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

Stop Shaping and Start Styling

When was the last time you browsed through old pictures of yourself? Or sat down and clicked through your old “tagged” images on Facebook? Notice anything? Yep, that’s right: You’ve been sporting the same haircut since before you could drive.

It’s understandable -- many African-American hairstyles stay current through the years, so it’s not like you’re out of style. But that’s no excuse for not changing things up every once in a while. Believe me; even the smallest adjustment can make a difference. And it can give you a new sense of confidence in an area in which you never even thought you were lacking.

So give one of these older-yet-new-again styles a try. Trust me, everyone will love your new look, and your barber will be thrilled to finally try something different on you!

The Hi-top Fade

Yep, the “hi-top fade” is back! Only now, it’s not as mainstream as it was in the late ’80s. And that’s a good thing, since it gives you the freedom to wear it any way you like: clean, textured, tall, short, etc. The best part is that, if you make it work with your overall presentation, you will be the center of attention -- in a good way.

Keep in mind, however, that a hi-top fade can lengthen and also square the face off. There are exceptions to the rule, but if your face shape is square or oblong/rectangular, you may want to avoid this style.


There are many names for this style: afro, low-fro, afro temp, etc. And depending on which city you’re in, there’s tremendous variety in how it’s worn too. These pictures show what’s most popular at the moment, but if you want to wear it fuller, go for it. The sky is truly the limit here.

Yet another name for this style is the “Neo-Soul” look, simply because -- while it can be worn neat or messy -- it always has an artistic, nonconformist flare. In other words, this style isn’t for everyone. But if your personality fits the bill, it’s a killer look.

The Caesar

The Caesar haircut typically comes in two shades: low/light and dark. Depending on where you live (and your hair type), you may also hear people referring to a third shade: medium.

One thing I like about this style is that the person wearing it can look totally different with each of the different lengths. The lighter the haircut, the more the attention is drawn to the eyes. The darker the cut, the more it creates a frame for the face, allowing facial hair to be prominent.

The Fade

Of course, this style has been around for ages, and for good reason. It fits every face shape and every hair type, and the variations are endless! However, I have noticed a trend toward a darker shade with more length on the top (think Blair Underwood and Maxwell). This new trend adds immediate sophistication to what is already a timeless look.


It takes a confident man to pull this hairstyle off -- not to mention a patient one. With the amount of time it will take to grow your hair to these lengths, you will definitely realize soon enough if it’s for you. But with patience comes great reward, as you can see from these images. Good look, right?

Now we’ve all seen different looks within the dreadlock style, but the most versatile and popular now is shoulder-length and neat. That’s because the style is slowly gaining acceptance in the corporate world. In addition to being office-ready, shoulder-length dreads have another benefit: They complement your overall appearance rather than dominating it.

Convertibles: 3 Haircuts, 6 Looks

When it comes to your hair, your workplace forces you to be Don Draper, circa Mad Men: clean-cut, slicked back, right-wingy. Off the clock, though, your real self -- say, Animal from The Muppet Show -- yearns to bust a move (though, really, you’d be psyched just to cut loose with the flouncy locks of Zac Efron).

How do you have it both ways?

Turns out there are certain haircuts that are convertible -- wear them one way to look more formal; comb them a different way for a casual effect. You just need to know what to tell the barber.

“This is a great time for guys when it comes to fashion and hair,” says Ruth Roche, an editorial hairstylist (whose work has appeared in magazines like Vanity Fair, Interview and In Style) and owner of the RARE salon in New York City. “Men now have permission to look hip both at work and at play.”

Here are Roche’s three recommendations for the ideal “convertible” cuts for men:

The Retro Gentleman

The cut:

This look is reminiscent of men’s hair in the 1920s: With short sides and back, the top is left longer.

To wear to work:

Wear with a side part. Apply pomade or gel while hair’s still damp, then comb back smooth into place.


To wear to play:

Change it up with a little dry wax -- but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, blow-dry your hair -- the top goes forward and over to one side. Next, rub a pea-size amount of the wax in your palms, then run your hands through your hair a few times. That’s it, you’re done (no need to pick up a comb or brush).


Medium Shaggy


The cut:

Quite popular these days, this medium-length (as least a couple of inches above the shoulder) shaggy style features longer bangs and sides.

To wear to work:

Style the hair back, pushing it off the face. Achieve this by towel drying hair until it’s nearly dry, then -- without using a comb -- apply a tiny bit of cream to your palms, then run your hair front to back to get a loose and shaggy effect. Results: a groomed yet undone look that’s more grown up but still on trend.


To wear to play:

The cut looks great just left alone to air-dry (though adding a little wax doesn’t hurt).

Faux Hawk

The cut:

This is a short, modified Mohawk style. (If you haven’t seen it around … welcome back from your coma!) For this look, the sides and the outside edges of the top are cut shorter while leaving a longer strip in along the top center of the head. The center top strip should be roughly 0.5 inch longer than the sides, which should be no longer than 1.25 inches (any more than that, and you’re entering the shaggy zone).

To wear to work:

The hair can be worn forward with a light styling cream applied to wet hair. No need to blow-dry.


To wear to play:

Let your inner David Beckham loose by spiking up the center with a firm holding wax.






The Cutting Edge 2010

When it comes to next year’s hottest haircut trends, getting out in front means looking backward to the past.

If you’re still sporting last year’s faux hawk or using gel to spike your hair into a perfect bed-head, we’ve got advice for you straight from a famous blues legend (and possibly your mom): Get a haircut and get a real job (at least you’ll have a better chance getting a real job if you get one of these do’s).

“Faux hawks and spikes are over,” says Kendall Ong, owner of Mane Attraction salon in Phoenix and a judge at the annual North American Hairstyling Awards. “Hair trends and clothing trends are always closely related,” he says, “and what we’re seeing in both worlds is a move away from angles and texture, back to a more streamlined and traditional look.”

Translation: Retro.

Shorty Maniace, a New York City master barber and instructor, agrees. “Hairstyles for men tend to bounce between the late ’50s and the early ’70s,” he says. “Right now, it’s all about the former.”

This means you’ll see a whole lot of shorter, shinier coifs and deep side-parts -- evoking a vibe of both businessman and beatnik.

While it’s obvious the trend is directly related to the popularity of certain era-specific TV shows and movies (who wouldn’t want to be impossibly cool Mad Men or bold and brazen Inglourious Basterds), experts also agree our current economic crunch may play a role. “Until we come out of this recession and get back on top of the world, haircuts are going to remain more mainstream and conservative,” says Maniace. “Businesses are looking for people who can represent them to make money, not make a personal statement.”

Need more direction? These looks will help you land the right part (pardon the pun) -- martinis optional.


“This is the short and clean cut that pretty much defines the geek-chic look of the late ’50s and early ’60s,” says Ong. “It originated right along with ‘nerd herd’ fashion (think: tailored suits, tweed, pocket squares and skinny ties).” The hair itself is tight and tapered at the sides and back, and a little bit longer and fuller in the front. “It’s like a classic businessman cut with nice clean lines,” says Maniace, “but now people are mixing it up a little bit with a messier, dryer look.” The best product to use for this style is grooming putty. Adds Ong: “It offers a strong hold with a natural shine and you can use it to mold the hair so it looks really neat.”

Slicked-back Side Part

“Just like the schoolboy look, this one is tight and tapered on the sides,” says Ong, “but it’s shorter on top, with a deep sharp part on the side.” It’s the shiny and tidy look popular in the lean post-World War II days, when men were somber, serious and intent on looking completely pulled together.

“With the revival of this style, though,” notes Maniace, “we’re seeing less of a deep, combed-in part (when you force it to go left or right starting at the receding line at the forehead), and more of a natural part.” (If you’re not sure where that is, comb your hair back when it’s wet and push it forward from the back -- wherever it starts to split is your natural part.) “To achieve a really high shine, use a pomade,” offers Ong. “If you’re worried about it looking too greasy, try a water-based version.”


Now for a real trip back in time: This style is also called the “Regency” because England’s King George IV first worked it during his reign as Prince Regent (1811-1820). It was the age of the “dandy,” when men traded in their lacy frills and wigs for crisp collars, finely tailored suits and longer, textured hairstyles. The look itself features hair that’s a bit longer, with everything brushed forward into the face and really heavy bangs that fall past the eyebrows, almost into the eyes. “It’s the polar opposite of the schoolboy look,” says Ong. “It’s rougher, making it a younger, hipper look.” For a style that’s a little more “lived in,” Ong suggests using grooming paste. “It offers a more pliable hold than putty.”

Bald Face

To go along with these hairstyles, the new year will see a lot less facial hair. “Everything is going to be more tailored and trim,” says Maniace. For the geek-chic beatnik look, he recommends an anchor beard -- a small chin beard grown into a point, accompanied by a pencil-thin mustache. But if you want to stay true to the retro look, stick to a nice, clean shave. “It’s a classic look that will always be in style,” says Maniace. “In terms of men choosing a clean shave over facial hair, it’s always going to be 60 percent in favor of the clean shave.”

Cut for Success? What Your Hairstyle Says About You

You get just one chance to make a good first impression -- and your haircut needs to be an asset, not a liability. Here are the signals your hair’s sending and why.

Interview suit dry-cleaned? Check. Shoes shined? Check. Mohawk perfectly sculpted with extra pomade?

Hold on a second there, cowboy. This is a job interview, where you’re supposed to strut your experience, not your feathers!

“Research says we make our assessments of others in the first 15 seconds we meet them,” says John J. McKee, founder of the Business Success Coach Web site and author of Career Wisdom: 101 Proven Strategies to Ensure Career Success. “Within those first critical moments,” he says, “you’re being judged based on how you look, not what you say.”

And how you look doesn’t just include your clothes and your hygiene, but how you fashion your locks. McKee says it may have something to do with the fact that women make up a majority of the hiring force today, and “women are much more conscious and concerned about grooming, especially when it comes to hair.” But experts agree that you can infer a lot about people based on how they fashion their coif, including how you think they’re going to function as employees.

“The truth is, the way you present yourself -- from your body language and clothing to the style of your haircut -- absolutely determines how people treat you, especially in the workplace,” says Bernardo Carducci, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Indiana University Southeast and fellow of the American Psychological Association. “It’s a rapid judgment call termed ‘cognitive efficiency’ that stems from caveman times, and it’s based on using past experiences to predict future outcomes. Basically, if you don’t look the part, you won’t be deemed fit for the job (whether it’s true or not), and it could mean the difference between getting hired or not, or moving ahead as opposed to getting landlocked.”

So how do you know if you look the part? Here’s what your hairstyle really says about you.

Side Part

Popular in: Finance, politics, insurance.

Says: Serious and business-minded. You’re a hard worker who wants to get ahead.

Why: It’s on the conservative and simple side, but it still shows that you put some effort into your grooming routine. It’s also a classic look that will never go out of style, because it conveys a sense of class and importance. “There’s a secret among HR people: You’re more likely to get a promotion if you look like you’ve already made it,” says McKee.

“Take a cue from the hairstyles of the people one level above your current role,” concludes McKee. Chances are, you’ll see lots of side parts.

Buzz Cut

Popular in: Medicine, professional sports, the Army.

Says: Confident and masculine. You care about appearance, but you’re too busy to spend too much time on your hair.

Why: There’s a reason this look is favored by the military. It’s not just extremely low-maintenance, leaving time for more important business (or battles, as the case may be), but it’s a bold statement that shows you “want to look like you’re part of the team and move up the ranks,” says McKee.

Faux Hawk

Popular in: Fashion, photography, hipsterdom.

Says: Creative and extroverted. You’re concerned about standing out from the crowd.

It's an edgy look that conveys a lot of confidence and personal style. That said, it's also just breaking over into mainstream, so if you work in an environment where everyone else is sporting side parts, you’re going to attract a lot of attention. If, however, you work in a creative field where suits are optional (and even tattoos are acceptable), wear your faux hawk with pride. “If your appearance syncs with the rest of the workplace, it gives the impression that you’re able to handle the technical skills,” says McKee.

Textured Bedhead

Popular in: Hollywood, media, public relations.

Says: Trendy and detail-oriented. You care about the little things.

Why: It’s a look that requires a fair amount of time to create and maintain, so it shows that you put a lot of effort into keeping up your appearance. “People in positions of power, especially recruiters, like to see that a potential employee takes care of himself and keeps up with trends,” says McKee.

Caesar Cut

Popular in: Law, theater, gladiator rings.

Says: Intuitive and savvy. Concerned about looking perfectly pulled together.

Why: You have more important things on your morning agenda than spending hours styling your hair, but you still want to look like you take pride in your appearance -- and more importantly, that you mean business. This look is great for guys of all ages, but it’s an especially good style for guys just entering the workforce. “Younger people want to believe people will hire them based on competence and not appearance,” says McKee, “but unfortunately, that’s not the case. You do have to give up some of your identity if you want to be part of the team and move up the ranks.”