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Extreme Lengths – A guide to long hair for men

Hair is just one topic I can waste extreme lengths of time discussing, there are so many layers to unravel, and it is certainly not something I could cut short. So excuse my tangled blog as a I delve into my own hair tips and merry anecdotes that might just turn your hair white. In this blog I will comb out the details of growing hair and caring for long locks. I don’t claim to be an expert in this field, but I do hope my tips can help.

This will include the following:

  • Growing it out (also known as why does hair grow so slow and why you’ll look like a moron for half a year)
  • Product hell (also known as my hair is now greasier than a deep fat fryer)
  • How to style (also known as nobody teaches men how to get the perfect man bun)
  • Hair Dye (also known as the death of your hair)
  • Repairing your hair (also known as brittle hay and costly products)

Two years ago, I decided to ditch the traditional short and groomed hair and trade it for a long mane of hair. This new style seemed match the aesthetic of a writer and was a way to experiment with my hair. It is true that long hair is one of the most rewarding styles you can have. However!!! You must be willing to persevere through a nightmarish amount of trial and error. Having reaped the benefits of longer hair for the past year, I can attest it is more tricky than I ever envisioned.

Hair Grows SLOW

Let’s see if you have the determination to commit for many long months of growing hair. Be prepared for the struggle of uneven lengths and terrible styles for a months of end. The best advice I can offer is to embrace the ride even if it feels tedious.

This will give you a brief idea of some of the stages of hair growth.

The months of being in the awkward in-between stage felt laboriously slow. Turning up to work and getting the occasional comment or stare from a colleague regarding the ‘barnet’ almost deterred me from the process.

Everyone’s hair grows differently. Whilst I was growing my hair out I used the Internet for advice on this process. Yet, nobody seemed to share my particular hair type or have advice useful to me. My hair was relatively straight hair and just seemed to poke out in random places not taking much shape. There was little styling I could do except for hiding my hair as best as possible.

At this point be prepared to have unexpected costs piling up, especially the longer the hair grows. Whether you are trying to style, hide or groom the hair it all costs money. I will try to break the costs down as they happened for me during my tangled path.

(Cost number 1). My first big spend happened relatively early, I invested in a much needed straightener and as a hair dryer. Straighteners are a lifesaver during the growing process because it gives the hair some extra length and creates leeway for more style. Of course, straightening your hair won’t be enough to keep it looking strange.

(Cost number 2). The simple fact is you will need certain accessories, things that may never crossed your mind. Hair bands are probably the most essential item and there’s plenty of options to choose from. My go to hair accessory during the awkward in-between stage, was the Alice band mainly to keep stray hairs off my face. You will be tempted to try and tie the hair up at an early stage but will soon find it is not possible. Patience is the game here.

Bandanas hide all!

(Cost number 5). In addition to hair bands you might end up buying items to hide your hairdo. I decided to hide my shame under bandannas! This is mainly because I have an obnoxiously large head, so finding hats that fitted were difficult. If you have a normal sized head I would suggest a good selection of hats. This can vary from caps to woolly beanies and depending on the season you can switch it up.

You may reach a stage where you consider going to a hairdresser just to get everything evened out and form a style. I would advise against this! I waited an entire year for my hair cut. The split ends were insane but the truth is the more the hair is cut the longer it will take to grow. Besides, this ought to be one area where you can save more money until you have reached a good length of hair. However, once you do have a full length of hair be prepared for higher priced cuts. My advice would be to wait for the day it can be tied up into a ponytail.

Product hell

After months of trying to hide my hair the moment came where I could tie the hair up into a ponytail or man-bun. There was just one minor detail I had overlooked. I had no clue how men groomed or styled long hair. Here is where we enter the next phase of expenses.

(Cost number 6). It is a lot of upkeep to maintain healthy long hair, if you do not wash it enough it gets oily and tangled, if you wash it too much it feels dry and broken. Washing hair soon becomes more tedious. The days of using 2in1 Shampoo/Conditioner are over! Instead I was investing time at looking at different hair products. During the times between Pantene and L’Oréal conditioner, I was introduced to argan oil. This product seemed to return moisture to my hair without having to wash it daily. Whilst the product certainly revitalised the hair and left it nourished it often resulted in a greasy appearance. My pro tip for using argan oil is to apply it sparingly. The most useful use for argan oil is removing stray hairs why tying your hair back especially if it is very dry.


I once believed having long hair meant one could simply wake up and tie it up without effort. I think back to the time I had short hair with a wistful memory. Whilst I did spend plenty of time grooming myself in front of the mirror, with hair gels or sprays, this is nothing in the time spent drying and brushing my long hair. Indeed, it’s a lot more work then I envisioned, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Learning to style long hair is another lengthy process. I’d never had long hair before so everything posed a new challenge. Several YouTube videos later, I was still unable to get the gist of how to create a messy a man bun. In fact, I still cannot manage to produce the ideal bun. I have taken the most simple approach for me. First I tie the hair into a high ponytail, then I twist the hair into a sausage and loop it around the tied hair until I have a tight bun. Seriously, if anyone can provide a how to guide on the messy bun, please comment below.

Hair tied up on a hot NYC day 2019

Things really changed for me in terms of styling my hair as my first long haired summer approached. I found my hair was uncomfortable and seemed to get in the way all the time. As a result I stopped straightening my hair out of habit and was tying it up most days. To my delight I discovered I had naturally wavy hair. True it wasn’t the very curly but it gave my hair a fuller body.

I decided that I liked the curly look and braved a trip to the hairdresser to get it styled with curls. Whilst the stylist stuck to my briefing I was mortified to see her using a shaver on strands of my hair. The same hair that had taken months to grow were hacked away in minutes. To make matters worse I could no longer tie my hair up without wisps or hair protruding from my scalp. Flashbacks of girls I had known over the years complaining about layers from the hairdresser quickly flashed through my mind. My new hair was the cause of frustration for the following few months as the layers grew out and the curls began to take form. Please don’t accept layers in your hair unless you are willing to wear your hair down for a few months. It is a messy affair and I’ve learnt the hard way.

Dying Hair

Having dark black hair I always had a limited choice on colouring my hair without causing major damage. As a result any time I have tried to turn myself blonde the results were often disastrous, most of the time I ended up with orange hair. As a pre-teen I became so angered that the peroxide boxes never worked that I used my own concoction. This consisted of household bleach diluted with water. Yes you did read that right! And yes it resulted in me losing chunks of hair and becoming rather sick . Safe to say I have never been that stupid again.

However, during lockdown I wanted to switch things up without shaving my hair. Therefore, I dyed my hair blue! After spending £15 on the product and turning my sink blue, it was safe to say I was disappointed the colour wasn’t noticeable. When lockdown was extended I decided to brave the idea of bleaching my hair. I decided to test the product on the tips on the hair in case it burnt of the hair off altogether. However, after I applied the product I became nervous and washed it out earlier then advised . Thankfully, my hair tips changed into pleasant auburn colour. The result was sun kissed hair that geared lots of positive comments.

Then a few days later I began to regret the choice. My once soft and bouncy hair had become brittle like hay breaking off whenever I touched it.

Repairing Hair

I tried so many things to self-repair the hair, this ranged from avoiding washing it for 4 days, to washing it twice a day. I used copious amounts of argon oil to return some moisture to the end of the hair only to look oily. I purchased hair masks from multiple shops and applied coconut oil. Sadly these products only provided temporary relief. In the end I was forced to brave the hairdresser and requested a light trim to remove most the dead hair. Nevertheless, I still retain much of the damaged hair in order to keep a decent length of hair.

I decided in order to repair the hair I would need to splurge a bit more cash on right product. My salon had suggested Sally as a a good store for hair products that was readily available in the UK high streets. The store is designed specifically for hair. I entered Sally’s with little expectation. The layout didn’t to evoke confidence. Everything seemed overpriced or confusing. I decided to ask a worker for advise on restoration of bleached hair and the was advised on Olaplex. The price seemed extortionate for such a small bottle but I was willing to try anything once.

I have only used it twice and already my hair had returned to back to its healthy soft appearance. I am seriously wondering why I have not heard more about it before. If you have been lost in hair dye hell and are considering cutting off your hair, then please try this product first. I am sure it will restore your locks to a healthier state.

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