Hair Is an Art Form for men in Cuba — Under Fidel Castro, barber shops and beauty salons were state-owned and state-run. For the most part, a men’s haircut was just that — a cut. There was no shampooing and no styling.
However, in 2010, two years after Fidel’s brother, Raúl, became president, many small salons were handed over to their employees — essentially privatized.
This quietly implemented, small economic change might be the reason behind the evolving hairstyles worn by men in Havana. When you walk down the streets today, you’ll see guys with carefully sculptured Mohawks, pompadours, fades, and highlights. With more salon services available, the younger generation in particular is taking full advantage of their grooming options.
As Cuban society slowly opens up to outside influence, the sky is the limit — for their creativity and the height of their hair.
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Salón Donde Dorian
On a Friday evening, young men line up at Salón Donde Dorian to have their hair styled before a big night out.
Dorian Carbonell (at right, wearing vest), the salon’s owner, is a prominent stylist who works with Cuban celebrities. “Young people these days care for their images as an essential element of their personalities,” says Carbonell. “They are doing so more and more in beauty salons.” (Photo: Salon Donde Dorian)
A popular style around today is el Mohicano, aka the Mohawk. In the ’80s, the rest of the world rocked ’hawks to signify rebellion, but today young men in Havana have taken the hairstyle to the next level. The sides are still shaved down, but now they’re adding height and color to the old standard. (Photo: Lara Naaman)
A Mohawk Upgrade
Carbonell says it’s important to him to keep pushing styles forward. He updates a Mohawk with color. (Photo: Salón Donde Dorian)
The El Yonki style was inspired by the Cubaton singer of the same name, which translates to “the junkie.” While El Yonkis can vary from head to head, the style essentially leaves more hair on the sides than a Mohawk and a bit less height on top. (Photo: Lara Naaman)
El clásico is a variation on a fade. It starts out thick on top and becomes more close-cropped down toward the neck. What distinguishes el clásico is a shaved line on one side of the head. (Photo: Lara Naaman)
An El Clásico Upgrade
Carbonell continues to push the envelope … like with this version of the el clásico with bangs. (Photo: Salon Donde Dorian)
“Cubans have always liked to look good,” says Carbonell. “But in the last decade, men have begun adding elements to their images that were previously reserved for women in beauty salons.” (Photo: Salón Donde Dorian)
Meanwhile, the streets and clubs of Havana are teeming with unique and interesting styles. Cuban men are setting trends with modern looks … and the world is taking notice. (Photo: Lara Naaman)rm for Men in Cuba