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From Curly To Straight: The Ultimate Guide To Men's Hair Care

close up of man getting a haircut

For years, men’s hair styling was simple. You washed your hair and dried it, finishing the style off with a crisp part and pomade. Flash forward to the modern era, and we’re all in favor of every man embracing his natural texture with a wide array of cuts and styles. The problem is just how to accomplish that feat.

Whether you’re unsure about the best way to cut your hair, wondering how to hide thinning hair, or want to build a product arsenal that suits you, there’s one cohesive strategy to embrace. To break it all down, we called on Whitney VerMeer, Baxter of California brand ambassador and master stylist.

“There is an assumption among stylists that men just don't care about their hair and are okay with using their wives’ products. That is far from true. Men do want to learn,” VerMeer says.

Don’t let the needs of your hair overwhelm you. Instead, manage it with ease thanks to this guide to men’s hair care.

Start by understanding how much TLC your hair really needs.

Curly or wavy, wiry or soft—chances are good that your hair has vastly different needs than your brother’s or your best friend’s. That’s why it’s so important to see a barber or stylist who’s experienced. He or she can field your questions and build a relationship with you, helping to keep your hair looking its best.

“My clients continue to want to learn more and more about their hair,” VerMeer says. “From our first cut together to months later, they keep asking questions. It also helps that my clients know I'm obsessed with all things hair and want to get my insight when it comes to theirs.”

Understand that asking questions is important. Your stylist should establish a regular salon visit cycle (every three weeks, for example) and teach you how to apply product to your mane. VerMeer emphasizes the fact that men with texture are particularly dependent on a good cut to keep their hair looking intentional and modern.

This brings us to the cut. How do you get the right one?

A haircut is a tricky thing, particularly when it involves very short hair. In a quality salon or barbershop, your professional will subtly buzz and trim to highlight your bone structure and enhance what you love about your hair.

Likewise, these experts are also able to disguise the aspects you’d rather hide. VerMeer says many of her first-timers sit down in the chair and immediately wonder, "Do I look like I'm going bald?”

"My first response is always 'Do you feel like you're going bald?' because it's safe. Without saying yes or no, I then have a conversation with my client that we can go shorter to achieve one look, style it a certain way, or use a different product to not weigh it down," she explains.

Once you’ve addressed your initial concerns, have a conversation with your stylist about how often you’ll be returning to the salon. That way, you’re not stuck with a cut that’ll grow in strangely.

“A lot of times with straight hair, if it's not cut correctly or proportions aren't accurate with their bone structure and face shape, the hair will grow straight out,” VerMeer notes, adding a similar caveat for wavy strands. “The solution is getting your hair cut by an expert who knows how to treat your hair.”

That’s all well and good, but great cuts come from the hands of seriously talented artists. How does the average man go about finding one of those?

“Honestly, one of the best resources is Instagram,” VerMeer says. “The proof is out there if someone is good or not. If a stylist seems good and producing constant work, just reach out. Ask questions. Click the link in their bio.”

Once the cut is in place, what’s the best way to maintain it?

We have good news: Once you’ve gotten a quality haircut, VerMeer says the hardest part is over.

“A good cut will always style itself and you can get more looks from it with the product,” she says. “From the moment you leave the barber to when it's growing out, your hair should stay maintained. If someone is telling you that you need a haircut, you're not getting the right haircut.”

Don’t be afraid of using product, either. Your stylist should recommend a shampoo, conditioner, and a least one styling product to keep your cut looking good until your next visit. If he or she doesn’t offer up that information, gather your confidence and simply ask.

“I don't think men are overwhelmed by product but secretly excited about it,” VerMeer says. “They just haven't been able to have a conversation about their hair and product yet, and that's why I'm here.”

Follow your stylist’s directions, use your new purchases according to the directions on the packages, and you’ll be surprised at how good your hair can look.

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