Refreshing your look doesn’t cost more than a round of drinks. Yes, you could spend the equivalent of a small car on a new wardrobe, but 45 minutes in the barber chair can have the same effect if you’re brave enough to say anything other than “the usual.” Plus, if it’s the kind of barbershop we like – plush seats, warm towels, and craft beer – it’ll be a lot nicer than a walk down the main street.
So what are we doing for you today? Going by the hair trends of 2019, you can choose one of two ways: messy or military. While some cuts favor texture and long, grunge-style hair, others are all about a short, spiky back and sides or no-mess buzz cuts.
From fashion weeks to your work week, here’s a look at the best men’s hairstyles of the year.
The Textured Culture
Ever since the wicked bowl cuts of the 90s and the acne-inducing emo side sweeps of the 2000s, savvy men have instinctively given fringe haircuts a large following. In most cases, this is wise risk aversion. But, this year’s big hitter on the bangs front – the textured crop – isn’t creepy or antisocial, just flattering for the majority of guys.
The style, in a nutshell, is a remix of the cropped back and sides where the length on top works with gravity rather than against it. “The messy cropped cut works with your own natural growth patterns,” says Robbie Burt of Sharps Barber and Shop in London. “It’s best on those with thick hair that has a natural texture. You should ask your hairstylist for the ingredients for a high and tight, but ask that there’s plenty of length left on top that should be cut to a bold square texture.
The style comes from the woke hair school like this hair school, so if you have several thousand hair out of place, it can be a good thing. “Maintaining this style involves minimal hassle,” Burt explains. “By working a matte paste between your hands and applying it evenly through your hair, you can create a softer, undone look.” If you’re more Slick Rick than Bird’s Nest, you can still apply. “To create something with a smarter, smoother finish using a water-based pomade.”
The Quiff Undercut
The banana is the default hairstyle for teenagers armed with too many hormones and too many cheap hair products. This year’s version isn’t that difficult though. It sees the quiff enter the serious arena of adult hair styling via a high-contrast undercut and a finish that favors soft matte texture over skyscraper stiffness.
Before you think about which industrial-strength hair product can hold your hair in place, consider the cut; it will make maintaining this style much easier. “Ask your hairstylist to disconnect the sides of the top at zero level of the clipper, creating a stark contrast in the length,” says Bradley Smith, Creative Director at Bradley Smith Hair Heathrow. “Then you’ll need a tapered cut through the neck and sides while leaving length on top and your bangs leaving room to create texture and volume in the front.”
Those who know how to keep a banana in place will know that technique (and a steady hand) is everything. “To start, towel dry your hair until slightly damp, then apply a pre-styling agent,” Smith explains. “Work a pinch of sea salt spray through your hair to the roots, then blow dry your hair into shape, using a round brush to create texture and volume. Follow this by working a coin-sized amount of clay into your hair and create texture with your fingers. To complete the look, use a booster powder to help bulk your hair.
The high and tight taper
Not really a fan of long hairstyles? Can’t bother to do your hair? Don’t want to look like an egg with human features? This year’s tapered version sounds sharp and tight on your street. This cropped, low-maintenance style borrows the CBA attitude of the buzz cut, but leaves you with something to play with up top.
The high and tight is a timeless, style-conscious classic, but on the wrong head it can get a little too secretive. “For a sleeker version of the basic cropped back and sides, ask for a tapered, tight top at the clipper guard one or two with a compact crop on top,” Smith says. “The finished cut should echo tradition, but a clean, textured length on top will feel more modern; think Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds.
Most of the artistry of this style is due to your hairstylist, so once you’ve survived the awkward chair talk, the hard part is over (although you’ll have to go back to it regularly). “Apply a patch of fiber paste to towel-dried hair, working from back to front distributing the product to create weight and texture with an overall natural yet sleek look,” says Smith.
The Messy Man Bob
Since time immemorial, long, messy hair has been the preserve of rebels and grungers. It was considered a hairstyle that happens to a man when the grooming goes out the window. With a little TLC and some fancy scissor work, though, long locks don’t need to mess you up like a soap swindler. Slightly disheveled mid-length hair has a lot of potential to hit the hallowed midpoint between making an effort and not making it. Look to Timothée Chalamet and Kit Harington as your go-to messy man bob guardians.
While this year’s take has undoubtedly improved its act, steer clear of anything too slick; this will bring you into ABBA tribute band territory. “This style can work on those with any thickness or texture – the key to getting it right is to make sure you ask your stylist for layers that complement your face shape and hair texture” , explains Burt. “Strong shapes should be cut into the outer layers of the hair to create flow or fall in the hair, ensuring the weight and balance are evenly distributed.”
Luckily, this cut doesn’t require the patience of a styling saint; it can mostly be left to itself. “Let the style dry naturally,” Burt explains. “However, you should use the product according to the finish you are looking for; use a little salt spray for a messy matte effect or soft wax to promote texture and curl.
The buzz cut
Traditionally, the buzz cut has been shorthand for either a rebellion against “the man” or a way to turn you into another number. Depending on your perspective, when the mowers come out, either your individuality or your conformity to society will end up on the floor. Not that it can’t show off your beauty, but that’s the thing – you need to have the features for that.
The sad fact of life is that not all of us are blessed with nicely proportioned heads. “Before you get a buzz, feel your head for any lumps or bumps because these will be visible,” Smith says. “I suggest looking in the mirror, and imagining what you would look like with a trendy haircut, and ask yourself, is it good for me?”
Once you’ve got the green light to clean it all up, it shouldn’t be a self-shave job with the hair clipper. The buzz cut can be uniform in length, but small variations in the guard of your clipper can be the difference between Channing Tatum and Gollum. You will also need a barber to clean up the edges. And since it regrows, don’t think you won’t need a little product. “You can add a product to modify the texture, like a matte paste. However, for a polished, shiny look, a pomade-based product will do,” Smith says.