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How To Train Hair To Go Back

Nobody is quite sure whether it’s fact or fiction that some guys can figure out how to train hair to go back. I’ve spent my whole life trying to get rid of this cowlick, but it’s not going anywhere. 

But there’s a silver lining: even if you can’t “train” your hair to go back, you can style it back.

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Can You Train Your Hair To Stay Back?

Hair care experts don’t unanimously agree on whether you can train your hair to grow backwards (or forwards. Or sideways).

Your hair follicles all point a certain way, and your hair tends to grow in that direction, taking into account gravity. Some experts think you can retrain your hair follicles to grow in other directions, but others say it’s impossible.

Whether or not you can “train” your hair to stay back, there are lots of ways to style your hair so that it stays back all day long. 

How To Train Hair To Go Back

To train your hair to go back, you should style it back every day. Follow these steps:

  1. Shape Your Hair While It’s Wet

Styling your hair while it’s still wet is the most important part of getting your hair to go back. If you let it dry, it’ll choose its own direction.

For those days when you don’t want to shower, you can spritz your hair with sea salt spray, or just wet it down with tap water. (I prefer the salt spray because it smells better and dissolves any oil buildup in your hair.)

Once your hair is wet, comb it backwards. (You can also part it, if you want a part.) From here, you have a few options: see if it’ll air dry nicely, use a blow dryer, or use a styling product. Guys tend to have the most success with a combination of the latter two options.

  1. Use Hair Product

Hair products add that stickiness you need to hold your hair back. Some popular choices include hair gel, pomade, hair paste, and hair clay. Generally speaking, it only takes a small dollop of product to give your hair high shine and high hold all day.

Whichever product you choose, you can also finish it off with some hair spray for extra strength.

Just remember, you shouldn’t necessarily use hair products every day, and you need to rinse it out when you’re done with your day. The residue that gels, pomades, pastes, and clays leave can cause scalp irritation.

That’s why some guys like to skip products entirely. If that’s what you prefer, then you’ll need to use a blow dryer to train your hair back.

  1. Use A Blow Dryer

You can use a blow dryer with or without hair product, as long as your hair is still damp. Always blow in the direction that you want your hair to dry (backwards), and use a brush to keep your hair tangle-free while you’re blow drying.

If you use a blow dryer every day, try to keep it on the coolest setting so that your hair doesn’t suffer from heat damage.

  1. Try A Hair Clip

This isn’t an option that every guy is willing to try, but it’s just as effective as blow dryers and hair products.

Hair clips, hair bands, and bobby pins can all help train your hair back whether it’s wet or dry. I especially like this option because you can re-secure your hair throughout the day if your clip slips.

If you’re worried about hair ties being too “feminine,” don’t be. Remember the man bun resurgence? Hair bands have had their own recent fashion moments for men. 

  1. Tell Your Barber Your Hair Growth Plan

Next time you visit your barber, let him know that you’re trying to train your hair back.

Bring a photo or two, and be descriptive about what you want when you ask your barber for your haircut. Are you trying a long slicked-back look? Short sides? A sleek pompadour or taper fade haircut that you can train backwards?

Whatever trained-back style you want, your barber can help cut and style your hair in a way that supports your plan.

How Long Does It Take To Train Your Hair Back?

Keep this in mind: even if you successfully train your hair back, you’ll probably still need to style it back every day using hair products, a blow dryer, or hair clips.

It can take years to shape the way your hair grows (if you manage to redirect the follicles). And even when you do, you won’t roll out of bed with perfectly styled, shiny hair that’s ready for the office.

So don’t think of it as training your hair back. Think of it as learning how to style your hair back perfectly to achieve that slick look.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.