To change up your look, you could make good on those new year’s resolutions to eat cleaner, train harder and pack away fewer pints. Snooze. Or you could throw out everything in your wardrobe and start again. Expensive. You could even go under the knife. Err, no thanks.
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, a new hairstyle can make a big difference to your overall 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
Scared your search for a new hairstyle will end up a complete follicular #fail? The good news is that it doesn’t just come from what’s on top. The length on the back and sides also can 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 London barber Kyle Holloway. “You’re simply sharpening up what’s already there and can therefore still wear your preferred style on top.”
To make this a low-risk decision, consider features such as the size of your ears and the length of your face to avoid making either look comically out of proportion. “Go through a proper consultation with your barber,” adds Holloway, “they’ll be able to work something out to go with your own face shape as a style in a picture often needs adjusting.”
The Result: A smarter look that can change the shape of your face for the better, making it appear slimmer and more defined.
Despite being a staple snip since the nineties (we blame mum’s and their bowls), the fringe fell out of favour at the start of the decade, with new hairstyles like the pompadour and quiff taking over. However, the look has made a comeback with plenty of variations that are effective for framing a range of face shapes.
“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,” says Joe Mills, founder of Joe and Co. 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 can adapt to any weather scenario or level of formality.
Colour Me Cool
A growing number of guys in search of a new hairstyle are following the example of Zac Efron, Zayn Malik and Jonah Hill by 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.
“Dyeing is a process that’s always best left to the professionals, but there are semi-permanent dyes that wash out in six to eight weeks and gradually fade away,” says Mills, who suggests a product that is purely for grey coverage.
Bleached hair might work for a range of styles, from buzz cuts to dreads, but it won’t fly at every age and in every office, so consult the advice of your mates (or better yet, a barber) before slathering the stuff on.
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 A New You
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 few years 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.
Pall Mall Barbers general manager Daniel Davies regularly suggests a fade 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 and 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 tresses metaphorically as well as physically, getting a new hairstyle needn’t require checking in for a chop. “A real low-risk move is simply changing the hair product you use for styling,” says Davies.
If every morning you reach for a clay or paste to achieve a textured top, sub in a slick pomade or wet-look gel for a look that’s all about shine and hold. Similarly, try incorporating different products and styling techniques to create new effects.
Dry shampoo and blow-drying your hair help create more volume in shorter-to-medium cuts, while adding sea salt spray to medium and longer styles delivers texture. Take time to experiment 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 completely new hairstyle 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 Murdock master barber Alex Glover.
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.