Get ahead with hair

Spikes: Paula Whittaker gives Reghan Knight, 5, his usual short back and sides with spikes.
Spikes: Paula Whittaker gives Reghan Knight, 5, his usual short back and sides with spikes.

Danielle Heyns investigates the latest trends and classic styles in men's hair and finds out how adventurous Hamilton men are.

Men's hairstyles have a longer shelf life than women's. We might see only a slight variation on a style each season, says Hamilton hairdresser Sarah Gallagher.

The Justin Bieber - all sorts of comb-over softness - is making way for sharper, more tailored hairstyles, says Sarah, the owner of Platinum Black Hairdressing.

It's thanks in part to boy band One Direction.

With his curly locks, Harry Styles has brought the hobbit look - longish curls - back in fashion.

A shorter, equally trendy version of this look is the Short Wave, shorter back and sides, worn with a smidgen of gel for that tousled effect.

You'll need natural curls, though - Waikato men won't even think about perming their hair, Sarah says.

Although school-aged boys and men under 35 here do experiment with hairstyles, Waikato men are a conservative bunch and the good ol' short, back and sides remains her most requested do.

Luckily for them, edgier versions of this classic coiffure are all the rage, so they won't have to stray too far from their comfort zone.

First mention must go to the quiff - the men's style of the season.

David Beckham sports one and he's one of the most copied stars in the galaxy.

Hair is kept short back and sides and long in the fringe, which is combed and gelled back. Many men baulk at styling, but all you need is a hairdryer and a bit of product - five minutes and you're done, Sarah says.

The quiff is known for its "poof", but if this is too outlandish, try combing your hair back and adding a bit of pomade - less body but still fashionable.

Want a very short back and sides? The undercut is popular again thanks partly to TV show Boardwalk Empire and, alarmingly, the return in popularity of Vanilla Ice, says Sarah.

Comb-overs are still popular, but forget Donald Trump. “The modern comb-over is all about having a strong parting and strong lines, not about covering baldness.”

Role of the barbershop

Sarah foresees the trend of strong lines growing.

“I think it will continue to go more classical and smart. A bit formal.”

As these smart styles gain

popularity, so do barbershops, says Paula Whittaker, owner of Hamilton's Who's Ya Barber?

“The barbershop is coming back. Guys want a sharp, tailored haircut like The Fade that barbers are taught to do.”

The Fade - think Sonny Bill - colloquially refers to a clippered cut that is short at the bottom and progressively longer towards the top. Clipper guards come with different numbers for varying lengths. Going down a number is called fading, Paula says.

At the barbershop, haircuts are often done with just clippers.

It's one of the few boys' clubs still around and in for his three-weekly haircut is 47-year-old pastor John Ferris, who would wear his hair longer if he could, but it's “thinning” a bit.

The Workingman's Mohawk is what Paula calls his short, trendy style.

She's good at making up names for hairstyles. There's the Spray and Walk Away (short back and sides with spikes), the Boxed-Out Mohawk Mullet and the popular Very Niiiiice haircut - short back and sides with a comb-over to the side.

“Anything goes, but very sculpted styles with clean lines are popular.”

Not everyone goes for these trendy looks, though. “The older generation have usually had the same haircut forever.”

Short back and sides and buzz cuts are often requested. “The old flat top is still going.”

Men's hairstyles: a retrospective

Throughout the 20th century, lovers were seduced, parents appalled and statements made by men's hairstyles.

Pompadour: Stolen from a woman, Madame de Pompadour, chief mistress of Louis XV, the pompadour featured an elaborate bouffant fringe. Variations were popular among women until the 1950s, when it was adapted into a men's style. For a manlier look, barbers took clippers to the back - short at the nape, gradually longer as it reached the crown - and often added sideburns for swagger.

Pompadour-wearers we swooned over: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, James Dean, Frank Sinatra.

Women who wore one first: Madame Pompadour, World War II-pinup Betty Grable, the fictional "Gibson Girls" of the 1890s - arguably the first national beauty standard for US women.

Ducktail or duck's arse: A symbol of disaffected youth in the '50s, the ducktail featured hair combed back around the side of the head - the side parting at the back resembled a duck's arse with folded wings. Hair at the front was styled to tumble down in messy strands or curled into a thick "elephant's trunk".

Heavy on the hair gunk, this style led to the term greasers.

Ducktail-wearers we swooned over: Tony Curtis, the cast from Grease, Fonzie in Happy Days.

Afro: As youth eschewed war, corporatism and starched aprons in the 1960s and '70s, they grew their hair long as a symbol of non-conformism.

In the African-American community there was a redefinition of African beauty, as opposed to the old notion that black people's features were inferior. This led to the rise of natural styles like the afro, created by combing the hair away from the scalp, with cream or gel to keep it in place.

Afro-wearers we swooned over: Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz, Guy Sebastian.

Women who rocked one: Political activist Angela Davis, Lauryn Hill.

Mullet: 1980s men opted for the best of both worlds with this “business in the front, party at the back” look. The style features hair worn short at the front and sides and long at the back - arguably the most mocked hairstyle of all time. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney rocked a version in the '70s and apologised for it later, but it was in the 1980s that this crime against hair took off. Big bouffant versions were all the rage and a favourite with rockstars. Superman had a mullet for four years in the 1990s.

Mullet-wearers we swooned over: Duran Duran, Jason Donovan, Andre Agassi.

Women who gave it a go: Singer Kim Wilde, Meryl Streep.