Pause for just a second the next time you sit down in your stylist's chair and think about uttering, "The usual." Those two words? Great for ordering a sandwich, sure. But horrible for haircuts.
That familiar expression is the reason some guys are still sporting mullets and Jheri curls or are being victimized by bowl cuts and flat-tops. It's time to leave those styles to the haircut hall of shame.
Now is the time to step things up. After all, you wear your hair every day, so splurging on a good hair style has the potential to give you a good return on investment.
The long and short of it? Classic, neat cuts for men are trending now. Longer hair might be on the horizon if the runways at New York Fashion Week and the awards shows are any indication of what's to come.
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Goodbye, faux hawk
"The messy, spiked look and the faux hawk are finally on the way out," says Sarah Bustamento, a stylist with The Parlour — Highlands salon in Denver.
Bustamento says she loves a twist on the classic men's crew cut and she's noticing drastically short cuts, or short cuts with long tops, are trending.
"It's either really short or really short with a long top," she says.
Haircuts in style this spring and summer have a more flexible hold, Bustamento says. She recommends that guys style the tops of their hair with a beach spray instead of a sticky gel.
One of her faves? Alternator by American Crew. The spray provides flexible styling and re-styling that a guy can create with his own hands. It gives a natural look with medium hold and a non-tacky feel.
Gray away — or to stay
For older gentlemen, "gray blending" treatments are becoming popular, Bustamento says. The idea is not to erase the gray, but to even it out — a request most common from men with salt-and-pepper coloring in their locks.
Surveys have shown more men are dying their hair, especially baby boomers. The Men's Grooming Report by L'Oreal, conducted in the United Kingdom, found that 35 percent of men have used, or are open to using, hair color.
A man's decision to embrace his gray hair or conceal it can, of course, be a deeply personal one. If you're going for a full cover-up, L'Oreal suggests returning to your natural hair color. Try a non-permanent color like Healthy Look Creme Gloss Color that will give you a chance to try out the color before you make a commitment.
If you want to embrace the gray, L'Oreal experts suggest a consistent routine to keep your hair strong. Try Vive Pro for Men Daily Thickening Shampoo.
Hair and makeup artist James Cornwell says his favorite style of the moment is the "undercut," which has super short sides and a visible part.
The well-groomed style requires some good barbering, he says, so make sure your stylist is comfortable with the technique before you put your request in.
"I'm dying over it, I'm such a fan" Cornwell says. "This style is truly universal."
You might have noticed the cut on Adam Levine of NBC's The Voice or seen soccer star David Beckham rock it for a while. It's a Hollywood style that also is well-suited for businessmen.
For a more subtle approach, channel a classic George Clooney cut and keep the sides a little longer.
"Long hair will always be around — but I love that the more groomed look and shorter styles are trending now," Cornwell says.
Among Cornwell's favorite products is Sebastian Professional's Texture Maker. The lightweight mineral spray with sea salt crystals can be spritzed on wet hair before blow drying for a tousled texture, plus it adds a subtle volume.
Cornwell also likes Shine Crafter, pomade that will add and hold texture or create a wet, sleek look, he says.
Man buns and bronytails?
Leave it to Hollywood A-listers to take a style once reserved for ballerinas and make it look manly. Who knows if it's a trend or a coincidence, but celebs including Colin Farrell, Chris Hemsworth, Jared Leto and Harry Styles are tossing their locks in buns — with their own renditions and twists.
Newly minted Oscar winner Leto's slicked back, low-hanging bun is juxtaposed with his scruffy beard. Hemsworth, who recently starred in Thor, looks more like a soccer player with a casual, loose knot.
What seems to be on tap in the future, though, are ponytails for men, aka "bronytails."
Matt Feniger, associate menswear editor for Worth Global Style Network, took note of the "man pony" as seen at shows including Michael Bastian's fall and winter 2014 presentation at New York Fashion Week, which his company sponsors. In general, he noticed more natural looks that weren't super-gelled.
"The whole vibe of the look leans toward soccer stars. The hair is slightly pulled back with a short pony," Feniger says. "I think it's a great look, but it can be tough to pull off."