Menswear with Paul McLauchlan: Taking hair matters into your own hands

No man will emerge from self-isolation without one of the following: a buzzcut, bleached hair, or a desperate need for a haircut.haircut.
Menswear with Paul McLauchlan: Taking hair matters into your own hands
Darren Kennedy

No man will emerge from self-isolation without one of the following: a buzzcut, bleached hair, or a desperate need for a haircut.

With half the world under a mandated lockdown, services have been stripped back to the essential. Your barber is considered non-essential. But for many men, a well-kept appearance, even in isolation, is essential.

So you take matters into your own hands. Armed with a set of clippers, an electric razor, scissors or some bleach, you’re a step away from a new identity. You’re not alone either. Actors Stephen Graham and Riz Ahmed, and Arsenal footballer Héctor Bellerín have shed their locks during lockdown.

Going long

Others are giving it a break, like Darren Kennedy, the Irish broadcaster and entrepreneur, founder of Kennedy & Co. grooming products. “I finally have the option of giving it a break and leaving it to grow.” Kennedy said he always wanted to give his hair an opportunity to grow but because of his work obligations, television and event appearances, he has to have a styled look.

Now, however, he says there’s no better excuse. Some are throwing caution to the wind and dying their hair.

Formerly synonymous with a mid-life crisis or the reckless abandon of youth, since professionalism associated with working environments demanded a neat and tidy finish, bleached hair now symbolises escape: rupturing a formless period with a burst of excitement.

Experiment

“With more time on our hands and no office dress code to follow, now is a great time to experiment with your hair colour,” said Anna Brownsell, co-founder and creative director of Bleach London.

It’s much easier to dye your hair at home than you might think, especially if you have short hair.

A tricky undertaking, Bleach London has made it easier. They have created a ‘digital salon experience’ to help with the at-home hair dye experience. What begins with a virtual consultation, the creation of a personalised equipment pack based on your desired look and current hair colour, once the products are purchased online and delivered to your door, a colour expert will offer step-by-step guidance to achieve great results.

“When you first bleach your hair, the colour will always have a yellow or brassy undertone,” said Brownsell.

“Depending on the shade of blonde you want to create, you would then use a toner after washing out the bleach to colour correct these undertones.”

She has aftercare sorted too with a range of toners, reclamation masks, and elixirs to ensure your hair isn’t damaged.

Redefine rules

With the exception of a virtual salon, men have launched their own barbers from the comfort of the bathroom sink for years. Razors, scissors, and bottles of bleach are harbingers of forging a new identity.

Modern life is awash with rules and regulations.

The current moment presents an opportunity to redefine them, and yourself. The unprecedented situation we find ourselves has cemented a number of things: Office dress codes have been relaxed to the point of non-existence.

With countless Zoom conference calls and a day’s work from the kitchen table - sweatpants are the new slacks, slippers are the new brogues.

For others, it’s business as usual, dressed in normal office attire. Either way, there are no rules anymore.

Grooming

If anything, it’s placed the art of personal appearance in your hands. Nobody can dictate how you present yourself anymore. The same applies for grooming. Riz Ahmed shaved his head, Darren Kennedy is letting his grow out, Jim Carrey is growing out a beard.

These decisions are yours to make too. Have you long considered changing up your hairstyle? Now is the time to do it.

“A buzzcut is liberating if you’re in the right headspace,” said Kennedy who cautions that while it might feel exciting in the beginning, the growing out process is more trouble than it’s worth. For some, it could take up to six months, creating an awkward period of ‘microphone head’, as Kennedy calls it.

Avoid it because you might regret it.

If you can’t go without the ‘skin fade,’ Real Madrid footballer Eden Hazard’s barber of choice, Ahmed Alsanawi from A Star Barbers has uploaded a 12-minute video tutorial to his Instagram account, @astarbarbers.

Razor-work

Brave enough to attempt a home haircut but not enough to try Alsanawi’s detailed razor-work, Kennedy recommends a life-hack that can delay the urgency of a trip to the barbers: “A trim around the ears can give the impression of a haircut,” he said.

Much like Alsanawi, Kennedy uploaded a tutorial to his Instagram account, @darrenkennedyofficial, emphasising the importance of the correct angle, a sort of 45-degree tilt of the blade.

Moreover, he adds that any scissor cuts should cut into the hair as opposed to flat or blunt angles. If things go wrong, the result is less intense.

Styling

Perhaps it’s not about chopping or changing but styling. “As it gets longer and heavier, I may need to start playing around with hairstyles,” said Kennedy, “so it might change how I style it and the products I use.” At present, Kennedy swears by the matte clay mask, still available in Dunnes Stores and pharmacies across the country.

Kennedy errs on the side of caution when it comes to any radical switch ups “‘have fun with it but be cognisant of the ramifications”) but Brownsell says throw it to the wind because rules are suspended, (“it’s a great way to self-express and have a bit of fun!”).

Whether you pick up the scissors or not, Kennedy said “when things go back to normal, you can go to the barber who can fix things”.

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