Men's Inspiration

‘Mallen Streaks’ Are Officially Cool – But What Are They?

by charlottegw / last updated June 4, 2021

mallen streak richard madden

The so-called Mallen streak, once covered up and concealed, is now being embraced by popular culture and clients following the trend for embracing natural grey hair. Bodyguard actor Richard Madden, for example, often sports his natural white/grey streak with pride, even wearing it to awards ceremonies.

What is a ‘Mallen streak’?

A white/grey streak is known as a Mallen streak and it is an example of poliosis – which in short means an absence of melanin in the hair which results in a white streak.

Throughout history, the streak has become synonymous with evil – think X Men’s Rogue or the Bride of Frankenstein. The term ‘Mallen streak’ came into common parlance in the 1970s.

Originally coming from the Latin word ‘malignus’ (meaning ‘bad kind’) it was first used by novelist Catherine Cookson in her ‘Mallen’ trilogy. The novels follow the lives of a doomed family who all share the hereditary white/grey streak in their hair. Cookson writes of the pejorative associations of the streak, “nothing good ever came of a Mallen.” But times are a-changing …

Embracing ‘Mallen streaks’

Hopefully attitudes are changing as figures in the public eye now wear their streaks with pride.

“Personally, I would always encourage a client to embrace a streak and work with it as a feature,” says Paul Dennison, colour director at Ken Picton. “It’s incredibly unique and striking and if you cover it, you’ll constantly be fighting the regrowth and trying to cover it up.”

Other notable celebrities with a Mallen streak include politician Ed Milliband, TV presenter George Lamb and author Caitlin Moran.

mallen streak tony haresign mallen madness collection

Paul is a fan of the look and has some tips on how to work with a Mallen streak as a colourist. “It’s a very strong look and because white hair is so clean, it can look really dramatic when sitting next to the darker, natural hair,” he says.

“I’d aim to enhance that by covering any other greys, so that the front section becomes even more apparent and really stands out. If a client has covered their white hair previously and wants to grow it out and embrace it, I suggest you pre-lighten the ends as much as possible, then tone to the natural colour with a nice ash or clean blonde.”

A grey/white streak has also featured in Tony Haresign’s ‘Mallen Madness’ collection (see image above). The owner of Esquire Barbershop says of the inspiration behind his collection: “My influences for this collection included 1970s sports presenters, Batman, Catherine Cookson and Film Noir. I was keen to include a Mallen streak in the collection to highlight how striking the grey/white streak can look.”

Collection image credit:
Hair: Tony Haresign
Assistants: Kayti Dickinson, Blayre Turnbull, Daina Renton
Make-up and styling: Michelle Watson
Suits: Chester Barrie and Richard James, Savile Row
Photography: Matt Marcus

Featured image credit: Shutterstock

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