help me tame this wild pony(tail)
March 10, 2008 8:17 PM   Subscribe

do men who have long hair (long enough to pull back) have to let it all grow out evenly? or are there less wooly ways to maintain it?

i have what some people call wavy and some people call curly hair. it's definitely not straight, and i like to think that back in the 70s it would have been very popular. regardless, i've let my hair go so long without getting cut that i'd like to ride it out and see if i can get it long enough to tie back. however all this hair on the sides of my head is getting a little crazy, and since it's not long enough to really do anything with, i'm treading into sideshow box/phil specter territory. do i just have to push through and let it all keep going undisturbed? or can i get the sides -- especially around the temples and ears -- trimmed without sacrificing anything?
posted by phoeniciansailor to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I feel your pain.

Just cope with the awkward stage, and then never cut your hair short again.

Every few years, I get bored and shave my head... and then regret it for about six months - so I suppose you could take that up - I just don't recommend it.
posted by pompomtom at 8:26 PM on March 10, 2008

I'm in that stage now (just entering it, really). I've pretty much resigned myself to being in hat-stage; my roommate jokes that I look like a hobo, but I've had people tell me that I notice the messiness of it all far more than anyone else does. Pompomtom (or anyone else who knows): about how long does this stage last?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:31 PM on March 10, 2008

can i get the sides -- especially around the temples and ears -- trimmed without sacrificing anything?

That sounds like a mullet, which is fine if that's what you're going for. If I'm reading this right, I think what you want is a stylist to thin it out a little. Go to someone good -- if might be a little expensive, but if you're letting your hair grow you shouldn't have to go too often, and tell him/her that you want to grow it out and what you don't like about what your hair is doing. There is an awkward phase in growing out your hair, but a good stylist can make it less awkward.
posted by Airhen at 8:36 PM on March 10, 2008


I find these help to tame it.

Female friends reckon I got another 4-6 months to go before it can be fully tied back, and it's just below my jaw line now.
posted by Blacksun at 8:38 PM on March 10, 2008

...oh and by the way, don't get anything trimmed. Try to tough it out.
posted by Blacksun at 8:40 PM on March 10, 2008

posted by SansPoint at 8:40 PM on March 10, 2008

Best answer: A good hair stylist can make the suffering a lot more bareable, but finding the right person seems to require a good handful of luck.

I went through the puff stage a while back, my hair is a little past shoulder length now-- I was lucky enough to find a good stylist, she shoved magazines into my lap and went through them and picked something that would suit me in 6 months, and then cut my hair in preparation for that.
When you're eventually aiming for long-hair all over, you can sacrifice a bit of length on the.. lower areas, think of it as an emmensly slow race, as long as you hair hits the length your aiming for at the same time, you're golden. You can afford to leave your hair at the bottom/back of your head short until the hair from further up gets to that length, because then they're all on the same time-line, and the hair above will help keep the lower stuff down. So getting it (intelligently) trimmed is fine, but for the love of God, don't get it thinned out-- looks great for the walk back from the hair-dressers after it's been lovingly treated and poked into perfection. But two days later, you're well into mega-puff land.

I bought some of this oil stuff on her recommendation, which I still have.. *wanders off to bathroom* Kerastase Oleo-Relax, seems to last years, quite literally, it's a quick way of adding a little weight to your hair, using some conditioners when your hairs still damp can do the trick too, just leave it in. Essentially, find something to weigh it down, until it can do so itself.

If you're a guy, you're probably used to washing your hair every-day, get out of that habit, guaranteed your hair will look better after a day or two, or three, or four. Try just washing your hair with water and skip the soap-- see how it feels. You'll know when it starts getting grotty to really wash it, but just avoid washing it for habits sake.

Other then that, put a hat on when you're hair's drying to try and lock it in place if you can't be arsed to fuss over it.
Straighteners are a good choice as Blacksun mentioned for dressy/the odd night, but it's quite a lot of hassle, especially if you're hair isn't already long (lots of burnt fingers and ears..). Get your stylist to straighten it one day, see if you like it, remember, you'll never be able to do it as good at them though, unless they're crap... :)
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:14 PM on March 10, 2008

Nthing the advice to ride it out. Hats, bandannas, glasses on the head - anything to keep that side stuff in place. If you trim it, you're gonna be mullet man. Just stick with it and in a few months you'll be past the bad hair stage and into the glorious mane bonus round.
posted by zippy at 9:41 PM on March 10, 2008

When I had long hair, it was curly and tended to grow out rather than hang down. I began to shave the sides and back about 3/4 of the way to the top of my head, and let the hair at the very top grow down and over. The nice thing was during the transition, the shaved bit with longer hair on top was a reasonably fashionable look, or at least one unremarkable enough I never felt self-conscious.

Enjoy it my friend - while I still have a full head of hair, I'm prematurely gray, and with the loss of melanin hair gets pretty coarse, driving my current, mostly shaved look. No longer shall my cascading, loose curls of shining chestnut brown touch my shoulders and drive female friends to declare their wish to have my hair.
posted by jalexei at 10:23 PM on March 10, 2008

You have to ask yourself what you want the end product to look like. If it's all long enough to tie it all back, your hair's probably going to be a wild mass. You may like that, or you may not. Do you have a picture of the hairstyle you wish to achieve? It is possible you could take that to a stylist who could get you there without looking scruffy in the meantime.

I feel like you're describing my hair. I had it long in the back (I like the feel on my shoulders), but had the top and sides shorter, for various other reasons. I liked this a lot until someone told me I had a mullet- a curly mullet. Never heard of this- looked it up on the internet- nope, don't want a mullet. So then I was unhappy with the IDEA that it's a mullet, even though it felt right. (Actually, I still think if you have a mullet, a curly mullet is definitely the way to go.) Later, I did let it all grow out long enough, and it was just too much hair for me. Still don't know what to do with it.
posted by MtDewd at 4:52 AM on March 11, 2008

Just a note on Static Vagabond's suggestion to get Kerastase products. They are really realy expensive. Like you think you know what expensive hair products are and then you see the price for Kerastase. However, they are considered one of the best brands on the market.
posted by spec80 at 5:42 AM on March 11, 2008

I guy I know who used to have very long, curly copper hair used a leave-in conditioner after shampoo. If he didn't, he claimed to get "white man's fro".

The most frustrating point for me when I grew out my hair was the point where it was long enough to get in my mouth but too short to stay in a pony tail or otherwise stay back.

When you tie it back, DON'T use rubber bands - they will break hair and then you'll get annoying flyaways that are just the right length to get in your mouth but too short...well now you know one thing that drove me nuts. I used fabric Goody hair ties. They don't last long, but that don't damage your hair.
posted by plinth at 8:12 AM on March 11, 2008

You'll also find that the rate of growth is different depending on the location on your scalp. For example, the hair on the back and lower portion of your head is going to grow a lot faster than the thinner hair up around your temples/earline, which is exactly the opposite of what you would want to happen if your goal is to tie it all back. So yes, you will have to accept the interim period of unbound chaos. You may also be relegated to the hat zone as spiff notes, depending on severity and your preferences.

do i just have to push through and let it all keep going undisturbed? or can i get the sides -- especially around the temples and ears -- trimmed without sacrificing anything?

Another person mentioned a mullet, I'm assuming that's not what you meant by trimmed around the edges. That was one of the most annoying areas when I was waiting for my hair to get long enough to tie back, and I trimmed it up myself every month or two. My hair can be really comfortable if I have it tied back, but if it is in my mouth, pressed against my ears, or sweaty on my neck I am going to be uncomfortable. Even if your hair isn't long enough to tie back you can stuff it up in a hat to hold it in place while you trim around your ears/nape of neck/etc with a beard trimmer, etc.
posted by prostyle at 10:51 AM on March 11, 2008

I had a friend who pretty much shaved the sides around the temples and ears - it was a thrasher 'do in his set and definitely not a mullet, a mullet is long in back only. Of course you have to keep up with a haircut like that. And his was dead straight, I have no idea if it would work at all for a curly top. I have a feeling the benefit would be marginal.

I'm very much in your boat: I have long hair, have cut it all off a few times since high school, when I had a totally classic mullet (cut it off the first time to grow it out properly), and have found no practical alternative to the insane hobo intermediate stage. Of course, I'm not very willing to spend a lot of money on fancy haircuts, or product, or any significant time on my hair.

If you grow a big bushy beard at the same time you can collect some really priceless looks at the supermarket. One time I caught a chilling glimpse of this shaggy, grinning reprobate in Target and got a hell of a turn before I realized I was looking at myself in a mirror between the clothing racks. Your profession is a pretty critical issue in taking this path.

For me, I found the best I could tame it was to, work a decent quality leave-in conditioner through it while wet, then let it dry wrapped in a towel as you go about your morning business, no blowdrying, combing or brushing. It'll start lying a lot flatter as it gets longer, in my case well before it gets long enough to pull it back.
posted by nanojath at 12:15 PM on March 11, 2008

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