David Beckham’s dress sense is something that, frankly, we spend too much time analysing, but the man’s frequently-changing hairstyles are just as worthy of our scrutiny. Yes, there have been some questionable choices along the way (shout out to the Alice bands and toe-curling cornrows) but on balance, Mr Beckham can safely lay claim to one of the best decorated heads on the planet.
To remind you of how good Beckham’s hair game is, we’re revisiting some of his highlights (not that kind) from over the years. We’ve also tapped the knowledge of some of the best barbers and hairstylists in the business, so you can recreate Beckham’s best hairstyles on your own head.
For years the skinhead suffered from pretty shoddy press. And who can blame men for not wanting to take barnet inspiration from politically-motivated thugs, football hooligans or newborns? Yet when David Beckham shaved his hair off, all that changed. He made the shortest of short haircuts cool, contemporary and less threatening. Game changer.
Beckham’s take on the buzz cut ranged from basic to bleached blonde, kicking off a mass emancipation from hairy heads everywhere. Suddenly you didn’t have to be part of an angry mob to go shaven up top and men with hair on permanent vacation could finally embrace their sparsely populated skulls. Ever since, the buzz cut’s been a go-to for the style-conscious, time-poor man.
Don’t be reckless with the hair clippers, achieving the Beckham-inspired buzz cut isn’t a just a case of pulling a Britney and shearing it all off on a whim. International hairstylist Joseph Lazante explains: “Many will try to do this themselves; it is a simple cut in theory. However, you’ll struggle to achieve the sharpness on the back of your head needed for the look. Stick to your barbers if you want to [look like] David Beckham.”
To make sure your barber gives you the 2017 version of the buzz cut and not a bog standard, Britain First head barer, Lazante says, “Ask to have the edges of your hair faded, leaving a small bit of length on top and complete the look with a line cut throat shave to keep everything looking neat and tidy.”
Job’s not done yet though, lads. Although there may be minimal hair on your head, it still needs the right treatment to look more Becks than bouncer. “Choosing the right product for this style is key,” Lazante says. “For a dry look, use a powder based product. For the matte trend, try a fibre-based product and to achieve the wet look, use pomade.”
Beckham’s love of highlighted curtains became the footballer’s (and nearly everybody else’s) trademark during the early days of his footballing career. Flying in the face of what was deemed acceptable to be sprouting from a man’s head, Becks’ artificially enhanced locks meant that men reaching for the bleach bottle weren’t necessarily giving the toilet bowl the once over.
He tried curtains swept across his face, parted in the middle, pushed back curtains. You name it, he did it, even though curtains aren’t exactly practical for running around a football pitch. So why are we including them on this list?
Well, before you tell us that curtains are only good for soft furnishing, they’re back as a legitimate men’s haistyle. Don’t take our word for it though, take the word of Joe Mills, a hair stylist and barber whose sharp cuts have appeared on the likes of Ben Affleck, Dermot O’Leary and James Bay. He says: “For a long time Becks’s curtains cut was considered uncool, but now that’s gone 180. This style is on trend currently and has been seen in magazines and on the catwalks this year.” It’s no longer curtains for this most nineties of styles.
If your bemused barber reaches for the bowl, abort mission immediately. “It’s a modern version of the curtains look, it should be scissor cut to finger length around the back and sides but left longer on top,” Mills says. “The top should ideally have no layers and reach down to the ears and past the eyebrows.”
Surprisingly, bleach isn’t out of the question either, just leave the platinum to the ladies. Mills says: “This style looks really good with colour and some dirty blonde will add texture.”
Maintenance requires a degree of technical skill, he adds. “To style this you need to use a hairdryer and a vent brush to blow dry your freshly washed hair back from your face with the brush. Once your hair is nearly dry part it with your fingers (not a brush) and then apply a small dollop of styling cream through the mid lengths and ends. If your hair is finer then use a sea salt spray to help it feel thicker. Apply to damp hair and then blow dry it in to add texture.”
Don’t keep it too neat though. “This is meant to look a bit messed up, it needs to look unwashed almost lived in. To make this look even cooler it could be longer, so you can almost tuck the fringe behind your ears,” says Mills. You’re aiming for Beckham in his prime not a Backstreet Boy singing on a stool.
Among David Beckham’s greatest hair hits, his forward short and textured fringe style rarely ranks as the most memorable. For us though, it’s a woefully under-appreciated moment of barnet brilliance. Forget the fact that he may have been hair-twinning with his wife when he first sported it, it’s a hairstyle that hasn’t really dated a day.
Essentially just a messier, trendier version of the classic short, back and sides and unlike some of Beckham’s more challenging haircuts, this style is democratic. Ergo, nearly everyone who tries it is a winner. Even better, this style is not only high on the safe haircuts scale, it’s low effort too, says Robinson. “This low maintenance floppy crop was really fresh at the time because most other men were wearing hair slicked back, this crop was David’s way of wearing something different yet easy to manage.”
If you want a David Beckham hairstyle that won’t require putting in the man hours, this cut is a standout option. “Ask your barber for a classic scissor over comb cut on the back and sides. Hair on the crown should be well blended and left longer at front, cut blunt just above the eyebrow,” says Robinson.
Then all you need to do is a pick a product for the finish you want (matte or shine) and gently work through with your fingers for texture and separation. At no point should you pair this with a head-to-toe biker leathers look. Just saying, Dave.
Way back in 2002, Beckham’s faux hawk was the haircut that launched a million imitations during the summer of the World Cup. Unfortunately, this slim strip of blonde hair down the middle of his head was a rare follicular fail for Beckham, meaning that a sizeable bunch of the country’s males ended up looking like prats. Fast forward half a decade though to his stint at LA Galaxy and his shaggier take on the faux hawk was pitch perfect.
This style’s appeal is the contrast between how short it is around the edges, almost exposing the scalp, with plenty of length through the middle. It worked on Beckham because of the blending and seamless transition of the cut. If you’re going faux hawk never aim for Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver landing strip. No, mate, we’re not talking to you.
Cut and texture are key to riffing on Beckham’s faux hawk. “Ask your barber for a low fade back and sides, the front should be disconnected for extra length while the top is point cut for texture,” says Ruffians’ creative director Denis Robinson. Remember too, the lower the guard on the clippers, the shorter the sides and the more your scalp will be exposed. So if you want a less dramatic look let whoever’s wielding the clippers know before half your hair ends up on the tiles.
To finish the look, Robinson recommends taking a leaf straight out of Beckham’s book: “The dry finish of Beckham’s faux hawk has stood the test of time and still looks good today. Style messily with a matte paste and good old fashioned hairspray and the look is complete.”
Now in his early forties, it’s a safe bet to say that Becks’ more extreme hair looks are a thing of the past. His midlife pompadour, however, is a perfect example of why men in the middle shouldn’t sacrifice their style for the sake of an easy but uninspiring short, back and sides. Forget the flamboyant name, the pompadour is one of those hairstyles that doesn’t date. If anything, the swept-back style works better on men of a certain age (it can look a bit Apprentice candidate on younger guys) and strikes a happy medium between sophisticated and effortless.
Jason Collier, a celebrity stylist who’s tended to the heads of both Beckham’s wife Victoria and his son Brooklyn, rates David’s slick pompadour style as one of his best. “It’s a modern and masculine style, a look that works just as well on the red carpet as it does when he’s out and about with the family.” In a nutshell, this cut is the gold standard for men in their forties.
To make sure your take on this classic is more pompa-do than pompda-d’oh pay close attention to Beckham’s styling, says Collier. “David’s opted for a parted style, with tapered sides and slightly shorter length on top. To get the look, ask your barber or stylist for a tapered undercut with lots of length on top that can be slicked back. Around four inches of hair is the ideal length.”
As you’ve probably guessed, a pompadour doesn’t just happen when you wake up. You’ve got to blow-dry like Beckham. “With a comb and hair dryer, blow dry freshly washed hair while combing backwards from the forehead, making sure you are lifting the whole hair shaft, not just the ends,” Collier says.
“Warm wax between your hands and run it through your hair then comb backwards while shaping with your free hand as you go. To create the quiff, gently push the hair forward and tease the fringe straight up and back using your comb, so that it bends backwards. Smooth down the sides and set with a light misting of a strong-hold hairspray.” Pompa-done.
As Beckham has increasingly assumed the role of one of the most fashionable fathers on the planet, his hair has grown up, too. So, when he whipped out this loose falling quiff hairstyle for his H&M range campaign it was a welcome reminder that Becks doesn’t do predictable all the time. And nor should any man in mid-life.
If this style looks familiar, it should, it’s a modern update of a hairdo which reaches way further back than Beckham’s barnet. “This is a modern twist on the short back and sides quiff, worn by both James Dean and the King, Elvis Presley,” says Mills. If it’s good enough for the greats then it’s good enough for us.
Again, as with most of Beckham’s best looks, subtlety in styling and inspiration is key. “There should be no skin fades here, instead make sure that the back and sides are trimmed close with scissors over a comb rather than clippers,” says Mills. “The top is almost disconnected where it joins the sides which allows for it to have a much squarer look. The top is left longer at the front and gradually gets shorter towards the crown where it blends into the short hair at the back. The front should be long enough that it reaches your nose.”
This style may have that whole ‘just ran my hands through it’ effect to it, but there are some behind-the-scenes styling tricks to do it justice. “You’ll need to blow dry this style as the more height you can get the better,” says Mills. “Add a small amount of mousse (the size of a tangerine) to damp hair, then blow dry your hair off of the face pushing it away from your forehead with a vent brush. You’ll notice your hair falls to one side easier and you should blow dry it in the opposite direction to create more volume and texture.”
To finish, Mills recommends choosing a low to medium shine product to avoid going full Elvis. “Rub some matte dry paste or hair clay definer (about the size of a coin) into your hands and use your fingers as a comb to style the hair up and away from your face. This is where you could then use a little hair spray to help hold it… it will naturally fall to one side and the idea is for it to have some texture and movement.”
Those who thought that Becks had called time on his love of long hair as he entered mid life would be wrong, as he’s has given adult curtains the seal of approval. This time there’s not an artificial blonde strand in sight, but the essence of the style remains intact with a few age-appropriate updates and some extra length.
Barber Joseph Lanzante reckons Beckham’s long hairstyle is about to kick off another one of his (many) tresses trends. “Long textured hair is the next big look in male grooming and David Beckham is now at the cutting edge of what is happening. This is a trend that will continue to grow and as a barber, I am thrilled to see this style arriving as it gives me the opportunity to do something different.” If you want do a Becks before every head in the Western world does, now’s the time to go long.
If you’re growing your hair out, you still need to visit the barber. “My advice would be to take a picture of the look you want to your barber,” says Lazante. “You need to be very specific with this hairstyle, what you think is an inch could be very different to what your barber thinks.” Sage advice – we’ve all ended up with butchered locks and pretended we loved it.
The appeal of Becks’ long hair is its ruggedly groomed appearance, but it’ll need some occasional TLC to keep it from erring too close to hobo chic. Lazante says: “This style takes a little more looking after. You will need to get it cropped regularly to keep the length just right.”
Styling, luckily is a pretty relaxed affair. “For the rugged look like David Beckham, let your hair fall naturally, don’t make it do anything it doesn’t want to. Choose the right products for your hair type then rub through your hands until it is nearly gone and slide it through the ends.”
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