Hairy Situation: How to Grow Out Short Hair in Style

After rocking a boy-cut shag à la Natalie Imbruglia’s early career for two years, I started to get long-hair lust. Everywhere I went, long hair mocked me. Layers, shags, straight, curly; it all taunted me.

Back when I had long hair down to my waist, I was a tomboy. My morning hair routine consisted of making a ponytail. But now that my beauty regime has stepped up a few notches, I’m lacking a few feet of hair and experiencing Phantom Hair Syndrome.

And so a couple of months ago, I made an important decision. I would stay away from the scissors and begin the painful and arduous journey of growing my hair. Any woman that has undertaken this task knows what a commitment it is.

It means bad hair days, awkward flyaway hair, and all too often, a few weeks in the growing-out period where hair shape is frighteningly mullet-like.

I’ve experienced it all and believe me, it hasn’t been pretty. But I’ve picked up some tricks along the way that have kept me from taking the kitchen scissors to my locks in a fit of hair-rage.

Here’s how to grow out short hair and stay sane and chic:

1. Stock up on thick headbands and hair scarves. Think Lauren Conrad’s signature headband look, sans about a foot of hair. The pop of fabric on a short crop looks très cute and is perfect for holding down hair that starts sticking up in an alarming fashion.

2. Cut bangs. When the state of my hair was getting hopeless, I grabbed a pair of sharp scissors and a comb, and cut blunt bangs into the grown-out side fringe I had already. If you don’t have a steady hand or don’t have bangs at all right now, head to a stylist. Bangs will spice up your look, and you can keep trimming them yourself while the rest of your hair grows out.

3. Play with your part. If you usually part your hair down the middle, part it down the side. If you already part it down the side, either switch sides or play with how deep the part is. It’ll change the overall shape of the hair around your face and give you a new look so you’re not tempted to chop it off altogether.

4. When in doubt, wear a hat. I have a friend who wore a hat every day, removing it only to go to sleep, for an entire semester while growing out a perm. You don’t have to take such drastic measures, but I would invest in a few flattering hats for those days when nothing works and you’re late for class because you spent your morning bashing your blow-dryer against the wall. Especially in the cooler months, a cute knit cap is totally weather-appropriate, even in class. Going to work? Lose the hat altogether and throw on that headband, because hat-hair won’t do your ‘do any favors.

If pain is beauty, well, you’re in for an agonizing few months. But keep your head up and your hair under control and you’ll be swinging your hair around like you’re auditioning for a shampoo commercial in no time!



  1. Emma Coutts says:

    hey i have a bit of a hair situation. i want to grow my hair out too. its short on one side like a boy and longer on the other side just above my shoulder. its a very awkward stle to grow out but do u think i should just bear it and have crappy hair for a few months? i see these girls with long hair and now i just get jealous. how often should i visit the hairdresser bearing in mind i havent been for a month..

    my email is

  2. yasmine says:

    you're absolutely brilliant for writing this |:

    i've got this terrible mullet kinda thing going on right now,but it's getting there!

    all the other girls have gorgeous long locks and i look like a weazel!

    thankyou for writing this,you're a godsend!!!

  3. Raine says:

    I am trying to grow my hair out from super short and the sides are over my ears but not long enough to do anything with. Do you have any suggestion for how to fix it during this period

    1. Annette says:

      I would suggest spraying a little bit of hairspray on you fingers and use your fingers to tuck it behind your ears, it will stay in place better. Try to persevere x

    2. Ashley says:

      I too am at this stage.
      Use bobby pins or clips to sweep your hair to the back and fix it, giving your hair an up-do feel.
      Part your hair at the side, the use bobby pins, hairspray/gel/wax to smooth one side down to create an asymetrical look (think Frankie from the Saturdays).
      On bad hair days (which are more common than good hair days I must admit), your best friends are gonna be small hair clips that pull your hair away from your ears, and that let you fix your hair into any style you like.
      Good luck ! And if all else fails, clip in hair extensions ! but i think they always look a bit tacky in the end.

  4. Veronica Vergara says:

    I am so happy I found this site it stopped me from cutting all my hair off again. Thank you, thank you so much. Stalking up on the head bands and scarfs right now.

  5. Meeshell says:

    i am in the painful growing out stage. i had an uber hip assymetrical cut [like kim from the pussycat dolls] and decided to even it out before growing it out so it wouldnt look odd. some days i feel like a boy with my currently shaggy barely touching my shoulders length.

    but i did change it up with bangs and played with the color so that helps.

  6. Sam says:

    You should NEVER cut your own hair, especially if you don't own a pair of PROFESSIONAL HAIRCUTTING shears. And if you're not hairstylist, chances are you don't own a pair. The ones they sell at Walmart with the plastic handles don't cut it either.

  7. Sam says:

    P.S. They make certain shears specifically for haircutting for a reason.

  8. Fio says:

    And I thought I was the only one going through the mullet phase! It's good to know I'm not alone!

    1. Melissa says:

      I feel your pain, Flo! I'm growing a short summer cut out, and the whole rubber band, bobby pin, headband thing looks so…youngster-ish. At home it's okay, but at work where it's nice to look more professional. Head scarves look good on people, but with larger heads than I.

  9. jo says:

    thx this helped. I chopped off all my long hair into spikes when I was in grade nine. I've been suffering since! I've let my bangs grow out but not the back of my hair. Now that I'm 18 I look like a punk kid and not the fresh faced adult I should T_T ugh these tips are helpful!

  10. Jeannie says:

    I lost my beautiful, waist length, long, straingth black hair to cancer. I am currently growing it out. It is just past my collar in the back, just past my ears near my chin and I am finally able to cut bangs in the front. I wash and condition my hair with Pantene or Garnier mositurizing shampoo and conditioner. Then I use a leave in conditioner, blower dryer heat protector and after blow drying it with a round or paddle brush to take the chemo curl out, I use a very small amount of hair shine oil. I am praying I can keep it growing without another chemo drug robbing my hair from me again. It will take a good five years to grow it down to my waist again. I have invested in a Mason Pearson ($129) brush to keep me motivated and looking toward my goal of long beautiful hair again.

    1. Maria says:

      congrats, you're an inspiration – and I'm sure you look great with the short hair, too :)
      Hugs and cheers

    2. Leek says:

      Try some natural hair products from a health food store, or Lush (if you have one there). Check out for more information on friendly health and beauty products that won't contribute to more bodily toxins. Good luck with you hair! It will shine beautifully again :)

  11. Lisa says:

    Finally, useful advice! Thank you for not suggestion extensions. I stashed a couple of old-fashioned bobby pins in my bag for those days when that one unruly lock just won't lay down. Hair in my eyes makes me insane so I bought thin headbands in every color to use until it grows long enough to tuck behind my ears.

  12. Esther says:

    I have extremely short hair, but I want extremely long hair. My problem is my lack of patience. I'm going to be working as a grounds maintenance tech and my hair will be subjected to all types of weather, and all quantities of perspiration. I've had my hair long and short and all lengths in between. Long works best, but getting it grown out is the problem. I need suggestions on how NOT to look at my hair until I get some length on it. All input is welcome.

  13. Nikki says:

    Omgoodness! This article has great ideas. It's well written…love the humor! Thanks.

  14. Micah says:

    i use boat loads of bobby pins and twist and tuck my hair in back up into a little maze of bobby pins. it keeps the mullet off my neck and the fly aways at bay… it looks super chic when its done right and can be paird with cute braids to fold the hair on the sides of your head into the hair in the back for the pinning…i've been suffering the growing out dilema for a few months now and my hair is aaaaaaalmost touching my neck and shoulders. I can also suggest taking a supplement, such as biotin (you can get it at most grocery super stores or health food/supplement stores,) which aids your body's metabolism of skin, hair and nail cells… your hair will grow, your nails will be strong and your face will glow so you'll be distracted by all that to notice the mullet : )

  15. Mackenzie says:

    I shaved my head for childhood cancer, and for the first couple of months, I didn’t mind being a fuzz head. Now its around the fourth month, and while I like looking very similar to Emma Watson with short hair, the back of my head gets poofy and fuzzy since my hair is naturally wavy. I’ve tried hairspray and wax, but nothing, not even straightening, stops the back of my neck from looking like a poodle. I think tomorrow I’m going to get the back tapered down to a shorter length, that way if the rest grows faster, like it is, it won’t get as poofy. All around, though, usually a good styling wax and hair spray gets my mini fro looking sleek and cute!

  16. Michelle says:

    Ughhh, the mullet stage! I gave in a year ago and chopped it off again when my husband said I looked like Joel Olsteen. I really want to try again but with wavy hair, the mullet stage is hideous!

  17. Nare says:

    Hello all! Its nice to see so many other people are doing through this. I'm 20 and my hair hasn't really been past my shoulders for the past 8 years, i'm way too impatient to let it grow. The mullet phase is my most dreaded but I may have a little solution (just a little one ;)) Headbands and scarfs are a must-have but you ladies should try to get little trims, I know its difficult and sounds crazy because the whole point is to "GROW IT OUT" but if you go to a trusted stylist, let them know you are growing it out and just want a little nice look while doing so, they can help! I don't like spending a bunch of money on cutting my hair too often but when it comes to how I feel about my hair every day, its important!

    I think the most important thing is to have HEALTHY hair while goring it out. I'm currently sporting a bob with the front right at my chin and the back different lengths (6 inches at the top, an inch at the bottom basically) and I'm going through a little dying/bleaching phase. Once I've had enough of this, I plan to chop it all off (or close to it) and let it grow out. Have any of you looked into Castor oil? It's wonderful for growing out hair! Just make sure that as you are growing it out, it is healthy. There is no point in growing out your hair if two thirds of it is really damaged. I speak from experience. A few months ago when I cut mine from shoulder length to chin length, I realized that the 3-4 inches I cut off was SO damaged (blowdryers, bleaching, dying) and it would NOT have been good as it grew. Make sure the ends of your hair are healthy otherwise it will continue to cause you problems.

    Good luck to you all!

  18. Mary Docherty says:

    Hi there,
    I have a very short crop and I am desperate now for a change. I have naturally thick, wavy hair which tends to go frizzy if I go mad with the old hair brush and blow dryer. However, I recently turned fifty years old ( I don't feel this old ! ) and have been colouring my hair for sooooo long now, I just don't want it to be dry and course as well as mullett- like whilst growing out. Also, you young gals out there think its tough to do this, at least you can look cute with bobby pins and scarves etc., I feel I might just look silly. Still, needs must, I'm gonna let it grow again , anyway !Mary Docherty

    1. janie says:

      hey mary! im 50 also and just started to grow my hair out 2 months ago so youve got a few months on me, hows it going? ive only worn pixies for about 20 yrs, but all of a sudden got the hankering for some length right now its at a bad stage but who cares! :) my older sis (55) has hair straight down almost to her ankels and it looks like glass! she said she only uses pantene. and re bobbypins and hairbows: i think i look cute with them too, not just the younger girls anyways, im wishing you luck! let me know how its going peace! *janier*

    2. Cyndi says:

      I'm right with you, sounds like we have the same hair type, I'm fifty one and don't feel old either. I've grown out my hair many times and I always cut it short because I end up wearing it in a pony tail and feeling like I'm trying to look like a teenager, but I have a new boy friend and he wants to see me with long hair. So here I go again, I Googled how to grow hair fast and I found some good tips maybe you can try: alot of protein, green leafy vegetables, turning your head upside down 30 to 60 seconds every night, massaging your head and taking prenatal vitamins yes women our age taking prenatal but I do remember my hair did grow fast when I took them when I was pregnant. Good Luck and hang in there it will be long before you know it.

    3. beentheredonethat says:

      Cyndi ~ I've had two ex-husbands who wanted me to wear long hair. Save yourself some trouble and take your boyfriend down to a wig shop, put the long-haired wig on and let him see you in it. And then go home and wear your hair the way you want. ^_^

  19. Babs says:

    I've tried the headbands thing, but it's still too short for it to work. My hair will just puff up like a fro. Not good. So I wear hats a lot. Right now, it's a bit hot, so I'm sweating, and I'm just waiting for the day for it to be long enough to start using clips! It's a depressing time for me right now.

  20. Gayle says:

    This website is a great idea. I have very very short hair. I have been trying to grow it out for 3 years!! My hair is fine but fairly thick esp. on the top. It has a STRONG growth pattern and naturally grows froward on the sides where your head crowns. I also have a double crown with cow licks in several other places. I have a naturally receeding hair line so it is very easy to cut it where the receeding hairline shows. Sooooooo, as you see it is a mess to grow. I have had more horror stories in the beauty shop chair than i care to remember. I need all the help i can get…………please encourage me with your stories!!! .

  21. Brittany says:

    Growing out hair is fun in my opinion – but I DONT understand the ignorant statements about how short hair is boyish ? I recently cut my hair into a crop and have never been hit on so much in my life ! It has also helped my modeling career. I am however getting bored with it, and will be growing it out to a mid neck layered bob. I never ever would grow my hair past my shoulders – I think it looks like somewhat of a mop. I think any girl who is gorgeous should cut their hair and show off their beauty. If your ugly, then I guess it’s best to keep it long so that you can hide behind it. If a woman looks like a “boy” with short hair, then something is very wrong in the first place. Something to think about – its just stupid hair. It grows. Mine grows about an inch a month. Enjoy the growing out phase – make it fun – why would anyone be jealous of other girls with long hair ? I think girls use long hair as a security blanket because they are too insecure to show off their faces and features.

    1. Machelle says:

      Being a model, I guess you wouldn't know how other women feel that are less fortunate than you.

    2. Jaz says:

      Wow, you're not an egotistical bitch are you?

    3. Twifreak says:

      Hey i cut my hair like Ashley Greene had in twilight (cause im a bit obsessed) and it had grown 2 inches since i cut it and i actually do look like a boy no question. I have some silly fringe and when i crop it to the side i look like justin beiber (im dying inside) ts become a bit of a joke now.

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  23. Em says:

    I can relate to so many people here! I went through the mullet stage about a month ago, and it looked so horrible I just grabbed my scissors (professional hair-cutting ones of course) and gave myself a trim. Now I’m back to square one with a Emma Watson-like pixie cut *sigh*. Beauty is pain!

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