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New Trends: Paint and Retro Cuts

Recently we’ve been seeing the return of a lot of vintage men’s hairstyles in the UK. In terms of Afro hair there has been a resurgence of 90’s influence “Retro cuts” as people like to call them. Things like Low fades, high tops, parts and twists are now familiar styles once again, particularly among younger adults and teenagers.

Modern high top

The mid blend is weighted to give length for a heavy shape up; an American innovation becoming rapidly popular in the UK. Still the trim keeps a signature British look with the blend out into thin pointed sideburns. These sides Man dem love the point ting. The slightly wedged top piece is textured with light twists giving the cut a soft but clean finish. Cut by @barberz3d from @idbarbershop in Birmingham.

Nas’ Signature Fade

A stretched out mid fade gives the blend a buttery finish with the top left dark and laid down smooth for added pop. It seems like my man is working on the waves there at the side as well maybe. The Bold but understated fade work is contrasted by the dynamic curvature of the signature part which brings out the clean, heavy mark up. Again the remaining side burns give the cut the UK touch. Cut by @Evstyler from @smithshstudio in London.

Low Fade With Afro (Harlem Fade)

An old school look with the short afro juiced up with a new school drop fade; Note the very dark shape up at the front created by the dynamic curve in the blend. This moulds the trim to the natural head shape by shifting the centre of weight backwards over the crown; a perfect example of how to bring out that modern HD look in a retro cut. Trim by @Jon _Won from Manchester.

This type of overly dark shape up has become very popular in the UK barbering scene for both Afro and some European barbers also. It is a technique that has gained popularity over here due to the rise of the Instagram barber scene, which has allowed barbers all over the world to share their work with each other. This technique in particular began as more of a cosmetic procedure than anything, but has since become a pivotal creative element of new school barbering.

“Paint” as it is often called, started somewhere stateside: “Some would argue that its use as a hair alternative started in Atlanta. Others would say that the trend of using Bigen to enhance a beard became popular in Philly. “ (

Whether it started with the Atlanta or Philly, with the beard or headtop, its current popularity is due to the fact that at some point barbers realised it could be used on regular clients to straighten out any indiscretions and make any hair or beard line look unnaturally perfect.

When done well this gives a cut a near perfect outline making the cut look “HD”. In this cut by @Bonezthegoat “Leader of the new school” the paint is used very well, being just along the edge up the shape up and with obvious care taken to blend the dye into the hair itself, the trim looks bold but still natural, any weak patches filled in but overall still a believable hairline.

This technique was quickly absorbed and repurposed by American barbers to become one of the foundations of the new school style. With lower blends in general but particularly drop fades the effect is used very heavily to exaggerate the curve of fade by making it darker lower in a often thinner area. This creates a very even weighting across the head with the back and front equally dark. This is particularly well weighted for man with suck back as in this case by @ricoclipperhands

The dye definitely helps to creates a very clean and bold look but other barbers have once again innovated the technique by taking the concept of the dark and heavy edges but instead achieved this by leaving hair long at front and then lining up and blending the edge up back into the cut. It gives a softer more natural finish, while still remaining very crispy. One of the popular barbers in this lane is @pattycuts and his fading work is undeniably some of the best around.

His cuts are all about clean understatement. Not the flashiest trims in the world, but executed with a draw dropping precision and deliberate stylisation.

The poster boy for the modern metropolitan barber ; a white Irish guy from philly who specialised in afro hair, becoming popular in Florida and expanding his repertoire to cater for all clients. Whilst typically a short to mid length style, the heavy drop fade as we shall call it then was once again repurposed by modern trends into longer more traditional European hairdressing cuts, as these have been becoming increasingly popular at the same time as this new wave of fading styles.

In the UK, this stylistic fusion has been readily accepted by both the hairdressing and more traditional barber communities alike, bringing the concepts of movement, texture, cropping and styling into a realm alongside dramatic fading and HD shape ups. In the UK, this is usually referred to as “Modern Barbering”, implying a re- jig of the typical barber methods and looks to accommodate the recent and rising trend for styles involving transitions from very short to very long hair.