Style is a breeze in winter. Faced with sinking temperatures, severe winds and snow; piling clothes on, rather than peeling them off, becomes priority number one. Which means more blocks for building a look you like.
In the summer heat, however, priorities shift. Meaning most of us – when we’re not in air con – are intent on getting as close to naked as possible. Which leaves, as you can probably imagine, little to work with in pulling together an expertly layered outfit, or one packed with texture and colour contrasts.
And that’s where your hair comes in. The one thing you’ll be wearing constantly at your desk, on a plane, at a bar and in a pool over the next few months, your mop speaks to your style in ways clothes often can’t once the mercury rises. So you’d better make sure it looks good.
To that end, we caught up with three of the UK’s best barbershops to get the long and short (as well as the in between) on this season’s hottest hair trends.
If ever there was a time to ditch that top knot, it’s now (if you haven’t had the good sense to already, that is). Opting for shorter hair once the summer hits means less sweat, not to mention less chance of carefully sculpted styles frizzing up, Sideshow Bob-style.
“The short back and sides remains one of the most popular styles for men,” says Lloyd Hughes, creative director of award-winning grooming brand Men-ü, who puts this classic cut’s popularity down to its versatility.
According to Hughes, the length of the hair on top can be varied beyond the standard short and neat crop, from new recruit-tight to dramatically long and wavy. “A thick, textured cut that’s choppy and layered [is most popular this season though],” he says.
While most short back and sides styles might involve clipper cutting the hair to a short – but not super-short – grade 2, 3 or 4, Adam Gore, founder of Birmingham barbershop Barberology, suggests stripping the length right back for an exceptionally sleek finish. “This season’s key style for short hair has to be a skintight tapered crop, with hair on top styled with a matte clay for texture and a messy wave,” he says.
Got a little more raw material to play with? Then you’ll need a style that makes the most of your sun-kissed tresses but won’t melt in the event of a heatwave.
The frontrunner? “A loose and natural pompadour, trebled back like you’ve just stepped off your yacht,” says Gore. Not too slick, not too sculpted, this is the hairstyle equivalent of old money: chic, but not conspicuously so. Plus, with less product, it won’t leave you drowning in a mess of thick, creamy-coloured gunge that looks suspiciously like a substance you definitely don’t want people mistaking it for.
To style, apply a few spritzes of salt spray to freshly washed – and still wet – hair, then blow dry, loosely shaping the pompadour as you go. Once dry, use a very judicious amount of styling paste to add some hold and definition to your coiffe.
Long, flowing locks and humid conditions have never agreeable bedfellows been, but there are ways of styling your mane through the season without having someone follow you around with a wind machine (though that would be cool AF, let’s be honest).
“Leave the hair as natural and loose as possible,” says Gore, who recommends asking a hairstylist to cut graduated layers that will nix heat-trapping weight and allow for “easy styling in the morning”. You should, however, regularly use a heat protection spray to keep your locks hydrated and looking their best.
If, on the other hand, your hair is closer to shoulder length, then you could try your hand at one of SS17’s key trends: the long-haired slick-back.
Essentially, it’s the slick-back we’ve seen for seasons, but longer. This statement style has been sported by Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Jared Leto in recent years, but it isn’t for everyone. “How well this works and how you’d go about styling depends on your hair type,” says Men-ü’s Hughes, who adds that men with straighter, finer hair will find it easier to keep in check.
To style, Hughes recommends washing and conditioning your hair, then towel-drying it until it is only slightly damp before combing the hair backwards and working in a small amount of light-hold, medium-shine product little by little until you’ve achieved your desired finish.
Like long-locked men, guys with more kink to their crop can have a hard time keeping curls in check come summer. Humidity and sun exposure can wreak havoc on a barnet, making it more difficult than ever to fend off that freshly electrocuted look.
The fix? “A curly crop with a tight skin fade,” says Gore. “Or a low skin taper depending on your preference. Basically, a style that creates definition between the hard-faded burst and the loose curl on top.” This way, you keep some of that natural curl but lose a lot of the frizz-prone bulk.
To style, Gore advises applying salt spray to wet hair and then leaving it to dry naturally. Or, for a more defined, full-bodied curl, use a diffuser attachment on your hair dryer to shape the hair as you apply the spray (remember, though, that this could dry the hair out even further in particularly hot temperatures).
Move over high-top fades; the afro is back in its full glory. As more and more afro-haired women embrace the full ‘fro, men are increasingly ditching tightly shorn looks for something much bigger and bolder.
“We’re seeing more and more guys with afro hair wearing it longer,” says Hughes, who adds that nailing this style isn’t just about having the confidence to let it all hang out. “The right styling products are key for afros,” he says. “Something like Men-ü Create and Shape [which is a light, water-based pomade] will provide a subtle wet look and control the curl.”
An equally important (but often overlooked) tool for the job is an afro comb, says Bruno Gonçalves Ribeiro, head barber at Ted’s Grooming Room’s Holborn shop. “Always invest in an afro comb,” he says. “An afro comb’s teeth are specifically designed to detangle large clumps of curly hair that no other brush or comb can, and grooming an afro with anything other than an afro comb can be very painful.” Something you definitely don’t want killing your summer vibe.