Heartthrob Hair

Heartthrob Hair

Take your cue from the silver screen’s heartthrobs this season with gender-defying soft waves and natural movement

When is hair more than just hair? When how we wear the stuff on our head reveals not only our own tastes and preferences, but social mores too.

Take the rockabilly quiff of the 1950s, for example: a slick and sexy reaction against the conservatism of the crew cut. Or the popularity of big, back-combed hair in the 1980s, a decade dominated by muscled bodies, stadium rock and blockbuster action movies. Like fashion trends, hairstyles are a window into what’s relevant, and why it’s relevant now.

No surprise, then, that in a time when we’re all questioning traditional ideas of what it means to be, and look like a man, it’s a softer, more sensual style that’s taking the crown in the hair stakes. Gentlemen, meet the heartthrob haircut. Voluminous, textured and tousled, this luxuriously romantic style is winning hearts the world over, and proving that, in 2019, it’s going to take more than a buzz cut to show you’ve got balls.

Like almost everything else that’s trending right now, heartthrob hair has its roots in the 1990s – think Jared Leto in My So-Called Life and Johnny Depp in Arizona Dream. But it was Timothée Chalamet’s turn as the lovestruck Elio in the 2018 film Call Me By Your Name that gave this retro style the modern day kiss of life. And he’s not the only one – actors Dev Patel and Penn Badgley and pop superstar Shawn Mendes have all been spotted sporting similarly luscious locks.

Fittingly for slightly more cynical times, 2019’s take on the heartthrob look has a little more edge to it than its pre-Millennium predecessor. Here’s how to get it.

First, consult a mirror. Heartthrob hair needs length, volume and a good degree of curliness – but not too much. That means if your hair is poker-straight, or afro-textured curly, this style is probably one to pass on, since you won’t be able to achieve the soft, natural waves that define its shape.

our crop meets the criteria, it’s time to get growing. Big volume is key to this style, so you’ll need more than a few inches of growth up top to achieve that abundant, Baroque-like effect. The best way to do that is to either eschew the barber’s chair for a few months, or, if you can’t stay away, opt for a subtle fade or back-and-sides snip that will keep you looking sharp while preserving the length on top.

Once the hair on top of your head has grown to a minimum length of three to four inches, it’s time to lay the foundations for the final style. Remember: modern heartthrob hair isn’t a cherubic mop left to unfurl wildly à la Frodo Baggins, but a smooth mix of wavy texture and clean lines.

“Ask your stylist to point-cut, rather than blunt-cut, your hair,” says Luke Harris, International Artistic Director and Educator at the Toni&Guy Academy. “This will add texture to the lengths of the hair, giving the style a richer, more undone feel.” You’ll need a fade to frame that texture, too. “Go for a low, gentle fade,” says Harris. “This will give a softer, more sophisticated finish.”

Finally, style it out. Starting with wet hair, blow-dry to shape the style. “Using the nozzle attachment, set the hairdryer to a medium speed and heat setting and gradually blow-dry, taking care to direct the hair up and away from the face.” This, Harris says, enhances the natural movement of the hair without making it frizzy, giving it its signature tousled shape.

Next, apply a little product for hold, definition and shine. It’s important at this point not to be deceived by how simple this style looks. Heartthrob hair might not require the architectural elbow grease that a pompadour demands, but it benefits from a rather light and sensitive touch when it comes to product, so apply sparingly.

“If your hair is on the finer side, use lighter, dryer products – mists, sprays and pastes are perfect,” says Harris, who recommends Label.Men Thickening Tonic for a matte finish. “If your hair is coarse and thick, then something waxier and glossier works well as your hair will be able to absorb it more easily without getting weighed down.” Harris’s top buys? Label.Men Max Wax or Sculpting Pomade.

Lightly rub whatever product you’re using through the hair until you’ve achieved your desired shape and the product is evenly distributed. “Remember: less is definitely more with this one,” says Harris. “You don’t want it to look too done.”

Last but not least, keep your heartbreaking style healthy with a cleansing shampoo and conditioner. “Look for products that contain menthol, which has a cooling, refreshing effect on the scalp, not to mention astringent properties that help keep the scalp free from excess sebum and product residue,” says Harris, who recommends adding Label.Men’s menthol-packed Scalp Purifying Shampoo and Invigorating Conditioner to your bathroom cabinet. Now, go steal some hearts.

  • Words: Cillian O 'Connor

  • Hair: Jim Shaw

  • Photography: Tony Le-Britton