Tips On Growing Out An Unintentional Mullet


It was just last week that my colorist and double process angel, Emaly at Ion Studios, looked at my freshly-glossed baby blond waves and victoriously declared, “You know… I don’t think you have a mullet anymore.” It’s something I’ve been waiting to hear for the last nine months, ever since I accidentally inflicted what is perhaps the worst haircut of all time on myself. I felt triumphant, liberated even. A bit like Elle Woods being accepted into Harvard Law School. The newly blonded roots helped.

The Backstory: I chopped my waist length, honey-brown hair off last October in pursuit of the ultimate cool-girl-curly-lob. Mica Arganaraz was at the top of my #hairgoals Pinterest board, alongside Anja Rubik, Freja Beha, Lou Schoof…all girls with shaggy bangs and aesthetic nonchalance. In a nutshell, I wanted Tom Ford rockabilly hair and was willing to do whatever it took to get it. Of course, nonchalance is not easy to fake or else everyone would do it. So, as you can probably guess, what I ended up with was…not that. Instead I had nothing short (in the front, long in the back) of a classic mullet. Think more Billy Ray meets Chuck Norris and less Patti Smith, with a little bit of my third grade bowl cut thrown into the mix for variety.

My mistake mullet is not the first of its kind and certainly not the last, so I figured I’d make the most of it and compile a fully-fledged guide for how to get over it. Total recovery requires several steps and months of patience. Also, reciting a nightly mantra over Blake Lively’s '80s inspired tight waves. Every little bit helps.

Step 1: Put down the shears, razors, buzzers, and flame torches and reach acceptance. Doing nothing will serve you better. Making small changes sporadically will keep you in the same rut for longer. I say this after getting 11 haircuts over the course of six months, which took me from shoulder length lob to Coconut Head. Not good.

Step 2: Buy a magnetic dish. Frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t have one of these before but they came in clutch as I became my apartment’s resident bobby pin fiend. If you can attach it to the bottom of a Swiffer, bonus points for quick scavenging. Blake Lively would be proud, I’m sure.

Step 3: As you have now ensured the safety of your mass pack of bobby pins, prepare to use them. I lucked out with excellent timing of a summer-fueled French braid resurgence and with practice was able to fit even my most random layers into a secure double-dutch braid. Messy “buns” were also a favorite in the growing out process and I often adopted two at the nape of my neck.

Step 4: Find the right products to keep things manageable and healthy. I became an even culty-er fan of Oribe’s Dry Texturing Spray, the Elizabeth and James Dry Shampoo, and R+Co’s Outer Space Flexible Hairspray, which made my good hair days last longer. Coconut oil is my go-to at-home hair mask to keep healthy length a possibility. Also good: Davines Minu Mask or Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Reparative Hair Pak. If you’ve never had to stop your day and restyle your hair though, you might have to start. I kept a bevy of oils and serums in my bag from Ouai to It’s A 10.

Step 5: If all else fails, make a big change. I know, I know, I know what I said. BUT maybe this terrible, no good, really awful haircut is a sign that it’s time. Time to go get a buzzcut or get extensions or to go peroxide blond. I know I felt more comfortable and my cut felt more purposeful after bleaching it.

Step 6: This one is a choice—either Instagram the crap out of it or avoid the lens for a little while. I chose the former path and documented my recovery, which makes for a nice little scrapbook to look back at the days when I had a bad haircut. If that’s not your scene, no worries. If I bad haircut happens and no one sees it on social media, did it really happen? I think probably not.

—Kelly Mittendorf

Photos courtesy of the author.

Kelly's got tips. Good tips, like doing a hair mask when you work out.