How do I grow long hair, as a guy?
August 15, 2011 7:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm a guy, and I'm growing my hair long - what do I need to know?

I've never really been to concerned with what my hair does - I'd get it cut when it started to get in my eyes and never really gave it any other thought. All of a sudden, I've decided to try growing my hair long - not necessarily because I think it'll suit me, but because it's one of those things I'd really like to try at least once.

The problem is, I know absolutely nothing about hair, short or long. I've done some research on growing hair long via the internet, but some of what I've read seems to be conflicting (which products to use, if/when you should trim and how, etc...). Coupled with my lack of general knowledge about hair, I'm a bit confused. I'm not certain how best to describe my hair - but by my uneducated observation I'd say it's mostly straight with a slight curl at the ends (so far), and fairly thick (also, brown). My face structure is quite thin and I think a bit long.

So, what should I know as I embark on my long-haired quest? What basics might I have missed?
posted by Scrimshaw to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (47 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Get regular trims as you grow it. This keeps the ends of your hair looking nice and not all fried and splitty.
posted by cabingirl at 7:06 AM on August 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

Conditioner will be your new friend, if your hair is naturally curly or waxy at all you might want to lay off the shampoo for a while.
posted by The Whelk at 7:07 AM on August 15, 2011

Oh and ask your barber to " take the weight out", keeping it long but tidy and not oppressively heavy and unmangable.
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lot of guys with long hair seem to think that hygiene alone is adequate -- a daily scrub with cheap shampoo. That's the way to get a long, ratty, going-nowhere-dude ponytail. What you need is to ask someone who knows your hair -- a friend who takes an interest in hair, or a hairdresser, although the latter will upsell you on their product line. You need to condition -- if I could give one piece of advice to every be-ponytailed guy I saw, that would be it! You also need to style -- blowdry, some product, maybe a layered cut if you want to do a chin- to medium-length thing. In short, you need some hands-on advice. Have fun! (And it really can be fun!)
posted by Countess Elena at 7:09 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oops, and by regular I mean every 3 months if you aren't otherwise getting it cut.
posted by cabingirl at 7:10 AM on August 15, 2011

This is going to sound kind of silly and obvious, but it's something that completely escaped the notice of two different guys I know who grew their hair out, so bear with me here: you're going to need to use more shampoo when you wash your hair. The dime sized amount which worked when the locks were short isn't going to cut it, when the tresses are down to your shoulders. Also, yes, get regular trimming to keep it from being shaggy and reduce split ends. This is a tiny, tiny amount of hair going away, so it's not going to impact your goal of long hair much but it will keep things looking nice. Also, also conditioner is definitely going to be good for you. You'll experiment for a while with different kinds of brushes (untangle from the bottom up, once that gets to be an issue) and your hair will get a little damaged. Conditioning helps ameliorate that, and helps make it easier to get a brush through your hair at all. Expect some frustration, especially when it's just at that stage where it's always in your face and eyes. But it'll get better! And if you don't like it, you have some easy options...
posted by lriG rorriM at 7:12 AM on August 15, 2011

Well for one thing... you may not be able to.

Hair follicles have a cycle, and the anagen phase, i.e. the phase during which hair is growing, is not uniform from person to person. The longer the anagen phase runs, the longer your hair can get, as once it ends, it's only a matter of time before it naturally dies and falls out. The upshot is that you can grow your hair out only so far.

This phase can be from two to seven years, but it tends to be, on average, shorter in men than in women. As a result, men, on average, cannot grow their hair as long as women, on average. Now it's entirely possible that your maximum length is beyond the point that you'd want to grow it out anyway, but it's also possible that it's shorter than you'd like. Just keep in mind that if it seems like you've hit some kind of wall, you probably have.
posted by valkyryn at 7:15 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

My best advice, be very patient.
Hair grows on average 4-6 inches per year. The distance from the center front of your hairline to the nape of your neck is usually about 10-11 inches. If your bangs, or the front part of your hair, was just barely in your eyes, that's about 4 inches. So at 0.5 inches per month, that'll be just over a year until you can put it in a ponytail and not have pieces falling out into your face. If that's what you want.
posted by aimedwander at 7:21 AM on August 15, 2011

I wore my hair down to my waist until I was about nineteen.

You're going to see a lot of hair around the house when you sweep, in the drain, etc.. You're not going bald. It's just what happens when you have long hair. I am 26 now, with a full head and un-receded hairline and when I was a teenager you could have practically built a wig out of the hair I left around the house.

Get your ends trimmed about as regularly -- maybe a little longer -- as you would get a haircut otherwise. Split ends keep splitting up and up and make hair look frizzy and gross. Start seeing a stylist who knows how the deal with long hair. Split-end trimming isn't that hard, but barber shop guys don't really know what to do with long hair.

Aim for spending a longer time in the shower. The longer it gets, the longer you need to lather it, the longer you need to get the lather out, then conditioner, etc. etc. Depending on the quality of your hair, how you sweat, how there air is where you live, you might have to lather it twice.

Your conditioner matters a lot more than your shampoo, as far as the look of your hair is concerned. Do not skimp. Do not pick some random one. Experiment and see which one makes your hair look the best. It might be wavy-to-straight, it might be extra-gloss, it might be just plain regular, but don't settle before you find the right match for you.

If it hurts to comb it right out of the shower, don't force it. Let it dry a bit first.

If you get gum or cheese or something stuck in it, it is 99% easier to just cut out the offending chunk of hair and grossness than it is to try to get it out. The longer your hair, the less anyone will notice that it is missing.

Always make sure it is behind you when you vomit.

Always carry a pocketful of hair bands. You will be going through these things like water. Don't use hair bands that are held together by that little metal thing. Never, ever use rubber bands.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on August 15, 2011 [11 favorites]

Oh! And prepare for everyone to think you're into metal.
posted by griphus at 7:22 AM on August 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

I did this about 10 years ago (and still have a pony tail). I got it professionally cut about 3 or 4 months into the process, again at about 8 months--I told the guy what I was trying to do, and he gave me a cut that looked decent until then.

After that, I just let it grow and grow, until it got too long to look OK--I'm talking half-way down my back. Eventually, I've gotten a routine down where I'll reach back and chop off 6 inches or so about every 6 months. Oh, and I do trim the little curly hairs that grow around my temples.

My hair sounds like yours--mostly straight, with a little curl. I do not use shampoo, soap, or conditioner, just running my head under hot water in the shower every morning. When I wash it, it gets all fly-away and silky and looks stupid. The whole point of growing it long was to save trouble, you know? Not washing saves a lot of trouble. If I've been camping or working in the crawl space or something, yeah, OK, I'll use shampoo, but otherwise, nada. After showering, I dry it roughly with a towel, brush it straight back, put it in a pony-tail holder, then just let it dry on its own.

On preview--you're going to have to work out on your own how this is going to go. I did this process while dating and looking for a job, and decided that anyone who didn't like how my hair looked wasn't someone I wanted to spend time and energy on. If you don't keep it clean and conditioned and split-end free, you will be judged to be some kind of dirty hippie. You need to decide if you give a damn.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:23 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I shaved it then grew it. It made my hair look good in the inbetween stages when it was growing out. Takes about a year to get long. I never noticed any split ends or whatever, but I wasn't looking. IMO natural hair looks good without the undercut, but that's just me.
posted by Not Supplied at 7:25 AM on August 15, 2011

Also there's more than one way to wear long hair. I've got pretty curly hair and when it was down to my shoulders I did a center part, Oscar Wilde kinda thing. Not hippie at all.
posted by The Whelk at 7:26 AM on August 15, 2011

You will use a lot more shampoo. You will need conditioner as part of your daily routine, and a brush will be necessary, instead of just a comb. You will shed, a lot. You will go through an "awkward phase" with your hair where it will be uneven before the front and sides become long enough to tie back. That is where it will look the worst, but once you get past it, your hair will look better.

However, your hair will be straighter because of the added weight and be less likely to frizz out.

Another point: if/when you cut all your long hair off, everyone will tell you how much better you look with short hair.
posted by deanc at 7:30 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

you should try to keep it neat, or at the very least under control, at the back and in front of the ears--the places where head hair shifts into being facial hair and neck fuzz, both of which require different sorts of tending. for the neck fuzz, ask your barber to tend to it when you are having your split ends weeded out; the sideburns will be trickier and something you'll likely have to work out on your own, as there are questions of personal taste involved.
posted by spindle at 7:32 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you wear a ponytail, get the hairline on the nape of your neck trimmed for neatness. It makes a big difference.
posted by jgirl at 7:35 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing keeping it trimmed. Go to a stylist and tell them you want to grow out your hair, and to give you a cut that will work with that. The shorter your hair, the less time you have between cuts before it starts looking shaggy/mullet-y/unkempt, so either you visit a stylist regularly or you decide not to care. If you find a stylist you really like and feel comfortable talking to, stick with them.

Conditioner is your new best friend. Suave and VO5 - the very cheapest of the drugstore brands - are actually pretty okay, but they're thin formulas, and you might end up using half the bottle every time you wash your hair. My current favorite conditioner is Garnier Triple Nutrition - a mid-range drugstore brand. I've heard good things about Trader Joe's conditioners, too.

Don't brush your hair when it's wet if you can help it. Before you rinse out the conditioner, comb your fingers through your hair to gently get out any knots, and it will dry fairly tangle-free.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

You'll need to brush it. I've dated two guys with long hair, and one of them gave up on brushing and just let it become one big knotted mess as long as it looked okay to the casual observer.

Knotted hair *feels* dirty somehow, even when it isn't. Brush your hair.
posted by cranberry_nut at 7:50 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

griphus: "Never, ever use rubber bands.
posted by griphus at 9:21 AM on August 15

Nthing this a billion times. It can be quite uncomfortable.
posted by lampshade at 8:12 AM on August 15, 2011

You'll need to wash it less often. Your ends will get dry/crunchy/bad if you shampoo too frequently. You need to do something (brush it) to distribute the oil from your scalp to the ends, otherwise you'll end up with an oily scalp and still have dry ends.

It's warm. This is good when it's cold out. Next summer you'll need to keep it up. If you go to the gym, you have to keep it up (otherwise you have sweat soaked hair, and then you have to wash it, and then you have dry hair). Wearing a sweat band at the gym helps, not just for sucking up sweat but also for adding space between your neck and your hair. Wearing a head band outside of the gym is also a good way to get through the in-between phase with your sanity, but maybe not the most stylish can sometimes substitute a hat.

If you put the window down in the car, you have to have your hair tied back (otherwise you can't see, and you end up with tangles from hell).

You will need a lot of hair ties, and some way of keeping them on your person (plus in your car, at work, at home in all the bathrooms and by the door)... Don't get the jelly kind, they're too grippy/tangly. Don't get anything with metal on it. Don't use rubber bands. Wider hair ties are a little bit nicer on your hair. Don't wrap your hair tie too tightly, especially close to your head (you can put a tie at the bottom of a braid a little bit tighter, since that hair will be trimmed in a reasonable time period).
posted by anaelith at 8:18 AM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've done some research on growing hair long via the internet, but some of what I've read seems to be conflicting (which products to use, if/when you should trim and how, etc...)

Hair care advice is the most pernicious pseudoscience there is. Nearly everything you'll read on the topic is bullshit — not necessarily false, but probably paid advertising or urban legends. Also, some of this is genuinely YMMV-type stuff where the answer depends on how coarse your hair is, or how oily your scalp is, or whatever.

Unfortunately, you can't be a hair care agnostic about your own hair.

You should either find a stylist with a good reputation and get product advice from them; get your advice word-of-mouth from friends with similar hair texture; or be prepared to do a fair bit of trial and error. And if you find an approach that works for you and read some article telling you it is Wrong Wrong Wrong, just shrug and ignore it. Either it's someone with different genetics than you, or it's pure marketing bullshit.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:24 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

If your scalp is naturally oily, it's going to be hard to maintain the balance between clean and too frizzy on top. You may find it more comfortable to sleep if you loosely braid it before bedtime.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:25 AM on August 15, 2011

Be prepared for a 'neither-fish-nor-fowl' period. If you've been cutting it just as it gets in your eyes, this is also the time during which my own hair enters the 'what are you doing?' phase between eye & nose length, during which you don't have short hair, but you don't really have long hair either. This period requires moxy and commitment to see through.
posted by robself at 8:43 AM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am a guy who had long hair for a few years. You have to find what works for you. This is what worked (or not) for me:

Every six weeks or so, go in for a trim and ask just to have the split ends trimmed off. If you don't do that, your hair will stop growing. Don't get your hair layered (that was a mistake I made for a while) unless you want a more feminine look.

Use conditioner every time you wash your hair. It makes a big difference.

With short hair, I wash every day, but with longer hair I scaled that back to every two days, though I still showered every day. If you wash long hair every day it tends to become frizzy and much less manageable/styleable.

I had a lot of issues with styling when my hair was in the inbetween stage of growing -- too long to style it like short hair, but too short to style it like long hair. I never solved that.

If you want a pony tail, buy lots of black hair ties (or at least ones close to your own hair color). Try to get ones that don't have a metal piece in the back -- the metal ones are cheaper, yes, but very ouch-y to get out as hair gets caught in the metal piece. You will need to replace hair ties frequently. They snap and break, or get hair so tied up in them that they stop working. Generally you can buy thin hair ties in packs of 100 or thicker ones in smaller packs in any drug store. They will generally be stocked (understandably) by the women's hair products.

Use a brush, not a comb. I still prefer a brush even now that my hair is short again; that is a habit I kept.

Long hair takes a very long time to air dry, and will make the back of your shirts wet if you do air dry it. Dry your hair thoroughly with a hair dryer before you go out, especially when it's cold out. I take my showers in the morning and this was a particular problem for me, especially when I was running late for work. I'd end up standing at the train station with wet hair, and eventually, a frozen pony tail by the time the train showed up. It isn't pleasant. I tried switching to showering at night, but then I either had a wet pillow or had to sleep with a towel wrapped around my pillow.

Good luck!
posted by tckma at 8:46 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, one more thing:

If and when you decide to go back to short hair, you may want to find a salon or barber shop that will donate your hair to Locks of Love. You need to have at least 6 inches of hair cut off to donate, and the hair must be cut dry (so you need to tell them before they wash your hair if you go to a salon that washes your hair before it gets cut).
posted by tckma at 8:53 AM on August 15, 2011

One thing you want to watch out for is a very annoying chin-length phase in which the ends get in your shit all the time. I was tempted to get my hair cut when I hit that, but I decided to stick it out since my hair was already that long (via forgetting to get haircuts), so I might as well go for something different. It Gets Better, as they say.

After that, you'll probably be fine just using a shampoo-and-conditioner-in-one like Pert Plus. YMMV, but I get a trim 2-3 times per year and don't look ridiculous.

Oh, and you can dry your hair after a shower pretty quickly by simply holding your arms out in front of you, parallel to your body, then whipping your hair into your arms about ten times to knock most of the water out. This is sort of similar to what dogs do. Then, towel it off, and your hair will be completely dry in 10-15 minutes.
posted by ignignokt at 9:02 AM on August 15, 2011

As someone who used to have long and very thick hair - get the thick hair bands. Not the thin ones, they are far less effective, more likely to snap, and generally just a pain. Especially if you do have thick hair.

It will take forever to dry. Mine was once still be damp the next morning when I went swimming the day before, so you might want to use a hair dryer. It could also take you forever to wash shampoo and conditioner out, so say goodbye to short showers when you're washing you're hair.

To deal with the oily on top/ dry ends problem I would sometimes condition the ends of my hair twice, and use it sparingly on my scalp. I also washed my hair far less often, about twice a week.
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2011

This is sort of counter to some advice above, and like tckma mentioned it can be a nuisance when wet, but if you want good hair don't blow dry it.

I had long hair from midway through high-school through my early 20s, mostly 'cause I couldn't settle on any other hairstyle that I could deal with on a daily basis. I grew it out so I wouldn't have to do anything with it. Once you get through the awkward, in-between phase and it's long enough to tuck away in a pony-tail, long hair (on guys) is actually pretty low maintenance.

While growing it out, I didn't do anything special other than stop getting it cut, apart from the occasional end-trimming. The only hair-care I ever did was wash, condition, brush. My morning routine was simplified from struggling in vain with a comb/brush/gel/dryer to get whatever shorter hairstyle I was trying out to not look stupid, to brushing it and pulling it back into a pony tail.

Girls would always comment on how it wasn't fair that my hair was so healthy and theirs was so dry/brittle/frizzy/whatever. I assumed this was because guys with long hair don't typically abuse it with blow dryers, various heating appliances, and tons of product.

If you're an active guy, you might find it problematic. It gets hot and sweaty and tends to get in the way. I've heard more than one first-hand account of girls, and guys, with long hair having to cut away hair that's been sucked into a rappel device, so something to keep in mind if you're a climber. There's a reason that a lot of outdoorsy, active girls tend to have shorter, pixie-ish cuts. IME long hair is harder to deal with than short, if you're regularly active.

I eventually tired of it, went fully to the other extreme, and shaved it all off. Now I can't imagine having to deal with hair, of any length, every day. My brother, OTOH, grew his out, has worn it that way for years, and AFAIK has no plans to cut it. So go for it. It might be a few-year experiment in a new look, or it could become your hairstyle for life...
posted by zen_spider at 9:32 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Obviously, it's going to take longer to wash, and longer to dry. Also, your only reasonable choice is going to be to wear it in a ponytail. This gets a little boring. At least it did for me.
posted by Gilbert at 9:32 AM on August 15, 2011

I've had waist-length hair most of my life. Here are some things that you might not know:

1. Regular rubber bands - the kind for household use - will rip your hair. They are very uncomfortable. You need proper hairbands. Keep spares in your pockets, backpack, etc. You want the thick ones with no metal connector.

2. Conditioner is not a vanity product if you have long hair. Without it your hair will tangle in to rats nests if you don't brush it 10 times a day.

3. Do not brush long hair immediately after exiting the shower. It just doesn't work well and you'll lose a lot of hair. You can comb your hair in the shower, while you wash out the conditioner, or after it has dried.

4. I have never used hair products other than shampoo and conditioner, and I don't blow-dry my hair. There is no need for those things; they are optional.

5. Washing every 2 or 3 days is generally optimal.

6. Different shampoos and conditioners will probably affect your hair in noticeably different ways once it grows out. How they affect your hair may have little or nothing to do with what the bottle says. (Hair product marketing is, as far as I can tell, pretty much meaningless.) You just have to try stuff out.

7. You may find a shampoo or conditioner that makes your hair feel awesome for a few weeks, and then seems to "stop working". You then switch to another kind, and think you've found "the one" again. In my experience, it's not that the new product is so fantastic, but that switching it up seems to make a difference. I don't know why this is.
posted by Cygnet at 9:47 AM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

nebulawindphone is pretty spot-on. There are a ton of options. Some will work for you and others won't. You could mentally add YMMV to every single post.

What works for my (fine, nearly straight) hair is to wash just my roots with cheap shampoo 2-3 times a week and then follow with lots of cheap conditioner. I figure most of the dirtiness is scalp oil which doesn't travel very far from the scalp quickly. Not putting shampoo directly on my ends keeps them from drying out too much.

I use VO5 because it's dirt cheap and my hair is nicer when I don't use something with dimethicone or cyclomethicone. I squeeze some of the water out (not wring!) and let it mostly air-dry before combing or brushing. Sometimes I skip the shampoo and just use conditioner.

I don't think you necessarily have to use a brush, but having something wider-toothed than a standard pocket comb would probably make your life easier. I used to only comb my (formerly) waist length hair.

Again, YMMV for everything. I have a friend who doesn't put anything but water on his hair and it's lovely. I have another friend who uses like six different products and blow dries every day. Her hair is also lovely.
posted by Akhu at 9:49 AM on August 15, 2011

To build on what others have said: the less you mess with your hair, the nicer and healthier it will be. Other than shampoo, conditioner, and regular-ish trims, you don't need to do much of anything.

My method for getting excess water out of my hair after a shower is to gather it in my hands, like I'm about to put it in a ponytail, and then very gently squeeze the water out. Then I shake my head quickly for a few seconds, and squeeze again. Repeat the shake-and-squeeze a few times, until your hair's no longer drippy.

If you towel-dry your hair, either blot or gently squeeze with the towel as above. Rubbing your scalp with the towel can re-tangle and sometimes break hair.

A lot of this advice makes it sound like long hair is delicate and prone to snapping if you look at it funny. In truth, it's pretty strong. It's just way less of a pain, literally and figuratively, if you treat it gently.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:14 AM on August 15, 2011

A lot of this advice is pretty YMMV, such as never using a hair dryer; if you live in a climate where going outside for even a short period of time in winter with wet hair leaves you combing ice out of your hair, you may reconsider. (Besides, you can use a hair dryer with an extension cord to thaw out frozen-over car door locks.) The advice in the first paragraph of Metroid Baby's response above is a good starting place. A couple of other notes:

- During that in-between, not-long-enough-for-a-pony-tail phase, consider using a little hair spray to keep things neat--not tons, you don't need to build a hair helmet, just enough to keep things in place in everything but a high wind. I used Aussie Sprunch, non-aerosol.

- The hair on your temples can behave quite differently when it gets that long--when I put my hair in a pony tail, the temple hair was curlier (more like my beard than my scalp hair) and stuck out a bit like Dagwood Bumstead's hair. You can either trim it yourself (although people will say that you've got a mullet--ignore them, they're full of shit), or have a stylist do it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:56 AM on August 15, 2011

Grew out my hair from middle of senior year in highschool to my college Junior summer.

The transition period between short -> long will very likely suck, in terms of how your hair looks. See the same (hopefully knowledgeable) hairdresser for regular 6-week trims.

Your wave will be more noticeable as your hair grows out, especially during the middle stages. If you're lucky, the curl may fit well with your head/neck. For some people, the natural wave just doesn't work.

If you don't already use conditioner, add it to your morning shower.

If you live somewhere humid, it can take a lot longer for your hair to dry. A lot longer, especially if you have a thick head of hair. If you live somewhere very cold, beware of frozen hair if you shower in the morning and then have to go outside shortly afterwards. Also, if you have poor water flow in the shower, it can also take a very very long time to a) get your hair completely wet and b) completely rinsed.

Long hair can be annoying especially in windy conditions; it gets in your eyes, mouth.

Never use rubber bands, but there are semi-disposable plastic polymer bands that don't pinch/stick and don't spontaneously crumble like hair ties with the little metal clip holding the band together. They lose their elasticity after a couple/few days, though.
posted by porpoise at 1:38 PM on August 15, 2011

Do note that after a certain length your long hair will cease being a hairstyle and instead become a shroud. Really long hair is fun for a while, but does it ever get in the way and look pretty bad, at least on me. Don't be hesitant to chop it up to shoulder length if it gets too long. The difference in look and drying time is surprising.

I've worn my hair long for 5 or 6 years now (though I'm thinking about cutting it short for a change soon) and I was hesitant to get it trimmed any major amount. I always figured more hair would be better if I was wearing it long, and for some silly reason I took pride in having one of the longest heads of hair I knew about. I never realized how awful it was beginning to look. My friends pressured me to chop some of it off, and eventually I gave in and let a friend of mine who's good with hair chop it down to shoulder length. It was the best decision I ever made with my hair. It was surprising how different my hair looked even though it was still long, just a different length. And I could actually see my torso again! Overnight, it became a lot curlier than it was before. It also took less than an eternity to dry after a shower. I don't think I'll ever let it get far past my shoulders again. I guess what I'm saying is have fun, but realize that hair can be pernicious in that it grows so gradually that it can become a giant hassle without you noticing.
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:33 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have had long hair at various times over my 39 years here on Earth, and I can give you the following guidance:
  • I didn't use a blow-dryer ever. I would towel-dry after a morning shower and just let it dry which took forever, but probably was far less damaging.
  • The middle period others have referenced is indeed a dark time that will test your resolve, and may make you the target of some unkind Flock of Seagulls japes.
  • Don't wear it in a ponytail unless it is long enough. No-one needs another Steven Seagal ponytail.
  • It is just generally kind of a pain. The moments where I had long hair cut off were great moments.
  • Comic Billy Connolly had a great explanation for why he grew his hair long. "I was a welder," he said. "And no-one ever said, hey! Look at that welder!"
  • In conclusion, go ahead and do it. Revel in your time.

posted by Kafkaesque at 3:10 PM on August 15, 2011

Be prepared to get honked at while driving! When I'd ride with an ex-boyfriend who had lovely long black hair, we'd get honked at all the time because from the back we looked like a hot brunette and a hot blonde in a Camaro!
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2011

Conditioner is only necessary if your hair is really dry, or flies everywhere. You don't need that much, and only apply it to the ends (not directly on your the scalp). Conversely, apply shampoo to your scalp, not on the ends. Putting conditioner on your scalp will make your hair very flat and oily. In my opinion, washing your hair every day is not necessary and only perpetuates the cycle of making things more oily.

Your hair is weak when it's wet. Pat and blot your hair dry, don't rub a towel over it. If you rub, you're gonna damage it and get split-ends. Also, don't comb your hair when it's wet. Finger-comb from the bottom up. When it's mostly dry, then use a comb (or a brush).

Long hair clogs the shower. Get a drain protector.

Comb or brush your hair every day. It looks much better, and people can tell when you don't do it.
posted by hooray at 4:43 PM on August 15, 2011

as said above, be sure to brush it daily - too many long haired guys don't, and it looks icky.

a really easy way to do this - when you shower, shampoo the top, then condition the ends - while the conditioner is in, and you are under the water, run a wide toothed comb through it. you get the hair combed, straightened a bit, and get all the conditioner out at the same time. As long as you don't crazily muss it up with a towel when you dry it, you'll have neat hair for the rest of the day.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:37 PM on August 15, 2011

When I had long hair I used a moisturizing shampoo (still do and think everyone should, especially those who wash their hair daily or frequently). The brand of shampoo varies (I'm fickle like that), but I always use a middle of the road type (Garnier, Dove, Burt's Bees, etc.) - don't go too cheap. I don't use conditioner, but I also don't blow dry my hair. When drying it I leaned over (like you're going to touch your toes), gathered up my hair in my hands and squeezed out the excess water. After that I'd wrap a towel around my hair turban-style and leave it on while I did other things (put deodorant on, underclothes on, etc.). Then I would take the towel off and and squeeze dry my hair a bit more with the towel - do NOT rub. Rubbing leads to tangles, tangles lead to torn hair and, possibly, split ends. I used a brush like this one. Be sure to brush at least a few times a day, it helps distribute the oil and keeps it healthy (looking) and tidy. I used pony tail holders like these.

Hair stylists love my hair and ask my how I keep it so nice and I tell them what I wrote above.
posted by deborah at 6:04 PM on August 15, 2011

Response by poster: There's too much information to reply to individually here, so I'll have to give a very broad thank you to everyone! I'm making an appointment with a reputable hairdresser today to get my hair trimmed (I'm hitting the three-month mark around now), which hopefully I'll be able to pick up a few tips there. I think I'm starting to understand the basics, but don't let me stop anyone if they have any more tips to give.
posted by Scrimshaw at 6:26 PM on August 15, 2011

Response by poster: Apparently I live around the corner from a very good hairdresser - I never knew! They even gave me a trim for free (mainly because it required very little done to it), and it looks a whole lot better now.
posted by Scrimshaw at 6:59 PM on August 15, 2011

Look forward, in a corner of your mind, to getting rid of it. My ex had hair almost to his waist for 8+ years and finally decided to cut it. He looks 15 years younger now and it's much easier to take care of - when living with him, it was a great benefit to go from nasty long hairs in the drain to nothing in the drain, basically.
posted by bendy at 9:11 PM on August 15, 2011

What do people mean when they say don't "wash" your hair? Don't get it wet in the shower, or don't shampoo and condition it?
posted by SollosQ at 9:33 PM on August 15, 2011

That's an interesting one. I would prefer not to get my hair wet at all, ever, for a couple of reasons... The excessively long drying times, for one. Also, I flat iron my hair sometimes and if it gets wet then it goes right back to being non-straight, and straightening is such a pain that I damn well better get at least a few days out of it. And most of my hair, except for close to the roots, is definitely more manageable when it doesn't get wet.

Unfortunately, my scalp definitely lets me know that I need shampoo every few days, so I have to get it wet every 3-4 days. On top of that, if I go to the pool then my hair must be washed with shampoo again. If I go to the gym or do some other sweat-producing activity then my hair needs a rinse (just water, maybe a little conditioner). If I use any "product" in my hair, then my hair gets rinsed as soon as I get home (water/conditioner).

How this mostly plays out is that I sync my wash days with pool days, rinse on gym days, and leave it dry otherwise.
posted by anaelith at 5:02 AM on August 16, 2011

What do people mean when they say don't "wash" your hair? Don't get it wet in the shower, or don't shampoo and condition it?
I mean "don't shampoo and condition." I rinse my hair thoroughly in the shower every morning.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:39 AM on August 16, 2011

Your conditioner matters a lot more than your shampoo, as far as the look of your hair is concerned

Can't overemphasise that. I have shoulder length, thick, wavy hair and I will happily wash my hair with any shampoo for example when travelling (which I do a lot). But I make a point of always taking a bottle of good conditioner with me. At home I'll aim for nice shampoo, too, but it's a lot less crucial.

Also nthing getting it trimmed by a good hair stylist every so often.

Conditioner and regular haircuts are pretty much the extent of my hair care regime.

For what it's worth - I'm a girl, normally too lazy to dry or style my hair much so it's very healthy.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:22 PM on August 17, 2011

« Older Watch out, Carl Sagan, I'm coming for your job   |   Help my cat get through some stressful times. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.