Growing longer hair comes with a multitude of benefits – the versatility, the elegance, the cool, sweeping air of a matinée idol. At its best, it becomes a style signature on par with your most trusted jacket, or ever-reliable navy suit. But growing one’s hair out also comes with difficulties, from maintenance to styling to the dreaded “in-between” phase.
Barber extraordinaire Mr Brent Pankhurst has seen it all, en route to building a follicular empire beloved by many – he even taught Essensuals Director Steve how to shave! Below, he explains the dos and don’ts of growing longer hair, and the styles – based on the men who wear them best – to ask your barber for.
“The most important thing for any man growing out his hair is to make sure to make sure to see a men’s hair stylist or barber that uses alternative techniques to pure clipper cuts,” says Mr Pankhurst, whose Carnaby barbershop is renowned for clever haircuts. He makes a fine point: there’s nothing wrong with a barber that leans heavily on clippers over scissors, but growing out a blunt cut won’t serve you well in the long term. Look, too, for realistic coaching from your barber. “If you’ve have had short hair for a long time, then your hair stylist will be able to manage your expectations by explaining what you’ll be able to achieve based on your hair type.”
Nurture those locks
Yes, growing out a haircut will require some time, but most underestimate the products it requires, too.
“Different hair types respond to different products. Every man growing their hair out will need to take a bit more care of their hair and use a high-quality shampoo that is right for their hair and keeps it nourished and healthy,” says Mr Pankhurst. Growing out unhealthy hair is a recipe for an underwhelming, frizzed-out style disaster, so nourish your strands habitually. Your product needs will evolve as your locks grow – from moulding cream on mid-length hair, to a clever styling conditioner once it’s below the ears. “A defining serum is better suited to men with thick or curly hair,” he adds.
While you’re on the journey, you’ll still need an occasional cut to keep your locks looking presentable. Far from leaving it to your follicles to grow out perfectly, lean on your barber through the transitions.
“The cut will change from being your classic cut, to a graduated haircut and then a layered haircut. As the sides grow out it’s important to cut the top down so that the hair is balanced,” says Mr Pankhurst. Here, the cuts should be more subtle than drastic – a trim of the sides or top, with a view to blending your new growth in.
Mr Jake Gyllenhaal
The Look: Modern part.
The Effect: “It’s a slick look that won’t date and wouldn’t look out of place anywhere – it’s timeless.”
The Method: “Ask for a layered haircut around the back and sides with some length on it. Make sure it’s kept sharp around the outline. Towel the hair dry, comb with a wide-toothed comb then use styling conditioner to keep it neat but still floppy and tousled.”
Mr Bradley Cooper
The Look: Effortless tousle.
The Effect: A lengthy style that toes the line of unaffected cool, and red-carpet finesse.
The Method: “The most important thing with this look is keeping your hair healthy. Wash it twice a week with a small amount of shampoo but rinse your hair every day. Towel dry it and then add styling conditioner and a small amount of defining serum if your hair is particularly thick.”
Mr Kit Harington
The Look: Controlled curls.
The Effect: A slick take on wild locks.
The Method: “The barber should cut this style freehand for the best results – which means you need a barber experienced in long hairstyles. This wouldn’t suit anyone with thinner hair or a receding hair line. The best product to use is the thickening shampoo and the defining serum. Apply after towel drying your hair and brushing with a wide-toothed comb.”
Mr Harry Styles
The Look: Shoulder-length flow.
The Effect: A boyish, rockstar look.
The Method: “Style this when the hair is almost dry and move some defining serum loosely through the hair using your fingers. Again, with this style make sure that it is washed twice a week and rinsed every day. Opt for a scalp-care shampoo or a thickening shampoo.”