This KPOP Hair Growth Guide was written by Man Buns & Manes Community Member: Marvel Hariadi
Over the last few decades, men have become very accustomed to the idea that we "SHOULD" have short hair in order to meet the status quo and be accepted...until now!
FINALLY, there has been a shift in societal norms and we're now, more than ever, being encouraged to be our authentic selves in whatever way that feels good to us. Growing our hair long included!
Coz it feels damn good to be yourself without worrying about what others think. It's liberating!
& for some of us, when we do decide to take the plunge and grow our hair out, it can be a little painful on a few accounts.
Not only because of the unnecessary comments that will inevitably come from the minority, but the ever-changing journey itself can be hard to navigate due to the awkward lengths that occur along the way.
But the truth is you can’t expect to achieve Jared Leto or Jon Snow quality long hair overnight and the awkward phase of medium-length hair is more than likely going to cause you grief at one point or another.
That's why I wanted to write this K-pop Hair Growth Guide to illustrate an alternate way of growing your hair out that eases the blow of awkward stage hair and allows you to maximize your look at just about every stage of the journey.
Whilst men in the West often sport short-cropped hairstyles, East & Southeast Asian men in media have culturally always embraced slightly longer, and avant-garde hairstyles (such as the infamous “bowl haircut” that is every Asian child’s right of passage).
As an Asian person myself, much of my stylistic changes over the course of my hair growth journey have been heavily inspired by K-pop as it was so rare to see Asian men, especially slightly androgynous Asian men, represented with desirability especially in the Western world.
So without further ado, the below guide contains iconic hairstyles of male K-pop stars & other male Asian media celebrities to help visualize & shine the spotlight on an alternate perspective on growing your hair out.
How To Use This Hair Growth Guide
- During the hair growth process, once your hair reaches a certain length you inevitably must get maintenance cuts to keep your hair looking healthy and presentable.
This guide provides hairstyle references that you can show your hairstylist when you get a maintenance cut so that your hair can remain looking good at any phase of growth.
- It is separated into 8 phases: from buzz cut length to shoulder length-hair.
- Each "phase" represents each time you should visit the hair stylist/barber for a haircut.
- Go for a cut whenever you think your hair is beginning to look awkward.
- Every time you go to the hairstylist, show your hairstylist/barber your favourite reference photo and hairstyle of choice that aligns to your current stage of hair growth.
- There is some flexibility as your hair grows out in terms of hairstyle. That is why some phases have multiple hairstyle choices for you to choose from. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
- Note that if you’re already growing out your hair, you don’t need to go back to a Phase 1 buzz cut. Start at the phase closest to your current hair length, and cut your hair accordingly to adjust.
- Keep in mind that because you are opting to have haircuts by going down this particular route, it's obviously going to take a bit longer to grow your full mane.
However, the main focus of this process is to experiment with different styles along the way to make the process more enjoyable.
Growth Phase 1 of Hair Growth
Phase 1, AKA "The Honeymoon" is a phase of hair growth we are all familiar with after our fresh buzz.
Because the hair is so short during this period of the journey, it's extremely easy to maintain and can actually look pretty decent on just about anyone.
Here are some famous k-pop examples/variations of phase 1 hair:
Model: Key of SHINee
Growth Phase 2 - Eye-brow Length Undercut
By phase two, you've let you hair grow at least to your eyebrows and it's now starting to look borderline untidy and it's time for our first cut in the journey. The Eyebrow Length Undercut.
With slightly longer hair on top, the fringe falls and touches the eyebrows. With short cropped sides & back.
Opting for a fade at this stage could also be a good choice.
Growth Phase 3: Eye Length Textured Two-Block Haircut
By phase 3, your phase 2 undercut will have grown an inch or so & your hair should naturally grow into this style, though a maintenance cut may be required.
The fringe goes past the eyebrows and, after growing long enough, will touch the top of the eyes. Do not shave the back & sides again. The slick undercut phase has now ended and we have lift off!
If you want to spice this style up a bit, you can ask your hairstylist to “texturize” your hair to avoid the hair from looking flat and create visual variety. (See Variations Below)
Model: Lee Know of Stray Kids
Model: Ikeda Koh (Japanese Chef)
Model: Yeo Hwanwoong of ONEUS
Model: Bang Chan of Stray Kids
Model: Hur Hyunjun (Korean Actor)
Model: Na Jaemin of NCT Dream
Growth Phase 4: Cheekbone Length Textured Two-Block Haircut with “Mini-mullet”
Like the previous stage, phase 3 hair will naturally grow out to this style.
Again, a maintenance cut to keep the ends looking fresh may be required–especially to shape the back and sides of your hair. Just be very stern with the stylist to make sure they don't take too much length off.
The fringe will eventually pass the eyes and touch the cheekbones. Your back and sides will grow out, creating a “mini-mullet” at the nape of your neck.
While the term “mini-mullet” may scare people, it’s necessary in the hair growth process so the back & sides of your hair grow evenly with the top.
This is a common hairstyle that you will see in the K-pop industry due to its versatility.
Model: Jeong Jaehyun of NCT 127
Model: Choi Yeonjun of TXT
Model: Jay B of GOT7”
Growth Phase 5: Medium Length Hair
This is usually where “awkward phases” start. But if you think hair does not look awkward, you may be able to skip this phase and go straight to phase 6. But you cannot skip a haircut in phase 5 and phase 6.
In the following phases, you will have multiple styles to choose from. Choose the style that works best for you at each stage.
Phase 5, Style Option 1:
Phase 4 will most naturally grow out to this style. But a maintenance cut at this point will be required regardless.
Model: Lee Jongsuk (Korean Actor)
Model: I.M of Monsta X
Phase 5, Style Option 2:
Be sure to ask your stylist to texture heavily to achieve this look. This style is best for wavy hair types.
Growth Phase 6: Chin-Length Hair
Coming out of phase 5, if you think hair does not look awkward, you may be able to skip this phase and go straight to phase 6. But you cannot skip a haircut in phase 5 and phase 6.
Phase 6, Style Option 1:
This is the most natural growth from Phase 5, Style Choice 1. A maintenance haircut here to keep the style looking edgy will still be required.
Phase 6, Style Option 2:
This is what Phase 5, Style 2 will look like after growing out naturally.
Growth Phase 7: Shoulder Length Hair
Phase 7, Style Option 1:
These models are actually women. Though Hakken (Malaysian Cosplayer & Model) has a famously masculine face, and sports male-orientated hairstyles on her Instagram when she is cosplaying & modeling.
These hairstyles can therefore apply to both men & women–making them ideal for a more androgynous appearance.
Phase 7, Style Option 2:
This is the natural progression from Phase 6, Style Choice 3, though a maintenance cut is required.
Growth Phase 8: “True” Long hair
At this point you have reached the end. You now have “true” long hair that reaches past your shoulders and is headed for the nipples. The way you style your hair from here is up to you.
If you are unsure though, asking for some “layers with curtain bangs” could be a good option to jazz it up a bit. Especially if you have wavy (2a-2c texture).
The curtain bangs will help frame the face, making the forehead appear smaller, while the layers keep the bottom ends from looking bulky and formless.
At this stage, your hair will be long enough to tie up as well. Experimenting with different man bun styles or braiding styles could be an excellent option too.
If you have curly hair (from 3b & above) you'll definitely need to start experimenting with different products to truly enjoy your hair at this length.
Without the right products and care, curly hair is a nightmare... Don't forget it...
It's common for men with curlier hair to ditch the idea of keeping it long simply because they don't understand the importance of product in the beginning.
We're working on a few things behind the scenes here to shed more light on the importance of using product and will hyperlink the resources here when they are ready to go.
As for iconic K-pop phase 8 examples, here are some male/masculine long hair inspirations for your you to look at:
Model: Ren of NU’EST
Model: Junji of OnlyOneOf
Model: Xion of ONEUS
Some people, especially men, feel weird about taking stylistic inspiration from K-pop & Asian media because the male celebrities look “too feminine.”
While everyone is welcome to their own opinions and choices, we think it's important to encourage everyone to open their mind and look beyond binary ideas of beauty, especially when growing out your hair.
To be attractive, you don’t need to appeal to a hypermasculine, Western beauty standard. The K-pop phenomenon is entering mainstream media, and it is diversifying the way we see male beauty & style–and that includes hair.
So if Korean pop stars are not afraid to grow their hair out and look a little androgynous for the sake of a unique personal style, neither should you.
If you’re ever anxious about your hair looking awkward while it's growing out again, you can always come back to this guide and rest assured that your hair will remain looking good at any length.
If you'd like to join the Man Buns & Manes Facebook group for hair growth & long hair styling support & inspiration, Click here to get started.
You can also subscribe to Thomas in Action for guided videos on male hair care & grooming.
Thank you so much for coming to read this article and don't forget to leave a comment here telling us about your hair growth journey!
Grow Long & Prosper. 🖖🦁
About The Author
Marvel Hariadi is a digital artist, university student & self proclaimed “frequent napper”. He advocates for self-expression free of gender norms, heteronormativity and western-centric beauty standards. #BreakTheBinary and #Decolonize.
You can find his personal and artist profiles below:
Personal Instagram: @marvelhariadi
Arts Instagram: @marvihardi
As an older male with an ingrained western view of hyper masculinity as my original belief system, I totally agree with your observations.
However, after embarking on my own hair growth journey, and completing my 19th month, I can honestly say I have learned so much and now have an appreciation and respect for the new or modern more feminine looks and styles.
I have read your incredible article word for word, studying the awesome photos, and can only say that it is the very best guide I have seen yet! It is utter perfection for those that want and need guidance to accomplish their own goals! I give it a 10/10!
I applaud your every effort, and all the hard work you invested in this project. With a very grateful heart, I offer up a hug in thanks for a job well done! You totally kicked ass, and cheer you on for any and all of your future projects! Good luck Marvel! Be well… Always.
Nearly at phase 6 and my hair has been looking pretty rough latley. I’m still young so I’m always getting nagged at by my parents to cut it but I’ll tough it through till I can look anything like Jason mamoa
What should i say to my hairdresser if I want the hairstyle like Hyunjin (Phase 6, Style Option 3)?