Breaking Through The Early Phases of Awkward Stage Hair

In Educate by Andy Watson13 Comments

Instant Eyeball Shred

This morning I managed to trap a strand of my hair between my eyeball and my contact lens. Yup, as I was getting sorted for the day I popped in a lens and ‘boom’, instant eyeball shred.

That hurt. A lot. And it took seven minutes to pull the contact lens out, leaving me with a blood red eye and desperate determination to never do it again. In the 17 months since I decided to grow my hair, that’s the second time I’ve managed to do that. I guess it’s just one price you have to pay.

I’m Andy. I can just about say I kinda have long hair now. I recently struggled through early phase awkward stage hair and have finally punched through to the other side.

 

I’m still not sure exactly why I decided to grow my hair. I guess it was a combination of things. I’d just relocated with my girlfriend for a new life in a rural location, I’d taken up woodworking and was rediscovering old bands from way back. I’d just started bashing around on guitars again too, maybe those long-haired rockers were influencing my thinking. Part of it also, I think, was I wanted to look a bit different from everyone else.

So, I missed a haircut. And then another. And another. That’s when things started to go very wrong on top of my head, and I entered the early phase of awkward stage hair.

It’s a Long, Hairy Road

From that point and through my long hair journey I took note of my experiences, including the many problems I faced and the tips and tactics I tried—some successful, others not so much. Now, having finally made it out of the awkward phase warzone, I want to help other guys battle through.

Which brings us here, to Part I of this three-part series on awkward stage hair.

If you’re just setting out on your hair journey, this post will give you a few tips that will help you navigate the first 4-8 months, or what I affectionately call early phase awkward stage hair.

In part II I’ll share tactics and tools that will help you get through mid-phase awkward stage, or “the thick of it.” And finally in part III we’ll cover exit strategies for final phase awkward stage.

I’m not gonna lie. Making it through the awkward stage, and particularly the early phases, is a test. It’s not gonna be easy—and fortunately I got a lot of inspiration and staying power from The Longhairs—but these tips and lessons learned helped me power through, and they’ll help you make it too.

Making it through the awkward stage is a test.

Pompadour or Full-On Awkward?

First things first. Once you begin growing your hair, it will look crappy. For months. I read a lot about keeping the back and sides very short and growing the top in a pompadour style until you get to a point where you can start growing the rest in stealth mode, underneath the extended pompadour.

Do. Not. Cave.

My hair was very short when I started, so I figured the pompadour route would mean I’d be growing the top for at least 18 months before I could start on the sides. That just wasn’t an option for me, as I wanted to jump right in and build the foundations for full-on, all-round long hair right from the start. The pompadour would mean I’d only just now be starting to grow out the back and sides. Plus, I kinda wanted to suffer a bit for my art. I wanted to experience the true journey.

Holding Out When It Gets Tough

The best piece of advice that I can give anyone who’s struggling with the awkward stage is: Do. Not. Cave.

It’s easy to say, so that doesn’t help you at all on its own. However, I figured out a way to get through it and not give in. Sure, there were a bunch of days when it looked like a buffalo had taken a crap on my head. You will have those days, too.

This is what you need to do when you’re about to throw in the towel and head over to the barber’s chair.

Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game, the goal of having kick ass long hair. Not a lot of guys grow their hair long and there’s a reason for it. It is hard to power through the awkward stage.

Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game.

I decided that if I ever wanted a haircut, I’d remind myself of why I started doing this in the first place, and I made a pact to wait at least two weekends before quitting it. If there was even just a glimmer of wanting to carry on in that time, then I would keep on going.

Easier to keep creeping forward than to hack it all off in a moment of weakness and regret it a few days, weeks or months later. Use this ‘two weekend’ rule yourself. It worked for me.

Hair Hacks: No Wax

One thing that took me some time to realize is that hair products for very short hair do not work well as the growth begins to take hold. For me it meant ditching my gel and wax, replacing them with hair cream and conditioning oil. If you make the switch early enough it will save a lot of hassle.

We’ll dive a little deeper next time on those kind of products. As for the gels and wax, once you get to a certain length, you just won’t see good results. Those products tend to make your hair firm or even crispy, which is not a good look when you start getting some length. You end up trying to comb or style it full of goop, it’s hard to find any style that looks passable, and you end up just looking like you’re trying too hard.

Keep On Keepin On

There you have it guys, a few tips that helped me through the hard times, and I hope they help you make it to the promised land. I’ll be interested to hear any other tips, what works for you (or doesn’t work), and how you’re getting on as you walk the path to becoming a longhair.

Stay tuned for part II, where I’ll be talking about mid-phase awkward stage, when and how to get your hair cut during the awkward stage (if at all), the magic of hair straightening products and making the transition from the barber’s chair to a fully-fledged salon.

For now, just dig in, take the crap the awkward stage is going to throw at you and hold out for better days. Until then, ride it wild!

 

Andy lives in the UK, leaving the London city life in 2015 for the rolling landscape of North Yorkshire. He’s a fitness, science and property renovation writer, marketing strategist, greenhorn guitarist and singer, and he’s been growing his hair out since February 2016.

Follow Andy’s fitness blog at www.hackthegym.com or get yourself some science at www.sciencecavern.com. You can also follow Andy’s musical progress as Kurt Faraday on www.twitter.com/kurtfaraday or www.facebook.com/kurtfaraday.

Comments

  1. I’m an 88 year young guy. Had twenty years of rigid hair and beard rules as a naval man. Early this year I decided to give the longhair style a go.. Well, the term style is hardly appropriate, considering all I have left is on the sides and back. Anyway, what I have is silver and the only way to do it is in a small (but very neat) pony tail. I certainly don’t miss going to the barber ever two weeks or so! Just recently switched my Tundra for a GM VOLT. . Let me say this about that: It is the best car I have had; everything from a Model T Ford, Porcshe and even a Borgward and many more. It is the definite
    way to go – little or no more fossil fuels polluting our air and operational cost s a fraction of an ICE powered vehicle. We are a two car couple and are going for a replacement for the other polluter ASAP !
    PS Come on Longhairs, save your hair and help save the planet, get an electric vehicle !

    i

    1. Author

      Hah hah, thanks for reading my Science Cavern blog! As you can see from the photos, no Longhairs referral cards were harmed in the making of the menger sponge, those cards are just way too important 🙂

  2. I am in the awkward stage right now. I have a habit of using shampoo everyday. I just read it somewhere that it is no good. Can you help me with shampoo routine in detail?

    1. Author

      Hey Adarsh,
      Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I’ll be covering some of this in a future post and I’m sure the Longhairs have mentioned their take on it. I’ve a bit of knowledge on this, as years ago I used to work in the labs at a global personal care and household products company, plus I have a lot of first-hand experience now! Washing your hair every day can strip too many of the protective oils from your hair, leaving it prone to damage, breakage and general nastiness. If you have fairly normal hair then it’s best to only shampoo it maybe 2 to 3 times each week. You can condition it as often as you want though. Remember, focus the shampoo mainly in on the roots and the conditioner mainly on the ends.
      I hope that helps and good luck on your journey!

      1. i add at the comment from Andy that longhair can get tangles more often than short hair; use a conditioner detangler on the lenghts ( not the roots), and you can also use a detangler spray on dry hair if necessary when you brush it
        caution: in America, very few conditioners are also detangling produces ( verify in the inci list there is a quaternary compound XXXium, but avoid polyquaterniums which are occlusive)

      2. Thanks a lot. My hairs are very thin. When I wash them, I can see portions of my scalp but not when they are dry. Will that be a problem when I tie them?

  3. Just say NO to Awkward!

    I’m 3 months past my last haircut. Awkward just smacked me in the face. If I hadn’t found The Longhairs website I’m sure I would have caved. I’ve read quite a few posts and watched many of the videos which have been inspirational and informative. I’m new here so I apologize if I repeat something that’s been said before.

    Realizing you have a problem is the first step. I’m a problem solver by nature so identifying the real problem was my first step. Is it really “awkward” or is it “undesirable?” Yes, “awkward” is a pretty good description of the disaster atop my head, but more to the point, it’s “undesirable.” I want to look like El Moreno not Phyllis Diller. (Yes, I’m old, look her up if you have to.)

    If you’re twenty-something, you can probably rock awkward hair. If you’re a fifty-something accountant for a construction company…not so much. I watched El Rubio’s “Traveler” video yesterday. It was amazing and inspirational, but what I learned is that you have to adapt to different hair styles along the way. I think shorthairs are laser-focused on the final destination of long hair and anything along the way is just frustration. That’s why I think you can kick Awkward in the ass once you realize that you’ll have to live with a few “undesirable” hair styles along the way. Not ugly hair styles, just not the final goal.

    I don’t know how often I’ll need to trim, maybe once a month? I have searched the internet for pictures of men with medium length hair. Instead of just sitting in a stylist chair and expecting to leave with a cut that I can live with for the next month or two, I’ll take a few pictures of styles that I think I can live with and ask the stylist to try to match that.

    The next thing I realized was that I had to change my daily schedule. If I had to spend more than 15 seconds on my hair in the morning I knew it was time for a cut. Now I hop in the shower 10 minutes earlier. I got a hair dryer, wide-tooth comb, and quality shampoo and conditioner. I blow dry my hair about half dry, work in a dab of Axe pomade, then finish drying with a style that works for me (this week). Last week I was using extra pomade and slicking it back while still wet. That worked for a while but it started looking like plastic hair. I’d appreciate recommendations for creams or oils that will give me a better slick-back look. My hair is very fine and very straight. I have a massive quantity of hair, but the individual strands are thin.

    When I figure out how to use Instagram, I’ll post a few pics.

  4. My inspiration for the awkward stage always was Johnny Depp. At times he had long hair, but most of the time he’s kinda in between. The funny thing is, people think, he has a great style and he puts a lot of thinking in his hair style, with all those people wanting their barbers to cut it exactly like Johnny. But in reality, this guy just has a haircut for a particular role he’s playing and in between his roles he just let’s it grow and doesn’t fucking care! It helps that he’s a cutie, though…

  5. I am a newbie to THE LONGHAIRS but I’m already in lockstep with your mission, have faith in what your doing hook, line and sinker! I’m a mere weeks away from my 1 year anniversary of hair growth (Oct 14th). I’ve just received my first order of Sunshine Citrus serum (feels great!) and the hair bands and head wraps are on the way. I’ve scoured the web for information from your videos.

    I must say I probably would not have made it this far without your support. Your serious, yet lighthearted approach to hair growth is just what is needed. Other sites tend to restrict the possibility of hair growth possibilities to guys who are young and have a full mane. I’ve seen none of that negativity here. In my 50s, age and biology has shown that the gorgeous mane I grew in my 20s is no longer a reality, but through the support of your website, products and instructional videos, I’ve maintained the courage to give it another try and not give up.

    You guys ROCK! Keep up the good work and valuable mission. You are having a positive impact on men out there, believe me. A big hearted THANK YOU!

    1. Vince, hell yes man! That’s exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing and your message is inspiring. We’ll keep lettin’ it ride, hope you do also. And by the way, send us your hair update photos on Instagram or Facebook! @thelonghairs Thanks for writing in!

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