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 in the game to see what we could do to see an instant improvement – and this is what they said.
Use a hairdryer
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 blob of label m. Soufflé, 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 shape that’s easier to manipulate. Drying your hair before bed will also make it easier to style in the morning.
With styling products, 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. 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 you have to keep your hair in lockdown mode – in which case, we sympathise).
Thinning? Stop hiding it
Male pattern baldness is a git. 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 clippers sooner, because we could all see that it would look better if he did.
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.
Choose the right hairstyle
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 the 99p 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.
Leave dyes to the professionals
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 much more expensive in a salon versus a DIY home kit. Well, 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 end up paying them to fix your mistakes.
Find the right stylist
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.”