How To Avoid The Awkward Grow-Out Phase

Congratulations, you did it! You made the leap to get the pixie/bob/bangs haircut you've been coveting ever since you saw it on that girl on the subway. But, as one does, you've quickly grown tired of your new 'do and are now yearning for the days when your styling options were in the double digits. Enter: the dreaded grow-out phase. If you've been there, you know the pain. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky.

To spare you the follicular frustration, we've tapped celebrity hairstylist and Suave ambassador Jenny Cho, who works with Jennifer Lawrence (who, we might add, grew out her pixie flawlessly). Cho let us in on the tips and tricks to growing out every cut — minus the awkward phase. From short crops to bangs to the very daring side shave, click through to find out how to make the transition a wee bit more bearable. (And if you're looking to speed up the long process, we've got you covered, here.)

Photo: Rex Features.
Buzz Cut
Buzzing your hair gives you freedom. It's perfect for the summer (sweaty strands sticking to your neck, be gone!), you can sleep for 20 minutes longer since you don't have to worry about styling it, and heck, all of the models are doing it. For others, it might be a way to cope with an illness — or it might not be a choice at all. But if you can grow it out and you want to, there are some important things to keep in mind.

While it might seem intimidating, Cho assures us that growing out a buzz cut doesn't have to be torturous at all. In fact, depending on your desired length, the cuts in the coming slides are going to be the stages your buzz grows into.

To get to the pixie stage free of tears, keep the sides and back portion of your hair shorter while you grow out the top. "Usually, when you have the top longer, you can have so much fun with it," she says. "The goal is to have all of the layers meet at one point, so continue to grow the top out and continue to get the sides and the back [trimmed]."

Cho recommends trimming your hair every 10 weeks if you can. (Our short-haired friends recommend finding a barber you trust to save money.) "You're keeping [your hair] from falling into an awkward stage every single time you go to your hairstylist," Cho says. "Have them remove some weight in the hair — because maybe the top is getting too heavy — but make sure that they don't cut the ends of your hair as if you're going back to where you were 10 weeks ago."
Photo: James McCauley/REX Features.
Cho loves to experiment with different styles during the growing-out process of a pixie cut, which she notes she did for her own client, Carey Mulligan, four years ago. If your pixie is tapered (with the front sections longer than the back), try twisting the front pieces and using bobby pins to accessorize. Style a severe side part one day, wispy bangs the next, or slick your strands back with gel for a sophisticated look.

Cho also recommends adding a sea salt spray to your rotation in order to give your hair some texture. "You don't need multiple products at this stage, so a sea salt spray is a great one and really light, but it gives hair a lot of grit," she says. "You could go from [a] straight, tapered cut to something a little more undone and messy."

As far as trims go, Cho says to stick with a similar process as those with buzz cuts. The takeaway being that you want to make sure you're removing weight while still retaining length.
Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI/Rex Features.
One of the best parts of growing out a single-length bob is also the worst. While it's an easier transition to grow out a uniform cut (say, a side shave), the style can quickly become boxy, triangular, and lose its cool factor as it creeps down your neck.

To avoid this, Cho recommends adding layers for some dimension and embracing your curling iron every once in awhile to break up the texture. When you want to give your hair a break from hot tools, pick up some product. "You can always use a volumizing mousse or a curl-defining mousse to add more body to [the hair], so then it creates a little bit of movement and bend," says Cho.

Cho also says that when growing out any type of box-shaped cut, adding bangs can be a nice change of pace. It gives you a totally different haircut," she says. "You still have the length. You're growing it out, and now, you have this fresh new look."
Photo: REX Features.
Speaking of bangs, Cho has some pointers that will make growing them out suck way, way less. What she likes to do with her clients is cut the center area of the fringe a bit shorter, which allows you to push the hair to either side.

"What you want to do is create a softer framing around the face," she says. "In no time, you'll have the end of your bangs that were sitting by your temple by your cheek area." Once you get to that stage, she recommends adding layers around the front to disguise the bluntness.

If a center part isn't your thing, Cho recommends having your stylist cut your fringe into a side-swept style. "You can do a super-chic blowout and then grab the front and just pin it under, so that your hair just looks like it's been tucked behind your ear," she recommends."You can add a little bit of coconut oil and use a little light hairspray. It just keeps it together."
Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images.
An undercut is probably one of the easier cuts of the bunch to grow out, you just have to steer clear of updos for a bit (although low ponytails are definitely an option). Cho recommends getting layers on the top portion of your hair.

"When you're adding layers, you're just kind of concealing and making things a little more visually blurry," she says. "Sometimes, some haircuts don't have a quick fix, but you can really disguise it. You can use headbands, braids, so many things."

Cho, who actually rocked the style back in the day, says that her long-term method involved continuously getting the ends of her hair cut shorter and shorter. Eventually, the layers grew out and it turned into a bob shape. When her undercut portion grew to a certain point, she cut the rest of her hair to match.
Photo: Broadimage/REX Features.
Side Shave
Anyone that's bold enough to shave the side of her hair should also be bold enough to embrace the growing-out process, right? Cho says to keep things punk rock and edgy throughout this stage (which, since you cut the style in the first place, is probably your thing anyway).

This involves taking a cue from her pixie recommendations and embracing a salt texturizing spray. Or even cutting the longer side of your hair into a shag to keep things interesting.

"Shaggy haircuts are really, really in right now," Cho says. "Just have your stylist give you a heavily layered side, while the other side is still short."

Of course, another option is to change where you part your hair in order to cover up the buzzed part (depending on how long your hair is). Cho does add that, at some point, you are going to have to bite the bullet (or, pick up the sheers) and cut the longer part of your hair to match the shorter side (ditto for those with an asymmetrical cut). In the meantime, you can use a pomade to keep the hair from looking messy or poufy. You can also use a flat iron to tame the hairs that are starting to bevel or simply use a scarf to hold the strands down.

Whatever happens, just embrace the stages — the good, the bad, and the in-between. "You're already taking it there [with a side-shave], so you might as well just go along for the ride," Cho says.
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