Skip to Content

9 Ways To Flatten Puffy Side Hair That Sticks Out

March 22, 2023
9 Ways To Flatten Puffy Side Hair That Sticks Out

Side hair can be the source of serious levels of frustration for men. The hair on top may look fantastic, but the sides often refuse to play ball. So, how do you flatten hair that sticks out at the sides? 

There are several ways to flatten side hair, including trimming it, thinning it, and even growing it longer. Hair products and tools can also be effective, as long as they’re appropriate for the specific hair type being flattened. 

Keep reading to delve deeper into the age-old troubles of side hair. Before learning 9 different ways to fix it, it’s important to understand what causes it in the first place. 

Why Does Hair Stick Out On The Sides? 

Hair often sticks out on the sides once it gets to a medium length because it doesn’t weigh quite enough to hang down and lay flat. 

But this hair is also too long and too thick to simply stay flat on the sides without maintenance. 

Puffy side hair like this is something that men with thick or coarsely textured hair often experience. 

9 Ways To Flatten Hair On The Sides Of Your Head

Side hair that sticks out can be tamed, but it does require some maintenance. Nothing fancy or too time-consuming, but unfortunately it won’t happen by itself. 

Here are some easy ways you could try out yourself. 

1. Use A Boar Bristle Brush

Boar bristle hair brushes are great for training the hair to grow in your desired direction. Use it regularly and you’ll most likely notice that your side hair lays straighter and flatter. 

If you do not have thick hair, your puffy side hair should be fairly easy to correct using this basic grooming tool. 

But if you’ve got especially thick hair, you may find that the bristles of a boar bristle brush are too narrow. 

You may be better off using a comb with teeth more widely-spaced apart. 

The point is that you should make sure the tool you’re using to flatten that side hair is appropriate for the thickness of your hair. That’ll play a big role in determining whether it does the trick. 

If you do not put product in your hair, it is best to use the comb while your hair is damp. It’ll allow the teeth to glide through and work their magic a bit easier.

Combs are better than brushes for detangling. Tangled side hair will always look puffy. 

I’ll finish by saying this – your hair may grow in different directions on both sides of your head. 

For example, one side may grow (almost) backward while the other grows downward. It is tempting to force both sides to lay the same way, but your hair will look better and flatter if you comb each side in the general direction it grows. 

2. Grow Your Hair Out Longer

OK, remember when I said it wouldn’t fix itself on its own? This is the one exception. 

If you allow hair to grow out, this can give your side hair enough weight to finally hang down and lay flat. 

You will have to deal with the side hair becoming even bushier until it weighs enough to lay flat, though.

As I advised earlier, brushing and combing during this awkward phase will help. 

Very thick, textured, or curly side hair may simply continue to stick out despite growing it longer. In this case, choosing a different flattening technique would be wise. 

3. Regularly Trim The Side Hair Down

If you do not want to deal with growing your hair out or continuing to fight with your awkward sides, you can always get the sides trimmed short so that they are not long enough to stick out. 

It’s perfectly acceptable to go to a barber and just get your sides thinned or tapered. You can leave your hair longer on top if you do not want to get it all cut short. 

A lot of men, however, may feel that this is a waste of money. That’s fine. A better option would be to DIY. 

It can be daunting the first time you do it, but it’s really no big deal. Using a pair of hair clippers, trim the sides down shorter whenever you feel they’re getting puffy. 

In many ways, it’s the simplest and most effective way to flatten side hair but men are initially scared of doing it DIY. 

It’s really no big deal. If you aren’t sure what length to set it to, start with the longest available clipper guard and work your way shorter if you’d like to. 

4. Use A Blow Dryer With A Concentrator Nozzle

Hair dryers are great for both drying and producing volume. They’re great for blowing life into a style and giving a sense of fullness. 

But what about when “fullness” is the last thing you want, like with side hair that already sticks out? Surely a blow-dryer would be useless? 

Well, not quite. 

Blow dryers are also great for taking away fullness where you don’t want it. Using negative pressure can flatten the hair that you want flattened. 

Use a medium heat setting to blow the side hair down, laying it pretty forcefully into place. 

Most blow dryers come with a concentrator nozzle – it’s a thin attachment you stick on the end. This focuses and “concentrates” all of the air onto specific sections of your hair so you can get much more precise with it. 

Try it on your side hair and you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

By the way, using a blow dryer (as well as some of the other tips in this post) would also work for flattening the hair at the top and at the back too.

5. Try Using Thinning Scissors 

You can flatten the hair on the sides of your head by thinning it out. 

You can ask your barber to do this, or you can do it yourself with thinning scissors. 

Thinning scissors have blades with comb-like teeth in them. To use them, place them parallel to your side hair so the blades are facing the sky when you cut. Doing so should remove the excess thickness so that your hair can now lay flat on the sides. 

It’s a great way of tackling puffiness without having to remove length. If you’re happy with the length of the side hair and you simply want it to look less full, try thinning. 

You may find that the hair that’s left behind has more room once thinned and is less likely to stick out. 

6. Try Using A Strong Hold Clay

If you do not want to change your hairstyle or get the sides thinned, you can flatten hair that sticks out on the sides of your head with clay. 

The reason I’ve chosen clay as opposed to creams, waxes, and so on, is because clay generally has a fantastic hold. 

Hair clay gives thick hair enough weight to hold in a more flattened style. Clay looks natural as well, as it has a matte finish. 

If you’d prefer a shinier texture, go for a high-hold pomade instead. Just bear in mind that clay will usually have a better hold, so if you’re struggling with pomade, try clay instead. 

Ultimately, it’s an easy way to deal with side hair flyaways that doesn’t require visits to the barber. 

7. Go For A Gel Or A Hairspray

I’ve bundled these two together because they’re quick, easy, and cheap. 

If you aren’t a fan of rubbing more textured products such as clays and pomades through your hair, or you simply think they’re too expensive, gels or hairsprays may be a better option. 

Hairspray would also be suitable to use after you’ve applied some clay or pomade if you’d just like some extra hold once your side hair is in place. 

It’s important to note that both gels and hairsprays will both dry hard. In other words, once they’re set, they’re set. You won’t be able to restyle them. 

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use hairspray if you’re interested.

In many ways, this is good because that flattened side hair will stay flat. But if you’ve got a few flyaway side hairs sticking out without you noticing, you’ll essentially lock these into place if you apply gel or hairspray. 

You’ll probably need to make it damp with a wet comb or wet fingers if you’d like to restyle it. Not the end of the world, but it can be annoying. 

8. Change Up The Style

One way to reduce the appearance of puffy side hair is to make it look less puffy relative to the hair on top.

So, change up your hairstyle to one that’s more voluminous and tall up top. Consider growing the hair up top out and volumizing it. Try a quiff or even a pompadour.

Those of you with face shapes on the longer end of the spectrum may not want to do this. Ultimately, tall hairstyles lengthen the face further.

But it’s hard to deny that increasing the volume and height you’ve got up top will make side hair that sticks out look less puffy in comparison. All you’re doing is creating contrast between flatter sides and a fuller top.

This would be a good option for people that just don’t find the previous solutions helpful.

It’s something you could definitely discuss with a good barber. A key way to increase volume up top is for a barber to add layers and texture to the top of the hair, creating more movement and body.

Of course, volumizing products like mousses and pre-stylers are also worth considering for the hair you’ve got up top to increase the contrast with the sides.

9. Go Extra Short

OK – so you’ve tried all of the other tips and they just aren’t doing it for you. One way to essentially solve side puffiness without trying (too) hard would be to go extra short.

Ultra-short hairstyles don’t leave you with enough side hair to puff up or stick out in the first place.

While it might seem like a big step or going too far, many people will impossibly stubborn side hair often find it liberating.

Going for a buzz cut, a crew cut, or even just a textured crop can make maintenance and hassle disappear overnight. Speak to your barber or stylist about which specific short hairstyle would work best for your face shape and hair type.


There you have it. 9 simple ways to deal with this endlessly frustrating hair problem. You probably won’t find all of them useful for your specific hair type. But it’s worth trying them all out because there’s a great chance that a couple of them will be exactly what you need.