Friday, May 2, 2014

How to Make a Mohawk

Before we even get started, let me answer some common mohawk questions I get asked regularly: 

#1. No, you don't have to be a goth/emo/wannabe to have a mohawk or be going through some emotional mid-life crisis.

#2. Yes, a mohawk is a lot easier to take care of than long hair.

#3. No, I don't use Elmer's glue or rubber cement to keep it up.

#4. Yes, you will have random people stop you on the street who will want to make a comment/stare/take photos/want to touch it.

Ok, did I answer all of your questions? If not, feel free to ask me a question in the comments section below and I'm happy to help. Mohawks aren't a common thing, especially for women, but they can make you feel powerful, brave, empowered... but depending on the day, can also make you feel ugly or freakish. The key is to have a supportive community of friends and/or family before you decide to do it. And hey, it's just hair, it will grow back.

I'll be throwing out recommendations throughout the post but before we even start, here's...

Recommendation #1: Get a friend to help. If you don't, you run the risk of the mohawk not being straight.

Making a mohawk is a three step process:

Step #1: Shaving the hair. I recommend using scissors first, if you're hair is really long, otherwise use an electric razor and, if you're by yourself, use masking or painters tape to help make guide lines.

Step #2: Bleaching the hair. If you want to color the hair, you're going to want to strip all of your existing color first. I recommend the White Out bleach kit from Hot Topic, if it's your first time.

Step 3: Coloring and styling the 'hawk. You're free to leave it without color or without spikes (I call that "floppy-hawk"). However, if you want to color it, I recommend Manic Panic or RAW Color. Use petroleum jelly when dyeing (details as to why below). If you want to keep the spikes up for days, use any got2b hair product and good hairspray.

Before you even get started, take a "before" photo so you can do an "after" when you're all done. It would make a nice Mother's Day gift!... if you're sure your mother won't have a heart attack...

Also, remember you're going to be covered in tiny little hairs. Even if you have a towel around you, those hairs will be stuck to your neck, your head, crevices you didn't even know existed that will itch like heck so try to have a sink or shower nearby.

For those of you doing this yourself, I recommend using masking/painters tape. If you use the tape as guidelines, it will help create straight lines (don't use duct tape, unless you like having your hair pulled out). However, make sure the hair on the sides of your head is relatively short before putting the tape on... otherwise, it will bunch up like this under the tape and the lines won't be straight at all.

If you have someone helping you, wet your hair down so they can easily produce a straight line. Using a pencil or a ruler as a guide is also helpful.

Recommendation #2: Once your straight line has been formed from front to back, break out your electric razor and slowly buzz off the hair. This can be painful if the razor catches on the hair so go slowly. If you've never shaved your head before, now would be the time to cry.

Ta-da! You're halfway done!

Do the same thing to the other side - find your part from front to back and slowly shave off the other side.

Once both sides have been shaved, now would be a good time to either donate your hair to an organization like Locks of Love or take a shower. It's up to you.

Not sure if you will like the height of your hair once it's up? Maybe it's too long and you think it'll just flop over? It's a hard thing to be sure of at this stage. I recommend bleaching and coloring before you change the height... it will save you a lot of time and hassle. If you're not going to bleach and/or color, then put in the gel and hairspray and while it's up and stiff, cut off however much you want. That way, you won't have to hold it up yourself and you'll be able to see just how long it is!

If you want to color your hair, it's time to move onto step 2 - bleaching the color out. Be sure to wear a shirt you're ok with ruining, should any bleach accidentally get on it.

Recommendation #3: It's very important to not only bleach the sides but also the middle of your head at the roots. While it looks like I did that in the photo on the left, I clearly didn't and missed the middle.

Still, if you'd rather go with no color whatsoever, add your gel and hairspray and you're done!

However, if you'd like to color and then style your hair, grab some gloves and the Vaseline. Why Vaseline?

Recommendation #4: If you put Vaseline on either side of the mohawk, the forehead, and nape of your neck, it acts as a barrier when you accidentally get hair dye on your skin. And it will probably happen the first time. And second. Unless you have help but even then, it'll probably happen. You have been warned.

So grab your gloves, slap on that petroleum jelly, and while your hair as at the floppy-hawk stage (not spiked and dry), and apply the dye directly on the hair. Leave it in for the recommended time on the bottle. Wash it out until the water runs clear and get ready to style it! Note that the color will fade every time you wash your hair so I recommend going with a darker dye.

Recommendation #5: Put in your hair gel while your hair is slightly damp. To do so, bend over and let gravity help. Once the gel is in, take your hair spray and spray both sides of the hawk. Now while you're still somewhat upside-down, take your blow dryer and dry it upside down until it's rock hard. Takes 5 minutes. Tops.

And there you have it kids! Be creative with the colors, be prepared for the looks/comments/random photographs people will take of you without your permission, but most importantly: be comfortable in your own skin and have fun!

TOTAL COSTS: About $25
$12.99 for White Out bleach kit from Hot Topic
$12.99 for Manic Panic from Hot Topic (buy 2, get 1 free right now!)
Already had electric razor, hair gel, hairspray, and petroleum jelly

50 minutes to cut hair (times will vary, depending on how much hair you had to begin with, whether someone was helping you, etc.)
50 minutes to bleach hair
20 minutes to dye hair

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 4 out of 5
Of course, there are a lot of different variables when calculating the difficulty of obtaining a mohawk.
  * Are you doing it alone or is someone helping you?
  * How much hair do you have to being with?
  * Are you dying your hair all one color or multiple colors?
The hardest part is getting the lines straight from front to back - the last thing you want is a thick mohawk near your forehead and a rat tail near the nape of your neck. But hey, if you mess it up, at least it'll grow back!


  1. This is probably my 80's childhood speaking, but I like it both shaved and flopped over... Tech Boy has the entire back and most of the sides of his head shaved, and when not at work, pulls the rest of his hair up in a ponytail... it's amazing how well the shaved part is hidden until he wants it. He hasn't dyed it in years, though...grows too fast.

    I really like your bleach job, you have your own blonde penumbra, kinda.

    1. Thanks! I'm just keeping it blonde until I figure out what color to dye it first. I like adding different shades of one color, like blue/green or red/orange, I'm just too indecisive to pick!

  2. Can I get a mohawk if my hair parts in the middle?

    1. Yep! You might need extra gel or hairspray but my part is naturally down the middle as well and I've never had any issues (with enough product!)

  3. You can also use a hair straighter it helps keep it up longer just put some hair spray on your hair let it sit for a while then the hair straighter ( don't burn your hair) then you will be looking better than ever