Has there been a better follicular rags to riches story than Justin Timberlake? The former N-Sync crooner’s much-maligned ramen hair stands alongside the Trump combover and Shia LaBeouf’s rat-tail as some of the lowest moments in hair-story.
And yet, today, Timberlake’s tresses are considered among the sharpest in Hollywood. Which is precisely why we spoke to Bradley Smith, creative director at Bradley Smith Hair about how you too can get a Sexy Back and sides.
Simple But Effective
Feeling out-of-sorts with your current style? Rather than cry a river, get down the barbers and ask for this modern take on the timeless quiff. Although it’s one that’s almost universally flattering, it works best on those lucky guys with square faces, like JT. Men with receding hairlines are the only ones who may want to think twice, as the swept back cut will emphasise those recession points.
“Ask for short back and sides with a number one fading into longer hair on top with a pointcut with scissors creating texture,” says Smith. “Leave around two inches on top as this is key when creating your messy and loose quiff.
To style, apply a fibre or cream to the hair when dry, using your fingers to create a messier textured style that still maintains a well-groomed appearance.
Picking the right haircut for your face shape is crucial, and sometimes it can be as simple as a minor tweak. Guys with circular faces, for example, can still go for swept-back styles, but they should opt for a slightly taller pompadour for some much-needed length.
“The main difference [with a pompadour] is that the hair is pushed back and styled over your forehead creating a high-volume style with lift and bounce,” says Smith. “Leave at least two to three inches on top with the sides scissor cut shorter but with no hard contrast.
With slightly more hair comes slightly more styling time. “Towel-dry freshly washed hair then blow-dry it back while combing from your forehead back to the crown. Then apply a pea-sized amount of pomade and run your fingers through the hair, allowing it to air dry before re-combing the fringe [for definition].”
After something a little more grizzly but don’t fancy shacking up in a cabin in the woods for a year? Take a leaf out of Timberlake’s book with a short messy beard and textured top kept neat with clean-cut sides.
“This look is ideal for men with a natural kink or wave, as they can utilise this while styling,” says Smith. “Get the back and sides faded short and then blended in to create a contrast between sides and top. Ask for the top to be pointcut with scissors to create an uneven textured look.”
The key to this style is keeping the sides tight to maintain a square shape, which can be helped by minimising frizz. “Take a liberal amount of styling cream and rub into the palm of your hands until warm, then work it from root to tip with your fingers from the back of your crown to front. The messier, the better.”
Timberlake has won a whopping 10 Grammy Awards, and we bet if there was one for the freshest cut in the field of hair excellence, he’d have bagged another one for this ‘do. A riff on his favoured pompadour, there’s more emphasis on the front part of the quiff here, leaving the rest to remain textured and choppy. It’s a look that’s as easy to achieve as asking for a short back and sides with length up top, especially on the fringe.
“Similar to the pompadour, the quiff is a versatile hairstyle and can work with most hair types,” says Smith. “However, you should avoid this cut if you’re thinning as you need plenty of hair to create roundness of the fringe.”
To style, start by towel drying the hair, then apply a sea salt spray as a pre-styling agent before blow-drying and lifting the hair with your fingers. “Finish with a nickel-sized amount of styling paste, and work from the back moving forwards on your head, focusing on the fringe to give added definition. Just avoid working against your natural parting as this will create a forced looking style.”
Not one for all these fancy grooming products? Take it down to the bare basics with Timberlake’s seemingly simple buzz cut, neatened up by a trim beard to give balance to the face from below.
“With this cut, there is a subtle contrast between the sides and the length on top,” says Smith. “Go for a high and tight style with 0.5 fade on the sides and ask for a number one on top to create a less aggressive contrast.”
Facial hair is key here, so grab your clippers and use the number four guard every three to four days. “For trimming the neckline, work by using the two-finger method above the Adam’s apple, for a rounded look. Connect that point above your fingers to the backs of your ears, creating a U shape.”