It isn’t easy by any means. There are definitely right ways of doing it and wrong ways of doing it. Here are 7 tips for growing out thick hair in the most effective way possible.
Let’s get to it.
1. Get A Layered Haircut
It all starts with the haircut itself.
Trying to grow out thick hair is hard enough without having the completely wrong haircut to start off with.
Firstly, strongly consider going to a hair stylist in a salon instead of a barber. Nothing against barbers – they’re great at what they do. Clipper cuts, fades, etc. It takes skill.
But they usually won’t be as confident with long hair or hair that will eventually become long as a stylist would.
For a more detailed post on barbers and cutting long hair, read this.
But let’s assume that you’ve gone to a stylist because it’s honestly the best option for you.
The first thing you should say to your stylist when you sit in that chair is that you want to grow it out long.
A good stylist should really take things from there and talk you through the options.
But a layered haircut will most likely be the first thing on their minds. A haircut that’s layered is cut to different lengths in such a way that it collects on top of each other in clusters.
This creates a great, textured appearance without making all of the hair look uniform.
But the reason it benefits men with thick hair looking to grow it out long is that it’ll be easier to style and manage.
A layered haircut will grow out in a layered manner. Hair that’s layered is easier to sweep, slick, style, flatten, and so on.
It’s just more responsive.
Not doing so is what can lead to the bushy, stubborn mess that thick hair can sometimes become while it’s growing.
A couple of months down the line when that thick hair is significantly longer, you’ll be thanking yourself (and your stylist) for getting a layered haircut.
2. Leave The Top Longer Than Sides
This is yet another reason to let the stylist know that you’re planning on growing your hair out.
While they may have a different concept in mind for your specific hair, many stylists will often choose to leave the top a little longer than the sides in these cases.
The reason for this is that as the thick hair grows longer, the hair on top will start to grow over the sides and back, weighing it down as it does so.
When the sides are left at a relatively equal length to the top, the sides will start to push outward and won’t be weighed down by the top as everything grows longer.
This can lead to a thick and bushy end result. It’ll be tougher to style and flatten the way you want to.
The sides will push outward, looking puffy and making the face look fuller at the sides.
To get a more balanced aesthetic further down the line, the stylist will most likely leave the top a little longer than the sides.
If they don’t specify that at first, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask them before the cutting begins.
3. Consider Cautious Thinning
While thinning the hair out during the haircut itself may seem like an obvious idea, it may not be the best way to go.
A lot of thick-haired men who want to grow their hair out often complain that attempts at thinning their hair out by stylists make it look a little limp and lifeless.
In other words, it’s often thinned out way too much.
It’s worth mentioning this concern before the haircut begins. Let the stylist know that you don’t want the hair thinned out too much.
You just want it to be more manageable as the hair grows out.
Thinning shears are often guilty of over-thinning the hair. It can be a tricky thing to get right, especially when the stylist or barber isn’t that clear about what you want.
Another option they have is to use a feather razor to gently thin the hair out instead. These aren’t quite as aggressive when it comes to thinning as the user usually has more control.
What it’ll do, however, is remove weight from the thick hair – usually from deeper within the hair itself.
This often doesn’t make the hair look too different as the amount it removes is quite subtle. But it will usually feel lighter and less thick.
Of course, this feeling will gradually start to disappear in-between haircuts as the hair grows out. But it’s something a stylist can do during touch-ups if you find it helpful.
A final note would be to avoid trying to do this yourself at all costs. It’s very easy to mess all of this up and should really be left in the hands of a professional.
4. Avoid Overwashing
While washing the hair as it grows out is pretty crucial for the sake of hygiene, overwashing can cause some trouble when you’ve got thick hair.
The reason for this is that a bit of grease can be helpful when growing out thick hair. It can make the hair easier to flatten and slick back. This is often true at the sides.
That’s by no means a suggestion to let the hair become visibly oily and greasy, as this would be unhygienic and unattractive at the same time.
One way of achieving this would be to still wash the hair daily while reducing the number of times a week you use shampoo.
Shampoo is a great cleansing product but can strip away natural oils – sometimes excessively.
Try to stick to only using shampoo once or twice a week at a maximum.
This should prevent the hair from drying out too much, as thick, dry hair tends to frizz outward and look bushy.
If you hadn’t used conditioner before, consider doing so as your hair grows out. Again, don’t overdo it – a few times a week at a maximum.
But conditioners are helpful for long, thick hair because they smoothen and make the hair easier to move and style.
Plus, it’s quite a heavy product. This is useful because it subtly weighs the hair down at a foundational level.
5. Use Oil-Based Styling Products
It’s no secret that your hair type and texture are crucial when deciding what hair product you should use.
As your thick hair grows longer, you’ll want to ensure you’re using a product that makes life easier for you as opposed to harder.
Long and thick hair benefits from heavier products.
Oil-based products are usually the most helpful here because they weigh the hair down. In addition, they’re generally shiny products that are great for flatter and more defined styles.
When you’re trying to avoid thick hair growing outward in a bushy and uncontrollable fashion, heavy, shiny products are usually the best way to go.
Oil-based styling products you can choose from include oil-based pomades and hair waxes.
Oil-based pomades are generally heavier and shinier than basic waxes. When you start using oil-based pomades, you’ll probably find they have a bit of a learning curve.
They’re tougher to break down in between the palms before you apply them. They also aren’t usually as smooth to sweep through the hair.
You can really feel their weight as you apply them.
However, the shine and definition you get from a good oil-based pomade can be excellent. When you’ve got long, thick hair, this weight and definition can be ideal.
Hair waxes are a great option if you aren’t looking for something quite as heavy-duty. They’re simpler to apply but still do provide enough weight and shine for a thick-haired man’s needs.
What about water-based products?
While shiny, water-based products like water-based pomades and hair gels could still work well, they aren’t as useful because they aren’t as good at weighing thick hair down.
They often produce a stiff hold which can be a little unpleasant when you’ve got thick hair.
However, they’re much easier to apply due to their smooth, gel-like consistency. This can sometimes appeal when you’ve got long hair.
It’s worth considering if you aren’t a fan of the oily consistency of waxes and oil-based pomades.
But overall, oil-based products are usually the best option.
6. Take Advantage Of Hats
It might sound strange, but hats can be very helpful when growing out thick hair.
This is especially true during those awkward phases of growth when strays and flyaways seem to spring up no matter how hard you style.
This often occurs at the sides and at the crown.
I’ve written articles about flattening hair at the sides and at the crown if you’re interested in learning more.
But the power of a simple hat shouldn’t be underestimated.
It needs to be appropriate, of course. Wearing hats indoors or wearing ones that aren’t appropriate for the weather are definitely not style choices you want to be making.
But popping on a beanie hat when you’re outdoors in the winter is a great way to really flatten out long, thick hair while you’re on the go.
When you take it off, you’ll often find that it’s easier to glide your fingers through it. Plus, those stray hairs will usually flatten themselves out.
Be warned, however, that the hat can sometimes make the front hair flop forward when you might not want it to.
Try and catch a glimpse in a window reflection to check if possible. Or just sweep your hair back as soon as you take it off just in case.
7. Get Regular Haircuts
Getting a haircut while you’re growing your hair out can be a pretty scary experience. The fear of having too much cut off is a very valid one.
It happens – far too often.
But it’s actually very important to visit your stylist every 3 to 4 months when growing your hair out, especially when you’ve got thick hair that’s at risk of looking like a bushy and poorly-controlled mess.
Split-ends can really make long hair look terrible and badly groomed.
When visiting your stylist, make it clear right from the beginning that you aren’t looking for any real length to be removed because you’re growing it long.
You simply want the ends cut off to remove split-ends.
Here’s an article on what to tell a stylist when growing your hair out if you wanted to learn more.
Good communication before the haircut starts is the key to avoiding too much being cut off during the cut itself.
If you were keen on cautious thinning with a feather razor, that would be the time to do it too.
It won’t be for everyone, however, but it’s worth trying. Once again, make it clear that you don’t want it thinned out too much – you just want it to be more manageable and responsive.
Regular visits to your stylist during your growth journey, as well as the other tips in this list, should serve you well going forward.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.