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In the Chair - Real People Real Hair - James

July 16, 2021

In the Chair - Real People Real Hair - James

Home working has encouraged many men to keep a longer look. But long or short, there’s one mistake that I keep coming across with new clients, which shortens the life of their haircuts and gives a less than optimum look.

What was wrong with James’s hair?

1. The haircut

James has fantastic thick hair but the last haircut was out of kilter from day one. It’s a case of proportions. Stylists persistently cut the base line too short in relation to the sides, whether on very short cropped hair or James’s longer style. It means that very soon after cutting, the shape is already becoming round and heavy at the sides.

Before I started, James’s hairstyle bore a passing resemblance to the Hendon Whooshback, a style popularised in 1980s North London circles. I like retro, but not that particular look, so on James’s hair I cut zero length off the baseline but took up to two inches off the side layers to bring the hair back into a shape that looks at ease and would grow out well.

All short-layered hairstyles grow towards a rounder look, and clients often wonder why the style doesn’t just become a longer version as it grows out. It’s because the shape relies on many different ratios to achieve the finished outline. Let’s say on a short man’s haircut, the sides are a quarter inch long and the top one inch. A ratio of 4 to 1. After four weeks an extra half inch has been added to both areas giving ¾” and 1½”. The ratio is then 2 to 1. More round than originally. This is simplistic as there will be hundreds of different related ratios all over in achieving the personalised shape but it gives you an idea of how hair shape changes as it grows.

Working on dry hair I use our signature Diamond Dry Cut™ to sculpt the layered shape

The shorter the haircut the quicker the shape changes. Apart from balancing the ratios correctly there are other techniques I use to hold back the thicker heavier parts of a hairstyle so the haircut stays in shape for as long as possible. For James that meant thinning out his very thick hair at the sides in addition to cutting it shorter.

I’ve never agreed with the widely adopted acceptance that a fresh haircut takes two weeks to look good, looks okay for two weeks and then heads downhill. It’s never been that way in my book. I feel the hair should look good from day one and still look good as it morphs into a longer look ready for a maintenance visit to the salon.

2. The Colour

James had never had hair colour before but had developed a cluster of white hair at the sides. Enough to notice and carry a seasoned aura, but not enough to give any Sopranos-like drama to his look. Diana our Colourist used a quick natural effect that’s very popular with male clients. It doesn’t obliterate the white hair but reduces the effect, taking the look back 5-10 years. It fades out gradually as its washed leaving no regrowth lines.

3. The Condition

Especially with longer hair it’s important to feed goodness back in to stop the hair looking dry or frizzy. We gave James a deep fresh scalp cleanse with our Scalp Exfoliating Treatment along with our hero LifeSaver Hair Treatment to restore youthful flexibility and lustre.

4. The Styling

At the end we finger dried naturally into style. Then applied a little Ten Second Transformation to give definition and texture to the layers.


“It felt so much lighter, easier to style and elegant. It was also quicker everyday to get going and look smart. Overall, much more grown up in a relaxed fashion” – James


 Michael Van Clarke


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Email: reception@vanclarke.com

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