t one point in time, growing out your hair meant risking less-than-ideal comparisons to '90s heartthrobs and/or '80s rockstars.
But in this century, some of the biggest stars — DiCaprio, Bloom, Momoa, Pitt — are rocking serious mops, none of which look outdated, and it's not just because of their armies of stylists.
"With just a bit of maintenance, long hair can convey instant warmth and sexiness," Vaughn Acord, the founder of V76 by Vaughn and a master barber who’s done haircuts for Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, says. "It doesn’t have to be messy and unkempt."
If you're hoping to let your hair down, these styling tips will help you make the most of hair growth.
1. Avoid A Hairy Situation
Before you begin, take stock of your locks. Not everyone can grow out their mane, nor should they.
Very coarse hair? You've been warned: “It’ll only get bigger and bushier,” Boswell Scot, the owner of Best Barber in New York City, says. (For reference, see Will Ferrell in Semi-Pro.)
And if your hair is thinning or receding in front, it might not be in your best interest to grow out the hair you have left. A longer style just draws attention to those fading follicles. If that's you, opt for a shorter, tighter cut and style it with Old Spice's sculpting pomade to add some length and shine.
If you opt for pomade, simply take a small dollop, rub it between your hands, and run it through your hair. In the end, the style and texture are both up to you.
2. Don’t Get Snippy
For many men, the biggest challenge is patience. Hair grows at a rate of about half an inch per month, Scot says.
Making the transition from a cropped cut to something worth running your fingers through will likely take about a year.
Yes, there will be hot, humid summer days when you’ll be tempted to hack it all off, so keep a bandana handy. It might end up being your hair's saving grace.
"There’s no quick, easy way [for it to grow]," says Acord, "but the end result makes the wait worthwhile."
3. Give Yourself A Head Start
Because the hair on top of your head grows slower than the hair on the sides, timing is crucial if you want to avoid bad hair days, Scot says.
To maintain a better shape, wait until you have at least four inches on top before you start growing out your sides. As your hair gets longer on top, just slick it back.
While it’s damp, use a nickel-sized amount of a leave-in conditioner.
Even better, a leave-in conditioner helps promote hair health.
4. Routine Maintenance Is Key
You may have less face time with your barber, but pay the guy a visit every two to three months to keep your neck, hairline, sideburns, and facial hair from overtaking your face, Acord recommends.
Products that have hold, including texturising and styling creams, can also keep hair out of the way without clumping.
As you approach your desired length, tame longer strands with discreet elastic bands.
These will blend into the hair without tangling it or looking like scrunchies, so your man bun will reach peak superstar status – without the handbanging or romance novel vibes.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health US.