Full catwalk looks, skipping check-in queues at airports, tax evasion: famous people can get away with a lot that us mere mortals can’t, and edgy haircuts are no exception. Except that you can pull off an unconventional coif with the aid of the right advice and products, and without attracting the opprobrium of the fashion press, fellow passengers or the tax man.
Here Denis Robinson, artistic director of award-winning barbers Ruffians, which has four locations in London and one in Edinburgh, details why these five treacherous celeb styles shouldn’t have worked, why they did against all logic and how they can work for you too. Heed his words and they’ll be hairdos, not don’ts. Just spare a thought for us when you’re flying through the terminal in an off-runway outfit en route to the Cayman Islands.
Alex Turner’s Rockabilly
With his retro greaser quiff, the ice-cool Arctic Monkeys frontman could easily have looked like a right melt. “Going with a style that has such classic roots can be dangerous as it always runs the risk of just coming over as dated,” says Robinson.
Turner has successfully rocked short and long versions but they’re essentially the same cut. “It’s basically uniform layers throughout,” says Robinson. “The actual look comes from the styling.” To groom yourself like a Monkey, towel dry your hair well after washing and apply a volumising product like mousse or styling spray. Then dry about 70 per cent with a hair dryer: “This is essentially to get a little root lift, so concentrate the dryer there.”
Finally, you’ll need a product or two. “Personally, I would mix styling paste and pomade,” says Robinson. “The paste will add thickness, density and thereby hold, while the pomade will add the classic shine.” You’re ready to roll into the Tranquility Base Casino.
Key Styling Products
David Beckham’s Long Blonde
There’s an old school of thought which holds that women of a certain age shouldn’t have long hair. “To be honest, I can’t help but feel the same about guys,” says Robinson. “It smacks of trying to hold onto a youth now past. But Beckham kept it classy with a neat parting. Also, the fact it was immaculately clean moved it away from a grungy Kurt Cobain tribute.”
The barnet itself is a classic square box cut with long layers to provide some internal movement. “Be careful the person wielding the scissors doesn’t go mad with the layering or it will end up a little too eighties ‘flick and bounce’,” warns Robinson. Long hair needs nourishing (ask your stylist for shampoo and conditioner recommendations) and low-key styling with thickening cream. “This also helps to keep it smooth and groomed.”
And if you’re going to blonde it like Beckham, then you’ll need periodical maintenance trims: “Get the ends tidied every 4-6 weeks so they don’t split.”
Harry Styles’s, Er, Style
This was a perfect set-up for ‘When Harry met silly’. “It could have ended up a little Meg Ryan nineties feather cut,” says Robinson. “Yet somehow again, attitude wins the cup.”
If you can’t quite bring yourself to show a picture of Styles to your barber, then ask for point-cut square layers. “This type of wavy hair lends itself best to light texturing,” explains Robinson. “Point-cutting the ends rather than blunt-cutting means the hair doesn’t look too boxy, but the square layer will give it the shape and form.”
As Styles’s just-rolled-out-of-bedhead suggests, upkeep is low. You can simply let it dry naturally after applying a bit of sea salt spray for a little lift. “Or you can diffuse-dry it with that big bowl attachment that you never thought you’d need when you bought your hair dryer, before scrunching in some paste and [L’Oréal] Super Dust for a matte effect,” continues Robinson. “The drier the finish of product, the more of a grunge feel you’ll achieve.”
Zayn Malik’s Bleached Buzz Cut
We all think about cutting it all off. “The buzz cut is a popular ‘reset’,” says Robinson. “Zayn’s had so many hairstyles that his hair probably needed a good back-to-basics chop to recover its condition.”
The buzz cut can err on the side of basic. “However, Zayn has kept it fresh with a tighter fade on the sides,” says Robinson. Specifically, it’s a number four on top faded to a number one around the ears and nape: “A clean line up on the forehead and temples give it a sharp finish.”
Then there’s the colour. “Not to go all Blue Peter on you, but don’t try this at home,” stresses Robinson. Patchiness, blisters, allergic reactions and (worst of all) brassiness: a trained professional will prevent all of these, plus perform a sensitivity test 48 hours prior.
N.B. A number one and number four doesn’t mean zero effort. “Be prepared for fortnightly if not weekly trims,” counsels Robinson, who also advocates silver shampoo for bleachers: “It’ll neutralise the pale yellow undertones that, if left unchecked, can make it look brassy.”
Henry Cavill’s Moustache
Is it a beard? Is it a ‘tache? No, it’s the Superman actor’s beardstache.
“The clean-shaved, full-‘tache look summons up visions of Magnum PI from the eighties, or my fourth-form maths teacher,” says Ruffians’ Robinson. “But the rough stubble lends it a modern feel. Mixed with the considered styling of the hair, it gives a sense of him not taking himself too seriously. We’re seeing more men adapt their facial hair in his way.”
The beard element of your beardstache should be taken down to a 0.5 with the clippers (about 1.5mm in length), while the ‘tache is left full and wide, curving slightly around your mouth and trimmed to hug your lip line.
Be mindful that facial hair is still hair and therefore needs washing from time to time, with a mild moisturising shampoo. “This will keep the hair softer and the skin free of dead cells,” says Robinson. It will also benefit from a regular trim and comb – of the moustache variety: “That will keep it smooth and ensure you don’t fill it with your lunch.”