You know when you've got freshly-cut hair and you're oh so happy with your blunt fringe and how amazing it looks? But fast-forward a month or so, and what do you have? A strange, grown-out mess that is neither fringe nor cool middle-parting. This haircare challenge combined with the rush to get ready makes for some trying minutes (or sometimes even hours) in front of the mirror as you attempt to tame your mane.
What's worse is if you've decided to grow out your hair from a pixie crop or a neat bob, knowing what lies ahead is months of awkward styles that you never asked for. It's enough to push anyone to the brink.
However, it doesn't have to be that way. Help is at hand. By enlisting the advice of some of the beauty industry’s top hairdressers, we’ve got the tricks and tips to sorting out your locks when it’s in the dreaded “in-between” stage.
Keep scrolling for some easy, expert-approved styling tips to try while growing out short hair.
Change Up Your Hair Part
Something as simple as changing your part can make all the difference. “This can hide or make a feature of any shorter layers. Ear tucks also work well to hide the width of your hair when it's in its mid-stages ‘growing out’—you can try the TRESemmé Between Washes Smooth Renew Anti-Frizz Cream ($6) to control frizz and for a sleek look that is super cool,” says Aaron Carlo, TRESemmé UK hair ambassador.
Add Some Accessories
“Accessories really are the best way to hide a cut that's growing out," says Adam Reed, celebrity stylist and co-founder of Percy & Reed. "Tucking hair out of the way, using a strong hold hairspray, or hiding it under a hairband will disguise 'in-between' layers or difficult to hide pieces of hair." We love Kitsch's Blush Ruched Chiffon Headband ($24).
Hairdresser and UK Ambassador for L'Oreal Paris, Syd Hayes, also recommends accessories. "Accessories for your hair such as cool kirby grips (bobby pins) work really well. I'm also loving all of the braids that appeared at Coachella. Why not braid your hair with a plait that stands out making it a cool hair statement."
Up the Volume
Adding some volume to your strands can also help make the transition process easier. You can also turn to hair styling products for your volume boost. Jennifer Matos, a stylist at Rita Hazan, recommends using Rita Hazan's Lifting Spray ($26), which will help you achieve a great level of volume at the root. "Because it's so lightweight, it's less harsh on the scalp and root of the hair. This is especially helpful to grow out the hair for clients who often color or put a lot of heat on their hair," she explains.
Alternatively, you can also use a clip-in hairpiece made from real hair to add the volume you're looking for.
Make It Sleek
If your hair is at varying lengths and seems as though it simply can't be tamed, a bit of hair gel will be your best friend. A slicked-back hairstyle will instantly smooth down short layers, a growing fringe, and flyaways while giving you a trendy "wet hair" look. Try using a small amount of Kenra Professional's Styling Gel 17 ($16).
Condition, Condition, Condition
“You don’t need to get your hair cut more than every 12 weeks if you’re growing it out. But if you’re worried about the condition, then make sure you use intense conditioners, and, if you’re straightening your hair, then use thermal heat protectors," says celebrity hairdresser and George Northwood salon founder, George Northwood. "Hair that’s longer is going to stay with you longer, so you need to protect it.' Try Redken's Extra Mega Mask ($30) from the brand's Extreme protection line.
Stop the Boredom
“The boredom factor is why it’s so hard and takes so long for people to grow out their hair. To avoid this, change your color," suggests Northwood. You can try something fun with a minimal commitment by using a temporary, wash-out hair dye, like Moraccanoil's Color Depositing Mask ($28). "A bit of color can stave off the boredom."
Can't wait for your hair to reach your desired length? You don't have to. Hair extensions can not only give you instantly long strands, but they can also help blend awkward layers as they grow out. Luxy Hair's Halo Hair Extensions ($279) are perfect for this, since you only need to master applying a simple piece.
Experiment With Your Look
It's important to experiment, particularly if you're growing out something like a fringe. “The time it usually takes to grow out a fringe depends on the individual, but think anything up to four months. The trick is to have some fun during the growth period by experimenting with styles and products (e.g. create a side parting for a side fringe, middle parting for a ‘boho’ look),” says Luke Hersheson, John Frieda UK creative director. Whenever you switch up your part, try a stronghold hairspray, like Oribe's Superfine Strong Hair Spray ($42).
If you have natural hair, you can also experiment with a braided protective hairstyle, which will protect your natural strands from environmental factors that could affect growth.
A pixie crop is perhaps one of the hardest cuts to grow out. But there is a great bit of advice to follow here. “Go for something a little more controversial in the grow-out stage—for example, a ‘Bad Bob,’ which creates an edgy look out of hair when it's going through a transitional stage," says Hersheson. To add a sleek touch to the look, he suggests using John Frieda's Secret Weapon Touch-up Crème ($9).
Schedule Regular Haircuts
“When growing out short hair, have regular haircuts but only have the nape and sides cut into, in order to remove ‘bulk’ but let the top layers keep growing out naturally. Have regular conditioning treatments to keep the hair in the best health possible as it grows," says Carlo. Try TRESemmé's Expert Selection Instant Recovery Mask ($30).
“If you’ve got a blunt bob, then it needs to be softer. You need to keep the length but move the weight. You need to slice through the hair to make it less wig-like," says Northwood.
Hydrate and Heat-Protect
Growing out and treating afro hair can be a whole different ballgame. Celebrity hairdresser Jamie Stevens explains that regular maintenance trims every eight weeks are a must along with treatments to encourage the strength, health, and curl within the hair.
"Schedule frequent hydrating treatments and invest in heat protection sprays and creams if you are drying your hair. Products from Mizani are great—the Moisture Fusion Shampoo ($24) and Mask ($30) are fantastic as they leave the hair feeling hydrated," he says.
Reach for a Hat
Like we mentioned, accessories will be your best friend when it comes to disguising varying lengths of hair as it grows, and hats are no exception. No matter what time of year, you can pop one on as a stylish way to grow out short hair. In the winter, rock a beanie for a cause like Love Your Melon's Navy Speckled Beanie ($30), which donates 50 percent of net profits to nonprofit organizations leading the fight against pediatric cancer.
Extend Your Blowout
There's no denying a blowout looks stunning on just about any hair type, and it's also a great way to tidy out the appearance of short hair that's being grown out. That said, you want to keep heat-styling to a minimum to avoid excess damage and breakage. "Using a blow-dry cream, like Rita Hazan's Smoothing Crème ($28), on damp hair before blow-drying to cut down time on blow-drys. You will achieve a longer, smoother blowout, especially in humid and hot weather," says Matos. "The blowout will last longer so you don't have to blowdry your hair as often, which is healthier for the hair."
Clip It Back
Those growing out a fringe or face-framing layers are often stuck wondering what to do during that awkward in-between stage. The answer: barrettes. "Grips and barrettes are great for tucking away uncontrollable hair," says Reed. This '90s hair accessory has made a major comeback in 2020, making it a trendy and practical way to keep short strands out of your face. We love the Alex Beaded Hair Clip Set ($26) from Anthropologie.
Embrace Your Texture
With heat damage as a prime suspect for shorter strands that won't grow due to breakage, embracing your natural hair texture whenever possible is one of our top tips for growing out short hair. If you have curly hair, Matos recommends using Rita Hazan's Curl Crème ($28). "It's great for defining and hydrating curls. If you're not using as much heat on the hair, the hair is not breaking," she explains.