For men, growing curly hair to shoulder length can be quite an experience. Rogelio brings us 3 great tips based on his experience growing his coiled locks into the longer lengths!
I still remember my first time growing my curly mane to shoulder length. It didn’t end good. My hair was matted and tangled every single day and I would sport dry locks which resembled hay. About the only good thing that came out of that experience was that I learnt how NOT to grow curly hair to shoulder length.
The above first try was all the way back in 2003. I then chopped my curls and experimented with other hairstyles and approaches, leaving the whole shoulder length ordeal to a side. It was then in 2009 that I decided to give growing to shoulder length another try. This time, with much more accumulated hair knowledge and expertise, I successfully grew my curly locks to shoulder length. In fact, I was so successful that I have continued to grow my curls and they are now approaching my hips when I extend them (you heard right, hip length!). I started from a short length, about 1 1/2 inch on the top of my head with the sides done to a #2, a classic High and Tight hairstyle (my favourite short length hairstyle for kinky hair like mine).
The hair growing journey was quite an experience (pic on left: AFTER & pic on right: 2 years before)
Growing my curls to shoulder length was a 2 1/2 year experience which was full of obstacles. I learnt even more about my hair (and continue to learn more as my hair continues to get longer) and I carried out a lot of experiments on my hair for the sake of learning. Had I not kept an open mind at all times and insisted on doing this, I don’t think I would have prevailed. I found that growing curly hair long is quite an experience requiring much effort from one’s part as curls knot, tangle, dry and are hard to tame. And while I may have painted a negative picture with my words so far, I will also tell you that growing one’s curls to shoulder length can actually become a relatively easy experience if one knows how to do it.
When I first started growing to shoulder length, I made mistakes and wasted time and energy. I learnt from all of this (and my experiments) and nowadays I spend as much time on my curly hair as I used to when it was short. I no longer see my long curly hair as an inconvenience and I continue to grow my hair for the experience and acquired knowledge; I would not be growing my curly hair longer if maintaining my long mane was an inconvenience, I can tell you that. Thus, I want to bring you today 3 great tips to growing curly hair to shoulder length. They are great tips because they essentially revamped my hair growing journey and changed the experience from negative to positive and I highly recommend you to use them if you are planning on growing your hair to shoulder length (and beyond). The Shoulder Length hairstyle is becoming more and more popular among urban men, and even professional males are rocking it so I am aware that quite a few of you will find these tips of benefit.
Tip 1 for Growing Curly Hair to Shoulder Length: Keep your hair moisturized
This is hyper essential for curly hair. It doesn’t matter whether you have short or long curls, wavy or kinky hair, are a dude or a dudette. Your curls must be moisturized at all times and the longer your hair, the more important this tip becomes. The longer your hair grows, the more difficulty your scalp sebum will have in coating the whole length of the hair strands and the higher your risk will be for over-accumulating sebum close to the scalp, which will then break into tiny pieces causing unsightly dandruff (this is one of the main causes of dandruff, especially in curly haired men).
You can keep your curly hair moisturized via several means: by finding your optimal shampoo frequency, by using conditioners and leave-in conditioners intelligently, by mastering the Sebum Coating method (explained in my no poo method article) and/or by avoiding the excessive use of blowdriers and straighteners/relaxers.
The consequences of failing to keep your hair moisturized are devastating: your hair will look dry and hay-like, it will tangle and knot in the most vicious of manners and it will not be pleasant to look at (or what I call, the “dead rat” effect). On the other hand, moisturized curly hair looks great, bounces and flows with a natural and healthy look and is the complete opposite in terms of cosmetic results of non-moisturized hair.
So take the message home, curly dude: keep your hair moisturized at all times!
Tip 2 for Growing Curly Hair to Shoulder Length: Know your curly hair type
There are a few hair typing methods around and I have my own hair typing guide too, which I have found to be the best for men with curly hair. Whichever you use, just make sure that you know what your type is but don’t obsess with fitting into a given hair type or curl type. Knowing your hair type is of great use to estimate the amount of time it will take you to reach shoulder length.
Despite the fact that hair growth rate is very similar in all men regardless of hair type (1/4 up to 3/4 inches per month), the time it will take for each curly hair type to reach the shoulders will be different due to the different tightness in the actual curling of each type. Wavy hair will take less time to reach shoulder length than highly tight curls (i.e. kinky hair) as the bending/curling of wavy hair is less magnified meaning that less actual length is needed to reach the shoulders as opposed to, say, kinky hair. If using my curly hair typing guide, these are the approximate time spans that each curl type will take to reach shoulder length when grown from a near-shaved length:
- Type I: 2 1/2 years
- Type: II: 3 years
- Type III: 4 years
- Type IV: 5 years
- Type V: 6+ years
The above time spans are approximate and they are calculated using the hair located at the top of the head, so these are the time spans which will take for essentially all of your hair to have reached shoulder length; hair located lower than the top of your head will take less time to reach shoulder length due to closer proximity to the shoulders.
Knowing your hair type is thus of importance so that you can calculate a time span and then evaluate whether you want to commit yourself or not to the experience. A lot happened in my life during my 2 1/2 years of growing my curls to shoulder length and I can assure you that a lot will happen to you too!
Tip 3 for Growing Curly Hair to Shoulder Length: Start from an even hairstyle
Not starting from an even length hairstyle was a big mistake I made and which I didn’t realize until my hair reached a long length (6 inches). My hair looked all weird as it would not hang down and I resembled a walking mushroom. I exacerbated this mistake by cropping my sides and back to a #2 again when my hair reached 4 inches which meant that I had created a 4 inch difference in length between the hair on the top of my head and that on the sides and back. This proved fatal, hair-wise.
Start from an even hairstyle if you decide to grow your curls to shoulder length. If it means that you have to cut your hair to get an even length all over your head, then do it. Only cut/trim your hair once all of your hair reaches shoulder length: remember, you can always cut more but once hair is gone, it is gone, so start from an even length hairstyle, such as a jewfro/afro, a buzz cut or a High and Tight (with the top being a maximum of 1/2 inch in length). The point is that all of your hair must start growing to shoulder length from a same length (except the sideburns which you can keep cropped).
Check out the video below showing how David Bisbal’s curly hair looked when grown to shoulder length. A textbook Type III, David Bisbal knew these tips already (rumour has it that we’re related?) and thus got his curls to shoulder length like a king!
After you are done watching the videoclip with the dancing and getting yourself all pumped up for growing your curls to shoulder length, make sure that you understand the above 3 tips as they will be of great use to you if you do indeed decide to grow your curly hair to shoulder length. Had I know these tips before I started my journey, I would have saved myself quite some time and effort, so apply them if you want to make your hair growing journey a summer breeze!
All the best.
P.S. if you’re interested in growing your curly hair or just in improving its texture and looks so you can own an impressive head of curls, then look no further and not only keep an eye out for more articles here at Manly Curls (subscribe!) but do also get my bestselling book specifically on curly hair for men, The Curly Hair Book! (click the link to see the book at Amazon)