Chalk it up to yearbook picture trauma, or a particularly horrid teen photo of that mullet during your “punk band” phase. But one of the rare universal truths we all acknowledge is that growing hair out can be an arduous process—and probably something we’re all commiserating on atm.
Especially when coming from a once-hot hairstyle with a whole lot of details, that stage in between your fresh cut and your desired length can look especially awkward… so much so that a lot of us avoid the process altogether and just maintain our current look.
The only thing with that though: It keeps us from generally having fun with our looks. It also puts a pause on experimenting with hairstyles that might actually end up being our best looks ever!
So, the best solution to dealing with that painfully awkward stage when growing hair out? We present a two-pronged approach: Plan A, find looks that incorporate those in-between lengths into an actual style of their own; and Plan B, making sure to properly care for hair during this time—and luckily, we’ve got Unilever In-House Stylist Bailey Pope to help with some sage growing-out advice!
Read on below for her tips, as well as some chic runway looks that make the most out of that “weird” length you can have, whether it’s a skullet (!) or a micro fringe. When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade and sip awayyy, girl! Scroll on:
Growing Hair Out Properly, by Bailey Pope as Told to All Things Hair
Split End Maintenance
Split ends that aren’t addressed can split further resulting in more length that will have to be trimmed off, losing progress of reaching your target length. This is why your stylist recommends regular trims even when you’re growing hair out (Ed’s note: Check out her handy video tutorial on how to cut your own ends!).
While split ends are completely natural, proper strength and moisture in the hair can help avoid pre-mature splitting.
Choosing the right mask is important. It’s hard to go wrong with moisture-rich formulas, but if you have breakage keeping you from reaching your goal length, reach for strengthening masks and boosters that have protein, like Nexxus Keraphix Damage Healing Masque and TIGI Copyright Custom Care Repair Booster.
For thicker hair, use clips to section your hair and work your product into more manageable sections.
Always read the product instructions (or ask your stylist!) when it comes to protein masks. Some masks can over-proteinize your hair and make the hair stiff if not used correctly.
Targeted moisture can make all the difference in maintaining your mid-lengths and ends while growing out. Mid-lengths and ends get significantly less moisture than the root area.
One thing that’s been really big in the salon industry lately has been multi-use oils. Using a multi-use oil can make all the difference.
As a pre-wash treatment, you can apply to dry hair on the mid-lengths and ends. This adds an extra level of moisture to your hair that helps fight against any drying that can happen during the wash process. Look for something that’s going to give you the moisture that you want, but also won’t weigh your hair down. I like Love Beauty and Planet Sandalwood & Grapeseed Natural Oils Infusion. It’s the perfect balance as a pre-wash treatment but also can be used on damp hair for styling.
One of my favorite tricks when it comes to multi-use oils is cocktailing a few drops into my conditioner in the shower for added moisture if my hair is dryer than usual.
“Awkward Stage” Styling
Hair usually flips out when growing from above the shoulder to past it. When this happens, it’s best to use a round brush when styling.
When blow-drying with a round brush, hold it diagonally with the handle down and toward your face, then blow-dry while pulling forward. Then, switch hands to do the same thing on the opposite side. This assures that both sides have the same movement and shape.
Check out Bailey’s video for more detailed steps on awkward-stage hair care and product application. Good luck!
Runway-Worthy Inspiration When You’re Growing Hair Out
1. Space Buns
Not quite as in love with that full fringe anymore, and getting annoyed with it, you know, being all up in your grill? Try splitting it up with a center part and tying it up into a set of space buns as you wait for them to blend into the rest of your lengths. The clubby sister of the Bantu knot hairstyle, space buns are the lazy girl’s BFF, as the only thing that stands between you and a whole new look are two hair ties. First prep hair with some dry shampoo to refresh your scalp (we love TRESemmé Fresh Start Basic Care Dry Shampoo), and create a middle part, fringe included. Then tie up each fringe section into a knot or bun, securing with a hair tie.
2. Thick Headband
If the best-dressed celebrities at the recent awards shows were any indication, headbands and crown accessories, like tiaras, are back in a big way. You can have the runways to thank for the resurgence in this late 1980s trend, as thick, fabric-covered headbands were actually seen back in circulation again, keeping many a grown-out fringe—or errant curl—in check. Dust the cobwebs off your own bands, do as these catwalkers do and pair yours with a chic low pony that’s been slightly texturized with mousse (we like the lift we get from TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Touchable Bounce Mousse) and perhaps even a stunning shoulder-duster for extra style points.
3. Piecey Bangs
If you went in hard on the blunt bang + bob trend and are now looking to longer pastures, why not incorporate another hot microtrend while you’re on the way there? Style your growing-out hair into wispy pieces. We love the definition we get from Bed Head by TIGI Manipulator, especially when emulsified between palms and finger-styled on each chunk of hair. Rake the leftovers through the rest of your bob, scrunching towards the ends to texturize.
If you’re one of the awesome directionalists that gave the mullet a second chance, but for some reason decided that it was finally time to move on, you can so transition into a shag. It’s a graceful step down from the harsh contrast of a mullet cut and evens out those chunky layers a whole lot while keeping that rock-chic vibe you love. Styling with a texturizing product keeps limpness and stringiness at bay especially when you’re growing hair out from a mullet, and we love the slightly beachy bounce we get from Bed Head By TIGI Queen Beach Salt Infused Texture Spray. Don’t forget to give your bangs a well-meant blast with the blow-dryer to fluff them up around your brows.
5. Wet Look Half-Updo
Why the lob face? If the trendiest haircut of the past three seasons has been seeming a bit played out for you, you can spiff things up (while waiting for your lengths to come in) by playing with some texture. The wet-look trend is a stylish way to flip the script on those “messy waves.” You can do this while remaining ahead of the pack. Prep hair after the shower with some whip, like Nexxus Exxpand+ Volumizing Whip, then lightly rough-dry. Make a side part, then pull it all together with a trusty hair tie as you take on another big trend: the half-updo.