Ewan McGregor can headline massive blockbusters like Star Wars and Doctor Sleep. But at his core, he’s an everyman who’s been earnestly open about his fallible past. It’s his relatability that makes him so fun to watch on the silver screen and root for in real life. But there’s one thing that catches people off guard when they meet the actor. Our contributing editor Mickey Rapkin, who wrote the cover story on Ewan McGregor, can attest to this: “He has insanely good hair. Like rip-your-eyes-out-with-jealousy hair.”
Please don’t go to that extreme. While it’s true, McGregor has an incredibly thick mane—especially at 48—you can replicate the hairstyle seen on our November issue.
If you’re curious how to emulate the smooth, combed-back look, consider the following advice from Michael Pettett, senior barber at Fellow Barber in San Francisco.
Who Can Get Ewan McGregor’s Voluminous Hairstyle (and Who Can’t)
To achieve this style, your hair will need to be long enough to flop over without any product. Pettett posits that 4–6 inches of hair is the ideal range for most men. He also says that you’ll have the best results with straight, dense hair. “Ewan has densely packed hair, which gives him that very full, voluminous appeal,” he says. “His hair is also straight, which allows for a smoother look, since straight hairs like to lay gently next to one another.” (As opposed to textured styles, which create more bulk.)
Men with receding hairlines can easily sport this style, too. “If you look at recession lines, they generally point backward toward the crown of the head,” Pettett notes. “So by pulling your hair back in the same direction, you create an awesome flow that blends beautifully together.” In fact, it’s the guys with fuller hairlines who may have a problem with the style, since their hair may not flow back as seamlessly. “They may need a bit more product or blow dryer usage to encourage the hair,” Pettett says.
However, there’s a point at which men with thinning hair should consider a new style. “This kind of look can also accentuate balding in an unappealing manner,” Pettett says. “Once the recession lines reach farther back on the head, it’ll begin to reveal more balding than receding.”
Length and Maintenance
Your hair grows approximately half an inch each month, Pettett says. So if you started from scratch with buzzed hair, you’d need about 10–12 months to get to this point. But you also want to wear a flattering style all the while, so Pettett suggests wearing something like a high and tight for the first few months: “My best advice is to grow the top out and keep the sides trimmed to a length that you’re most comfortable with until the length of hair on top of your head begins to catch up to the sides, where you can then grow them out together.”
And along the way, you could encounter a few awkward stages of growth. To avoid those, and more importantly, to ensure that this style grows out as intended, Pettet suggests getting routine haircuts—more like “hair trims”—every 7–8 weeks.
How to Style the Look
Start with clean, towel-dried (damp) hair, Pettett says. Next, apply a mineral or salt spray to help texturize and lightly hold the hair. Then you’ll go in with a blow dryer. (Fellow Barber’s mineral spray is excellent for this. So is Gamma +’s ionic blow dryer, which will dry hair much faster but also much safer—without frying it.)
“Apply enough [spray] to coat the hair evenly and use your hands to thoroughly blend it throughout your hair,” he says. “After that, use your blow dryer on medium heat and velocity, so you can control the flow a bit easier. Begin drying all of the hair in a backwards motion to give the overall shape the direction you desire.” He also recommends using a light hair brush or wide-tooth comb to help coach the hair and make sure the air flow from the dryer is also reaching the roots.
When it’s all about 90 percent dry, gently tousle the topmost hairs at their roots, which will give you more lift and volume, says Pettett. Finish drying, then apply another product—something to provide more weight, texture, hold, and structure. You can use clay if you want a stronger hold with a fuller finish, or a paste for touchable texture and medium hold. On the other hand, you can also opt for a cream if you prefer a lighter hold and more natural movement.
Another Way to Wear This Haircut
You can also comb this style to the side for a more classic “gentleman’s cut,” says Pettett. And, until it gets too long, you can also wear it forward for a more casual look, styled lightly with cream or paste. When it’s short enough to do that, it’s also cooperative enough to texturize (also with paste or clay) and wear tousled and up, like a “surfer’s cut.”
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