How to Go From Short to Long Hair Without Looking Like a Mess

Long hair, DO care

Jared Leto with long hair and a beard
  Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

The likes of Jason Momoa and Jared Leto didn't get their long locks with zero effort. There's always that awkward mid-length phase, which can make your look seem messy. Long locks also need to be cared for more than short hair. Thinking about growing out your hair? Be prepared.

Have a Goal

Before you even begin the process of growing out your hair, it's important to have a goal in mind. What length are you trying to reach? What style do you want? Search for inspiration photos of long-haired men with a similar face shape and hair type as you. Be realistic. If your hair is curly or coarse, you're not going to achieve a wispy look. Choose a style that's appropriate for you.

Keep It Trimmed

About every six or eight weeks, you should get a light trim to keep your hair looking neat and healthy, and to shape the hair so it's prepared to grow out to your final style. Your inspiration photos come in handy here. Show them to your barber or stylist so you can get on the same page for your journey to long hair.

Take Care of Your Hair

If you've generally always kept your hair short, you've probably been able to avoid a lot of maintenance to keep your hair healthy since you have constant new growth. With long locks, though, a good hair care routine is critical. Once hair becomes severely damaged, there's no way to repair it other than cutting it off. To keep it from breaking, avoid aggressive towel drying, tight ponytails, and other damaging habits.

You'll typically need to wash your hair more often to stop greasiness. And with that, you should also be using something you might have never needed with short hair: conditioner. This helps detangle and also replenish moisture. Hydration is one of the keys to keeping hair long and strong. You don't need to get fancy. TRESemme Moisture Rich Luxurious Conditioner ($6) works perfectly and is a great value.

Be Patient

Growing out your hair is definitely a process. It grows about half an inch per month and there's nothing you can do to speed it up. So, if you're going from a buzz cut to a shag, expect it to take the better part of a year. Inevitably, you'll also go through that phase where your hair is both too short and too long to do anything with. Your stylist can help select products and styling options to get you through the awkward stage.

With the right preparation, realistic goals, and proper maintenance and care, you can still look stylish and well groomed along the way. Be patient and have fun experimenting with your new looks. Once you get tired of the long hair, you can always chop it all off and start fresh.