We’re going to assume that you’ve heard of the mohawk, that pointy, green thing that lived on the heads of punk rockers and which has also been co-opted in other forms by men as diverse as Travis Bickle, Mr T and David Beckham. It’s a strong look. You may not, however, be as confident identifying its second cousin twice restyled, the faux hawk.
Much more practical and a lot less threatening, the faux hawk will let you pass through door frames unobstructed and won’t be a barrier at job interviews, either. For visual cues, think late 2000s Beckham, pre-shorn Zayn Malik and current ageing-like-a-fine-wine-era Brad Pitt – they’ve all donned the faux hawk and done a good job of it.
You can too – because we’ve got all the tips and tricks that you need to make this punk-inspired style rock your world.
What Is A Faux Hawk?
Where a mohawk involves a shaved head with a dramatic strip of hair left in the middle, the faux hawk takes some of the same rules and applies them in a way that doesn’t leave OAPs tutting. More versatile and accessible, it won’t obliterate your chances of pulling outside of a spit and sawdust pub, either.
“The defining features of a faux hawk are a short back and sides but with longer than usual hair on the top – not as much length as a pompadour, but long enough that the hair can be spiked up or formed into a point,” says Jason Collier, a celebrity hair stylist who has tended to the heads of Justin Timberlake and Damian Lewis.
“It’s much more of a crowd-pleaser, less dramatic than a mohawk and has a sleek, urban sophistication to it that makes it a far more wearable look.”
In layman’s barbershop terms, the faux hawk is longer than a short back and sides with a bit of spike action going on in the middle, usually at the front of the head. How dramatic the peak is up to you. It’s a cut that’s not painfully boring but nor will it leave a trail of raised eyebrows in its wake.
How To Choose The Right Faux Hawk
There are two crucial things that you need to consider if you’re thinking of getting the faux hawk installed on your head: your face shape and your lifestyle.
Those with a longer face (rectangular, triangular) will need to make sure that their faux hawk doesn’t have too much length on top and the sides aren’t taken too tight, as this will add even more length. Those with a wider face shape (heart, round) should follow the opposite advice by adding height on top and going shorter on the sides. Like with any cut, you need to think about what will provide balance to your mug, apart from oval-faced guys – who can pretty much do whatever the hell they want.
Here’s another head’s up: those artfully tousled faux hawks seen on the crowns of celebs are not the result of rolling from bed to red carpet. The longer your faux hawk is on top, the more effort it will take to get it into the right position and stay there. If you’re time short, go short.
How To Style A Faux Hawk
Making this punk spin-off stand to attention doesn’t call for slathering your head with industrial-strength hair gel, Collier says. The key to getting it right lies in preparation as well as product.
“To style the faux hawk, keep it simple,” Collier says. “If you have fine or straight hair, you can leave your hair to dry as normal before styling, but if you have thicker or wavy hair, you might want to blast it dry and brush it through to get a sleeker finish.”
Apply product with caution. Too heavy handed and you’ll be rocking rock-hard spikes instead of a strategically messed up mound. “A strong-hold hair wax is the best product to use on this kind of style; use an amount the size of a pea and warm it between your palms, spread it across your hands and get some heat into it.”
Because the faux hawk is designed to be quick and messy, you won’t need a lot of mirror time or styling tools to get it right. “Simply use your fingers to push the lengths of the hair up, and tweak it until you’re happy with how the area looks,” says Collier. “You could go completely spiky and separate each area, but the best finish for this kind of look is all pulled up, a little messy, nothing too ‘done’.”
The Faded Faux Hawk
Like the mohawk in its purest form, the faded faux hawk bares a bit of your head but does it in a way that won’t make little old ladies cross the street as you approach. It’s still clutching onto just the right amount of the original style’s punk swagger.
Ria Smallwood for The Bluebeards Revenge
How To Get It
“To achieve a faded faux hawk, ask your barber to set the clippers on 0, then the hair should be faded into a grade 2, using 0.5 to 2 grades,” says hair stylist Joseph Lanzante, who runs one of the UK’s best barbering training academies.
“On top, hair should be of uniform length but layered. To finish this style use paste to define and separate the hair.”
The Short Faux Hawk
This short haircut is ideal for men who want to give peak punk as wide a berth as possible. It’s got plenty of textural interest up top, but you can still wear it to your office without getting a passive-aggressive email from Sarah in HR.
How To Get It
“A clipper fade will achieve a sharp uniform look for a short faux hawk: the shorter the fade the greater the overall contrast will be,” says Josh Thorner, a stylist at London’s Manifesto Barbers. Agree with your barber on the maximum length through the middle, asking for a round shape to be cut into the connect at each side.
“Length on top should be graduated from the back to the front, retaining length at the fringe. To style, a surf spray will help create lots of texture – apply to your hair when damp and dry with a diffuser hair dryer, then finish off with clay for a matte look.”
The Shaggy Faux Hawk
For men whose hair is most often in a natural state of disarray, the shaggy faux hawk is a cut which will smarten things up while obediently co-operating with the hair’s natural curls or waves. Big on texture up top with not much going on at the sides, the shaggy faux hawk walks the line between groomed and woke-up-like-this with some swagger.
How To Get It
“Ideally the the top should be at least 4 inches long and shaved at the sides: I would recommend having the top chopped into to add texture as this will help the peak to not fall flat,” says Joe Mills, hair stylist and owner of Joe and Co.
“To style, use some sea salt spray and apply to damp, clean hair. Then use a hair dryer to blast it dry, using your fingers to lift the front to create a messy quiff then finish with a matte paste.”
The Medium Faux Hawk
Usually, we’d call bad form on commitment-phobes. However, in the case of those who want to play it safe with a medium-length hairstyle, we’ll allow it because fence sitting rarely looks this good. Less extreme than a long or faded faux hawk but edgier than a short faux hawk, it’s one of those perfectly well-rounded styles that can also become something else without much drama.
How To Get It
“To get a medium faux hawk hairstyle requires using hair clippers at the back and sides from grade 3 up to a grade 4,” says Lanzante. “On the crown of the head hair should be layered in uniform length and defined and textured using a medium shine paste.”
The Long Faux Hawk
Ideal for guys with a lot of time on their hands and a perfect oval face (aka lucky gits) the long faux hawk is the pretty much the follicular antithesis to the buzz cut: it’s dramatic, loud and requires maintenance to stay in peak condition.
How To Get It
“For a long faux hawk ask for a clipper fade at the back and sides of your head, but one which isn’t too short,” says Thorner. “Ask your barber to keep the top disconnected from the sides; the top should be cut from the back to front and the back should be the shortest point. Ask for lots of length at the fringe.
“Texturise when dry with a styling cream. Apply this to damp hair then use a hair dryer to blow dry it upwards and backwards. If you need added hold, once dry, blast the hair with cold air, which will seal the cuticle to help keep it upright.” Finish with a hairspray if you find your style still doesn’t last the day.
The Undercut Faux Hawk
The undercut faux hawk is a feat of follicular management, so you’ll need to very happy in your barber’s company if you opt for this style. Long and messed up on the top and faded (but disconnected) at the sides, it’s another high-drama, high-maintenance style.
How To Get It
“This is a slightly shorter version of the shaggy faux hawk, but the underlying idea is the same. The top is still disconnected but with less length throughout,” says Mills. “However, you do still need enough length so the finished style doesn’t look like an accident.
“I’d recommend a minimum of a couple of inches. The whole concept of this haircut is that it has a slightly DIY feel about it. Use a texture spray on clean damp hair (five pumps throughout) and then blast dry with a hair-dryer. Finish with a grooming cream and add some texture with your fingers.”