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The Look

Does Your Haircut Suit You?

Burberry’s go-to session stylist shows us how to make the most of what we’ve got in 2016

Think about it for a moment; when was the last time you did something different with your hair? Ten years ago? Twenty? Maybe longer? Most of us are happy just to have hair at all. Or, perhaps, we’ve been so emotionally scarred by an experience with a shaky scissor-wielding trainee that we’d never dare utter the words “do what you like” near a hair professional again.

The ubiquitous dread so many of us feel about getting our hair cut goes some way towards explaining why we can get a bit stuck in our choice of cut or style. But, with time taking its toll year after year, addressing the changing needs of our age and hair type is as essential as a wardrobe overhaul, and as refreshing.  

While certain levels of experimentation (bleaching, highlighting, braiding) should probably be saved for people on football pitches, their gap year or the cusp of a mid-life crisis, an honest change in cut or style in your thirties and forties can help give you a renewed sartorial outlook. If done right, it can take years off; done wrong, it can really add them on. And so, with 2016 just a hair’s length away, we tasked session stylist and good-hair Samaritan Mr Matt Mulhall (whose work can be seen each season on the Burberry catwalk) to demonstrate five cuts to suit five common hair types.

01. Thick and straight

Mr Mike Quyen, 21, a conceptual photographer and menswear blogger from Vietnam has enviably thick and glossy hair. “It’s the type of hair that looks pretty easy to manage but actually takes a lot of management,” says Mr Quyen. “It’s so thick I have to work really hard to keep it down and not spiked up all over the place.” Mr Quyen has devised his own methods for keeping his hair in check, “I usually cut my own hair. It would sometimes take me hours to do it but I’ve had some pretty bad experiences at barbers here in London.” For hair like Mr Quyen’s, Mr Matt Mulhall recommends keeping some length to weigh thick hair down and suggests having it trimmed every three to four weeks. “Your barber should use shearing scissors through the longer section of hair to thin it out as much as possible,” he says, “and although men tend to shy away from hairspray, it really would give the best results out of any other styling product.”

What to use:

“Comb a blob of Malin & Goetz Firm Hold Gel through your hair and style flat. Allow it to dry and if it’s particularly thick try wearing a soft hat for 20 minutes or so – this will help it set flat. Then use a strong hold hairspray to keep it down throughout the day,” suggests Mr Mulhall.

02. Curly does it

Not only does Mr Mark Raven, 32, have enviably cool hair, he is also a professional golfer, two things which make us not like him very much at all. He didn’t take up the sport until he was 17, and had a similarly late start when it came to developing tightly curled hair. “I didn’t know I had this hair ’til I grew it,” he says. “It was short up until two years ago when I had an injury and promised myself I wouldn’t cut it until I was back in the game and won my next tournament. I was pretty surprised with the result.” So are we. At 6ft 2in, Mr Raven’s hair makes quite an impact and one that feels pleasingly 1970s (a vibe designers at Gucci and Tom Ford are exploring in a big way in their collections right now), giving him a rather unfair advantage over us straighter-haired mortals. “Curly hair is best cut free-hand while the hair is dry,” explains Mr Mulhall. “Don’t let anyone cut any heavy lines into it or it will end up like a bob.”

What to use:

“Apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner [we like Sachajuan’s or Pankhurst London’s] to damp, washed hair and twist curls into separate spirals using your fingers. Leave to dry naturally and never, ever, brush it. Don’t overwash as it will get dry and frizzy,” says Mr Mulhall, “and grow it – it would be such a waste for this type of hair to be cut short and as dress codes in offices loosen up, it would be nice to see men embrace curls rather than cut them out or flatten them down.”

03. Straight as hell

The way you wear your hair says a lot about you as a person. Mr Charlie Cooper, 26, a scriptwriter, knows this to be true. His most recent role in the comedy show he has just finished writing with his sister Daisy sees his character sport a pair of blonde curtains. (Visual cue: remember Backstreet Boy Mr Nick Carter?) “It’s to demonstrate how out of it he is, living in this little Cotswolds village,” explains Mr Cooper. “He lives in a place that’s still stuck in the 1990s, and not in an ironic way.” In real life, Mr Cooper’s hair is naturally dusty blonde and very straight: ”I’ve got quite dry, Worzel Gummidge-y type hair. It sort of just hangs there.” “Straight hair demands a really good cut, as it shows everything, so don’t try and do it on the cheap,” says Mr Mulhall.

What to use:

Mr Mulhall recommends to “use a thickening product to provide texture and volume to straight hair like this. A sea salt spray such as Sachajuan’s Ocean Mist Texturizing Spray or hair powder also helps (try Super Dust by L’Oreal Professional). Dry using a hair dryer with a diffuser to give as much movement and volume as possible.”

04. Fine and soft

Mr Chay Morris, 29, is a model and illustrator, based in London. “I took up screen printing right after I finished playing pro football,” says Mr Morris, who by his own admission has very soft and fragile hair. “My hair is so fine, it just breaks off. I keep it really short because it just doesn’t look great when it’s any longer.” It’s a common issue, but one Mr Mulhall believes you can overcome with the right tools: “Soft water is tricky for fine hair as it makes it too soft,” he says, “and hard water will just make it flat and lifeless, so you have to use the right products to give it texture.”

What to use:

“Fine hair needs bulking up straight from the shower. Use a thickening shampoo [try this one by Pankhurst London] and then a salt spray while it’s damp, and blow-dry using your fingers. To tame and smooth any flyaway hairs use a tiny amount of Bumble & Bumble’s Brilliantine – a light-hold crème that’s good for lots of hair types. Avoid pomades or anything heavy as it will just over-flatten and oil-up your hair,” says Mr Mulhall.

05. Big waves

Mr Tom Harris, 28, has been a Designer at MR PORTER since 2013. As well as being pretty handy with InDesign and a mood board, Mr Harris is also widely admired in the office for his resplendent head of thick wavy hair. “It’s my dad’s hair,” explains Mr Harris. “Whenever I go home to Plymouth people who know my dad say it’s exactly the same. It’s unruly, but I like it.” Mr Mulhall advises that “rather than try to straighten out waves, work with them and embrace your hair type, because that’s when hair will usually look its best.”

What to use:

“Warm a dry finish product such as Patricks M1 Matte Finish Light Hold Pomade between fingers and work into the hair to separate and define the waves. It’s important not to overwash thick wavy hair like this, twice a week should do it. Natural oils will only make it look better – just look at Sean Penn,” says Mr Mulhall.

Hair essentials

  • D R Harris Large Tortoiseshell Acetate Comb

  • D R Harris Abbeyhorn Boar-Bristle Hairbrush

  • SACHAJUAN Ocean Mist Texturizing Spray, 150ml

  • Malin + Goetz Sage Styling Cream, 118ml

  • Aesop Volumising Shampoo, 500ml

  • Pankhurst London Leave-In Styling Conditioner, 100ml