Metrosexual: Heads, you win
I once heard a story about a successful businessman. When he was asked to provide budding entrepreneurs with some advice, he said, “Never do business with someone who has a comb-over. If a person can lie to themselves about something like this, they are not to be trusted.” I don’t know if this story is true, but it certainly hints at how important one’s hairstyle can be at projecting a positive image about oneself, and also of the importance of the hairstyle in terms of a person’s self-image.
The good old days were a more innocent time, when all one had to do for a well groomed head of hair was apply a big glob of Brylcreem, smooth everything down and hope for the best. Now, as the variety of products on offer grows, and the level of awareness grows along with it, the decision of what product to buy can be a highly confusing one. Another issue is that often the same type of product is packaged and presented differently by different manufacturers, making decision making even more difficult.
However, the range of products on offer can be divided into four broad areas, each of which can be used to execute a different kind of look suited to your personal haircut. One key thing to remember is that different products work for different hair types and styles, so just because a friend uses a product is not a good reason to use it yourself.
In Pakistan, hair gel is probably the most popular hair product among men. There is a great deal of variety on offer when it comes to hair gels, with the main perceived difference being in the strength of the hold. The main advantage that gel brings to the table is that it is generally a very secure hold, with the style remaining in place throughout the day. As a result, it is more suited to styles which require each hair to be precisely in place. The main downside is that often certain styles require using a very large amount of gel. Also, in the Pakistani climate, large amounts of gel and the heat and humidity are not a great combination.
When selecting a hair gel, it is vitally important to find one that does not contain alcohol, as that will dry your hair and cause it an enormous amount of damage in the long run. Hair gels can also cause dandruff, so if you are having some problems with dandruff, it may be time to change your brand of hair gel.
For many people, mousse was associated strongly with the 1990s, and has waned in relevance in recent times, as it is not compatible with the more extreme hairstyles being portrayed on magazine covers. In the real world, though, mousse can be an extremely versatile product, and can be used to develop both natural and ‘wet look’ styles. Mousse also is lighter and normally leaves less sediment, and can also be great for people with thinning hair, as it boosts volume. However, mousse generally tends to have a more flexible hold, and therefore is not appropriate for people who want very structured hair styles.
When using mousse, it is important to not use too much, and to focus on the roots of the hair to achieve a more natural look.
Applying it heavy-handedly will defeat the main purpose for using it. Mousse also washes out much more easily compared to other products, and should therefore be considered by people with flaky scalps. If you avoid applying any styling products because you want your hair to look natural and not ‘stiff’, mousse may be the solution.
The word “pomade” covers a wide variety of pastes, putties and waxes that normally come in tubs. These are very popular currently as they are best for textured, messy looks. These products work best on shorter haircuts, and have variants that provide shine as well as those which provide a matt finish. Because of the variety of variants, it is important to understand the subtle differences between the various product types:
Classic pomade gives a flexible hold, with a shine and some texture. However, this is a product that should be applied carefully, as too much can make your hair look greasy, especially for fine hair. Also, it is important to wash pomade out thoroughly, as leaving it in your scalp can cause dandruff.
Wax is normally the entry level product here. These have maximum shine and are oil based, therefore must be applied to dry hair. Again, it is very important to wash out wax thoroughly, as it can clog pores and cause dandruff.
Pastes can be branded as ‘fibre putty’, ‘mud’, ‘clay’, or just plain old ‘paste’. These are normally geared towards providing a matt finish, and ideal for messy “just out of bed” looks, especially with shorter hair. However, pastes can also be used to provide texture to a more mundane everyday look. Pastes are normally lighter, and often need to be applied to dry hair.
Creams are ideal for people with curly hair, or those who want some control and a bit of shine, but without looking like they are wearing any product in their hair. Again, this is a product where a little goes a long way, so small amounts are all that will be needed at a time.
Again, a product that has a bit of a 1950s reputation, but is especially useful for thinning hair, as it imparts volume and makes hair appear thicker. It cannot work miracles like those promised in late night infomercials, but can give a bit of a boost. Hair spray can also be used to finish off a style, with a small amount providing shine and extra staying power, especially useful on a special occasion. One word of warning, though: hair spray has a very distinct, and unpleasant, smell, and therefore should be used sparingly, lest you end up smelling of a chemical cocktail rather than a nice cologne.
Although we all know people who seem to walk out of the shower, shake their head a couple of times and are ready to hit the road, these people are generally not at the top of the list of the best-groomed people in their circle of reference. Even if you are going for the unkempt look, each hair must be carefully manoeuvred out of place. It takes a lot of effort to make it look like you have not made any effort.