The first time I grew out my hair was 2015, and I found it a really frustrating experience. I was trying to go for that luscious long hair for men look, but instead I would wear a hat 6 days out of 7, and I think I had maybe 3 genuinely “good hair days” in that entire final year. The second I could tie my hair back, I buzzed it all off, like I had crossed some finish line. I was over the work. On top of that, the length only further emphasized my hair recession and thinning, and I needed to wear a style that covered the recession—something much shorter and choppier to give folks the appearance of density. I vowed never to grow my hair out again.
But here I am, growing my hair out once more. I started with a fresh buzz in January 2021, which marks a little over a year and a half. That’s because I also got myself a nifty hair transplant in 2020, and for the past few years have been taking various measures to regrow and thicken the hairs on my head. And guess what? Now I’m working with a ton of hair, and growing it out has been a lot less revealing. On top of that, with 7 more years of grooming expertise under my belt and a lot more patience in my daily approach… I am happy to say that I love having long hair. I even think I would have loved it back in 2015 if I had known what to do correctly, rather than make all of those mistakes along the way.
I don’t want you to make those mistakes, though. Whether you’ve tried growing your hair out before, or are considering it for the first time—and no matter what texture, density, and hairline you’re working with—I hope that the following products (and advice) help you on your journey to long hair for men. I’m a month or two shy of tying my hair back now, and can say confidently that I’ll be wearing it long for the foreseeable future. This time around, there’s no finish line, because the journey is the reward.
And, keep in mind that you probably won’t need all of the products on this list. I’m blessed with my job and the ability to test a ton of different things. I recognize that most folks might want 3 or 4 products max (if that), but I’ll err on the side of maximalism, and you can pick and choose the things that best suit your own hair, your goals, and your budget.
What Men Need To Know When Growing Long Hair…
1. Using The Right Shampoo and Conditioner Is Imperative
When your hair is short, your choice of shampoo and conditioner doesn’t matter as much. That’s because those particular strands of hair aren’t going to last past a couple months, so you aren’t as pressed about how clean or conditioned the hair actually is. Shorter-haired guys need to wash and (hopefully also) condition, but only because they know both are important.
With long hair, however, your choices follow you for a year or five. So you need to pick products that play to your hair texture, long-term goals, and even your short-term goals. If you have thin hair, you want something that helps thicken and volumizes the strands. If you have curly hair, you want that added moisture needed to define each ring. If you have ultra-straight or thick hair, then you probably want a smoothing option to help hair cooperate and prevent frizzing and poofing. All of these options are available to you; typically it means looking beyond the male-targeted haircare products, since so few of them are made for long-term growth. Here are three very different options from a singular brand, for example, that really excels in tailored hair products, and products for long hair for men.
Davines LOVE Wavy & Curly Hair Shampoo
Davines VOLU Shampoo
Davines MOMO Conditioner and Detangling Formula
Davines OI Smoothing Conditioner For All Hair Types
Another place to shop is with customized companies like Prose, which factor in things like your hair qualities, as well as your zip code’s water quality, in order to ensure you get products that keep your hair healthy, strong, shiny, and cooperative.
2. Shampoo Every Second or Third Day — and Conditioner as Much or More
One way to keep your hair healthy for the long haul is to not wash it every single day. That being said, the longer your hair gets, the more it also needs a reset, especially if you wear products every day or hit the gym frequently. Either way, try your best to space shampoos apart every second or third day. You can always use conditioner on its own to help flush out excess product and grime between the wash days (this is called ‘co-washing’). Or, a simple water rinse may be sufficient.
Regardless of how often you shampoo, though: Always, always chase your shampoo with a standalone conditioner. The conditioner restores the moisture lost during the shampoo.
3. Shampoo the Scalp and Condition the Ends
This is a weird concept to grasp if you’ve always been dealing with short, inch-long strands. But, I find it helps to separate shampoo and conditioner into two separate focuses: The former targets the scalp, and helps keep a fresh canvas for the hairs to grow. So when you see a shampoo that promises to be “hydrating”, this is in fact hydrating for the scalp.
Conditioner, then, is for the ends of the hair. Yes, it helps to condition anything you hit with shampoo, but on those non-wash days, you can also choose to just target the ends of your hair with conditioner. This is in part because the scalp’s natural oils can never reach the ends of these longer strands. So, while the parts of the shaft closest to the scalp have no trouble staying naturally nourished, the ends need a bit more help. This also helps prevent split ends.
4. Dry Shampoo Is an Instant Fix
If you are loyal to the second tip on this list (not shampooing daily), but are also experiencing more grease and limness at the scalp… then you should introduce a dry shampoo spray or powder to help absorb those excess scalp oils, and in turn give your hair a terrific lift.
It’s not a daily remedy, since the powder itself can accumulate on the scalp, and it definitely shouldn’t replace regular deep cleaning of your hair. But it’s a terrific option the day before you do a fresh reset with actual liquid shampoo. Just make sure to target the roots, and not the strands themselves. (It’s not a hairspray, in other words. It’s a root spray.)
Rahua Voluminous Dry Shampoo
5. Frizz Is One of Your Biggest Foes
I would bet that some 90% of those bad hair days I had in the past were due to having frizzy hair, which itself is due to any number of problems. And top of the roster are dry weather and humid weather—so pretty much one or the other on any given day. (In terms of dryness, though, it’s easily caused by using an oil-stripping shampoo, washing in too-hot water, using hot tools without proper protection, and so forth.)
What you want to do is trap your hair’s moisture inside the cuticle, so that it doesn’t seek moisture from the surrounding environment (or lose any to the environment, either). For this, you need a reliable conditioner, along with the aforementioned precautions. But this is a perfect opportunity to introduce an anti-frizz product into your styling regimen. It can be a cream, serum, spray, or oil. Just look for something that promises to prevent moisture loss or thwart frizzing and fraying, and keep it front and center on your bathroom vanity.
Also, I’ll discuss heat shields later in this article, which typically double as frizz fighters, too.
DevaCurl High Shine Anti-Frizz Oil
Moroccanoil Smoothing Lotion
6. Your Stylers Should Also Nourish
This bears repeating: Everything you put in your hair will impact its wellness for the long haul. So, be sure to use lightweight styling products that deliver conditioning, nourishing benefits in addition to style and hold. This likely means switching over to oils, creams, sprays, and leave-in conditioners once your hair has grown out more than 4 or 5 inches.
Malin + Goetz Sage Styling Cream
JVN Instant Recovery Serum
7. Give Yourself Enough Time to Style Every Morning
Patience. I wish I had had patience back in 2015. That, and an earlier alarm. I was in such a last-second hurry to get out of bed and on to work, that I never gave myself the time to properly tame my hair. And all of the above and below tips, from the shampoo cadence to an anti-frizz strategy, to hot-tool use… it all would have spared me those too-common hat days. You don’t even need to leave the house with dry hair, if you use the right anti-frizz products to help keep your hair from mushrooming during the day.
8. Get Regular Haircuts Along The Way
While this tip sits in the middle of the roster, it is in fact one of the most important and most ignored tips by growers of long hair for men. While it may seem counterproductive, you need to trim your hair as it grows. You can do this less and less frequently as it gets longer, but you want to max out at 12 weeks or so between tidyings.
This will do a couple key things: First, it will ensure that it looks good. But also, it will prevent split ends from compromising your hair’s health at the tips of each strand. A clean up keeps each individual strand healthier, plus it shouldn’t shed more than a few weeks’ growth off the clock. That’s why, some 18 or 19 months into my growth, I’m not even at the hair-tying-back phase (but nearly there!).
And it’s no surprise why this time around, I have enjoyed the steady progress; each few months I get to enjoy the hair length and style for what it offers, while I smartly and aesthetically grow it out for the long haul.
9. Get a Top-Tier Hair Dryer — But Use it Sparingly
Hot tool use should be minimized when growing your hair out, since it can severely fry hair and lead to breakage. However, a hair dryer can also make a huge difference in how your hair cooperates for the day. And best of all, the technology in this space has progressed significantly.
Remember the following terms when you shop for a hair dryer: Ionic and ceramic. Your dryer should be one or (ideally) both of those things. An ionic dryer sends negative ions to the positively charged water ions on the hair, and helps the strands dry out from the inside out, without relying solely on intense heat to remove moisture.
A ceramic dryer, on the other hand, has clay inside its body, which generates infrared heat to penetrate the hair shaft and also preserve the strand’s internal moisture levels while removing wetness from the surface.
Here’s a dryer I personally recommend for men trying to grow long hair, as it’s both ionic and ceramic, and won’t break the bank.
Conair 1875-Watt Ionic Ceramic Hair Dryer
10. A Hair Brush and Pick Are More Essential Than a Standard Comb
Welcome to the wonderful world of hair tangling. The longer your hair (and the more natural texture you have), the more it’s going to get tangled up. While you might feel inclined to use your everyday comb to tease through a knot, know that this can easily lead to breakage of multiple strands.
Instead, you need a brush or pick for regular detangling. Every person is different, but typically, everyone will need a brush; curlier styles will do this once a week-ish, and also rely on a hair pick for daily low-pressure detangling.
Straighter styles can typically brush daily. Best of all, a brush can also distribute scalp oils throughout the entire strand, to help keep hair shiny and strong. (Curly styles will get this same benefit from leave-in conditioners, since they won’t rely on a brush for all the same reasons.)
Here are a few top-notch brushes and a hair pick built to accomplish the above with minimal breakage.
Cricket Ultra Smooth Hair Pick
Wet Brush Original Detangler Hair Brush
Tangle Teezer The Naturally Curly Wet Detangler Hairbrush
11. Be Especially Careful With Wet Hair
When you’re fresh out of the shower, your hair is especially fragile and prone to breakage. So, be gentle with your towel, with your brush, your comb, your own hand. This is also prime time to detangle hair, however, so be sure to be gentle and consider using a detangling product to help lubricate things.
R+Co Detangling Spray
12. Shield Strands From Heat and UV Damage
Whether you’re using a hair dryer or not, one of the best things you can do before styling your hair is apply a heat shield. This will coat each strand and prevent eventual moisture loss due to any heat applied (again, from a hot tool, or even heat from the sun). Typically, they will also protect your hair from dry air and humidity (and thus prevent frizzing), and the best ones can even protect your hair from air pollution and UV damage (which can compromise the cuticle’s moisture-trapping function permanently). So, apply that heat spray, oil, cream, etc… anything to shield you from the elements!
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer
Virtue Frizz Block Humidity Proof Smoothing Spray
13. Remember, Long Hair Showcases Hair Loss (So Consider Hair Loss Treatments Too)
I mentioned this up top, but don’t neglect the fact that long hair highlights any existing loss, whereas shooter styles are easier to densify and texturize (to help mask recession and thinning).
So, it is worth considering if you want to call attention to your hair recession or sparse crown—as well as whether you should start on some hair regrowth measures (especially minoxidil and/or finasteride) before shooting for the stars. Minoxidil in particular will cause initial shedding before it leads to stronger, longer-lasting hairs, and this is a much less alarming onboarding process when your hairs are short and less visible in the bathroom sink.
14. Do a Weekly Hair Mask To Strengthen Strands
Sure, you’ve already got a great conditioner for the grow-out process. But you should also do a once-weekly hair mask or leave-in conditioner (following or preceding a shampoo, depending on the product) to deeply nourish the strands and restore buoyancy and fullness. There are dozens of kinds of masks out there, so this is another place where it helps to narrow your search based on hair texture, density, goals, etc.
Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector
Kérastase Curl Manifesto Nourishing Mask for Curly Hair
R+Co BLEU Ingenious Thickening Masque
15. Don’t Neglect The Scalp
I suggest reading through this scalp care guide, regardless of where you’re at in your hair growth. It’s important to remember that hair care includes scalp care, too, since that’s where each of your hairs is anchored. Keep the scalp nourished, clean, and balanced, and you’ll have a much easier time growing strong, long-lasting hairs.
16. Supplements Do Help
A healthy diet and lifestyle go a long way in improving hair health (and lessening hair loss, for that matter), and in the same vein, hair-tailored supplements only further boost the effort with their targeted and highly concentrated ingredients.
It goes well beyond biotin, too: look for ingredients like saw palmetto (which thwarts follicle shrinkage), zinc (for follicle nourishment and repair functions), and selenium (to mitigate fungal buildup and thus prevent dandruff). There’s a reason Nutrafol has been the name in this category for years—and it won’t soon yield the throne.
Nutrafol Men Hair Growth Supplement
17. Don’t Pull or Tie Hair Too Tight
When you pull your long hair back too tight, you can cause traction alopecia at the front of the hairline, which is basically physical-stress-induced hair loss. Similarly, use loose, cushioned hair ties to prevent too much friction and breakage throughout the body of the hair.
18. Always Shampoo and Condition First in the Shower, and Cleanse Last
Last but not least, remember this order of operations for your showers:
- Start with a shampoo, and follow with a conditioner
- Let the conditioner nourish your hairs for a few minutes while you wash your body
- Rinse the conditioner and end your shower by washing your face, in case any oils or ingredients from the conditioner made their way into the pores of your face
This cleansing at the end will help prevent clogging and eventual breakouts. Maybe this is more of a skincare tip, but I think folks with long hair need to hear it most of all, since they place so much emphasis on the conditioner. This gives you an efficient, quick shower (5 minutes or so), while putting the primary focus on your hair conditioning, which is key for that long-term wellness and same-day styling cooperation.