Hair. How difficult can it really be? Quite, it turns out. From using the wrong products to using too much of the right product to using product to create a style you shouldn’t be caught dead with, there’s plenty of scope for getting it wrong.
To help bring an end to these follicular #fails, we asked some of the UK’s top hair experts to scratch their heads and dish the dirt on their most-loathed hair mistakes, and how you can avoid them.
Using A 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner
To understand why this particular mistake is a serious barnet blunder requires some science. Each strand of hair on your head is covered in ‘scales’ called cuticles, and in order to properly clean your locks, these cuticles need to be ‘opened up’ using shampoo to release any clingy pollution or product build-up. A conditioner’s job, on the other hand, is to moisturise and then ‘close’ hair cuticles.
“For that reason, 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner products simply do not work,” says Daniel Davies, manager at Pall Mall Barbers. “A single product cannot open and close the cuticle at the same time. This results in hair that’s squeaky clean but cuticles that aren’t closed, meaning the hair will pick up pollutants and get dirtier quicker.”
To give your pompadour the best chance of standing tall, Davies suggests washing your hair with dedicated shampoo at the beginning of your shower. After rinsing thoroughly, apply a conditioner based on your hair type and leave it to soak in for the remainder of your shower before rinsing out at the end.
“This system deeply cleanses both the hair and scalp and allows time for a conditioner to penetrate the hair, leaving it healthy and moisturised.”
Skimping On Scalp Care
Washing your hair is all well and good, but it’ll all be for naught if you don’t take proper care of your scalp. “It’s paramount that the scalp is also looked after to ensure the optimum health of the hair,” says Aveda Master Barber Stelios Nicolaou.
For anyone who slathers on heavy styling aids like wax or gel, this step is even more important as failing to get rid of the daily gunk can result in dry hair, irritation and even dandruff.
“When it comes to your scalp, you need a product that will wash away styling product build-up, excess sebum and other impurities,” says Nicolaou.
Bag yourself a product that does this with gentle abrasion, such as something containing jojoba beads to softly scrub away any dross that’s accumulated in your hair. Or, for a really deep and thorough cleanse, consider a more involved treatment such as a scalp mask, which allows active ingredients to absorb fully.
Choosing A Hairstyle That Doesn’t Suit You
You might’ve spied that comb-over fade on an A-lister’s Instagram, but that doesn’t mean it’ll get as many likes on you.
“Unfortunately, we’re not all blessed with the same medium-thick, wavy hair that models and superstars are,” says Ruffians creative director Denis Robinson. “For that reason, we really need to be honest with ourselves when choosing our haircuts.”
Rather than plonking yourself down in the chair and pointing to a picture on your phone, Robinson suggests a spot of talking therapy before your barber gets to work. “Have a proper chat with the person holding the scissors; if they’re worth their salt they’ll help you figure out the best look for you, taking into account your face shape, hair type, overall style, lifestyle and personality.”
Don’t be afraid to open up the conversation by talking about what your hair does naturally, any kinks or growth patterns that you do, or don’t, like. And you can even extend this to areas such as your beard and eyebrows to find a natural-looking style that works for you that you can then keep up at home.
Using Too Much Product
As deliciously coconutty as that cream pomade might smell, there is such a thing as too much hair product.
“Having too much in your hair is never a good look and a dead giveaway that you don’t know what you’re doing,” says Robinson. “It’s like wearing too much cologne – are you covering up something bad?”
While a ‘more is more’ approach might be tempting, it’s in your best interest to steer conservative. “Always start with a small amount of product, adding more as needed,” says Jacqui Weaver, creative director at London’s Fish Salon. “After all, you can always add more but you can’t take any away.”
Rubbing product through your hands helps to warm its molecules and make it easier to distribute evenly throughout your hair. Also vital is targeting the roots of your hair by applying product (especially dryer, matte products) to the base of your hair first. Follow these steps and you’ll avoid clumped hair ends and visible residue.
Tired of grey hair’s ageing effect? Or maybe you just fancy a change? Whatever your reason for dyeing your hair, there’s a correct way to do it. And that’s not at home, in the dark, alone, having built up the courage by sinking a beer or five.
“Colouring is something that’s hard to achieve yourself,” says Sassoon men’s grooming expert Joshua Gibson. “Classic mistakes are canary yellow bleaches, hair dyed too dark or flat for any skin tone, or warm colour tones that pick up on grey and make it look luminescent.
As a general rule of thumb, cooler hair colour tones and understated placement tend to suit men better than warmer colours, which is basically code for step away from the damn applicator.
“You should always seek expert advice before colouring your hair for the first time or changing your hair colour,” says Gibson. “And always have an allergy test, too.”
Shaving Your Head Instead Of Your Sideburns
There isn’t a barber in the game who hasn’t witnessed first-hand the aftermath of men taking their razor as high as their temples. “This is a classic mistake of starting your face shave too high in your hairline,” says Gibson.
The problem with taking the blades too high up your bonce is that it’s very difficult to rectify the result without taking your whole haircut shorter. Or reluctantly wearing a hat for the next six weeks.
Avoiding the need for an enforced buzz cut is a simple case of showing some restraint with the razor.
“Make a point of starting no higher than the top of the cheekbones, around your eye line. This is especially important for longer face shapes, as long sideburns will broaden the shape of the face.”
Holding On To What You Don’t Have
Like death and taxes, receding hairlines are an unfortunate fact of life. More unfortunate though, is failing to deal with one correctly. “Many men grow the hair at the front of their head to hide their baldness, but this actually has the opposite effect, making any bald patches even more obvious,” says celebrity hairstylist Jamie Stevens.
Embrace the next stage of your life, and the hairstyle to go with it. “Try taking the top shorter at the front, and ask your barber or stylist for their opinion on a way you could change your look to minimise the appearance of your baldness,” says Stevens.
Or cheat by using products that can be used to fill in gaps, helping make your hair appear that bit thicker and fuller.