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Originally published Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Long hair isn't just for girls anymore

The longer-haired look is the hot hairdo among boys. Just look at Ryder, Kate Hudson's son, and the actors on "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" and even "High School Musical."

Chicago Tribune

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Long-hair tips

LONGER HAIR SEEMS TO BE MORE of the child's call at salons, said Regina Gokhberg, president of Snippits Mini-cuts in the Chicago area.

Kelly Carbajal, Snippets' store manager and stylist, agreed: "Boys in grammar schools are seeing their classmates with longer hair and want to look like others."

Carbajal and Gokhberg offer these tips for long-haired boys and their parents:

Even though long locks may be in vogue, a kid who's going to summer sports camps needs a shorter cut. "It gets hot under the helmet and while running around," Gokhberg said.

Forget about a ponytail as a cooling-off option: "None of the boys say they want to wear them," Carbajal said.

Use pomades, not a gel. Gel dries up, and a pomade will flow with their hair better, Carbajal said.

Brush, brush, brush. The more often you brush, the fewer tangles will form in your hair.

Use clarifying shampoo and conditioner (especially if swimming) to prevent damage from chlorine. In general, condition hair on a regular basis to ease tangling.

CHICAGO — The wavy, reddish-brown hair that dances down Rowan Nelis' face might have once been the envy of most schoolgirls.

In fact, strangers approach Rowan all the time and say: "She looks so nice. She has such lovely hair." Instead of thanking them, "all I do is correct them and give them the evil eye," said Rowan, an 11-year-old boy and articulate representative of a new long-hair crowd.

Four years ago, Rowan decided to grow his hair.

"I hate going to the hair cutter — it sucks," Rowan said. "I like my hair the way it is."

Rowan isn't alone. Look down the street or on the sports fields of any city or suburb, and you'll see more and more boys trading a Justin Timberlake close-cropped look for the laid-back style of rapper Lil Wayne or the variable-but-lengthy locks of last year's "American Idol" contestant Sanjaya Malakar or even the "non-cut" currently popular with certain celebrity sons.

Flip through People or Us Weekly, and you'll spot actress Kate Hudson's son, Ryder Robinson, or singer Celine Dion's son Rene-Charles Angelil, both sporting below-the-shoulder tresses.

Rene-Charles' long locks drew so much negative feedback that, in May, Celebrity Baby Blog posted, along with a photo of the Canadian songstress's son: "We will not be publishing negative comments regarding Rene-Charles' hair."

Instead, almost 50 comments praised the boy's hair, including one that referred to him as "a handsome little lion."

And let's not forget TV. The Disney Channel features longer hair on the boys from "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" and "Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream." Nickelodeon has "The Naked Brothers Band" and "Dance on Sunset." Then there's the ever-popular "High School Musical" with Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu.

Rowan spurns such pop-culture saturation: "I don't really watch TV that much. I don't care what happens in the movies."

He simply likes his look.

But his sister Morgan, 8, isn't a fan. "It's annoying; he'll spin it around."

For mom Liz Nelis, hair is not something to worry about. "I think of all the things kids can do, it's OK. As long as it's not keeping him from doing things."

Rowan's only complaint is that "my hair gets stuck in the back of my chair at school."

Fourteen-year-old Tony Gibbons' shaggy hair makes him look like he just stepped out of a "Jonas Brothers" episode, but his style is a direct result of the music he listens to: "I wish I could have (even) longer hair like (musicians) in my favorite bands like Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses. I want to but my mom won't allow it," said Gibbons, who's entering 10th grade.

Initially, mom Cameo Amato wasn't thrilled with her son's growing hair.

"I was so distraught because it goes along with being a slacker. Now that he's older and proven not to be a slacker," Amato said, "I look at him and I can't imagine him without long hair. He's so handsome."

Charles Siwinski's blondish, curly hair falls to the middle of his back.

The 8-year-old drummer plays mostly music from the Doors and his favorite band, Led Zeppelin. But Robert Plant's epic mane wasn't Charles' inspiration for growing his own.

"My dad wanted me to grow it, and I really liked the idea," Charles said. Mom Lauren Siwinski explains that her clean-cut husband is "an art guy who likes whatever is different and not mainstream."

Charles said he receives a lot of comments about his hair. "He gets directed to women's bathrooms all the time," Lauren said. "But it doesn't bother him. He's confident."

"I like it because I'm very unique," Charles said. He added that "everyone knows me" at school because of his hair.

Although he has rebuffed his mom's offer to trim just a quarter-inch, she said: "I can't imagine him with a boy's haircut. He'd look naked."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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