Let It Grow: Longer Length Hair Is Back On Trend For Men

Who should you speak to when looking for the best tonsorial tips? Barbers, of course. After all, these are the people who are paid to keep up with the latest hair trends and execute them with surgical precision.

Thankfully, Ape has a full roster of talented hair professionals on speed dial, and they are all reporting the same key style for men this year: longer hair.

Why Is Long Hair Trending?

“Simply put, fashion repeats itself. Trends come and go, and then they come and go again,” says leading barber and The Bluebeards Revenge ambassador Callum Marks.

He’s right. The last time long hair for men went mainstream was back in the 1960/70s – fuelled by a rebellious youth culture. Today, that same streak of rebellion is driving the trend’s return. But this movement can’t only be about millennial nonconformity, can it?

According to Vincent Quinn, Scotland’s Best Barber 2017, and Head Barber at Hard Grind Dundee, a lot of the current styles are also being influenced by the clothes we wear. “Menswear’s current obsession with streetwear is definitely influencing the haircuts that my customers are asking for, with many of the hottest streetwear brands currently embracing the 1990s look,” he explains.

As a result, throwback styles like the bowl cut, the wedge cut and even classic curtains are topping the trending list for the younger generation. A great example of this is the wavy curtains Timothée Chalamet is currently wearing, but more on that later.

Can Barbers Cut Long Hair?

You’d do well to find someone more competent with clippers and a cut-throat razor than a barber. However, styling longer hair has not traditionally been their forte.

Thankfully, times have changed. “The current trends are really exciting for barbers as this time around we’re a lot more competent working with length,” says Ollie Foster from Number 47 Barbers in Chester. “We’re not just specialists in short back and sides anymore. Now, we’re seen as hybrids between our historic roots and more modern hairdressing.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Quinn. “Barbers are better and more technically trained now, so these [new trends] are being treated professionally and adapted to avoid the ‘cut at home in the dark’ vibe.”

Callum Marks also chipped in, reminding us that with longer hair comes an increased demand for scissor work and superior styling products. “Scissor work will be huge for barbers this year,” he said, “especially as we start to see more contemporary mod-inspired cuts that pay more attention to the natural flow of a client’s hair. It will also be essential for barbers to have a good stock of products that accentuate texture, volume and matte finishes.”

How Long Should You Grow Your Hair?

Of course, not every man will be looking to grow his hair out beyond his shoulders. Many will instead find themselves adding more length to the top, while keeping the sides tight to create contrast and keep the overall appearance neat.

“Loads of my clients have been asking me to make them look like Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and (as always) David Beckham,” says Liam Hamilton, owner of Hamilton’s Barbers in Redruth, Cornwall. “I think styles like these [long through the top, clippered back and sides] are where the bulk of men will find themselves settling this year.”

Italian barber Luigi Caterino agrees. “I’m expecting to see a lot of clean fades with longer hair on top this year,” he says. That’s what the gents in my shop are always asking for.”

Top 5 Long Hairstyles For Men

Natural, Collar-Length Hair

This laid-back, breezy cut is perfect for guys who want longer hair without the hassle. It works for all hair types and thickness – your barber will simply need to adjust their technique to create layers that complement texture and face shape accordingly.

The key to making this hairstyle work is all in the cut. The weight and balance of the hair needs to be distributed evenly so it falls into place naturally.

When it comes to styling, less is more. Wash your hair with a high-quality moisturising shampoo and conditioner, then let it air dry. Depending on the finish you’re looking for, you can spritz a little sea salt spray into the hair when damp to create a matte, textured effect. Or you could apply a pomade once dry to give the hair a healthy shine while enhancing any natural waves or curls.

Slick Back With Disconnected Undercut

The slick-back is a neat, old-school style that is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with modern gentleman. This is thanks in no small part to hit show Peaky Blinders, as well as a number of high profile advocates such as David Beckham and Brad Pitt.

As with any cut that is styled away from the face, it works best on those with a strong hairline and little to no thinning. Men with longer face shapes should also be cautious of taking the sides too tight and adding height on top, which can elongate the face even more.

Styling wise, you have a couple of options. First off, you could add a liberal dose of pomade and comb the hair back tight to the head for a neat, clean finish, reminiscent of the original 1900s style. Alternatively, start by adding a little salt spray or texture powder to damp hair. Next, blow-dry it backwards with a vented hairbrush to create a contemporary pompadour, full of volume and texture.

Mod-Inspired Mop

This messy, textured cut harks back to the golden days of Britpop, when everyone from the Gallagher brothers to Ian Brown adopted the style. Although the aforementioned artists wore theirs mid-length, contemporary versions – seen prominently at recent Gucci showcases – leave the hair longer, allowing it to be pushed off the face and tucked behind the ears or swept across the forehead.

The good news is you don’t have to start playing a Union Jack-printed Gibson Les Paul and swearing at journalists to pull it off. A good option for both straight and wavy hair, this style should be worn relaxed and choppy. Your barber should have a pretty good idea, but it’s always best to take a picture along for reference. That way you can preempt any awkward, post-trim mirror moments.

To style, keep things as natural as possible. Allow hair to air dry after washing and if you must use product, opt for a small amount of clay or wax to add a touch of texture and shine.

Quiff With Undercut

Sporting a longer hairstyle doesn’t have to mean channelling Rapunzel. A simple quiff provides a way to wear some length on top without it getting in the way. Couple that with the sharp edges and tight back and sides offered by an undercut and you’re onto a winner. David Beckham knows. In fact, this cut has become something of a defining look for the former England captain over the years. Which, for a man who rattles through different trims with such alarming frequency, is quite something.

Again, due to the brushed-back nature of this particular cut, it works best for men with strong hairlines. It’s also worth giving it a wide berth if you frequently find yourself on the receiving end of why-the-long-face jibes. Best not to add fuel to the fire. Everyone else, on the other hand, go wild. The added length on top will balance things out nicely, especially for those with rounder faces.

The secret to perfect styling lies in how it’s dried. Use a blow dryer and a vented brush to style it up and away from the face. Then it’s simply a case of working through a small amount of your preferred product in order to achieve your chosen finish.

Contemporary Curtains

In terms of surprising comebacks, curtains are right up there with wraparound shades and tie dye. Unlike the latter two, however, a fresh, contemporary spin has made the curtain resurgence something we can really get on board with. Stars like Timothee Chalamet and Dev Patel have been at the centre of this unlikely return, with parted cuts worn loose and messy. A timeless take on those over-gelled, neatly combed versions we were subjected to in the nineties.

This comeback is still in its infancy, so don’t simply walk into a barbershop, say “curtains, please” and expect to come out looking like TC. Again, giving your stylist a photograph to work from is a very good idea. Rest assured, though, this style will work with a broad spectrum of face shapes and it couldn’t be easier to style.

Apply a mist of sea-salt spray to damp hair and either blow dry or allow it to air out naturally. Finish with a paste worked through with your fingers and remember that when it comes to styling products, less is always more.

Recommended Styling Products

Essential Long Hair Maintenance

For a quick recap, allow us to run through some of the key points to remember when looking after longer hair:

  • DO invest in a good hairdryer, a vented brush and maybe even a diffuser
  • DON’T get carried away with styling products
  • DO get frequent trims to avoid falling victim to split ends
  • DON’T expose hair to excessive heat from hair straighteners
  • DO eat a protein-rich diet to keep hair glossy and nourished
  • DON’T scrimp on cheap shampoo and conditioner
  • DO carry a comb for through-the-day touch-ups