The Haircut: Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling Haircut
The Haircut: Ryan Gosling

A how-to by barber Zach Linhardt of Lakeside Barbershop, Oklahoma City.

Gosling has probably one of the most classic, always in style haircuts, and it’s literally one of the first cuts a barber learns in college. I can’t guarantee that if you get this haircut, you’ll have his love life, but maybe it’ll get you in the door.

Step one: Go to a barber. The chain stores have a history of hiring people as apprentices, so you’re essentially paying for someone to practice! Since salons specialize in women’s hair, they are notorious for not knowing how to cut a man’s mane. There are a few out there that I’d trust to coif my hair, but they are few and far between, and they went to barber college with me!

Step two: Walk into the shop, and take a look around. Make sure the shop is clean and make sure all the barbers look professional. If they look professional, they’re going to cut like a professional. If the place is busy, take a seat (it’s a good thing you’re waiting; it means people want to get a haircut at that shop).

When it’s your turn, introduce yourself and take a seat. Now a lot of customers seem to be afraid of showing a picture, or at least mildly embarrassed. There’s no need for all that, pull up a picture of our dear friend Mr. Gosling and show it to the person that’s going to be cutting your hair. We use different language than you do when talking about cutting, so there’s no shame in using a picture instead of words. Now, I’m going to tell you what I’d say to a barber.

First, say you are going for kind of a cross between “a gentleman’s cut” and an “ivy league”. That’s going to give him an idea of how you want the end product styled (it matters for the fade). Then, if you want it exactly like the pictures, I’d say I wanted either a 3 or 4 on the sides (always overestimate, it’s easy to cut off more and really hard to put it back on!), and leave about an inch and a half or two on top. Lastly, ask the barber to thin out the top a little, as it’ll help blend it into the sides, and make it lay over a little easier.

Congrats! Now you look like a proper man! There’s only one more issue to address; how the hell are you supposed to style it at home!? One word: pomade. If you’re changing styles drastically, that tin of pomade is going to be your best friend. Lucky for us, a lot of manufacturers realized not everyone wants to ruin their pillow cases and have their hair combed one way for a week, so they’ve made a lot of water based pomades (Shiner Gold, Suavecito, Bona Fide). They’ll hold just like Murray’s, or the gold standard, Sweet Georgia Brown, but will wash out as soon as they touch water and shampoo.


Fine or thinning hair?

Check out Quicksand by Hanz de Fuko – a paste that thickens your hair to add volume and allows natural styling. Completely matte finish, and lightweight.

As far as products that won't leave your hair shiny; I like J.S. Sloane Brilliantine. It holds like a pomade, but has a matte finish, and it smells like gummy bears. I think American Crew is a little too proud of their products.

Now, have you ever heard that phrase “a dab will do ya”? Well, it applies here. My hair is about 5 inches long on top, and I’ll use maybe the pad of my index finger worth of pomade to style my hair, so adjust accordingly. Just take a fingertip worth, and start rubbing your hands together, and when you feel it start to get tacky, rub it all over your dome piece. At this point, you will want a good comb, that’s half wide tooth and fine tooth (if you can find Kent combs, your wallet will hate you, but your hair will look great). Start with the wide tooth side and start combing it how you’d like. Once you’ve got the basic look down, flip that comb over and use the fine tooth side and clean up all the details and make yourself look all snazzy and Goslingesque.

This cut is guaranteed to get you into all the good kinds of trouble. Now you know you look good, go out and take that newfound confidence and convince the ladies that you’re better than Ryan Gosling. If you’re ever in Oklahoma City, stop by Lakeside Barber Shop and get a shave and a haircut, and I’ll even pour you a glass of whisky while you wait.

Ryan Gosling Haircut

About Zach Linhardt

I'm 28 years old and was medically retired out of the Marine Corps in 2011, After that, one of my good friends suggested I go to barber school. 1500 short hours later, I graduated and am well on my way to taking Oklahoma City by storm one haircut at a time!

  • D

    Thanks for posting this. I would love to get some more tips on how to actually style the hair, however.

    • Zach

      Hey man, Zach here. As far as styling it, I’d put in a decent amount of pomade or wax, rub it in your hands and start pushing the hair over to the side. In the pictures above, it doesn’t look like he uses a comb to make a hard part. Just use your hands and mess around with it until it gets the way you like. With the product in your hair, it’ll stay in place.

      • j

        Hey zach If I want you to cut my hair should I call in for an appointment and ask for you ? Your barbershop is like a 15 minute drive for me.

  • E

    After the Nth time I had my head butchered by a barber, I vowed never again to have my hair cut by anyone but a woman or a gay dude.

    • Corey Buller

      Don’t be so quick to discriminate. There are many straight men out there who cut hair just fine, even better in some cases. It’s all about the stylists “artistic vision”, if you will.

  • Lefty

    When styling, how damp or dry do you recommend the hair to be?

    • SolefulStrut

      I seem to find the best results with all products I have tried (no pomade, yet) to have my hair be almost dry. But I too would appreciate the opinion of a professional on this.

      Also, what suggestions to the barber for a similar style, but when you want to grow it out a bit:

    • Zach

      Zach here; I’m gonna second what SolefulStrut said, you want your hair dry, or just barely damp.

  • Jake

    Great article! I have worn a similar hairstyle for the last two years, and I would recommend American Crew Forming Cream as another product option. Gosling’s hairstyle is would I consider to be a “loose side part”, so I think something with a bit less hold and shine might be better for someone looking for a more casual look. Of course, this is just my personal preference.

  • Eric

    Zach, please continue with more of these posts. I never know what to tell my barber and I am always to embarrassed to bring in a photo of a celebrity.

    • Zach


      For some reason, it does seem silly to bring in a picture to the barber. But like I said in the article, don’t be too embarrassed to do it, it doesn’t bother me a bit when a dude uses a picture to tell me how he wants his hair. I actually kind of like it, because I don’t have to guess what he’s talking about!

      I hope to do more posts too!

      • diversification

        Please please pleeeeaaasseee address styling for guys with high hairlines and receding corners! The Gosling looks above show the entirety of the forehead – not a very good look for those with high hairlines, I think. Currently, I am rocking the Dexter haircut:
        It’s essentially a messy sweep-across that still lays down on the forehead. It looks better and more professional than just letting the bangs in front sit straight, but I’d still love to hear about other options.

  • Brett

    I have really coarse hair that sometimes is poofy sometimes, will this still work/look okay? I’ve been wanting a haircut like this for a while.

    • Perry

      There’s one way to find out: go to the barber with a few pictures of styles you like and ask what’s possible given your hair and face. I just load them onto my phone and flip through the pics with them. Don’t be embarrassed if it’s a celebrity either since they’re frequently the most photographed people.

    • Zach

      Short answer; yes, it’ll still look good. Long answer, go check with your local barber. Our definition of coarse and poofy could be night and day.

  • Perry

    I just recently moved from an area with no barbershop, just chains, so this is exactly what I did this weekend before this article was released. I took a few pictures to the barbershop, introduced myself, showed the man and told him what I was hoping to have done (ivy league with some length – it’s nearly winter here). I was able to get exactly what I wanted given my hair and face. I then went to the store, bought some product and left it in my hair for the remainder of the day. I washed it out that night and now my hair stays the way I want with no intervention or a little neater with some product. So, this method works. Pictures are very much appreciated by the barber. They’re providing a service and they want to make you happy.

  • Johns

    Just a bit of structural nit picking – I’m not sure “but you(r) hair won’t look any better” is the best phrasing, it makes the kent combs endorsement a bit confusing (implying that they won’t help your hair). Otherwise excellent article, I’ve been angling for this cut for a while (I’ve been told I look a bit like the Gos) but have been shy about bringing in a photo. Reading this makes me think its time to nut up and take charge. Cheers!

    • D

      That phrase didn’t sit right with me either. I wasn’t sure if Kent combs were good or bad until I clicked the link and saw all positive reviews on amazon

    • Andrew

      Thanks, yeah you’re right. I’ve edited it to make more sense.

  • kriem

    American Crew is proud of their product, yet J.S. Sloane is $17?? Their website doesn’t have the oz. of their product so maybe the consumer is getting more bang for their buck. Just a little confused.

    • Andrew

      I believe his point was he didn’t like the performance of AC products, considering the price.

      • Zach

        You are correct, Andrew.

  • B_8

    I like it! but… uh… what about us guys with a little widows peak going on? 🙁

    • Zach

      With a widows peak, I’d rock a style that combs your hair back, like a pompadour or something. I think widows peaks look pretty cool, and should be shown off.

  • Steve Gordon

    This is a great article! I never know what to do with my hair, and my biggest dread is that moment when a barber asks “how do you want it” (my answer is usually “a bit shorter”).

    I could probably pull off the Gosling with my face shape and hair type, but I’d love to see these articles on cutting and styling becoming a regular thing here, like The Getup.

    BTW, when you say enough pomade for the “pad of your finger” do you mean flat like a dime, or a lump like the whole fingertip. The first would seem like nothing on 5-inch hair, but the 2nd would be tons.

    • Zach

      Just dive your finger in and scoop some out, start with a small amount, because it’s a pain to style your hair with too much product. I have hair that’s probably close to 5in. long, and I use probably close to a dime size amount then just apply a little bit more to spots that are sticking up.

  • Deke

    Wish I had read this article back in college when I still had hair to style. Even though it’s cheap and easy to take clippers to my balding dome, I sometimes miss the fun of getting a new haircut/hairstyle.

  • Brock

    Zach – I really appreciate this article, and I’m sure this technique would work for most guys. But I have say, at least in my city, barber shops are VERY hit or miss. After swallowing my pride (and frugality) and going to a swanky salon a few years ago for the first time, I can’t go back to the barber shop.

    The stylists at the salon are trained professionals. Even the apprentices are great (and about the same price as a barber). I highly recommend finding a stylist who gets your look and letting them become an expert at cutting your hair. Don’t switch it up every time.

    Also, the Ryan Gossling haircut won’t work for people with super thick hair. Even with the best product, it doesn’t hold all day and grows out too fast.

    So… like I said, I think this is a great article, and you’re obviously more of an expert than me. But walking into a random barber shop without doing any research (Yelp or whatever) with a photo of Gossling is a risky strategy, in my opinion.

  • SD

    Very interesting article. I will post my experience with this style because i think it can help out some people.
    For the past 10 years i had been buzz cutting my own hair once a week because i thought i had the worst hair type in the planet. I once tried growing it out in college i looked like had a small afro so i gave up on it for good.
    About a year ago after watching the movie Drive with Mr. Gosling i thought i had to give it another shot, maybe this time since i was older my hair would be different?
    I did exactly just that, started growing my hair out in November 2012, after about two months i went to a barber shop and, though a little embarrased, showed the picture of ryan gosling in drive and i said i’d eventually want to get to that. After trying 4 different people i found a girl at a barbershop that i felt was asking all the right questions and i now go to her exclusively.
    I’ve gone through different lengths (ryan gosling in crazy stupid love vs Drive). After maybe 6-7 months i realized i just don’t have the same hair type as he does however i found something similar that really worked on me. I started to get a ton of complements.
    As far as styling goes i use an Argan oil cream from Garnier to calm down the curls and then the forming cream from American crew and this is after towel drying the hair leaving it slightly damp. Always get more compliments when finger combing than when using an actual comb.

    • Jake

      I have wavy hair, and I agree that the American Crew Forming Cream is great. I like how it allows some of the waves/curls to do their thing, as opposed to a stronger product that might hold them down and eliminate texture.

  • Joe

    What number should i ask for on the top? 5-6?

    • Chris Jones

      Scissors on top. Never, ever clippers. Hell, I don’t want clippers on the sides and back, either.

    • Zach

      No guards on the top. Tell the person cutting your hair how long you want it, and they’ll bust out the shears and get to work.

  • Joseph

    This is a great article, with lots of great advice. I was styling my hair like this for probably the last two years, but have since began going with a hard part and more of a pomp.

    As far as products, I agree the American Crew is costly for what you get. Since using American Crew, I have tried a few other products from Redken and J Bev for men. J Bev products a really nice and smell great, but I just recently discovered Suavecito pomade and this is by far my new product of choice!

    Please post more articles such as this and thank you for continuing the art of barbering.

    • Zach

      I’m a fan of the hard part and pompadour (it’s how i wear my hair). My shop uses a ton of Suavecito. Next time you’re about out, keep your eye open for Shiner Gold. It holds maybe not as hard as Suavecito, but it smells like pina coladas! You’re welcome for keeping the art alive!

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  • CNG

    I generally think this site gives good starting advice…but saying “I am going for kind of a cross between “a gentleman’s cut” and an “ivy league”” is probably the most misleading thing you could tell someone who is, essence, trying to sound and become more adult.

    Maybe I live in a dark hole of society, but almost ALL real barbers i have ever been too will respond by laughing and then saying something like “okay, but really…”. If they don’t do you this kindness, you can safely know you are now the weird guy that makes appointments for exactly every 2 weeks.

    Although there is clearly at least one barber who will understand what you mean by “gentleman’s cut”, I hold a great deal of doubt that a majority of barbers across the US will really understand what you mean by that. Even if they think they know what you what, you’re now officially leaving it up to them to interpret what that cut entails…

    Now, I don’t want to be the guy who only gives negative feedback…so I will say that in my experience describing relative lengths usually comes off as a more dignified approach to communicating with an unfamiliar barber (i want short on the sides and little longer in the front). It also seems to help if you can quickly fill in your background as someone of some importance…whether through appearance or describing your job/life. Albeit somewhat pretentious, I find the person about to cut your hair will give you a greater level of respect and take his time to give a reasonable looking haircut.

    And just quickly: good barber =/= busy shop all the time. I think the only thing you can really conclude from that is:
    -they are the only shop around
    -they are superior businessmen to the competition (better location, etc)
    -their customer base is close-knit

    My current barber is awesome, I drive out of the way to go to his shop that has 1 seat. Its $10 and one of the best experiences & results I’ve ever had!

  • Nate

    I really like this post, could you post one for longer hair, like Bradley Cooper has, this is the style i`m going for and tips on products to use, barber language and styling would be valuable.

  • Corey Buller

    This article is fantastic. The Gosling and I share similiar hair qualities, so I’ve been modeling my hairstyles after him for a few months now. I’d love to see an article sometime about different hair types (thin and straight, bushy and wavy for example), and the celebrities who where them the best. Keep up the great work Zach!

  • Eli

    I really liked this article and found it useful. I’m really hopeful that it will be the first in a series!

  • OptimusDiaz

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been struggling with a proper haircut for almost two years, & I’ve always ended up showing a picture of RG’s hairstyle (yep, I was always embarrassed too). The description was everything I needed. I really wish there we more sources for men on hair cuts, styles, and associated products.

  • TMD

    It is worth trying the originator of the slogan “a little dab’ll do ya” Brylcreem. My father would sing the jingle for Brylcreem to me all the time when I was a kid though he never used it. I tried it for myself a few years ago and it is a good product but too greasy for me. I prefer groom and clean and have been using it everyday for a couple years know. They are both available at Walmart and drugstores for a few dollars and last a very long time.

  • Fgjnnb

    This doesn’t help
    Fuck this shit website

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