If you live in Singapore, you probably know of Josephus Tan, or have seen him around on TV or the news. The lawyer first rose to the public eye for his bad-kid-made-good life story and his appearance, which is more rockstar than lawyer-like.
Yes, we're talking about his long, glossy shampoo-ad worthy hair and goatee.
But it's not just for vanity purposes that he keeps his hair long, though it does help people remember who he is, he says. "Whenever I cut my hair, something in life goes wrong," shares Josephus about his reluctance to chop off his locks.
The 41-year-old has had long hair for most of his life. "Since I was 16. I started to keep my hair long on and off. Of course for national service, you have to cut it short. But whenever I have the first opportunity to keep it long, I'll grow it long," he shared.
A reminder of his youth that he won't chop off for just anyone
Josephus's lengthy locks also serve as a reminder of his youth.
"I'm a big fan of rock and heavy metal music. I used to play in a band after secondary school. Those were the wild days. A lot [of leaving my hair long] has to do with all those memories, because when I look back, I can't say that I have a lot of memories of my youth.
"But the one thing that I really only remember of my childhood was the band days. That was a very rare pocket of happiness that I felt."
Every morning when he washes his face and looks at his reflection, it is like he is saying to himself: "Hey, this 16-year-old boy is still in me. Keep it real, always remember where you came from. Even though I'm a lawyer now, it doesn't change the boy in me."
As you can imagine, people in his life who have asked him to cut his long hair short, but he has generally paid them no heed. "A lot of people have asked me whether I'll cut my hair? The answer is no."
This includes his own mother. And over the years, she has given up. Instead, they now trade tips on what haircare products to use instead, he says.
There have been only two men in his life whose words have made Josephus cut his hair all these years.
The first was the late criminal defence lawyer Subhas Anandan.
"I still remember I was about to go to court on my very first day as his pupil. He just looked at me and said, 'Cut your hair. Maybe the judge won't like it.' I was like, sure, out of due respect because he was my pupil master. So I cut it off," he shares.
The second was his dad, who once gruffly told him to do so. "He said, 'Not nice lah, cut'. So I cut it."
That said, he still goes for hair cuts once or twice a year, as split ends and other hair problems those with long hair face plague him too. However, he ensures that no more than two inches are cut off each time.
Caring for his hair
Since his hair seems to be glowing every time we see it, we asked him how he keeps it in such photo-ready condition.
And the secret formula that he uses on his hair over the last few years: Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 shampoo. Yes, he doesn't use a separate conditioner to get his head of silky soft hair.
Why Head & Shoulders? It's affordable and you can get it nearly anywhere in Singapore, he tells us.
"Keep it natural" is his haircare philosophy, so he advises against dyeing it, perming it or even blow drying. "Just let it dry naturally," he says.
He also only washes his hair every two or three days. "Don't wash your hair every day. There is an element of truth in it, it's scientific."
If you have sharp eyes, you'll notice that he wears coloured contact lenses as well. When he started wearing contacts, coloured ones were cheaper than the prescribed ones and he has continued wearing them since, he says.
While he used to don brown-hued contacts in the past, grey is now his preferred contact lens colour. Though it's more outstanding, it is edgier too, like me, he says.
'Gangster lawyer' Josephus Tan will be featured in a new AsiaOne series, Becoming..., where individuals from different walks of life share how they overcame their odds and made an impact with their lives.