A definitive guide to surfing hairdos

Rob and his signature look. Photo by Dragon Alliance.
Rob Machado and his eponymous look. Photo: Courtesy of Dragon Alliance
Like most subcultures, surfing, and surfers, tend to have a definite look. While the sun-bleached-blonde locks might be the most obvious, there are plenty more options out there for the surfer. Here we take a cruise through surfing’s best cuts, from the Machado to the mohawk.

The Machado

Rob Machado, above, has surfing’s most famous hairdo, having cultivated his long, tangly, lustrous locks for the better part of 25 years. Of course, when your hair is that good, and that curly, why wouldn’t you grow it to its full potential?

Many have tried to copy the look, and most have failed. Perhaps it is only young Australian freesurfer Craig Anderson who has rivaled Machado for follicle length and true style.

The Surfie

The surfie look seems to be working for Creed Mctaggert. Photo by Billabong
The surfie seems to be working for Australian rider Creed McTaggart. Photo: Courtesy of Billabong
The quintessential “surfie” look is the shoulder-length straggle of salt-washed hair that has been both a sign of commitment to the ocean and a middle finger to conformity since the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Californian surfers and skaters led the long-haired rebellion, and surfers around the world have sported it ever since.

The Chrome Dome

Kelly modeling his Outerknown label for Mr Porter. Photo my mrporter.com
Kelly Slater modeling his Outerknown label for Mr. Porter. Photo: Courtesy of mrporter.com
Of course, going bald is less of a grooming choice and more of a hereditary blight, but Kelly Slater has done more for bald surfers, and bald men generally, than any other athlete. The key, of course, is embracing the receding hairline early, fessing up to your future and shaving it all off. Slater did that and not only made it acceptable, but sexy.

The Laird Hamilton

Laird all prepped to talk to Oprah. Photo by www.oprah.com
Laird Hamilton, all prepped to talk to Oprah. Photo: Courtesy of www.oprah.com
Laird Hamilton has had the same haircut since he was 6 years old, and for very good reason: nothing screams all-around surfer superhero than a thick, well-maintained, short, sharp shock of blonde hair. It is perfect for either surfing 50-foot waves, rescuing Lena Dunham or appearing on “Oprah.”

Half high school quarterback, half Hawaii beach boy, it is the ideal mix of form and function.

The Suave ’60s Look

Thank god I chose this sport! Happy International Surfing Day #ISD

A photo posted by Mitch J Crews (@mitchcrews) on

The clean-cut ’60s look is back, with short back and sides topped by a well-maintained coif, now replacing the old-fashioned unkempt salty-surfer look. Young surfers like Kolohe Andino, Luke Davis and Mitch Crews (above), all of whom have grown up in the metrosexual age, are the best proponents of the new-era stylish Beckham-esque look.

The Spicoli

The look that launched a 1000 mullets. Screen grab from Fast Times At Ridgemont High
The look that launched 1,000 mullets.
Also known as The Mullet, the “business in the front, party in the back” look worn by Sean Penn’s stoner-surfer Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High has, for some unknown reason, fallen out of favor in the surfing world. Australian Owen Wright is perhaps the only high-profile surfer still hanging on to the mullet dream. Hopefully his attempts will bring back the look.

The Crew Cut

Mick Fanning, a lean mean (shark) fighting machine. Photo by Red Bull
Mick Fanning, a lean, mean (shark) fighting machine. Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull
The military-style haircut is designed for pure function and high-grade action. There is no hair in the eyes when in the water and no towel needed when you get out. Three-time world champion Mick Fanning uses it the most consistently, being a man who will always choose practicality over fashion. The cut is also the cheapest to maintain, either done at home yourself for free or for a maximum of 10 bucks at the local barber.

The Mohawk

If you are going to have a mohawk, you might as well make it colorful. Photo by photogeoff / Shutterstock.com
If you are going to have a mohawk, you might as well make it colorful. Photo: Shutterstock
A dying breed, the mohawk used to be the go-to choice for pro surfers wishing to make a statement of rebellion. Surfers like Christian Fletcher, Richie Collins, Martin Potter and Matt Hoy have used the cut to be cast as anti-establishment figures. In more recent times, perhaps as the sport has moved more mainstream, we have seen fewer and fewer mohawks. Surely it’s time to bring it back?

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