If you’re searching for hair styling tips, chances are you don’t just mean ‘How do I apply pomade?’
What you want is guidance.
You want an answer to that eternal conundrum: what should I do with my hair?
But too often, articles entitled ‘How to style men’s hair’ focus on this small, relatively simple stuff, like how to use hair wax or what a comb is.
Don’t get us wrong: that stuff matters too.
It’s just that we believe real style comes from big picture thinking.
It comes from matching your skills and knowledge with an understanding of your own personal style and persona.
It comes, fundamentally, from you.
What makes professional stylists great isn’t their ability to apply pomade – it’s their ability to see what will suit a client best and go after it.
However skilled you are at styling hair, if the style you’re going for doesn’t work for you, it’ll all be for nothing.
Because let’s be real: not everybody can pull off every type of hairstyle.
So while we’ve got plenty of men’s hairstyling tips and guidance on male hair care for you, this is no ordinary men’s hairstyling guide.
It’s important to understand that what will make your hair look its best is finding the perfect style for.
And finding that will take time, effort and experimentation.
Fortunately, we’ve got some great tips and tricks to help you get there faster and achieve better results.
Here are ten top tips and tricks to style your hair like an absolute pro:
1. Understand your facial shape and features
The shape and structure of your face is pivotal, and too many men simply don’t take that into consideration when choosing a hairstyle.
Depending on your facial shape, you’ll want to accent or minimize certain qualities, and understanding your face’s strengths and weaknesses is key.
Square-faced men should consider shorter styles that will really highlight the sharpness of their features.
Square-faced men should usually aim for a hairstyle that doesn’t emphasize their jawline, as this can really draw attention to the face shape. Instead, work with your natural hair texture to add softness and volume to your face. If your hair is straight and you have fine hair, add some wavy texture to help create a more balanced look. For thicker or wavy/curly hair, add some volume on top to give the illusion of roundness.
But a center parting might end up making them look kind of robotic and weird.
Round-faced men probably want to make their face appear more defined and angular, and a style with volume on top but tight at the sides, like a pompadour, will really help with this.
If you have a round face, you know that finding the right cut can be tricky. You want something that’s flattering and enhances your features, not something that just makes the roundness all the more prominent. Here are some tips to try when you’re ready for your next haircut.
Firstly, it’s important to know what a round face actually looks like. In general, if your chin isn’t pointy and your cheekbones aren’t prominent, then you probably have a rounded face shape. A hairstyle that will make your face look thinner and longer will work best for you. It’s important to stay away from cuts that make your hair look fuller on top, such as the pompadour—this will make your face appear even rounder.
Whereas bangs are likely to be disastrous.
Oval-faced men can pretty much pull off any style they like:
But a fringe will make their face seem rounder than it is, which isn’t necessarily what they want.
The key to this is to really consider what you feel your face’s strengths and weaknesses are.
It’s not just about the general shape:
You’ll also want to know which features are particularly strong or prominent and consider how your hair could augment or emphasize them.
Try asking friends or even a barber for some honest feedback:
They often see things you can’t see for yourself.
2. Know your hair type
You need to pick a hairstyle that not only compliments your face, but is realistic and works with the kind of hair you have.
That is, the thickness, quality, color and tendencies of your hair.
Some men have wispy hair, but try to pull off styles that really require luscious, thick locks.
Your hair type will not only dictate the styles you can pull off, but the products you should be using and how you should be designing your overall grooming routine.
Here’s some basic guidance:
Thick hair is very versatile, meaning you can achieve a huge range of styles – as well as avoiding the cruel mistress of Male Pattern Baldness.
You’ll also need to be very careful with your combs and hair dryers, as thick hair is particularly reactive.
Fine hair generally needs to be given extra volume, and that means longer hairstyles might look slightly lifeless.
However, with the right shampoo to give it a kick and some volume, you’ll be well on your way.
Curtains are quite cool right now, and fine hair can often be layered to make that look work like a treat.
Thinning hair is the bane of many men’s lives, and most opt for as short a style as possible.
Equally, you could just throw in the towel, shave it all off, and fully embrace the bald-with-beard look.
3. Match it with your facial hair
Many of our readers are dedicated beardsmen, so it’s important we mention this:
Your facial hair and your head hair are not unrelated entities.
While even the most eccentric beard styles can work with a variety of hairstyles, you should be aware how the hairstyle you’re going for will interact with and change the way your beard looks.
And perhaps most importantly, looking after your beard is super important:
If your hair looks clean and luscious but your beard looks tired, you’ll be pretty confusing to look at.
4. Consider your lifestyle
It’s also important to consider how your lifestyle will fit with your style.
Some men want to have really ambitious hairstyles that need constant retouching but are too busy to find the time in their day.
Equally, if you spend a lot of time on your feet, exercising, or otherwise in humid conditions, your hairstyle will likely need to be shorter.
Humid air actually adds weight to hair and can cause some serious frizz.
So you’ll either need to carry the product with you at all times to tackle it, or adapt to a more humidity-friendly style.
It’s up to you.
5. Get the right cut
This might not seem like a ‘tip’ or ‘trick’, but it really is.
So many men seem to think that ‘styling’ is a cure-all for whatever weakness your current haircut might have.
But the reality is, you can only get the style you want by getting a haircut that facilitates it.
And what’s more, if you get a poor quality haircut, your hair is likely to grow out in a way that loses its initial style and is much harder to reshape with product.
So getting the right haircut really is a non-negotiable part of the styling process.
The question then becomes: how do you decide what haircut to get?
For some styles, this will be easy.
If you want a mohawk, it’s pretty obvious how you need to get it cut:
But since there are lots of haircut styles for guys, it can be hard to really distinguish between the best and the rest.
Our advice is to have an honest, open conversation with a really good barber:
He’ll tell you exactly what you need.
And with any luck, he’ll help you get it too.
6. Know your products
There are so many products for styling men’s hair these days, it’s easy to assume they all do basically the same thing.
But the difference between a gel and wax is important, and the best hairstylists should know exactly what they need and how to use it.
Pomade is great for dense hair that needs to be kept in check, and most men find it works best with shorter styles.
You should expect a little shine with this stuff, so make sure your hair is very clean – otherwise it could appear greasy.
Experts suggest starting at the back of your hair when applying it, as this avoids getting too much in the thicker parts of your hair, which could end up looking gunky and over-thick.
Wax, on the other hand, is great for long, wavy hair – especially if it’s nice and thick.
You can get a really powerful hold with wax, but you should once again be careful of the shine and smell.
Try not to use too much wax, and apply it only when your hair is dry.
The difference is cream is ideal for wavy, full-bodied hair and looks very natural.
Whereas gel is often used for shorter hair and has a very sleek, almost-greasy look.
And of course, hairspray is great for most hairstyles and types of hair, allowing you to add a finish touch, with a slight shine and a relatively light bit of extra hold and texture.
Then we have slightly more niche products, like sea salt spray, which is great for giving finer hair more body and making long hair look naturally messy.
To see some great, specific examples of our favorite hairstyling products, see this full list.
7. Choose your parting with care
Your hair parting is not the most fun thing to think about, but it really matters when it comes to getting a style that works for you.
This is something you should discuss with your barber, but here is some basic advice:
Side partings are generally better for a round face, adding the extra illusion of structure and defined shape.
Middle partings are ideal for sharper, more angular faces because they emphasize symmetry.
You will also want to consider your hairline, and how to either cover or emphasize it based on where it falls.
8. Maintain the edges
Maintenance is a huge part of styling:
Once you’ve got the haircut nailed and you’re happy with how you’re treating it, you need to be keeping the cut fresh and making sure it doesn’t grow out of shape.
The best way to do this is to keep an electric razor to hand and make sure you regularly keep hose edges in check.
Be careful though: chop too much off, and you’ll ruin the whole thing.
Depending on how fast your hair grows, you should probably look at doing this around once a week.
9. Wash your hair less
This might seem like a strange piece of advice, but showering too often is a common error men who are trying to become style gurus make.
They assume being clean is a big part of looking good – and obviously, it is.
The only problem is washing your hair too often actually drains it of its natural oils and leaves it looking tired and strained.
You can get away with it for a while with the right products to keep it shining.
But you’ll start to really notice that it’s thinner, less vital, and generally a little straw-like if you keep over-cleaning.
You should aim for a wash every 2 or 3 days – this will be enough to keep it looking and feeling clean, but not so much that it starts to suffer.
But consider also investing in some dry shampoo to have on the go:
When you’re washing your hair less, it can suddenly get greasier than you thought, and having dry shampoo will freshen you up without tiring your hair or forcing you to go home and shower.
10. Experiment, experiment, experiment!
Finally, the single best tip we can give you for styling like a pro is simple:
Stay interested in your hair.
That is, keep playing with it, keep experimenting with it, and keep learning about new styles, products and techniques.
The best hairstylists are the ones who really enjoy the process of exploring new styles, and you’re far more likely to find a style you really love and feel great about by simply playing with your hair.
Take your favorite product and try doing a hairstyle you’ve never had before.
Or try emulating a famous style you think might be beyond your current skill level.
And if you’re brave enough, get other people involved: ask them what they think, and let them give input about other styles you could attempt.
These sorts of experiments are going to teach you more about styling – as well as your own specific hair and look – than any single bit of guidance we could ever give.
A lot of men find hairstyling difficult, but that’s because most men consider it a chore.
Hopefully, this article has shown you that styling your hair can be more fun, and more interesting (and introspective) than you might have thought.
So we’d love to know: what’s the best hair styling trick you’ve ever discovered? And what did it help you achieve?
Let us know in the comments below.