May 12, 2022
By: Brian Levandowski
The best part about men’s fashion these days (and fashion in general, for that matter) is that it’s basically anything goes. Whereas not long ago certain hairstyles would feel tied to a certain era, as in “That’s so '70s!” or “A classic '30s combover,” it's now all about going for whatever style you like and feel great wearing.
But speaking of the '70s: In this decade, men’s hairstyles took a certain turn as guys left and right moved forward from the long, loose locks of the '60s and got way more playful and experimental than ever. From bold, natural afros to wildly wavy surfer shags, enough looks were trending to suit everyone, giving rise to a whole new form of iconic style. And thanks to the decade’s lineup of artists and musicians, from Bob Marley to David Bowie, the '70s cemented a sort of style guide for men’s hair that has managed to stay relevant even today, albeit with a few modern snips and tucks.
We enlisted the help of grooming experts Hung Q. Nguyen and Hassan Bilal to walk us through the top 22 '70s hairstyles men have made their own, both then and now. Keep reading to see them all, complete with some tips and tricks to get the look for yourself.
MEET THE EXPERT
- Hung Q. Nguyen is the regional barber manager at Fellow Barber in New York City.
- Hassan Bilal is a barber and men’s grooming expert based in London.
Long and Sleek
What’s more '70s than just letting your hair grow, grow, grow? This is especially true when you’re taking to the red carpet in a glam rock, '70s-inspired blazer like Jared Leto did for the LACMA Art and Film Gala in 2019.
Bilal points out that this kind of look takes commitment. "Growth this length would take 18 months to two years, depending on the original length," he says. Once you've got the length, Nguyen says the key to keeping it sleek is to work in a light leave-in conditioner to control flyaways and finish with a spritz of hairspray to add texture and hold. Bilal warns against excessive teasing if you want to maintain a loose, disheveled feel, and advises trimming ends every two to three months.
Jimi Hendrix’s classic afro is a celebration of natural hair and needs only a few pumps of a light hair oil to seal in moisture, followed by a hair pick to achieve the desired shape and volume.
Here Donald Glover gives the classic afro a modern, textured finish that’s easy to maintain and fits any scenario, from casual to white tie. “Since the twists help the hair hold moisture and can be styled with minimal manipulation, a little goes a long way with this style,” Nguyen says. Use your favorite hydrating oil and you’re good to go.
Featuring a strong side part and loose structure, this quintessential '70s look is something Bilal says is easily adaptable to both formal and casual affairs. It's also on the low-maintenance side. Perhaps the original "set it and forget it" style, it basically works with your natural wave. Simply work in a little styling cream for hydration and blow dry to your desired style.
Medium Feathered Layers
While Bilal points out that Gibb's signature coif is quite dated, its voluminous shape and carefree flow serve serious style inspiration for a number of modern-day looks. “This is a great look for wavy, medium-length hair,” Nguyen says, as it’s a great way to manage the volume without a ton of products and styling. Get the look by adding a dime-size amount of styling cream or a few sprays of detangler. Apply evenly with your hands and let the natural growth pattern take over.
Snoop Dogg has always been ahead of the game, rocking corn rows in the '90s and coming back just as strong on the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show stage with a set of impressive, timeless dreadlocks. “This style is unique, fashionable, and provides freedom of expression,” Nguyen says. “It gives the individual wearing it a sense of pride.”
Reminiscent of the '50s version, the '70s greaser style mixed a clean cut with a bold, shiny finish that could tell the story of a Wall Street tycoon by day and a bad boy by night. Nguyen recommends using a pliable product, such as a natural or high-shine clay, on damp hair before blow drying to the desired style and shape. Be sure to keep the volume high in the front, and finish off with a shine-enhancing product, such as a pomade, to keep the look glossy and in place. In terms of maintenance, Bilal recommends a visit to your barber every three to four weeks to keep the edges sharp.
Long and Wavy
Nowadays, the unkempt hair and beard combo is a grooming mainstay, but one of the first stars to make it iconic was Doors frontman Jim Morrison. It’s still the epitome of laid-back, minimalist style that makes a statement without trying. Bilal also mentions that it's a great look for all face shapes, as the beard and hair combo adds definition and texture. To give it that extra edge of refinement, Nguyen recommends using a salt spray on the roots and mid-shaft to add volume, then allowing hair to air dry into its natural shape.
"Very on trend right now," Bilal says of the wet look for curly hair, adding that the loose fringe and long style work with any face shape and facial hair—especially a handlebar mustache. If curls for days are what you’re after, follow Rick James’s lead and focus on curl-specific products designed to keep hair hydrated and frizz-free for that perpetually wet, always-sleek look. Bilal recommends using a simple curling cream and drying with a diffuser for the best definition.
If a certain cut could embody youth, Zac Efron’s short shag would be one '70s hairstyle men can rely on. It’s also super easy to achieve—simply spritz a texture spray onto damp, towel-dried hair and blow dry naturally with the grain of the hair. Finish with a matte finish product, such as a styling clay or matte styling powder. Bilal also advises scheduling barber visits every four to five weeks to prevent the short shag from looking too shaggy.
Bilal says the medium shag is his current favorite style. "Square faces and jawlines work amazingly with this medium shag and feathered look," he said. However, getting it right at first can be tricky thanks to its complex layers, so he advises seeing a seasoned stylist. Nguyen points out that this style is ideal for those whose hair is between lengths. Keep it sleek and flyaway-free by using a texture or salt spray, and let air dry to encourage hair to follow its natural wave.
Long, tousled hair is easy enough to grow provided you’ve got the patience, but the real challenge comes in finding the difference between free and messy. Here, Harry Styles has pulled back his hair from the crown and temples to keep it from falling into his face, while the rest of it is free-flowing for a look that’s spot-on with minimal effort. "The way he is wearing this particular look with a heavy side parting creates fantastic volume and could work with just about any face shape," Bilal says.
One of the best part about sporting dreadlocks is how versatile they can be. Miguel has perfected this art, rocking his signature part-up, part-down layered locs to add a slightly carefree edge to his otherwise put-together sense of style.
Opting for a perm can give those with thin, straight hair volume and bounce that will allow you to elevate your look. However, Nguyen says to be wary of the extra work involved. “Perms are achieved through a chemical process, and with great curls comes great responsibility.” Be sure to keep your curls hydrated with regular care.
The Jheri curl makes a statement as a sleek, wet look for natural hair that gives those who wear it the option of a looser curl. Although the Jheri curl was traditionally achieved using a chemical process, Nguyen says there are now methods to getting the look that go easier on your strands.
Short and Tousled
Although at first glance it says “I woke up like this,” Nguyen explains that Robert Redford’s iconic short, tousled look requires a bit of effort to make it appear so effortless. Start by working a light hydrating product through damp hair, then blow dry while making a scrunching motion with your hands to encourage volume and texture.
Braids and Beads
A bold look that celebrates tradition, culture, and individuality, Stevie Wonder’s decorated standout style is easy to customize to your personal taste and artistic vision. Just be sure to keep your braids moisturized so they stay neat and shiny.
The more modern version of a short shag, Timothée Chalamet’s tousled style embraces his hair’s natural texture and requires minimal styling to get right. Nguyen recommends applying a dollop of styling cream to damp hair, then using a diffuser at the end of your blow dryer to define curls.
At first glance, Dev Patel’s lion’s mane of silky soft hair looks natural and unstyled, but it actually takes a bit of regular maintenance to ensure such a thick head of hair falls at the right places, especially around the face. Use a light styling cream for moisture and definition, then let air dry to allow hair to regain its natural texture.
To get that just-stepped-out-of-the-ocean look down every time, you have two options: Go step into (and out of) the ocean, or spritz a bit of salt spray and work through your hair with a scrunching motion as it air dries for natural, tousled texture.
Equal parts shag, feathered, and layered, this look all comes down to the hair’s natural texture. If you truly do wake up like this, more power to you, but otherwise, run a lightweight styling cream through your hair when it’s towel-dried and damp and let air dry.
One of the OG gender benders, Little Richard’s signature bouffant put the "air" in hair. This is a timeless '70s hairstyle men still wear on repeat because of the way it can instantly elevate your look. To get it right at home, Nguyen recommends applying a texturizing cream to damp hair and blow-drying, focusing on the front to pump up the volume. Finish by styling the look with your favorite hair paste, depending on the level of shine you’re going for.