8 Stylist-Approved Tips For Growing Out A Buzz Cut

Avoid the awkward in-between phase.

by Kelly Dougher and Shea Simmons
Originally Published: 
How to grow out a buzz cut, according to stylists.
Fabio Formaggio / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
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So, you shaved your head, and now, the time has come to figure out how to grow out a buzz cut. While growing out other styles can be a seamless process, things get much more complicated with a buzz cut. From protecting your scalp to figuring out ways to increase hair growth to getting the perfect cut as it grows, the process is much more than waiting a few months to transition to a pixie.

After a few weeks of letting a buzz cut grow out, it's not so much an actual hairstyle as it is a fuzzy poof of hair, sticking upwards for a few weeks before it's long enough to lie flat. This is the period that can feel particularly frustrating, and if you’re trying to find the best way to grow out a buzz cut, it’s likely not your favorite part of rocking the style.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to grow out a buzz cut in the sleekest way possible and minimize that awkward in-between phase. To make that process slightly less burdensome (and less stressful), Bustle spoke with experts — including Taylor Portanova and Kasey Bertucci, co-owners and master stylists at Salon 120 West in Boston, and board-certified dermatologists Dr. Joshua Zeichner and Dr. Hadley King, — for tried and true tips for growing out a buzz cut.

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1. Massage Your Scalp

An easy — and relaxing — way to help encourage hair growth is through scalp massage, and luckily, it’s really easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Just massage your scalp with your fingers or a head massager during your daily shower or before bed, perhaps with essential oils for some extra hydration and relaxation.

According to King, there are a few studies that support scalp massage's ability to thicken hair, but her biggest tip is to combine this method with oils. She tells Bustle that studies have shown an increase in hair growth among mice when using lavender or peppermint oil. She points to Carter + Jane’s Scalpfix (a dry shampoo alternative that contains peppermint oil) as a good, lightweight option.

2. Use The Right Shampoo

Once you start to actually have hair again, it's time to put some thought into your shampoo. How often you should shampoo your hair depends on your hair type, but you should definitely wash your hair at least once a week even if your hair is very short to nix product and oil buildup. But you don’t want to eliminate all your natural oils: King says to avoid products containing sulfates as they could dehydrate your hair.

Zeichner says to look for a shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione. “Besides treating dandruff, there's data showing that it may help ward off UV-induced free radicals that harm the skin,” he tells Bustle. “Besides washing the hair itself, make sure to lather into the scalp, and let it sit while you sing the alphabet to give it enough contact time on the skin. Plus, many dermatologists believe that the anti-inflammatory benefits of anti-fungal dandruff shampoos encourage hair growth.”

3. Use Sunscreen

You’re probably not going to want to slather your scalp in sunscreen — even if your hair is still in its ultra-short, buzzed phase. But the scalp is skin, and it still needs to be protected in order to encourage growth and not damage your existing hair. Zeichner recommends applying sunscreen right around your hair explaining, “mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide are ultra-gentle and can be used across all skin types. They absorb, scatter, and reflect UV light away from the skin.”

4. Get Your Vitamins

Your hair won't grow strong and healthy if you neglect your diet. Vitamins B and D have been linked to promoting hair growth and strengthening hair, and fish oil’s omega-3s (aka fatty acids) nourish both the hair and skin. Some people also swear by biotin, but you should research it thoroughly first to make sure it's right for you. Zeichner and King both recommend popular hair growth supplement Nutrafol, explaining that studies have been done proving its efficacy.

Be sure to add plenty of protein, omega-3s, and greens to your diet — don't just rely on supplements, because they aren't a replacement for a balanced diet.

5. See Your Stylist Regularly

A fade along the sides and back of your head is a really easy, cool way to style your buzz cut while you grow it out. If you need inspiration, just search for the hashtag #girlswithfades on Instagram, or check out accounts like @buzzcutfeed for ideas.

No matter what look you opt for, though, Portanova and Bertucci say you should be seeing a hairstylist regularly — every 8 to 10 weeks — in order to have a “purposeful style.”

“You will experience all hairstyles when growing out a buzz cut,” the pair explains. “Working with a professional who can teach you how to style during your pixie phase is important. Your stylist will be able to shape your hair to compliment your facial structure.”

6. Consider Changing The Color

You don't have to wait for your hair to grow longer before trying out a fun new color. You could go for the Amber Rose look with platinum blonde, or you could pick literally any other color of the rainbow: pink, red, blue... you get the idea. The only thing cooler than a buzz cut is a brightly-colored buzz cut.

7. Experiment With Makeup

Since all the time that you would spend styling your hair has been freed up, you can put a little extra effort into your makeup look. Experiment and don’t be afraid to try new styles — everything from color-blocked eyeshadow to neon mascara and statement lips are fair game. The more colorful, the better.

8. Don't Stress It

Just getting your buzz cut to the pixie cut stage is cause for celebration, so focus on that day arriving. Before you know it, your hair will have grown right through the awkward stage and voila, you'll have a cute, chic pixie cut. There are little things you can do, like the tips listed above, to help the process along a little, but there's no point in agonizing over it.

The fact is that it takes some time to go from a buzz cut to a pixie, and that time will pass a lot faster if you're not constantly thinking about it. One day you'll look in the mirror and realize your buzz cut is officially gone, and you might even start to miss it.

Studies referenced:

Ablon, G, Kogan, S. (2018). A Six-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of a Nutraceutical Supplement for Promoting Hair Growth in Women With Self-Perceived Thinning Hair. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

Almohanna, H, Ahmed, A, Tsatalis, J, Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatology and Therapy.

Berger, R, Fu, J, Smiles, K, Turner, C, Schnell, B, Werchowski, K, Lammers, K. (2003). The Effects of Minoxidil, 1% Pyrithione Zinc and A Combination of Both on Hair Density: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The British Journal of Dermatology.

Dias, M. (2015). Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. International Journal of Trichology.

Kang, J, Yoon, H, Kim, S, Park, J, Hyun, Y, Ko, A, Han, Y, Koh, Y, Hyun, J, Yoo, E, Kang, H. (2018). Mackerel-Derived Fermented Fish Oil Promotes Hair Growth by Anagen-Stimulating Pathways. International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Kayoma, T. (2016). Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue. EPlasty.

Lee, B, Lee, J, Kim, Y. (2016). Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice. Toxicology Research.

Oh, J, Park, M, Kim, Y. (2014). Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicology Research.

Sebetic, K, Masnec, I, Cavka, V, Biljan, D, Krolo, I. (2008). UV Damage of The Hair. Collegium Anthropologicum.


Taylor Portanova, co-owner and master stylist Salon 120 West

Kasey Bertucci, co-owner and master stylist Salon 120 West

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, board-certified dermatologist

Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist

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