Beckham's barnet loses out to 'the Pesto'

Put away the wax, lay down the heated straighteners and leave the peroxide alone, men. The era of overindulgent male grooming is over and understated sophistication is back. For this, you can thank the BBC's business editor, Robert Peston.

The broadcaster, widely credited with making the credit crunch comprehensible to millions of baffled viewers, is now a role model for the would-be well-groomed, after he was last week voted the owner of the best celebrity haircut. Men, we are told, are flocking to the easy, low-maintenance cut that is now being called "the Pesto".

The man responsible for Peston's tonsorial triumph over competitors including Daniel Craig, George Clooney and David Beckham is not a designer stylist clattering his Cuban heels across a swanky shop in Mayfair. David Barron, who runs Barrons Hairdressing in Muswell Hill, where the average haircut costs a modest £30, said he had given his client a "stylish, cutting-edge" look: "He's got very tidy 'just-so' sideburns and he likes to look sharp. He's a well-turned- out guy."

So what is the secret of Peston's success? "He uses good-quality hair products and takes all of his advice on grooming from me."

There is also the mundane matter of the recession, which Peston has done much to explain and which has taken the shine off Beckham's trademark trim, at a reported, and denied, cost of £300 or more.

"I think that because of the financial situation, so many people are going to be job-seeking," Mr Barron said. "And their appearance is absolutely important to make a good impression and to feel good about themselves."

Optima, the hairdressing firm that crowned the BBC's business pundit last week, suggested his win was a triumph of substance over style. Peter Murtha, Optima's founder, said: "Men are realising they don't have to look like Brad Pitt or George Clooney to be attractive, and that a lot of women find brains sexier than brawn alone.

"It explains why more and more of our male customers are requesting conservative hairstyles, like Robert Peston's, to portray an air of intellect," he added.

Mr Barron favoured a simpler analysis: "Robert is a recognised face and talks the language people can understand. He's what the people want at the moment."