Long hair is feminine? Nonsense. Since the beginning of time, a thick, flowing mane has been a symbol of strength and virility. In ancient Greece, for example, it represented great wealth and power. A shaved head, on the other hand, (sorry bald guys) was indicative of the opposite.
Historical cultural connotations aside, the best long hairstyles for men look pretty badass too. From Keanu Reeves to Dev Patel, Jason Momoa to Timothée Chalamet, if you’re blessed with the genes to pull it off, long hair can give you a look that feels modern and distinctive.
But nothing is ever simple. For every Brad Pitt, there’s a Mick Hucknall (sorry, Mick). Whether you’re a seasoned long hair in search of a new style, or a follicular newbie venturing south of the jawbone for the first time, there’s a lot to consider before you settle (or not) into the barber’s chair.
For this reason, we’ve put together the definitive guide to long hairstyles for men and everything you need to know before you grow. From finding the best cut for your face shape to how to actually grow your hair out (not as simple as it sounds), here’s all the intel you need in order to join this distinguished, hairy club.
Key Long Hairstyle Terms
Before we delve in, it’s important to understand a few key long hairstyle terms. These are phrases that tend to crop up a lot when talking about long hair and they can help you to communicate with your barber more effectively. It’s also nice to be able to understand what they’re actually talking about before you let them loose with the scissors.
When a hairstyle is cut in such a way that there is no left-right symmetry, this is referred to as an asymmetric cut. It can result in some pretty bold looks when taken to the extreme but if it’s an edgy style you’re aiming for it could be worth considering.
Usually, in hairdressing, different lengths are blended together to create a smooth transition. When two different lengths are left without being blended, this is referred to as ‘disconnected’. It’s a dramatic look and not one for the faint of heart but it offers a lot of texture and can open up a world of options.
An undercut is a type of disconnected style where the back and sides are cut short and the hair on top is left longer. It has been a common style for men for centuries but really exploded in popularity during the 2010s.
If your barber talks about density, they’re referring not to the thickness of hair but to how many strands there are per square inch. It’s important, as certain styles will only work if the hair has enough density to begin with. It also dictates what sort of products you should be using. For very dense hair, styling products with a heavy hold are best. For less dense hair, opt for lighter products, like sprays and mousses, that won’t weigh the hair down.
Pretty much does what it says on the tin. A messy cut has been styled to look rough, tousled or just a little unkempt. Bed hair, surfer hair, call it what you will, but it’s a way of wearing mid-length to longer locks that has been becoming increasingly popular with the Hollywood heavyweights over the last few years and will always be a good way of giving a simple trim a bit of character.
How To Grow Your Hair
Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not. Unfortunately, like most things in life, growing your hair out right requires a degree of care and knowhow.
Logic dictates that it should be as easy as just not cutting your hair. But while it may seem counterproductive, trips to the barber are still important, even when longer hair is your end goal.
Strategic hair cuts along the way will help you keep the hair growing in the way you want it to while getting rid of any split ends. It’ll also help to keep things from looking too awkward at the various stages of growth. Because growing your hair out isn’t just a simple point-to-point journey. You’re going to have multiple new hairstyles en route, whether you like it or not. Without due care, it can easily stray into mullet territory.
It’s also worth investing in certain products to make the process easier and faster. A good dry shampoo will enable you to wash your hair less (this is better for it), a good conditioner will keep it healthy and some dedicated hair-thickening supplements can help to speed things up.
Aside from that, the most important thing is to be patient. This isn’t something that happens overnight, but if you want to have long hair, it’s unavoidable. Make the most of the process, experimenting with the different lengths as you go – it may not be a short journey, but it can be an enjoyable one.
Picking A Long Hairstyle For Your Face Shape
Every face is different. A long hairstyle that makes one person look like a Greek god could leave someone else looking like a troll that lives under a bridge. The secret to ensuring you never end up like the latter is to pick wisely based on your face shape.
If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with a square or oval face, the sky’s the limit. These versatile face shapes will work across the whole spectrum of long hairstyles from rockstar free-for-alls to more carefully sculpted styles. If you have a particularly angular jawline, you could soften it by incorporating some layers or going for a loose, messy style to offset the squareness.
For long, rectangular faces, steer clear of styles in which the hair is brushed up and away from the forehead. Particularly if this results in additional height on top. All this will do is accentuate the length of the face and make the forehead appear more pronounced. Instead, opt for styles that create some volume at the sides of the head to balance out proportions.
Those with round faces should add vertical length by picking a style that creates a bit of height, including tied-up or swept back cuts. Avoid styles that are fuller at the sides as this will have the opposite effect.
Key Long Hairstyle Trends For Men
Whether it’s an afro to rival Colin Kaepernick’s or long, tousled curls like Jason Momoa, embracing your hair’s natural shape and texture is a big trend. But don’t be fooled into thinking that means low maintenance. The idea here is to work with and enhance the best of your hair’s natural properties rather than covering them up and ironing them out.
That still requires a good amount of styling knowhow. Chat with your barber and explain you want a longer, natural-looking style. They’ll be able to advise you from there.
The Long And The Short Of It
Contrasting lengths and sharp disconnects have been popular in short hairstyles for some time now. Transfer the same idea to longer hair and you get some pretty dramatic results. The great thing about this trend is how broad it is. You don’t have to go full Skrillex in order to get involved.
Keep these sorts of styles to no longer than shoulder length and use the longer length on top to create texture and volume. Careful though, this is a bold look. If you’re after something classic and timeless then keep scrolling.
What A Mess
Wavy, messy, mid-to-long-length locks of the type sported by Timothée Chalamet, Dev Patel et al have become something of a tonsorial phenomenon. The look centres around volume and texture, and is, therefore, best suited to full, thick heads of hair. If you’re not blessed with a flowing mane, you can achieve a similar effect with a blow dryer and some sea salt spray.
The Best Long Hairstyles For Men
Braids & Dreads
Braids went off the radar for a while but musical icons like Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky have been on a mission to bring them back. We’d say they’ve succeeded. Braids are cool again. Go neat and down the back of the head to keep it classic, or messy and tied up à la A$AP.
For those that don’t want the hassle of getting their braids redone often to keep them looking their best, dreads make for another effortlessly cool option (think old-school Lenny Kravitz). However, don’t think that they require no maintenance at all; it’s still important to keep them moisturised and your scalp clean and healthy.
If you’re looking for something bold and attention grabbing, an undercut could be the style for you. It’s also a good option for those with extremely dense hair who are looking to reduce volume. The key here is to wear it with swagger. If you’re not sure whether or not a style like this looks good on you, it doesn’t.
Messy Mid-Length Locks
Timothée Chalamet has become a template for what a good mid-to-long-length haircut should look like. His tousled, textured curls have inspired countless men to get growing and the fact it’s not too long makes it great for those experimenting with long hair for the first time. It’s best suited to thick, wavy or curly hair. If you don’t have that to begin with it’s going to take a lot of styling.
Long Natural Waves
Nothing says, “I’m a big tough man who’s totally comfortable with his sexuality,” quite like this long, textured cut. It’s about as lengthy as it’s possible to go without straying into wizard territory, while staying just messy enough. In reality, it’s been carefully planned and meticulously styled, but nobody apart from you and your barber has to know that.
This traditional black hairstyle is the result of natural growth and careful maintenance. If you’ve got the hair for it, it can look great, but it’s not what you’d call low effort. Keep it moisturised to avoid breakage and make sure to avoid excessive heat from dryers. If it’s your first time growing your hair out, enlist the help of a specialist barber or stylist. Ask them to guide you on best practise, trim dead ends and give your afro shape with regular visits throughout the growing process.
A classic slick back is a great way to rock long hair without it getting in your face. Plus, it works for any hair type, meaning there’s no limit to how it can be worn. Those with thick, curly or wavy hair can wear it loose to create texture and volume on top, or comb it back tighter and tuck it behind the ears at the sides. For straight hair, it’s best combed back against the head with a small amount of product. Just avoid plastering the hair to your scalp unless you want to wind up looking like a cartoon villain.
Article written by Paddy Maddison for Ape to Gentleman