The undercut is one of the most iconic and stylish men’s hairstyles. However, when it comes to going to a barber or hairdresser and getting that perfect undercut, you need to know what you want. This guide will arm you with the vocabulary you need to communicate your aspirations to your hairstylist.
What’s an Undercut Hairstyle?
The undercut is a hairstyle that leaves length on top but has the back and sides of the head closely cut or buzzed. Having an undercut emphasizes hair volume and shows off your facial structure. Whether your hair is straight, wavy, or permed, there is an undercut style that will make you look fresh and stand out.
When subtlety is valued, an undercut with shorter hair on top can work for a fashionable yet edgy look. If you want to make a statement, it’s best to go with an undercut that emphasizes length on top. Undercut variations can also be used to great effect by men with perms or thicker hair with natural waves or curls.
Origins of Undercut Hairstyles
The undercut first rose to prominence during the 1920s. As fashion evolved, so did the undercut throughout the first half of the 20th century. Due to its combination of style and practicality, the undercut was worn by men who made their mark, including businessmen, jazz performers, and even soldiers.
During the second half of the 20th century, different types of undercut styles debuted and were worn by many big names. Not only were undercuts a core part of youth culture, but established men who remained young at heart also wore them. The hairstyle has a natural freshness and aliveness to it.
The Modern Undercut
The undercut continues to lead trends in popular men’s hairstyles to modern-day. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you have probably seen almost every A-list actor sporting an undercut at one time or another. In recent years, the likes of Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Zak Efron, and more have rocked undercuts in blockbuster movies.
Visually, the disconnected undercut makes a bold statement. As you might have guessed, the term “disconnected” refers to the length of the hair on top of the head being vastly different from the hair on the sides. In other words, the transition from the longer hair on top to the short hair on the sides is abrupt rather than gradual. This is an aggressively eye-catching style that can work well with a hipster aesthetic.
Fade Haircuts—Low and High Fades
Fade haircuts are generally much shorter and may use fading down to the skin at any point. This has the effect of minimizing the hairline. The more you search men's undercut hairstyles, you'll notice that the fade is a popular trend.
Low fade undercut hairstyles add charm and good vibes to every personality. They are suitable for any scene from the office to parties. They look particularly striking with hair on top that is either long or medium in length. You will notice a visual effect that makes the hair look higher in volume.
Many men prefer the sleeker high fade haircut. It is distinguished where the fade line starts and how strongly the cut is tapered. Some prefer their fades to be cut down to the skin for a high bald fade. Meanwhile, others ask for a high taper fade. In any case, a high fade is a stylish cut that you can combine with a short, medium, or long hairstyle on top. The high fade can work well with a pompadour, side part, quiff, comb-over, and fauxhawk hairstyles.
Undercut with Beard
Whether you're clean-shaven, sporting a full beard, or somewhere in between, there is an undercut hairstyle that will complement your personal aesthetic. How you groom your beard will strongly influence your overall look, so be sure to keep that in mind when choosing an undercut hairstyle.
Will an Undercut Suit You?
In short, yes. Of course, you have your own unique hair type, facial structure, head shape, beard preferences. And, you operate within various social and business settings. That said, there are definitely one or more undercut variations that can be adapted to fit the look you want to go for.
There is no single face shape that works best for every undercut hairstyle. The key to choosing the right look is to be aware of your natural features. For example, soft vs. angular, round vs. long, small vs. large forehead, small vs. square jaw, etc.
Before selecting a hairstyle, check out models who have a similar look to yourself. Once you have made your choice, ask your hairstylist for their honest opinion on what adjustments, if any, should be made to better cater to your unique characteristics.
Men’s Undercut Hairstyles by Length of Top Hair
A major factor determining which undercut hairstyle will work for you is how long your hair is on top and how much of it you would like to keep. Thus, we’ve done the hard work for you in selecting the hottest undercut hairstyles that you should consider and arranged them by length.
Short Undercut Hairstyles
Shorter undercut variations have the advantage of requiring relatively less maintenance while offering a stylish and masculine look. However, shorter doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sacrifice creativity. Shorter cuts can range from subtle and suave styles to edgy and loud variations. Here are some of the hottest short undercut hairstyles currently trending.
Medium Undercut Hairstyles
If you don’t mind investing the time each day to achieve the look you want, consider a medium undercut. Some choose this cut to showcase and even exaggerate the natural properties of their hair. Another option is to use the length to create a striking look. Here are some of the most popular medium undercut hairstyles for men this year.
Long Undercut Hairstyles
Long undercut hairstyles are characterized by short sides with long hair on top. The volume results in a striking look that’s bound to draw attention. These styles are particularly favoured by men in creative fields who want to express their freewheeling spirits. Below are some of the long undercut hairstyles for men making waves this year.
Undercut Hairstyles Variations
Wavy Hair Undercut
If you have wavy hair, now is the time to embrace its untamed lines. You’ve seen this look rocked by many male models and notable men in creative fields. Regardless of whether you go for a fade, taper, or detached undercut, you'll make your mark. Depending on your hair’s consistency, you’ll likely find styling wax to be your friend.
Curly Hair Undercut
If you have a perm or naturally curly hair, leave your top longer and make the most of it! An undercut will emphasize your curls in the right way. The key is knowing your hair consistency well so that it looks full and robust.
Undercut with Fringe
Stylish haircuts with fringes can come in a variety of styles. Whether you have voluminous, curly bangs, or a thick, straight fringe, this style can be adapted to fit. Your bangs only need to be long enough to cover your forehead. The hairstyle is ideal for guys with large foreheads or longer faces, as it will appear to shorten the face length.
If your hair is thicker than usual, then the undercut quiff is for you. To showcase the difference in length, you may choose a sharp cut. Alternatively, consider a gradual fade or taper if you want to go for a more understated look. Either way, you’re going to look suave and stylish.
If you’re a lover of the mohawk haircut, but concerned about how it will be perceived, know that an undercut makes it much more acceptable in a variety of settings. Some men even go for a cool fauxhawk because the sides are short but not shaved.
Side Part Undercut
Side part undercut hairstyles are timeless. They were first recorded during the Victorian area, saw a resurgence in the early twentieth century, and are on-trend again. Breathe new life into your classic haircut with a comb and change your part. It’s simple but dramatically changes your look for the better.
Hard Part Undercut
A great alternative to the classic fade haircut is an undercut with a hard part. It is a stylishly disconnected hairstyle featuring a visible line between the undercut and top. Many consider it an elevated and classier version of side-part hairstyle, and it can work for many situations. Many guys say they love this look because they can change it up at any time by just combing over or slicking back their hair.
Side Swept Undercut
Are you wild or dapper? How about being a bit of both with the side-swept undercut. It’s ideal for straight hair, but also workable for wavy and curly hair—if it’s longer. One glance at a photo is all your stylist will need to understand what you want.
Long Fringe Side Swept Undercut
The side-swept undercut is a rare variation that carries a whole lot of attitude. The sides and back are trimmed short in the typical undercut method. However, the hair on top has several inches of extra length. This asymmetrical look is bold and striking.
Make your presence felt while showing your playful side with the pompadour. When combined with the ideal undercut, you have a hairstyle that turns heads and announces your arrival.
Hard Part Pompadour Undercut
Seeking a great looking short hair undercut? This one has been styled using a classic comb-over to form a mini pompadour that is disconnected with a hard part. The result is a sharp look that sets you apart from the crowd as a man of taste and style. This isn’t as easy as it looks, so be sure to show a picture to your barber and talk about your goals first.
The slicked-back undercut has been worn by men who embody the alpha male archetype while exuding style. It is a high-contrast style, meaning that it uses the “short sides, long top” configuration along with slicked-back hair. Ideal for ambitious business professionals, yet it can look hot on a date, at a party, or in any casual setting. Be sure to have your barber tailor the undercut on the sides to suit your hair length and type.
Undercut with Comb-Over or Brushed Back
If you have medium length hair and are seeking a look with more volume than the slicked-back undercut, consider a comb-over or brushing your hair back. This flexible hairstyle can be adjusted to fit your taste. Depending on your hair type, styling wax or pomade will aid in keeping the volume of hair on top properly brushed back. You’ll be a man who is in demand.
The Keys to Success with an Undercut Hairstyle
We’ve given you a lot to digest in this article, so let’s review how to take action toward getting an undercut hairstyle that will take your look to the next level.
1. Know What You Want
Before making an appointment with your favourite barbershop or hairdresser, it’s important to be clear on exactly what you want. Make sure you can describe it and find a photo to show your hairstylist.
2. Be Open to Making Adjustments
When you sit down and start talking to your stylist, don’t take the approach of giving them orders. Tell them what you want, but also ask for their opinion and advice. After all, this is their speciality, and they may see opportunities for refinement to your preferred look that you aren't aware of.
3. Watch, Learn and Ask
The cut is the foundation. Next, your stylist will use one or more hair products and techniques to set the look. Be sure to watch how they do it and ask if you need clarification. Find out what they recommend in terms of products that will fit your hair type and your chosen style.
Your hair is going to grow. However, many undercut hairstyles require real skill to cut. Rather than trying to do touch-ups at home with your clippers, it might make sense to regularly drop by your barbershop for maintenance trims. The frequency will depend on how fast your hair grows and the style you’ve chosen.