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How To Ask Your Barber For a Gentleman’s Cut Hairstyle

This sleek style is like a great suit: dapper and timeless.
  • Lyz Mancini
March 08, 2024

From wavy perms to unexpected colors, there is no shortage of men’s hair trends to spice up your look. But while experimenting with trends can be fun, sometimes, you just want to keep it classic. That’s where the gentleman’s cut hairstyle shines. Despite its current trendy appeal, this sleek style is about as timeless as it gets.

Typically inspired by vintage haircuts of the 1920s or classic Hollywood stars, the gentleman’s cut features short-to-medium-length hair parted on the side and smoothed back. It imbues a sense of style and care to the overall look, often requiring styling aids to achieve the sleek, shiny finish that is characteristic of the classic gentleman haircut.

But despite its seemingly high-maintenance appearance, the gentleman’s cut is pretty easy to maintain. Here, we’ll give you a quick rundown on the history of the gentleman’s haircut (it’s interesting!), explain what to ask your barber for, and share a few helpful styling tips for this dapper, vintage-inspired ‘do. Find all the need-to-knows ahead.

The Gentleman’s Cut: A Brief History

The 1920s

Although it’s not known exactly when the gentleman’s haircut came into existence, it certainly enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the 1920s, when men were clean-shaven and often wore their hair beneath a hat. Movie stars of the era were often sporting the sleek look, though it was a favorite in non-Hollywood crowds, too.

The 1930s

As the Roaring ‘20s came to a close, so too did tightly-cropped hairstyles. Although a long men’s cut would have been unthinkable, the gentleman’s cut hairstyle evolved into what we now call a “fade” or “gentleman’s fade” toward the beginning of the ‘30s. This variation of the gentleman’s cut was neat and cleanly cut around the head, with a taper (in other words, fade) from the bottom of the ears down the neck.

The 1940s

Throughout the 1940s, men’s hairstyles remained short and polished on the sides, with hair left to grow slightly longer on top. Often, this longer section was styled with waves for a distinctly debonair vibe. Because of the longer length, this variation of the gentleman’s haircut also tended to require less maintenance—a major bonus during wartime.

The 1950s

In the ‘50s, men’s hair trends began to take off, with well-known celebrities from the era sporting unique styles like devil-may-care slick-backs and teased pompadours. Still, for the everyday man, the gentleman’s haircut reigned supreme and was very much a sophisticated staple.

The 1960s—1990s

With the ‘60s came rebellion, and here, there were radical changes in both the culture and hairstyles. The gentleman’s haircuts largely took a break during this time, through the ‘70s and beyond, as cultural trends favored more natural looks like long hair and afros.

Then, with the ‘80s came punk music, which was accompanied by experimental haircuts like mullets and mohawks. In the ‘90s, grungier looks took over. However, the gentleman’s cut hairstyle began to reappear within niche subcultures that prioritized polish (rockabilly being a notable example).


Today, the gentleman’s haircut is back with a modern edge. It’s still seen as timeless and classic, but these days, it doesn’t have to be paired with a specific fashion aesthetic or rules beyond maintenance and grooming. Rock a neon green gentleman’s haircut. Pair it with a beard. Bleach it platinum. The name of the game is individuality, so make the gentleman’s cut hairstyle yours.

How To Get The Perfect Gentleman’s Cut

Now that you know where it began, here’s how to get a gentleman’s cut hairstyle that works for you.

Choose the right barber

Finding the right hair stylist or barber is similar to finding the right therapist—they have to get you. If you know you’re interested in trying out the classic gentleman haircut for the first time, ask your most stylish friends and co-workers for recommendations.

Often, the best finds come from the ones whose style we already admire. If you live in a major city, research celebrities with similar styles to what you are looking to get, and see if their stylists are local. (You never know—you could get lucky). Or, peruse local barbers’ social media feeds and select someone whose work resonates with you.

Once you’ve found your match, set up an appointment. When you go, bring inspiration photos so it’s clear exactly what you want, and share what you both like and don’t like about different versions of the gentleman’s cut hairstyle. Good communication is imperative when it comes to a healthy, ongoing client-stylist relationship.

Ask for a consultation

Now that you’ve shown your stylist what your ideal gentleman’s haircut is, it’s their job to see how best to make it work for your face shape, hair pattern, and texture.

A face shape analysis is where your stylist determines how exactly to cut your hair so it best flatters your features based on your face shape. For example, a round face might require a slightly longer cut on the top to add length. A square face shape, on the other hand, may look best with a sleek, shorter cut.

Another thing to keep in mind during the consultation is how much time you’re willing to commit to maintenance, both in terms of styling and trims. Taking these considerations into account can help ensure you leave the barber happy with your results.

Describe the cut you want

There are many variations of the gentleman’s haircut style, so it would help to have a general idea of the version you’d like to go with when you visit the salon. The fade, for example, features longer hair on the top that gradually gets shorter until the cut reaches the nape of your neck. It provides a seamless, blended finish, and is ideal for those with thicker hair. Another option is the taper fade, which features longer hair on top and a fade down the sides and back. Again, this is where inspiration photos are your friend—do your research to determine which version of the cut is best for you.

Return for touch-ups

The gentleman’s haircut tends to require regular maintenance. In order to keep your fresh cut looking tight and polished, make sure to schedule touch-ups with your barber every three to four weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows. (And if you want to try your hand at trimming your hair at home, be sure to check out our guide to at-home haircuts).

In-between barber visits, if you need to touch up your color, you can reach for L’Oréal Paris Men Expert One Twist Permanent Hair Color. The easy to use, mess-free hair color is great for covering grays in just a few minutes.

The Gentleman’s Cut Grooming Regimen

As we mentioned, the gentleman’s cut does require a bit of maintenance, but don’t let that dissuade you from embracing this timeless style. Below, we’re sharing a few tips to help ensure your retro cut looks great between barber visits.

In the shower

Every good haircare routine starts in the shower. To keep your hair hydrated and healthy-feeling, we suggest reaching for a nourishing shampoo and conditioner. Try L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron + Plump Hydrating Conditioner, Paraben-Free. The duo gently cleanses and conditions, leaving hair feeling hydrated for up to 72 hours.

When styling

A gentleman’s haircut requires a smooth finish, which is why the right styling products are a must. The secret to the style’s signature sleekness is to use something with plenty of hold. We suggest L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Invisi Gel, which provides maximum hold with a sleek, shiny finish. If you prefer a more matte finish, try L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty. It texturizes and thickens the hair, offering workable hold for long and shorter styles.

Once you’ve applied your product and worked it throughout your hair, use a comb to part your hair on the side (if you’re not sure where, try to line your part up with the center of your eyebrow). You’ll be left with two sections of hair: one short side, the other a bit longer. Brush the short side straight down, then brush the longer side back at a bit of an angle toward the back of your ear. When you’re satisfied with the styling, let your hair air-dry or blow-dry it to lock your look into place.

Facial hair

Any version of the gentleman’s haircut can really be taken to the next level with the addition of a well-groomed beard.

If you’re touching up your beard at home, use your trimmer at an upward angle to create a gradual and natural-looking fade into your cheekbones and into your hairline. Ask your barber’s advice on how best to complement your new cut with your facial hair for the best, tailored results.

Once you’re happy with the shape and length, you can touch-up your beard color with our L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Instant Beard Color. Not only can it help cover up grays, but it’s also an easy way to make your beard look fuller.

Elevate Your Skincare

Really owning the gentleman’s cut is all about impeccable grooming and style, and that extends to skincare. Curate a simple skincare regimen for yourself and repeat it both morning and night. We recommend using L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Hydra Energetic Extreme Cleanser Infused with Charcoal to wash your face and moisturizing with L’Oréal Paris Men Expert Vita Lift Anti-Wrinkle & Firming Moisturizer. It helps firm the skin, soothes razor burn, and boasts SPF 15 to help protect your skin from the sun.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Men’s Hairstyles

Whether you try out a classic gentleman’s haircut or not, scalp and hair hygiene are important to maintaining a polished and timeless look that will last. Here are our top hair tips so you remain the mane attraction.

1. Choose the right haircut

Consult with a skilled barber to find the hairstyle that fits your hairstyle, face shape, and lifestyle.

2. Keep up with your wash schedule

In many cases, you don’t need to wash your hair every day—two to three times per week is usually sufficient. That being said, the ideal wash schedule depends on your hair type, texture, length, and lifestyle, so if you’re unsure just how often to lather up, consult your barber.

3. Adjust the water temperature

Hot showers may be relaxing, but they can strip your hair (and skin) of protective oils. Turn the water down to lukewarm to help protect your scalp and strands.

4. Watch out for buildup

Frequently using styling aids like gels, mousses, and pomades can result in buildup, leaving your hair flat and limp. Try to limit your use of styling products when possible, and if you do suspect buildup, swap out your regular shampoo for a clarifying version like L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Clarifying Shampoo with Antioxidants as needed.

5. Experiment with styling products

Styling products aren’t one-size-fits-all, and what may work for your friend with a gentleman’s cut may not necessarily work for you. Don’t be afraid to play around with different formulas until you find something that suits your needs.

6. Blow-dry with care

Hot tools like blow-dryers can damage your hair if overused or used improperly. Air-dry your hair when you can, and when you do reach for the dryer, avoid using the hottest setting.

7. Use the right tools

The brushes or combs you use can make a huge difference in how your hair looks and feels. Bristle brushes are great for slicking back your hair, while wide-toothed combs can help detangle with minimal damage.

8. Get regular trims

Ask your stylist how often you should schedule trims to maintain your hair’s style and length. Regular trims also help keep split ends at bay, which can make your hair look fuller and healthier—so be sure to keep to your haircut schedule.

9. Tend to your scalp

The condition of your scalp has a direct impact on the condition of your hair. Ensure it’s well-cared for by using products designed for your scalp and hair type, and consult a professional if you have concerns about dryness or dandruff.

10. Protect your hair

Sun damage can affect your scalp and your hair. Protect yourself from those damaging UV rays by wearing a hat when you’re outdoors, especially for long periods.

11. Be gentle

Just like your skin, it’s important to treat your strands with care. Avoid excessive pulling or twisting when brushing, and steer clear of tying your hair up with rubber bands (or anything not explicitly designed for use on the hair).

12. Consult a Professional

If you are experiencing scalp or hair issues, make sure to ask a trusted hair stylist or dermatologist for suggested solutions. They can provide tailored regimens, solutions, and prescription-level products to ensure you have the best hair you can have.

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