Until recently, the average guy didn’t fuss too much with his hair. Sure, he’d think about whether he wanted it long or short, have an opinion about which side it was parted on, and maybe apply a little something to keep it under control, but most men opted for a low-maintenance approach. Fast-forward to the age of designer dog tags, skinny jeans, and too-small fedoras, of David Cook on American Idol, Richard Blais on Top Chef, and Christian Siriano on Project Runway, of Disney kids like Zac Efron and pop stars like Pete Wentz, and a very different picture emerges. Browse online gossip sites, check out the celebrity weeklies, flip through TV channelsmaybe even look in the mirrorand the array of faux-hawks, carefully rendered spikes, grossly asymmetrical parts, tinted tips, and meticulously messed-up bed-heads makes it clear that we are living in the era of douchebag hair.
Perhaps the saddest part is that for these guys, their coif is their crowning stylistic achievement. These hairstyleswhich are likely to have been teased, dyed, sculpted, flat-ironed, and gelledare the results of the kind of time and effort that’s usually devoted to space-exploration programs. Take the example of the faux-naturel guyslike the tanorexic Project Runway contestant Blayne Walsh, and most of the men in Orange Countywho sport the Beach Head. These debatable blonds try hard for a tousled-surfer look, except the tousling is done not at the shore but in a salon. They have their hair radiated and bleached, highlighted and streaked, straightened and back-combed, to simulate salty locks disheveled by an ocean breeze. Unfortunately, the result looks more like a stack of toxic hay.
Country-music star Keith Urban takes it one step further by adding complicated calico highlights and cute curled edges to his shag. His layered hair flips up at the bottom and is colored to honey-chestnut perfection, which makes it look more appropriate for Meg Ryan than for a Nashville stud. “Highlights have to look absolutely natural, or you go to the other end of the spectrum and get blue highlights, but anything in between is totally off,” says Losi, a hairstylist at Martial Vivot Salon in New York. “The key word is subtle.”
Which isn’t a word that could be used to describe the other major group of offenders, the Gel Addictsguys who insist on slathering product on their hair so that it hardens into quills that make the wearer resemble a porcupine from New Jersey. This style can be seen on Jeff Bozz of Sunset Tan or contestants of elimiDATE and, of course, on the Gotti boys.
Sometimes two or more of these hairstyles combine to create a horrific hybridthe kind of speckled, slick spike-do or multicolored shag seen on any heterosexual male on Shear Genius, for example. And why not? Douchebag hair takes so much work and concentration it deserves its own reality show on Bravo.