discounting girly places? It took me a long time to get Mr. Llama to my stylist, as paying 13 dollars for a haircut seemed totally like a good idea to him, but he know recognizes the value shelling out for a good person and he sucks it up and goes to the spa and has the nice woman cut his hair and then comes home with a new obnoxiously priced Aveda product.

Is it possible your eyes are glazing over when you look at Yoga Granola Tranquility $$$ Day Spa or something?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:32 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

You're going to just have to stick it out. I'm a woman, but I've grown from ultra short to long before and it truly sucks. The good thing is that nobody else is going to think your hair looks as bad as you think it does. Most people won't even notice. Do get regular trims from someone who knows what they're doing, but mostly: you have to just wait it out.
posted by something something at 2:34 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Baseball caps, newsboy caps, panama hats, even bandannas. Start wearing them now so you're comfortable in them to the point where you forget you have them on. They'll help smoosh your hair down - in this case hat hair may work in your favor.
posted by lemniskate at 2:51 PM on August 13, 2010

I have thick curly hair that gets poofy and frizzy easily if I don't take care of it and I second the Brylcreem suggestion. My haircut is short on the sides and long on the top as well. When I went for a while without a touch up from a short haircut, I mitigated the awkwardness by applying product like protein gel, or some sort of pomade on just washed hair to shape and comb it into a sort of 50s, retrodude hairstyle not unlike some kind of combination of this, or this. A longish top flap of hair works great with this. If your hair is wavy, just comb product through and part hair, then push it forward here and there creatively to create waves. The warning is I guess not to too severely comb it back unless that's your general style, ad not try to appear like some greasy Gordon Gekko 80s smug guy type.
posted by kkokkodalk at 2:54 PM on August 13, 2010

The last time I grew my hair out I tended to brush the top forward with a slight part, and then the bangs off to the side, and the sides straight down and back. This more or less hides the length until it starts to get actually properly long. The trick really is keeping the ears and neck trimmed so it doesn't look so scruffy.

And if you can get away with it, hats.
posted by quin at 3:38 PM on August 13, 2010

You might try to arrange your life so that you aren't likely to meet new people (job interviews, conventions, travel) during the painful growing-out period. People who know you already probably don't even really see your hair style.
posted by amtho at 3:45 PM on August 13, 2010

We are hair brothers. My haircut started out as prison Nazi, and I'm now somewhere between 70s surfer and Jason Patric from Lost Boys. Some days are better than others.

You need two things. Conditioner and time. Conditioner will help the frizz. Time, because growing your hair out means you sometimes look goofy. Buy a hat or stick it out.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:49 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hats, and patience. My other half has hair like this, and when I met him he was growing it out. He wore hats all the time, and that kept the giant ball of frizz contained. When he woke up in the mornings his hair would be like a giant halo of wavy hair that stood out sideways. I know he hated but, I thought it looked super cute. So I guess I'm seconding that you will think it looks worse than everyone else does.

Seriously though - PATIENCE. You will hate it and want to go get it cut. Do not get it cut. Keep your mind on the long haul and stick it out. Your future self will thank you!
posted by Joh at 3:59 PM on August 13, 2010

An old boyfriend of mine with the aforementioned 50's retrodude style used to dry his similarly wiry-frizzy-tending toward-poufy hair under a nylon stocking, and used said Brylcreem.. It helped.
posted by peagood at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2010

My husband has your hair. Once he got over the idea of men not using a flat iron and some great conditioner, he was much happier. Now he washes it at night, air dries it, and in the morning he straightens it out, styles as he wants and goes on with life. When it is too short for a flat iron, try blow drying it with cool air in the direction you want it to lay after adding an anti-frizz serum.

You can also ask your stylist to razor cut your hair, and thin it out as it grows.
posted by haplesschild at 4:27 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend uses anti-frizz conditioner and shampoo, some serum (silicone I think it is?) and a flatiron as well. Using product and styling tools doesn't make you girly!
posted by travertina at 4:36 PM on August 13, 2010

When it starts looking like crap after a couple of months, have it trimmed again, but have the stylist use scissors. No clippers! Then let it grow out again.

When it starts to get long again, brush your hair before you wash it, to keep the tangles away. After you shampoo it, don't brush it, just towel it dry, and then scrunch it up with your fingers. In other words, grab handfuls and sort of wad it up towards your scalp. Then let it air dry. You'll get waves, and maybe some ringlets, but minimal frizz.
posted by zinfandel at 8:47 PM on August 13, 2010

Hey, I have your head. My hair always looks better when it's grown out but I have trouble getting away from the "shaggy teenager" look. These things have worked for me in getting my hair control control and looking like an adult:

1: Keeping it Long and then going to a decent place: You may need to travel a bit, but having it long and then going to a stylist to shape it can work wonders. My magic words? "Take out the volume, trim the sides down, and I want low maintenance." Your local barber or even someone with clippers can keep it tight looking between visits. (thinning sheers!)

2: No More Shampoo: Okay not Never Shampoo, but down to once a week. The natural oils in curvy-wavy hair will build up and keep it from getting frizzed out. Use want to use conditioner a little more often. But warning, your hair will feel gross for about three days.

Brylcreem. It's greasy and horrible, but it's the only thing that works on my very similar hair.

This takes some getting used too, but a little bit goes a long way. Which leads to

4: The 50s! The retro looks just fits my head better and the use of simple use of gels keeps my head from being a sticky solid mess. Wash your hair before bed.
posted by The Whelk at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2010

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