Not long ago, barbershops plastered celebrity portraits on their walls and mirrors to help customers choose their hairstyle — from former One Direction member Zayn Malik's quiff to Jason Momoa's manly mane.
And though some still cling to the posters, most have gradually taken them down as the industry moves towards a sophisticated and personalised approach, combined with the rise of the more self-aware man.
"When a client sits down in the chair, we consider a lot of factors," Muj Ali, a barber at Abu Dhabi's lifestyle spot Local, tells The National.
He recommends a cut based on a mix of their personal preference and lifestyle, as well as more practical factors such as hair texture and density.
The ultimate goal should be a style that is "easy to manage during their day-to-day", according to Ali.
With that in mind, and with an increasing number of men expected to embrace this approach this year, here are some basic tips to keep in mind when it comes to achieving one's best hairstyle.
Haircare and style tips from UAE barbers
Invest in a hairdryer
A hairdryer is not simply for drying, it also plays a big part in styling, says Ali.
"Imagine your hair is like plastic, you expose it to high heat to melt it down so that you can mould and manipulate the shape," he says.
Although messy hair is also a look some men go for, a clean look requires one to lock their hair in a particular shape, such as a modern pompadour or a sleek side parting.
Choosing the right hair products
Gels, creams and sprays are a must when styling and shaping hair.
"It is important to use the right product," says Ghassan Haririh, head barber and managing director of Dubai's Akin Barber & Shop.
"Men with long wavy hair are advised to use a texturising spray, which provides great volume and a surfer look. For finer hair, we recommend a simple hair cream to allow a little control."
Barbers recommend buying sea salt spray, which can be used on almost all hair types, for quick and easy styling. Aside from their aesthetic benefit, the sprays also have nourishing effects on the scalp and hair strands due to saltwater nutrients.
The sea salt spray can be combined with other styling products, such as a water-based matte clay or paste, for a strong hold.
Curly hair types are a whole different game. Ali recommends an anti-frizz leave-in conditioner to help combat the humidity in the UAE.
Products with argan oil and vitamin E are also a good choice for men to keep their hair protected and moisturised, says Sami Azrak, founder of Shave Barbers & Spa in Dubai.
Frequent visits to stay ahead
Depending on the length of one's hair, barbers advise a regular salon visit, especially when it comes to maintaining a specific shape. Ali suggests every three weeks, though shorter cuts such as skin fades are higher maintenance, requiring a visit every one to two weeks.
Ali, who has worked across Europe, also stresses the importance of going to the same barber. "Don’t go to another barbershop if you can’t get an appointment with your regular, unless your barber has another recommendation," he says.
Haririh also believes that it comes down to the specific barber who can properly consult with clients and ask the right questions while better guiding them.
Although haircare has become more personalised over the years, style trends still influence men's hair decisions.
Here are three of the top haircut trends commonly requested in barbershops or fashioned on social media.
Perhaps the most generic, but perennially stylish, is the fade cut, which is unlikely to go away next year. Its name simply describes the effect created by cutting a gradient of length, sometimes to skin or to very short hair.
According to Google Trends, "fade" was one of the most popular haircut searches in the UAE in the past 12 months, accompanied by different words to describe style variations, including a temple fade, which focuses on the temple area for the desired effect.
Another popular variation is the taper fade, which has a more dramatic look, tapering all the hair on the back and the side, down to the skin, to achieve an edgy look.
The fade can be paired with many top-hair variations such as a pompadour, a mohawk, an afro or a man bun. Since the cut gives a fresh and clean feel, it's a widely popular choice for people living in hotter climates.
Another haircut that ranks highly in Google Trends in the UAE is the timeless crew cut, which has evolved over the years with many variations. It features the top hair cut short, but still longer than the hair on the back and the sides.
Crew cuts can be accompanied with long or short tops, similar to the fade, and also provide men with a fresh look and feel either in a professional or social setting.
Often fashioned by K-pop stars, the two-block cut is characterised by distinctly creating "two blocks" on the head — the hair in the front is kept long while the back and sides are short.
Many people describe the hairstyle as just a trendy version of the undercut.
Scroll through the gallery below for 2023 fashion trends