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Brushes With Greatness

The world’s best barbers explain how to emulate the hair icons of today so you remain a cut above

Mr Leonardo DiCaprio

“Leo’s mane is a powerful city-slicker look for any aspiring Wolf of Wall Street,” says Mr Patrick Kidd, director of Patricks barbershop in Bondi Junction, Sydney. “Neatly combed and swept-back hair works well on an older gentlemen, unless he has a noticeably high hairline – in which case, this style would over-accentuate the forehead.”

What to tell the barber

1. “Explain you want a scissor cut and no clippers at all; this will help to ensure the hair looks good even when it is not worn slicked back,” says Mr Kidd.

2. “Remove weight if your hair is thick. Ask your barber to add lots of texture and shape through the back to suit your head shape.”

How to style it at home 

Give it the hairdryer treatment. Comb it back (with a side parting if you wish) and then dry it in place. Work a dab of texturising product through the hair as it cools to ensure it doesn’t flop forward during the day. Go for a mat pomade or cream so your hair doesn’t look greasy.

The product to use

Mr Hu Bing

Mr Bing is a Chinese actor, model, designer – and now an ambassador for London Collections: Men. This style is as versatile as he is. “It’s cool enough for the weekend and corporate enough for the week,” says Mr Kidd. “It’s a great style for super-straight hair.”

What to tell the barber

1. “You’re looking for what’s called a disconnected quiff: sides shaved, top pulled back,” says Mr Kidd. “Ask your barber to fade to the back of your head from a grade half to a grade one, and blend into the top section.”

2. “Cutting thin sections in the front under the quiff will make them spike up and act like propping for your fringe,” adds Mr Kidd.

How to style it at home 

Soften some firm-hold clay in your palms and then work it through your hair to add volume as you blow-dry, moulding the shape as it cools.

The product to use

Mr Sam Smith

This is a modern take on a 1950s pompadour synonymous with music, says Mr Emmanuel Pezo, master barber at Baxter Finley Barber & Shop in West Hollywood. But be warned: it’s a high-maintenance cut that will need attending to every few weeks.

What to tell the barber

1. “Request for it to be taken in very tight at the sides. So much so, in fact, that you see the scalp as it graduates up to create the required fade.”

2. “The top must be long enough to create the ‘pompadour’ shape with height that can be played with.”

How to style it at home 

Work some light-hold pomade into wet hair and then blow-dry it, making sure you get the requisite volume at the front by brushing the fringe upwards and drying from beneath. Add a little more pomade to shape it afterwards. This will ensure the style isn’t too stiff or heavy so will allow for some movement.

The product to use

Fifty shades of grace

Mr John Legend

“So consistent is this style that we’ve seen it survive decades of trends and still stand tall,” says Mr Brent Lavett, barber and owner of Brooklyn-based grooming brand Lavett & Chin. “Mr Legend’s fade is perfect; it suits his face shape, accentuating the right areas, and works whether he has a clean shave or stubble.”

What to tell the barber

1. “You’re going for the ‘classic fade’ with this one, but ask that it’s not taken in too tightly; freshly cut, you shouldn’t see much skin in the short areas,” says Mr Lavett.

2. “Ask your barber what top length will suit your face shape best,” he adds. “He’s trained to assess this.”

How to style it at home 

As it’s tight, little styling is required. A spritz of sea-salt spray is all you’ll need.

The product to use 

Mr Daniel Day-Lewis

Mr Daniel Day-Lewis has had a number of markedly different hairstyles over the decades and is now a fine exemplar of how to go grey and keep your cool.

Some men see the emergence of grey hair as the beginning of the end. But they’re wrong, says Mr Brent Pankhurst, barber at Pankhurst in London’s Soho. “First off, salt-and-pepper is a strong look. Messrs Daniel Day-Lewis, Jose Mourinho, George Clooney: some of the coolest men alive prove this. Secondly, that horrible tinge from grey-covering hair dye is a terrible giveaway and is arguably more ageing.”

While some men adopt a hairstyle and stick with it rigidly, Mr Day-Lewis has moved with the changing times: from a long, wild neo-romantic mane in his twenties through to the more closely cropped style he wears now that his hair has receded a little and turned grey.

“Mr Day-Lewis has now done what all men ultimately need to do: accept the grey and embrace it,” says Mr Pankhurst. The key then is to manage it properly. “A lack of pigment makes your hair susceptible to pollution, so wash with a shampoo containing violet, which removes yellow.” 

Your cut must be classic; this is no time for trendy fades or clippers. “A neat short back and sides is your best bet.” And the biggest upshot, according to Mr Pankhurst, is that you’ll never look better in a classic suit than when you’re sporting grey hair. “You look refined, your attire takes on a different meaning, more wardrobe options open up to you, such as tweeds and even a hat.” Going silver is golden.

The product to use

Or try these...

  • Pankhurst London Defining Serum, 100ml

  • D R Harris Large Tortoiseshell Acetate Comb

  • SACHAJUAN Leave-In Conditioner, 250ml

  • Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo, 236ml

  • Aesop Violet Leaf Hair Balm, 60ml

  • Lavett & Chin Hair Wash, 236ml