Grooming & Style

How to Get That Bedhead Look

“I’ve got too many more important things going on.”

“I’m a free-spirited nature man.”

“It’s 2 p.m., but I just rolled out of the sack with a super-sexy lady friend.”

There are many ways to interpret the bedhead look. Consequently, it’s one of the hottest styles out there, attracting everyone from business-casual dudes to artsy types. The versatility doesn’t stop there: Comb your hair back or to the side with a part, and suddenly you’re Don Draper. That, of course, may be the biggest reason guys love bedhead: It’s low-maintenance.

With that said, it’s not completely effortless. Below, we get master advice from San Francisco–based hairstylist Ashley Smith, a 10-year veteran currently working at Population Salon, on how to choose the right bedhead style for you, and how to get the look.

Adam Levine

The look:

Very textured on the top, cleaner on the sides.

What hair texture it works with

: Any.

Who it’s for:

The guy who needs to look a bit more conservative during work hours. Since it’s cut tight on the sides, it looks more polished.

How to ask for it:

Use words like “clean” and “well-kept” for the sides and back, and ask for more length and texture on the top.

What product to use:

Use a water-soluble paste that has a matte finish -- it should look invisible on your head. For shorter-length, piecey styles like this one, you don’t want shine since it can easily be mistaken for grease. Another plus: It should last all day long, and you’ll still be able to run your hands through your hair eight hours in.

Prep time:

Five to 10 minutes. Start with dry hair. Take a nickel-sized drop of the product and rub it all the way into your hands so there are no clumps or clusters. Rub your hands through your hair from your roots and then finish by pulling the product through the ends with the tips of your fingers. Then piece it out as you like.

Go back to the stylist:

Every four to six weeks. In most major cities, stylists offer complimentary cleanups in between haircuts, and that’s really important for shorter haircuts like this. If you come in every six weeks for your haircut (that’s your “cycle”), make a quick trip to the salon at the three-week mark for what’s called a “neck trim,” a five-minute dry haircut to polish up the little fuzzies on the neck and sideburns.

Robert Pattinson


The look:

A much longer, messier version.

What hair texture it works with:

Straight, slightly wavy.

Who it’s for:

Someone who’s younger, whose lifestyle is conducive to a messier look, who doesn’t mind spending time on his own hair in the morning but can’t be bothered with booking frequent hairdresser appointments.

How to ask for it:

Tell your stylist, “I want to let this grow. I’m not looking to get it maintained all the time. I want this really choppy and messy all over. Keep it long so I can wear it in lots of different ways.”

What product to use:

Use a styling cream or gel. It should be really light so you can’t see it, but it should also have hold in it. You might also want to invest in a good hair spray.

Prep time:

Leave yourself 15 to 20 minutes. Apply the product on dry or (preferably) damp hair. The technique is the same as above: Rub it into your hands and apply from roots to ends, working it through with your fingers. When your hair is dry, finish it with a hair spray to set it and prevent it from collapsing.

Go back to the stylist:

Every eight to 10 weeks. You might even be able to stretch it longer. Basically, go back to the hairdresser when it’s too long for you to put product in.

Ryan Reynolds


The look:

More conservative than Pattinson but a bit crazier than Levine.

What hair texture it works with

: Wavy, curly hair.

Who it’s for:

Guys who naturally have texture in their hair and are looking for moderate bedhead.

How to ask for it:

Communicate that you want a lot of texture. Make sure the stylist is experienced in cutting wavy hair on men because it’s more difficult than straight hair. You can ask for a twist-cutting technique, which is specifically for curlier hair and something most stylists are familiar with. Twist-cutting creates great texture in this kind of hair.

What product to use:

The hair has a coarser texture, so stick with something a little more oil-based. Grooming cream that feels like a lotion works best.

Prep time:

Five to 10 minutes. Apply to damp or dry hair, working a nickel-sized amount in your hands and rubbing it from roots to ends. With the tips of your fingers, arrange small or large sections, depending on how piecey you want it to look. If the hair is very dry or coarse, carry a small amount of your product with you when you leave in the morning and apply a little bit for touch-ups during the day or before going out at night.

Go back to the stylist:

Every four to six weeks. Since wavy, curly hair grows out rather than down, it needs regular attention from the hairdresser to keep it in line.

Photos: Getty Images


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Caroline Kinneberg is a Paris-based journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Vice.

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