Here Comes the Groom

Industry pros sound off on the men’s grooming trends that are steadily taking over barber chairs across the country.

With spring in full bloom and the first quarter of 2018 officially complete, the dominating changes and trends within the men’s grooming world are gaining traction. For the lighter and brighter days ahead, it seems hair is going down a more strategic and cleaned-up avenue, although the grungy, unkempt look of the past will still have its place.

“More classic grooming will stay in vogue, especially well-barbered hair,” expains Craig Wcislo, mentor stylist at LuxeLab studio in Santa Monica, California. “The thick, burly beard will be fading, and we’ll be seeing the face open and brighten up.”

Curious as to what else is on the horizon, and, more importantly, how to stock for it? We consulted with some industry experts on the dominant grooming trends to come and how to best serve them up to your clients.

Trend #1: Trimmed Facial Hair
While the sturdy, hipster beard has become about as commonplace as artisanal coffee, it will be taking a backseat to a look that takes up much less facial real estate. “Big beards will be leaving,” says Wcislo. “Facial hair will be less, which means fewer hipster beards and smooth, exposed skin making a comeback.”

That all said, don’t assume we’ll be seeing baby-faced complexions aplenty; they’ll just be more trimmed and strategic. “Beards will not be going out of favor too much this year, but they will definitely be more groomed and shorter,” says Amy Dodds, editor in chief of MAN magazine. “As men continue to experiment with their facial hair, they are learning more how to take care of it and even style it with blowdryers and products. However, the mustache is continuing to gain popularity– sometimes ironically, sometimes not. We’re seeing it now with the more adventurous fringes, and for those who like to push the envelope, handlebar mustaches continue to be in demand. We even saw it a lot on the most recent Men’s Fashion Week catwalks.”

Wcislo suggests stocking shelves with products that support a cleaner, more exposed face. “Shaving supplies will become vital with the reemergence of the smooth face. Think of skincare product lines like Baxter of California–taking shaving supplies and transitioning them into skin care.”

Trend #2: Tailored Cuts
The trendy disconnected cuts we saw so much of last year will be taking a subtle turn as a more natural transition comes into play. “Clipper cuts will still be big, but less disconnection with the top,” explains Wcislo. “Hair will blend more, and the styling will be more versatile.”

Yes, the term you’re thinking of is correct: fades. “Fades have long been popular, but thanks to Instagram, they’re really popular,” Dodds says. “I think the most embraced will be the skin fade, where the hair is shaved to the skin quite high up the head, and the taper fade, which increases gradually in length from ear to nape. Often what we see with skin fades are sharp edges being designed onto the hair line, and part lines being exaggerated by being shaved. For taper fades, often the hair on top is longer, in a pompadour or other style.”

So what’s needed to cater to such a structured trend? “With the continuation of clipper cutting, pomades and styling products will still be important, such as Baume Densite Homme by Kérastase,” explains Wcislo. “Shorter hair also means more maintenance. A well-barbered haircut needs to be maintained every two to three weeks, so building a very loyal relationship with your clients is key.”

While we’re on the subject of shorter cuts, there’s a more extreme style that’s also being widely embraced and should be mentioned: the buzz. “If Prince William can pull it off, then anyone can,” says men’s grooming expert and TV personality Stephen Handisides. “Hot on the catwalks and with celebrities such as Zayn Malik, Jason Statham and Kanye West championing this style, we are going to see the resurgence of the buzz cut. The polar opposite of facial hair and the man bun, this style is easy to maintain, hassle-free, looks manly and is the perfect solution to embrace hair loss for men.” But despite having little hair involved, it is very possible to get this look wrong. “One tip from me for a buzz cut is to never try to do it yourself–it will end badly,” recommends Handisides.

Trend #3: Hair Tattoos
The rise of hair as an art form is not slowing down, especially considering the popular hair tattoo trend sweeping salons across the country. “Hair tattoos are basically carvings on short, buzzed hair to make a design or pattern,” says Dodds. “Sometimes the hair is colored to further emphasize this look. They’re popular with both men and women, but usually women only have the underside of their hair done. The designs can be intricate and detailed, and really allow barbers to show their skill and the client to show off their personality.”

Social media is a great platform to market your hair tattoo services and skills. “A proactive social media program can make a huge difference to a business,” Handisides says. “Reposting celebrity grooming and product endorsements to your social media accounts is a great way to attract more likes and more inquiries. Make sure your website and social media feed look slick, professional and beautiful. It can be your first impression and it can be how people find you.” For salon owners, you can also try displaying quality imagery of past work done by your stylists so users and clients know it is on your salon’s menu. Make sure the imagery displays the style as wearable, so clients know how to transition the avant-garde look into their own lives.

“The male grooming industry is booming. There is now so much choice and so many new products set for release this year.”

–Stephen Handisides, grooming expert

Trend #4: Longer Hair
As discussed earlier, the burly, unkempt manes of yore will finally be a thing of the past (until yet again recycled). However, grown-out strands will maintain their resilience in more strategic ways. “While the much-derided man bun is on the wane, many men are still embracing longer hair, whether in terms of length on top or longer overall,” says Dodds. Handisides adds that shoulder-length hair will still be embraced for those that prefer the fuller manes. The key word here is manageable.

“Hair will be less in the face,” agrees Wcislo. “We’ll be seeing the hair swept back and opening up the face.” This longer look can be incorporated into the fade trend mentioned previously, but make sure proper hair care and maintenance are suggested.

“Men’s clarifying and cleansing shampoos are vital to keep products from building up and clogging the follicles, such as Bain Densite Homme from Kérastase,” Wcislo says.

Trend #5: Beauty Regimens
If you have previously been one to skip the product suggestions for your male clients, it’s time to change your ways. “A major trend we’ve seen on the rise this year is products–those that target a specific area,” says Handisides. “The male grooming industry is booming. There is now so much choice and so many new products set for release this year.” The pro suggests helping clients do their due diligence by offering testers and sample sizes of formulas in stock. Make this conversation a crucial one in discovering the client’s needs and skin and hair type. Because you’re the expert, your advice is valued, so make sure you own this authority.

“I tell guys to experiment and have fun with it,” says Handsides. “Give a full skin consult and advise them on what will work for their skin type, and guide them in knowing what their skin needs are. There are some amazing products for men–everything from tinted moisturizers that offer a hint of color to eye-bag reducing roll-ons.”

Also, there should be some prime real estate in your space that caters to your male clientele. “Make sure you have a male-specific section in your store or grooming establishment,” Handisides says. “Create male-specific window displays to draw in the guys. Make sure they are eye-catching and interesting. In-store, don’t be afraid to approach the guys. Most will really appreciate it. Men can be extremely intimidated when it comes to shopping for products, so guide them, show them the ranges. Perform a quick skin analysis and ask them what their skin requirements are. Explain what each product is for and how to use it. Men will spend big, so don’t be afraid to upsell after a treatment.”

And don’t be afraid to shamelessly plug your product offerings on social media. “If you have a hard-to-find ‘cult’ product that all the celebrities are trying, make sure you promote it,” says Handisides. “Most brands have beautiful, lifestyle and still-life promotional images that you can utilize on your social feeds, so make sure you use these and tag the brand in the post. Use the marketing, training and POS materials from the brands that you stock. These companies spend thousands developing their marketing materials, so use them to their full advantage.”