Athletes have always been vain about their hair, but now they are owning up to it and eschewing the traditional barber’s in favor of the more creative hairdresser. Too many athletes stick with the same unflattering style not just for years, but for decades; a hairdresser gives them the courage to pursue alternatives.
“We are trained to look at the face and work out what is actually going to suit someone,” Antoinette Beenders, the artistic director (yes, she is really called that) of Trevor Sorbie in Covent Garden, says. At John Frieda, another leading London hairdresser, staff are even given lessons by a painter from the Royal College of Art to improve their visual perception. Men need more help than women when it comes to appearance, Beenders says. How, then, can a man improve his hair?
Aside from a new cut, amazing transformations can be achieved with the use of gels, waxes and mousses. “There’s no stigma these days to men using products on their hair,” Rocky Eggison, of the newly opened London salon, Eggison Daniel, says. But Sam McKnight, Britain’s leading session stylist, who spends his working life teasing the tresses of the likes of Cindy Crawford and Julia Roberts for photo-sessions, believes that more men should use the products that are available to them. “Men with fine, straight hair can take advantage of styling products that can make their hair do things that they never thought possible,” he says.
Then there is the soft wave. For many men, the idea of a perm brings back memories of the Kevin Keegan poodle-perm and hours spent with hair in rollers feeling like a fool. “That was then,” Edinburgh’s Jennifer Cheyne says. “A perm today gives body and fullness, not curls, and only takes 15 minutes with the hair set on rods.” Yes…but how many men do you know who would admit to a semi-permanent wave?
Just as the world must be full of women who wouldn’t really be blonde without a bottle, so are there men who would be a great deal more gray if they didn’t have a pact with their hairdresser. “There is no longer any stigma about grey hair, but the truth is, salt and pepper grey can be aging,” Daniel Galvin, a leading colorist, says. The Galvin method takes 30 minutes and results in a soft camouflage of blended greys, which needs to be reapplied every five to six weeks.
“We would advise a man with grey hair to try highlights of his original color instead; the effect is more natural,” Beenders says. It isn’t just greying men who are using color, either. Tints and dyes no longer mean Noel Edmonds highlights or Rod Stewart blond.
Men with color in their hair are not accepted in every good hairdresser’s, however. At Austin Reed’s barber’s shop, where a fabulous Art Deco interior and a wide-ranging menu of hairstyles is on offer, there are no perming or coloring treatments. “It would frighten the life out of some of our clients who have been coming here since we opened in 1930,” says Victor Cook, the manager of the salon which caters for Norman Lamont and scores of elder statesmen wanting Forties-style clips, as well as younger clients.
Geo F. Trumper also has a long tradition and its share of youthful clients. “We trim long hair. We cut it, too. One client just had his shoulder-length mane shaved right off for a change of image,” Paulette Birsch, the owner, says. No longer the willing victims of a barber’s only style, men now want individual looks. Eggison suggests that young men, particularly those in the less conservative professions, should not rule out the notion of longer hair, “cut into heavier shapes, below the ear and collar and layered for movement. It’s a less aggressive look than some of the short, clippered styles and looks good with less up-tight clothes.”
Most hairdressers agree that thinning hair is best kept short. There is no getting round the fact that losing your hair is a traumatic experience and there is no miracle cure. “Go with it,” Andrew Collins, whose chain of Merseyside salons caters for men and women, says. “Hanging on to what length you have only accentuates where it is missing.”
What, then, is the hairdresser’s advice for men in their middle years who do want a change? “Don’t be radical,” McKnight says. “Instead, get into the habit of the six-weekly haircut.” This, he says, will change your image without doing anything drastic. “Get rid of straggly long hair,” Beenders says. “Cutting the hair away from the neck gives a much better profile.”
“Change your parting this can be very noticeable,” Denise McAdam, the Prince of Wales’ haircutter, says. “John Major’s hair should be layered and made to look more powerful. He has changed his clothing, but needs to change his hair to match.”
Michael Heseltine blessed with thick hair that he cares for well; Alistair Burnett gracefully grey; Keanu Reeves boyish long hair, the only acceptable floppy front look; Eric Clapton longish hair but it is well maintained; Paddy Ashdown straightforward style; Jason Donovan not a thick head of hair, but he wears it well; Richard Gere proud of his premature grey; Steven Berkoff how to carry off a close crop.
David Mellor disaster; Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 3, crazed bouffant; Prince Andrew too regimented and aging; Elton John face up to hair loss and chuck out the rug; Mel Smith how not to cover up hair loss; Paul Gascoigne how not to wear short hair, in a brutal crop; Rod Stewart too blond and too long; Andre Agassi “frosting” is always a mistake; Noel Edmonds the highlights are too obvious.