You lead a busy lifestyle: work all day, hang with your friends at night, and chase the ladies whenever you can. And you want to be able to look the part you are playing at any given moment — dedicated professional, chill party boy, or “playah”. Changing what you wear to match that role is easy; a simple swipe of your credit card can get you new clothes whenever you feel the need. But it’s harder to change your hairstyle, right? Wrong.
The key is getting a versatile haircut to begin with, says New York-based freelance stylist Natasha Leibel. “[Your hair’s] length, texture and density all need to be taken into consideration. [A haircut] that has been textured out has better mobility and moldabilty. If the cut is too dense, it becomes hard to manipulate, even with product.”
And Leibel should know; sculpting men’s hair is in her genes. “My father was a hairdresser/barber,” says Leibel. “So, I essentially grew up in a men’s salon. I cut my first ‘taper’ when I was 16 years old, was a salon owner by the time I was 20 and then became an educator for a leading company in the business.” She currently does hair and makeup for some of the biggest names in the fashion industry, and styles some of the best male locks around, including celebs like Andrew McCarthy, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson and several of the New York Rangers.
While you might not be able to afford her rates, Leibel is still willing to help you. Here, she provides some tips to help find that one versatile cut that’s right for you, and how you can sculpt it into three different looks.
Start with the stylist
Find a stylist you can build trust with. With trust comes consistency; consistency brings happy hair, time and time again. “Find someone that you can create a dialogue with that makes sense to you,” says Leibel. “The most rewarding feeling a client can give a stylist is trust. And confidence is the best feeling a hairstylist can give to a client.”
A well-trained eye can guide the client on the most appropriate haircut by considering the existing texture and density of the client’s hair, and the size and shape of the client’s head and face. “Your stylist will use their expertise to decide the right amount of texture and length that would need to be removed or applied to achieve the desired outcome,” explains Leibel.
Start by explaining that you are looking to wear your haircut several ways and that versatility is a key element to suiting your busy lifestyle. “Without asking for this, you may end up with a very one-dimensional look,” says Leibel. “Referencing people, celebs, etc. is helpful. Also, make sure that you have been educated by your stylist about products and tools to help you in getting your desired looks.”
The Casual Look
Now that you have the haircut, use a “less is more” philosophy to get a casual look. You never want to look like you are trying too hard — that’s just not casual.
“The bed head look was invented for a reason — roll with it,” jokes Leibel. A good sleep can get the texture of your hair looking perfect! I like matte pomades in these situations. The grit of the product is a perfect companion to an already textured haircut.”
These products can have a tendency to clump, so before applying, Leibel suggests you first warm it up in your palms. “Apply all over,” says Leibel. “And DO NOT forget the back of your head! You may not be able to see back there but the rest of us can.”
If bed head isn’t your thing, try the towel-dried hair or “perfect day at the beach” look by spritzing on hairspray and using your fingers to tousle the hair until you’ve got the texture you want.
The Professional Look
If you want a more professional look, tone things down a bit: Having some texture cut into your hair removes some of its density, allowing it to lay a little more calmly. “A lighter pomade with a slight sheen should have just enough hold to help mold the hair,” says Leibel. “A slight part can be used but nothing too formal. A brush can be used to direct the hair back and in place, but using your fingers to break up the stillness will keep it looking fresh and not frozen.”
The “Playah” Look
Not trying too hard will get your hair to match your game. Again, less is more. “Think somewhere between bed head and office hair,” says Leibel. “Don’t be afraid of a little volume here, boys. Using a hair powder will give you a little well-needed lift, as well as more texture and thickness. Powders will also soak up the oils from a night out. Apply the powder to dry hair, and use your fingers to create the desired texture.
By Chuck Tannert for Style + Tech For Men
Chuck Tannert has been covering technology — everything from cameras, to MP3 players, to surround-sound speakers — for more than 20 years. But he’s been playing video games for a lot longer: since the Atari 2600 was new and “Pac-Man” just hit the shelves. Chuck is the managing editor of Style and Tech for Men.
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