James McAvoy has a great head of hair. And, as stellar as he is in any role, it’s heartbreaking to see him shave that thick, textured, ne’er receded mane all off. (He’s done it for X-Men: Apocalypse and Split, both 2016, and again for his reprisal of both roles in this year’s Dark Phoenix and Glass.) For our February 2019 cover shoot, however, McAvoy brought the volume, the texture, the waves, and the style.
We took the classic comb over, tousled it a bit, and modified it for McAvoy’s natural texture. The finish was, of course, natural looking—not too business, just enough casual. If you’d like to imitate it yourself, then follow these tips from some pros across the pond—London-based barbers Bradley Smith of Bradley Smith Hair Heathrow and Aaron Gibson of Sharps Barber and Shop. They’ll even throw in some bonus tips about imitating and maintaining McAvoy’s beard.
What Kind of Hair it Requires
The truth hurts: Gibson says you’ll likely need a strong hairline and medium thickness to pull this one off. “The side parting is a universal hairstyle, which suits most types of hair. However, you should avoid this one if you’re receding or have very fine hair, as it will emphasize your hair loss.”
Smith adds that wavy hair is an even better match yet: “It’s full of movement, enabling you to create a messier, texturized version of the side parting,” he says, noting that many other side-part styles will suit guys of different hair types and densities.
What to Tell the Barber
“Ask your barber for an unkempt version of the side parting, ultimately a messier and textured variation with length on top, roughly three inches,” says Smith.
Hopefully she or he will know what they’re doing, but here’s more detail: They should scissor cut around the back and sides, over top a comb. This should leave one inch or less in length. Then, they should texturize the top and blend it into the sides, to lighten the bulk and help the style cooperate.
“This will leave a natural, softer effect,” Smith says. “Tidy up around the ears, edges, and neckline with mini clippers to create the clean finish.”
How Frequently Should it Be Maintained
You need to visit the barber every month for cleanups (4-5 weeks, Gibson estimates as the ideal timeframe).
“This will allow for movement on top,” he says. “It’s imperative to clean up the edges and neck hair in an ‘unkempt’ side parting like this, in order to keep the style looking sharp.”
How to Style
First, define your part with the end of a fine-tooth comb, says Smith. You can shake your hair first to see how it separates, and your part should be easy to find. Then, apply a few sprays of hair tonic (like V76 by Vaughn’s) to the style, and massage it from the roots. This tonic will give it the flexibility to be restyled and reworked throughout the day, if anything goes awry.
Once dry, take a dime size amount of styling clay (like American Crew) and emulsify it in your fingertips. Then, work it in from the back of the head forward, targeting the roots. Massage it in and tousle the hair for some added texture.
Lastly, direct your hair back and to the side for a texturized, natural finish.
How to Get the Beard
To maintain this beard length, Smith says you’ll need to trim every 2-3 days on approximately a 4- or 5-guard.
“For trimming the neckline, work by using the two-finger method above the Adam’s Apple, for a rounded look,” he says.
Connect that point above your fingers to the backs of your ears, creating a ‘U’ shape.