Fashion: Right Hair Right Now

An unkempt mop top complements today's radical biker chic

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IT'S ABOUT MOTORCYCLES, DENIM, ROCK & ROLL and sex," says New York City hairstylist Thorn Priano, waxing philosophical about hair. Clearly, biker chic has screeched onto the fashion scene, from the ubiquitous biker boots to the latest trend, the mop top with grease. With chunks of hair tumbling around the face, this look is somewhere between menacing and seductive. Call it the fall of the wild.

The key to the biker do is that it moves. Forget perfect hair cemented into place with styling gels. "I've never believed in neat hair," says Priano. "People always touch their hair. Hair has to look real for it to be sexy." And real means tousled, untamed, even unruly. "We're talking rebel," he says.

As with so many antistyles, it takes a certain amount of planning and care to achieve the unattended look. Rule No. 1: Let it grow. Rule No. 2: Find a decent stylist. A natty mane looks simply messy if it's undirected: There is a method to the modness. Priano's cuts, for example, appear sporadic and haphazard but are actually made up of careful, symmetric layering. "I hate the look of fluffy hair, and blunt-cut hair can be so boring," he says. "Layering makes the hair more interesting –— and it takes out some of the bulk."

Another trick of the trade is the addition of oils – natural or otherwise. "People think of these styles as wash-and-wear," says Priano, "but it would be more accurate to say, 'Don't wash, just wear.' America really overdoes it —– a good brushing and a rinse with water is all you really need." In fact, he says, these cuts really get going three or four days after a shampoo.

Hair products can replicate that authentic, unwashed look, even with daily showers. Light shampoos that won't strip the hair, like Neutrogena Shampoo or Vidal Sassoon's Ultra Care, are great for these looks, as are conditioners you leave in, like Headress by Nexxus or Shinsen Nourishment by Redken. Don't be afraid to slather on a sun-protection oil like Phyto Plage, which causes the hair to clump and look somewhat "dirty." Those with oily hair should try a lotion like Studio Line Smooth Moves from L'Oréal or Shine Complex from KMS.

The flip side of the biker style is the buzz cut, which is the perfect lazy-boy look: "This is for the guy who doesn't want to have to do anything to his hair," says Priano. The only flourish is the sideburns. (Priano's theory: "The shorter the cut, the stronger the sideburns.") With this cut, use a new take on old-fashioned pomades, like Sebastian's Molding Mud or Aveda's Purefume Brilliant. When worked through, they make the hair look flat instead of spiky.

Biker style has already hit the collections of Calvin Klein and Gianni Versace. But if you can't afford a designer biker jacket, get a haircut — and you won't be paying it off forever. Says Priano: "If you want to look like a biker, go for it. It's all about fantasy anyway, isn't it?"