Fourteen of the most talented men’s hair stylists in the world gathered in Lisbon recently to compete in the American Crew All-Star Challenge, one of the top men’s grooming competitions. The small group of finalists was narrowed down from more than 1,000 entries from 18 countries. Each was charged with creating a new look during two days of photo shoots with American Crew founder and photographer David Raccuglia, creative director Craig Hanson, and the American Crew team.
Paul Mac, who hails from Cork, Ireland, where he’s a barber at The Crop Shop, was awarded the special Men’s Health prize for his killer cut, shown above. Here, the skilled stylist who combines '50s rockabilly and old-school tattoo culture with a modern twist, explains how you, too, can achieve this winning Men’s Health look.
Do your hair homework
"Start off by sourcing a good barber," says Mac. Get recommendations from friends whose hair you like and ask where they get their hair cut. If the stylist is prolific on Instagram, stalk their account. “Check out their pictures on social media, because the camera doesn't lie,” says Mac, who deploys Instagram,Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to show off his own skills.
Examine your texture
Keep your expectations realistic based on the type of hair you have to work with. “This style will suit most hair textures, from thick to fine hair and wavy,” says Mac. “The only hair it wouldn’t really suit is extremely curly hair.” Ditto if your strands are extremely sparse or patchy.
Know what to ask for
Whenever possible, bring along a photo of the style you want to replicate on your own hair. Then, know the lingo. “Ask for a medium fade with a half blade or 0.5, and a natural look shaved part,” says Mac. Tell the stylist that you’d like to keep some length in the front, so you’ll have enough hair to comb it upwards and back.
Add products and tools
Cool ‘dos like this take a little effort—and the right styling products. To style the cut at home, invest in a hair dryer and a small round brush—or borrow your girlfriend’s, and practice rolling the brush to flip the front over. Mac deploys American Crew Boost Powder and Defining Paste to sculpt the look and finishes it off with Medium Hold Spray Gel. It may sound complicated, but after the first few times you pull it off, the process will get easier and quicker, promises Mac. "In no time, as we say in Ireland, you will be flying it!"