We tend to think that we know how to look after our hair. After all, we keep it clean, we get it cut and for the main we know how to style it. We might worry a bit that it’s receding, or it’s not as thick as it once was, but there’s not a huge amount we can do about that.
However, old habits might not be serving us as well as they once did. Getting stuck in a grooming rut is common, especially as our hair changes over time: greyer, coarser, thinner (sigh). Sometimes, even the simplest change can make all the difference.
We spoke to some of the top hair stylists and barbers in the game to see what we could do to see an instant improvement – and this is what they said.
Heat It Up
Hair stylist Lee Machin – who’s regularly on set for the likes of Mr Porter, L’Uomo Vogue, Numéro and L’Officiel Homme – says the biggest grooming mistake men make is “not using a hairdryer”, when really, it’s the fastest route to a “fuss-free, natural look without having to overdose on hair product“.
He advises using a pea-sized amount of product, distributing it evenly through damp hair and just using fingers to dry into your desired shape. A hairdryer can give more volume, a smoother texture and a longer-lasting hold that’s easier to manipulate. Drying your hair before bed will also make it easier to style in the morning.
Less Is More
One of David Beckham’s preferred snippers, Tyler Johnston says, “the biggest mistake I see with men is over-styling and using hair products that give a forced stylized look. This seems to happen most often with wet-look styling aids.”
Bradley Smith, of Bradley Smith Hair at Heathrow, agrees. “Excessive use of styling product can contribute to product build up, leading to an overloaded or irritated scalp, greasy hair and being visibly displeasing,” says Smith. “Remember ‘less is more’: style with a coin-size amount of product, distributing through your hair evenly avoiding clubbed ends and that greasy look.”
You’ve been warned: if your go-to daily look is very slick and set, it might be more hassle than it’s worth (unless your hair is particularly unruly – in which case, we sympathise).
Male pattern baldness is often depressing. Looking back at teenage photos of Prince William, he certainly had it all in the hair department. But then his regal lineage kicked in and he started losing his thatch, and quickly. We could see his future – it was Prince Edward’s shining bonce.
It may have been Royal protocol, but it was a shame that the Duke of Cambridge didn’t pick up the hair clippers sooner, because we could all see that it would look better if he did. Now it looks as though his brother is going through much the same, so time will tell if he makes the same mistake.
There’s no doubt about it, psychologically, losing your hair is tough, but clinging on to it doesn’t really do you any favours (Donald Trump, anyone?). “I think the best thing to do with thinning or receding hair is to have the back and sides tapered in a nice fade and the top not too long in a choppy, messy style,” says Davide Barbieri, who regularly works with Robbie Williams.
The basic rule is: wispy hair looks thin, shorter hair looks thicker, and nobody is convinced by any type of combover.
Don’t rush to copy a celebrity. Zayn Malik might be able to pull off a pink mullet – but can you? “Before deciding your next hairstyle, have an honest conversation with your barber on which styles suit your facial shape, hair texture and type,” says Bradley Smith. “Your barber will be able to guide you and advise the right style.”
What Smith really means is, your friends might not be able to tell you that you don’t look like Timothée Chalamet with that hair, but your barber will.
Don’t skip the conditioner
Of course, not all conditioners were created equal, so we’re not talking about a cheap bottle from the corner shop that’s loaded with silicones here. But these days there are plenty of spray-on, leave-in conditioners with lightweight formulas.
“A light volumising conditioner will help to make the hair look healthier and more manageable to style,” says Barbieri. It’s a secret weapon to healthy-looking, easy-to-control hair.
Colour Me Bad
A little salt ‘n’ pepper can help a man look distinguished, but not everyone sees it that way. If you really want to cover greys, do not grab a box of hair dye off the chemist shelf. It will “look brassy, dry and fake,” says Barbieri.
Likewise, highlights and bleaching are always much more expensive in a salon versus a DIY home kit. But in life you get what you pay for, and we say: buy cheap, buy twice. Always have a professional colour your hair – or you’ll just end up paying them to fix your mistakes.
Find The Right Barber
A bit of research and organisation are two ways to get a better haircut. “Great haircuts don’t happen by chance, they happen by making an appointment with someone with experience and training,” says Josh Gibson, Principal at the Sassoon Academy in London.
“All too often most men go by how cheap they can find the service, or who is free right that moment. But what you should do is check out how good the barber or stylist’s work is on a platform like Instagram.”