To quote Tommy Shelby: “Get yourself a decent haircut, man”. And you’d better listen to the Peaky Blinder, because there’s no excuse these days. We could have let you off the hook while barbershops across the country were still closed — but now you’ve got ample opportunity to adopt this underrated undercut. And we’ve asked Ruffians expert barber Craig Meggs just how to achieve the look.
Over the past decade, Cillian Murphy has become a men’s haircare icon thanks to his striking, signature Tommy Shelby style. He may not be a fan of the cut himself — criticising it as being overly severe and a throwback to when a close crop prevented lice in the 1930s — but plenty of modern men have been inspired by his Peaky protagonist, and given their hair the vintage look.
So what is the Peaky Blinders haircut exactly?
“It’s a very obvious contrasting fade against the length on top,” explains Ruffians’ Craig Meggs. “It’s usually worn quite slick and backwards: whether that’s using a pomade, or whether they go for a more contemporary look with a paste instead, which is more mattifying.”
But Murphy’s look, as the actor himself admits, is pretty severe. So how does the ‘undercut’ or ‘texturised crop’ barbers cut today different to the screen-accurate hairstyle sported by the Peaky Blinders?
“Back in the day, they didn’t really have the tools to do what we do now with haircuts,” says Craig, “so it was always going to be something that wasn’t very blended. They would literally razor the hair away. They didn’t have the tools to blend, or to fade hair into longer hair. It’s very rare, these days, that you’ll get a guy coming in who wants it exactly how Murphy wears it in Peaky Blinders. They’ll usually want it a bit less aggressive.”
With different fades, the Peaky Blinders haircut is for everyone
“It kind of suits every hair type because it can be altered,” explains Meggs. “So the height of the fade can be taken higher for hair that’s a bit thicker. If you’ve got fine hair, you can definitely still do it — you might just want to go a bit lower with the fade. You can still wear it higher, but you definitely wouldn’t want to use anything too slick in the hair, because it would gape.”
The Peaky Blinders haircut may be adaptable to almost all hair types; but Meggs also warns that it should only be asked for by those who are prepared to commit. “It’s a huge commitment,” he says. “Or a really low commitment, depending on your haircut!”
“It’s so popular that you’ve got people asking for it who really shouldn’t have it done,” he adds. “Because it’s going to be such high maintenance for some people — and they’re going to have to do so much at home to get that backwards look. But they still ask for it — because it’s now such a famous look.”
How do you maintain the Peaky Blinders haircut at home?
“If you’ve got hair that’s complicated, and not versatile to styling, then it will require maintenance,” Meggs repeats. “So you’d need to use a hairdryer, and actually force the hair backwards using the pressure of the nozzle, and the heat, and the power from the hairdryer to get it in the direction of a backwards motion.”
“Some people’s hair at the crown won’t go backwards easily,” he adds, “so it will need a lot of heaviness and weight on the front. So, again, that’s why you would need to dry it, and use a heavier product that’s going to hold it and set it in place.”
And what products are the best options to maintain the Peaky Blinders haircut? “For hair that needs a bit more attention with product, and a bit more maintenance, we’d suggest the Styling Paste and Matt Clay combo, for power and matt control. Other easier hair types could just need a product as mild as the Hair Cream.”
How often should your hair be cut to maintain the Peaky Blinders style?
“It’s a haircut that needs to be done quite frequently,” says Meggs. “Most people with the Peaky Blinders haircut should come in for that fade every week, because it is such a contrast. As it starts to grow, and soften, it becomes less aggressive. So every one to two weeks, you’ll find guys coming in for that fade — or a scalp fade, which is what the Peaky is.”
It’s a commitment; but it’s well and truly worth it. So get your three-piece suits and flat caps at the ready, gents — it’s time to return to the barbers and look the sharpest you can be.