Uneasy lies the head…

Uneasy lies the head…

...that doesn’t take hairdressing too seriously. And men are no longer fighting shy of this grooming ritual

By Vir Sanghvi

Published: Fri 22 Mar 2013, 6:01 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:59 AM

The relationship between men and their hair is complex. Women are obsessed with their hair; there is no doubt about that. The vast majority of hair products are aimed at women: shampoos, dyes, conditioners, sprays, mousses, waxes, lacquers and God alone knows what else. So it is with women and hairdressers. Women have a special relationship not just with the men (and it is mostly men) who cut their hair but also with the girls (and it is usually girls) who shampoo and blow-dry it. When celebrity hairdressers show off their work, the models are nearly always women and salons survive on female clients.

But men also need to have their hair cut. For a long time they worried that this might be seen as too sissy-like so barber’s shops, meant only for men, became the tonsorial equivalent of gyms: macho places where guys gathered to talk dirty and get their cheeks shaved by elderly geezers.

Fortunately times have changed. Just as men are no longer ashamed to admit that they wear fragrances and sometimes pat creams on their faces, they are ready to admit that they care about their hair. The top hairdressers still brag about their female clients but at each fancy salon, you see more and more male clients.

Speaking for myself, I think men who care about how they look should pay the greatest attention to their hair and spend good money on haircuts. Look at it this way: if you spend $1,000 or $2,000 on a good suit (and expensive suits cost much more these days), you are splashing out for a garment you will wear, at most, about four or five times a month. And if you live in a warm country, you’ll only wear it for three or four months of the year. And because fashions change and men age, you’ll mothball the suit in three years or so. So, at best you’ll wear the suit around 30 to 40 times during its lifetime. For a $2,000 dollar suit, that works out to around $50 to $60 each time you wear it.

Now, consider an expensive haircut. Assume it costs you $150 and that it lasts three weeks. Compared to the suit, it is a real bargain, working out at much under $10 a day. And the haircut will do more for your appearance than any suit ever will. A bad haircut will make you look like an idiot no matter how expensive your clothes are. And a man with an expensive haircut can get away with wearing cheap clothes: it will look as though he is dressing casually.

Women make this calculation all the time. That’s why they spend so much on haircuts, hair colour and hair products. Smart men know this too — they just don’t advertise the fact. Every 
major male star in Bollywood or Holly-wood has a dedicated hair stylist whose job is to make sure that the hero’s hair looks perfect in each scene. The costume designers are rarely ever on the sets. But the hairdressers never leave the star’s side.

And yes, it matters. Take the example of Amitabh Bachchan. Have you noticed how his career suddenly took off after so many flops when he changed his hairstyle for such movies as Zanjeer and Deewar? Or look at Aamir Khan. In nearly every role he has played over the last ten years, his character has been defined by his hair. And when the hair is wrong, nothing else seems right. I always think that one reason why Lakshya failed was because Hrithik Roshan’s hair did not look right.

Like Hollywood, Bollywood is now so obsessed with the hair of its heroes that nearly every star has had new hair surgically implanted on his head: Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Sunny Deol and even Ranbir 
Kapoor. Sometimes the effect is not noticeable (Ranbir) and sometimes it is obvious (Salman). But today’s male stars recognise that it is all about hair.

Civilians — people outside show business, that is — are beginning to get the message. For years and years, I’ve gone to Joseph at Nicky Clarke in London for a haircut whenever I am in that city. Because the salon is famous, Joseph’s clients have usually been female. But these days I always notice how many men are waiting to see him.

It is the same in Delhi. For decades, it was impossible to get a good haircut in Delhi if you were a man. But now there’s Dmitri with the magic fingers, whose cuts are world-class, at Rossano Ferretti salon at the Oberoi Gurgaon. And you don’t have to pay Dmitri’s rates to get a good cut. The Australian hair stylist Rod Anker has opened four Monsoon salons all over Delhi where men can be assured of getting good haircuts from well-trained Indian stylists.

The rest of Asia has always been ahead of India when it comes to men’s hair. Nearly everybody you meet in Singapore will have a good haircut. And in Bangkok, you get some of Asia’s finest haircuts at the lowest rates.

So maybe Delilah knew a thing or too. A man without good hair is like Samson without his strength.

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