It’s almost February, meaning those new year’s resolutions to eat cleaner, train harder and pack away fewer pints have had a good 30-day run.
Fortunately, not all changes to reinvent yourself are as drastic (or painful). As some of the UK’s best barbers were all too keen to tell us, subtle switches to your hair can make a big difference to your overall style and appearance.
From swapping out a bog-standard snip for a fresh fade to cramming in a colour with your next cut, here are six low-risk, high-reward restyles to try this year.
The Long And Short Of It
Hairstyle switch-ups don’t just happen on top. The length on the back and sides also has the ability to enhance both your face shape and existing ‘do.
“Going shorter on the back and sides is a great way to refresh your look without making any drastic changes,” explains Man Made barber Kyle Holloway. “You’re simply sharpening up what’s already there and can therefore still wear your preferred style on top.”
The move works particularly well with cuts that are longer and more textured, a look that’s predicted to be one of the key hair trends of 2017.
In order to make this a low-risk decision, consider your facial features before sitting in the chair – in particular, your ears. If they are larger than average or stick out, taking things too short will only accentuate them. Similarly, longer face types should avoid taking the sides too short if keeping length on the top, as this would only accentuate the length of the face.
“Go through a proper consultation with your barber, they’ll be able to work something out to go with your own face shape, as a style in a picture often needs adjusting,” adds Holloway.
The Result: “A smarter look that can change the shape of your face for the better, making it appear slimmer and more defined.”
The fringe fell out of favour in recent years (we blame Bieber), with styles like the pompadour and quiff taking over. However, the look is making a comeback with plenty of variations that are effective for framing a range of face shapes.
According to Joe Mills, founder of Joe and Co.: “A fringe is a good option if you’re looking for something low-risk, as if you don’t like the look, you can always just push it back.” In other words, the actual haircut is pretty standard and the interest comes in the styling.
“Ask your barber to sort you out with a two-in-one haircut that can be changed just by the way you style it,” suggest Mills. This means that if you have a style which is already quite long at the front, you can now bring the hair forward into a textured fringe with some length. The alternative, of course, is to push it across or away from (think quiff) your forehead.
The Result: “A versatile haircut that is able to adapt to any weather scenario or level of formality.”
Colour Me Cool
A growing number of guys are following the example of Zayn Malik and taking the literal plunge into a bucket of bleach. And while going for full-on peroxide isn’t particularly low-risk, there are plenty of dyes on the market more suited to commitment-phobes.
“A semi-permanent dye can wash out from between six to eight weeks and gradually fades away,” says Mills.
Mills suggests using a product that is purely for grey coverage, like Homme by L’Oréal. Dyeing is a process that’s best left to the professionals, but be aware that you may have to go further afield than your local barbershop if they don’t have the facilities or know-how to colour hair properly.
The Result: “If you’ve got the patience and do your research, this is a great temporary reinvention, which will make you stand out from the crowd.”
Fade Into 2017
Beyond growing it out (and we’re not sure how low-risk that awkward in-between stage is), guys with short hair are often limited when it comes to options for a restyle.
Luckily, the sharpest hair move of the last 12 months isn’t about to fade away anytime soon. In place of a single length on the back and sides, opt for a cut that graduates from short to long.
Daniel Davies from Pall Mall Barbers regularly suggests fades as a low-risk option to achieving a new look: “There are many different types of fade. For the lowest risk, go for a low fade which is about an inch from the natural hairline and can grow out relatively quickly.”
Similar to getting a short back and sides, the results won’t stick around for long if you change your mind. However, if you do decide to keep it, there are plenty of opportunities to move on to more extreme versions such as high fades or even skin fades.
The Result: “An adaptable and on-trend look that can accentuate your bone structure, while keeping versatility on the top section.”
Call On The Cabinet
If you’re attached to your hair metaphorically as well as physically, switching up your style needn’t require checking in for a chop.
As Davies suggests: “A real low-risk move is simply changing the product with which you style your hair.”
While a clay or paste provides texture and grit on top, a slick pomade or wet-look gel offers shine and hold. Similarly, try incorporating different products and styling techniques to create new effects.
Dry shampoo and blow-drying your hair helps create more volume in shorter-to-medium cuts, while adding sea salt spray to medium and longer styles delivers texture. Experiment with different products to see what works best for you.
The Result: “Being able to keep the haircut you are used to means that you’ll be more likely to play around a bit with interesting styling.”
Clean Face, Clean Start
Not keen on lopping off your locks? Try refreshing your face instead. Despite the undeniable popularity of beards, it’s certainly a good idea to give your face some fresh air every now and then.
Saying so-long to hefty facial hair will not only see your maintenance levels go down, but the risk factor is also less than with a new haircut as the fuzz on your face grows back significantly quicker: “A shorter, lighter beard is easier to look after during the day and while in between barber shop visits,” says Alex Glover, Master Barber at Murdock.
Depending on your face shape and the features you want to accentuate, you could ask your barber to leave length in the chin to elongate a rounder face or switch to stubble to hide any patchiness.
The Result: “A sharp look where your face will be more on show – and the beard can always grow back if you prefer it that way.”