When did men’s hair get so adventurous? Look across a crowded bar and never mind the beards, it’s the hair that will grab your attention. Zigzag sides, bleached burns, auburn frosted tips: we are living in the age of the male superhairo (and I don’t mean Justin Bieber’s dreadful dreadlocks).
The trend emerged during the merry-go-round whirl of awards season. In among all the red carpet coverage, one thing was obvious: male hair was going through a post-man‑bun renaissance. There was Pharrell’s golden bleached crop at the Oscars, a mullet-slicker do from Outlander’s Sam Heughan at the Golden Globes, and rapper Wiz Khalifa’s dip-dyed hippy dreads at the Grammys, every do as desirable as the next.
Men’s grooming, alongside headphones and smart TV accessories, is now one of the fastest-growing retail categories of the 21st century. “The market is expected to be valued at $21.4bn by the end of 2016,” says Patrick Kidd, founder of Patricks grooming products. “In 2015, we saw over 100% growth in sales in the hair category, with hair styling products among our best sellers,” adds Dan Rookwood, US editor of men’s fashion website Mr Porter. In the same year, Google revealed there was a record number of searches for men’s hairstyles (top of the list was “man bun” followed by, well, “combover”: the Donald Trump effect, presumably).
Stylist Dale Ted Watkins thinks we are seeing a shift back to our postwar attitude to hair. “In the 50s, men were very well groomed: they’d get their hair cut twice a month. It was the very masculine idea of looking your Sunday best.” Kidd thinks this is tied to the economic downturn. “Unemployment is high and the world is becoming a smaller place, so competition is tougher. The importance of standing out increases. You have to be well groomed and well dressed in the office.”
Instagram, of course, has had a big impact. “I follow several barbers,” Rookwood says, “and learn the names of styles from the captions.” He says the average person’s knowledge of hairdressing terms has increased, too; they know exactly what to ask for when they sit down in the barber’s chair, “rather than feeling awkward and muttering something about a ‘short back and sides, please’”.
So it’s official: now is the time to experiment. But who’s your inner hairo? Here’s a helping hand to find inspiration for your new look.