Summer wouldn't be summer if it didn't involve trading cords for cotton, jeans for cargos, and beards for, well, OK, the beard stays (for now). When it comes to summer hair, though, the options are less clear-cut. "We're not seeing one dominant look for this summer," Amy Komorowski, a celebrity groomer for AXE who regularly styles Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and The Fault In Our Stars breakout actor Ansel Elgort, says.
"Guys really fall into one of two camps: the ones who don't want to be bothered thinking about hair when it's 90 degrees out. They go for the modern short haircut — skinny on the sides, an inch on top. But you also see guys who favor the no haircut look. We saw it at Coachella this year — not the full-on Jared Leto look (pre-Joker in Suicide Squad), but an undone style." It's a grittier and more textured look, Komorowski adds: "Overgrown over the ears and in the back, but a little shorter up top so you know it's an intentional style, not just that you forgot to cut your hair."
Unlike last summer, when Brad Pitt's style in Fury swept social media and made his look into one of the most requested cuts at the barber shop, Komorowksi doesn't see one role or celebrity dominating the mane scene this summer.
"A lot of guys actually reference classic Hollywood looks when they request a certain style or cut," she says, not only because these style icons withstood the test of time, but also because, you know, not all guys want to look like Justin Timberlake. That said, of course, "Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, and Ben Affleck are also favorites," she admits. "But so are James Dean and Robert Redford. Guys want to look like legends, not just the current trend."
If you're one of those who prefers to take it all off in the summer, "the look you want is neat on the sides, higher on top," Komorowski says. "It's a clean and fresh summer style. The 'undercut' has been popular for a while, but people like Pitt and Macklemore have made it popular again." Don't be afraid to reference Macklemore or any other celeb with outstanding hair when you visit your barber — "the more information you can give, the better," Komorowski says. You'll spare yourself and your barber the trauma of discovering after the fact that you'd been thinking Johnny Depp circa 21 Jump Street; he'd been thinking Depp a la Pirates of the Caribbean. "Having an image or celebrity example helps your stylist or barber know exactly what you are going for."
Once your undercut is done, it's your job to keep it styled until next you and your barber shall meet. That means products. "This is a one-product look," Komorowski says. "If you have difficult hair to style, use a gel, which will give your hair a little more hold." If your hair already has some fullness, choose a styling cream that has a lighter hold. (One to try: AXE Cooling Styling Cream… just trust us; $7, axehair.com) After showering, air dry, then "rub the cream into your hands, and run your hands through the top of your hair," Komorowski says. "In summer, the heat and humidity naturally makes your hair more greasy, which is a good thing — it will help give more texture to this look."
The Longer Look
If your idea of summer is doing as little as possible, the "unhaircut haircut" is for you. Think Brandon Flowers of The Killers meets Josh Holloway of Lost vintage. "You'll see this look a lot this summer — it's all about a little gritty, a little loose," Komorowski says. "It's not a 70s long-all-over style by any means, but it's got that easy feel."
But first, you have to grow your hair. Let it fall just over your ears and an inch and a half to two inches everywhere else. (Start now and you'll get the desired length by end of June — hair grows faster in the summer.) Next, separate and piece it. Ironically, "the no-haircut look requires more product than the short look," Komorowski admits. "For this, you’ll want salt spray, styling cream and paste to finish the look."
Apply salt spray to damp hair. (Check out DryBar's Mai Tai Spritzer Sea Salt Spray, $25, shop.thedrybar.com). "You're laying the foundation for more grip with the hair," she says. "Newly-clean hair is too soft and won't hold product as well." Next, rake styling cream through your hair from roots to ends. "This gives your hair hold and separation," she explains. "You want the hair to look really relaxed, not too slick." Finally, after you let the hair air dry, finish with a styling paste (try Truefitt and Hill Styling Paste, $36, truefittandhill.com). Rub it in your palms, then scrunch it through your hair on top. "Only use it in places where you want to create height," Komorowski says. "You'll get that beachy, summery style that last the whole day."
Whether you like it long or short, the bottom line, she says, is less is more in the summer. Humidity acts as a natural hairstyling agent and a slightly oily scalp favors fewer products and more texture. Let your hair do its thing, naturally. "There's nothing wrong with the nicely quaffed Don Draper look," Komorowski concludes, "just save it for the winter."