Manscaping has been popular for some time now, and while men are still trimming, shaving and plucking some parts of their body, the top of the head is one area our gender doesn’t typically want left bare.
I think of it as my duty, gift and honor to be able to offer hairstyle advice to men in need of some guidance. If you take a look in the upstairs bathroom of our home you’ll quickly realize just how seriously I take my hair. Last count I had an excess of sixty salon hair products on the shelf with many more tucked away in the closet. The one thing I never do, is buy drugstore products, and if you read my last article on hair, you’ll know why. This guide is about hairstyles for men or men’s haircuts if you will.
In this particular piece, I really want to focus away from the products for a change, and really delve into some of the great styles that men need to pay attention to. From classically inspired cuts to more modern flairs, one thing that’s out now is the fohawk and for good reason – it’s about as ridiculous as the name itself. Sure, if you’re 16, the girls might think it looks cute on you, but for the thirty year old in the boardroom, rest assured no one is going to be swooning over it.
Thankfully, many of the men that read my articles already have a pretty solid grasp on what’s in style. The other portion at the very least have interest and are looking to improve their personal style. This is great news, because my articles aren’t intended for the hooligan wearing baggy sweat pants and a hoodie in public. If you happen to be that guy, stop reading now and just put on a hat. I may be a quality consigliere, but not even God can perform the miracles you’re looking for.
So for those men who are interested in really grasping their hair by the strand (so to speak), read on, and let’s explore some great styles and cuts for everything from short hair to long.
The Prohibition High-and-Tight
This is a classic cut dating back to the mid 1920s that’s regained some ground after being featured in a variety of period drama TV shows like Boardwalk Empire. It works great for a variety of hair types from fine to thick provided your hair is straight and not curly. It’s boardroom appropriate with a suit and tie or pub-proud with a beer in your hand and a beard on your face. It’s versatile, easy to maintain and can make you look clean-cut or bad to the bone. Ideally, you want to get your barber to keep about two inches on top but short on the sides and well faded into the nape and sideburns. For those barbers using the trimmer, ask them to stick with a number one and fade from there.
Ideally you’re going to want to use a pomade, cream, wax, gel or fibre. Many products work well from the Murray’s Pomade to the Redken wax. However, if you’re going back to the twenties, I suggest sticking with a classic like Murray’s Pomade or Brylcreem; both of which are very inexpensive. If you really want to give it a bit of an edge, try something like Uppercut or Suavecito.
You’ll need a little more on top, but this classic cut is coming back with a bang. Often called the James Dean, this updated version can be done with more than just naturally wavy hair. Obviously, if you are looking to replicate the exact James Dean look, you need some curl to your locks, but the Pompadour can now be done with straight hair as well. You’re going to want a bit of hair on the sides this time, but it can be done with less. The goal is more on top since this particular styles makes use of combing the hair back and to the side meaning that with extremely short hair, you’re just going to look like a porcupine.
Just like in the video below, you want to start off with a hair dryer. Many men look at these as being a woman’s style tool, but rest assured, it’s perfectly acceptable to use one – in fact, for some styles, it’s a requirement.
The one thing I don’t recommend using is the products featured in the video. Both are pretty rudimentary and while they are inexpensive and available in most drug stores, they’re not great quality.
Take a look at this hair guide for some of my top recommended products.
Most barbers should be familiar with this look. It’s something that’s been around since the mid 1900s, and young or old, this cut should be a pre-requisite for barbers working in a salon or barbershop. If your barber doesn’t know this cut like the back of their hand – run.
For well cut hair you shouldn’t require very much product. I highly recommend sticking with a medium hold pomade or grooming cream. Most salon lines will carry both.
Forget the Gordon Gekko look of the 80s, if you go with a slick backed style, you’re just going to look like a used car salesman. Of course, if you do have a little more growth on top, you can let the hair flow with a bit of product and still look sharp at the office.
To achieve this look you really need a very square cut. Your barber will know what this means. When you’re ready to style it, just use some old fashioned mousse and comb it back.
The Gent Gazette
Being the author of this article, it’s only right that I be able to name a haircut. This is the style I choose nine out of ten times. It’s short, boardroom appropriate and very clean cut. You’ll need a little more hair on the top with it tapered appropriately at the sides and back. One tip I always use is having my stylist shave my part with her straight razor to make it more defined and easier for me to align when I’m in a rush. This cut works well if you have straight hair and can be used on thick or thin hair types. The goal is similar to the pompadour except you’re combing it back and to the side. Depending on how well my hair is behaving, sometimes I can get away with just using a little pomade, whereas other days I’ll use a gel followed by a pomade and possibly some finishing spray. If I don’t want a really slicked back look and I’m having a good hair day, sometimes I’ll replace the pomade with a texturizing paste (this one comes recommended) which can provide an exceptional hold as well. I just find the pomade slightly more pliable and easier to apply.
This isn’t what you’re thinking. I’m not suggesting you just roll out of bed and walk into the office. This is the “gentleman’s” version of the bedhead and one that’s a little more hipster and rock and roll than some of the others. It’s similar to the pompadour in the sense that the sides and back are short with quite a bit on top, except that you want to have your barber keep the sides high. Then, instead of combing it back, pull it forward a bit and give it a bit of a shuffle. So long as your face isn’t shaped like an egg, you’ll look good in this cut. The tough part is styling it right. This is one cut you don’t want slicked or it’s just going to look greasy. Stick with a matte finish product, ideally something soft like a grooming or forming cream. Starting with damp hair, blow the hair out in segments using your fingers to align it. It takes some practice but you’ll be a pro in no time. Just be aware that wind will be your enemy.
There are so many haircuts popular today that to list them all would be difficult. Many people with longer hair will opt to style it in a samurai or above the shoulders, whereas people with shorter hair can mix and match the above cuts to give various looks based on their mood or style that day.
My biggest tip is to work with your hair and face shape rather than against it. A good stylist or barber will be able to give you any cut you want and will make you feel great leaving the salon, but once you’re home it’s up to you to maintain it. By choosing a cut that doesn’t suit your hair type, length or face shape, you’re setting yourself up to fail and in the process, look ridiculous.
Here are a few quick tips:
1. Short on the sides looks longer up top. If you have short hair and keep it well trimmed on the sides and back, even if you only have an inch or two up top, it’s going to look longer. It’s deceiving, but it’s factual. By keeping it trimmed close on the sides and back with an inch and a half or two up top, you’ll have far more versatility than you would with any other length. You can mess up the top, style it to the side or push it back or forward for various looks. It’s also easy to style in a pinch and will save you money on product by requiring less.
2. Shave the part. As mentioned above, I always have a part in my hair. If you’re like me, ask your barber or stylist to straight shave the part in. If they don’t have a straight razor, or aren’t comfortable using one, they can use their electric clippers to get the same result. It doesn’t have to be wide by any stretch, but by shaving the part, you’ll look more defined and have an easier time keeping it straight when you’re half asleep in the morning.
3. Buy only quality products. Do your research and spend the extra money. Your hair will thank you for it. Not only is it far healthier for your hair to use a well made product, but you’ll end up requiring less product which will save you money in the long run. Many drugstore products contain chemicals and other unnatural ingredients in them that can harm your hair and scalp. This doesn’t mean buying organic, it just means ensuring that you only purchase from reputable salons that are authorized to carry the product. Hint: Some salon products can be found in stores like Walmart. However, those products are not guaranteed by the manufacturer or authorized. Many of them have been proven to contain other ingredients, or even be altered such as being watered down to increase profits. Hence the reason it’s important to only buy from authorized salon retailers.
4. Don’t wash your hair daily. Growing up we’re often taught to wash daily. When it comes to your hair this is actually harmful. By washing your hair daily, you’re actually removing essential oils that help keep your hair healthy. Most stylists will recommend only washing every second or third day. In fact, you’ll notice your hair looks far healthier and is easier to manage on that second day. If you do feel compelled to clean it each day, try only using a conditioner. This way you can still remove some of the grime and grit without stripping your hair of its natural oils.
5. It’s okay to have multiple products. For some reason as men, we often get bullied for spending as much time on our hair and body as women. Rest assured, it is perfectly acceptable to invest in quality product and much of it. I own far more product than my wife and while I don’t use all of it daily, it affords me a certain freedom to pick and choose my product based on my what I want to achieve with my hair each day.
6. Dollar store combs are terrible. There’s a reason that the combs and brushes your stylist has can cost hundreds of dollars. It’s because they’re awesome. When you buy a cheap comb or brush you’re often getting what you paid for. Unless you have magical hair that does what you want all the time, you’re better off investing in a quality brush or comb as recommended by your barber or stylist. You’ll get more use out of it, better use from it and the results you’re looking for each and every time. When looking for a comb, horn might look nice but it is too stiff and simply not good for your scalp. Instead, hard rubber provides the perfect combination between soft and stiff, and for under $20 you get something that will provide you with a great look and last for a while. To start, try this one or that one.
A good barber is hard to find but if you do manage to find one, hold onto them. If you are in North America, be sure to tip them fairly (usually $5-10 depending on the hair cut) and take their recommendations to heart. Be upfront about what you want and listen to them if they try and tell you that the style you want doesn’t suit you. The above styles are really great options for short to medium length hair. For longer hair styles, stay tuned for our next article.