bIf you’re looking to make big changes to your hairstyle, the undercut could be the best option for you. Made fashionable by the stylish folk of the 1920s and ’30s, undercuts for men have come a long way in the world of contemporary looks.
Today, the undercut can be found gracing the follicles of the world’s most prominent stars including those in sport, music, film and general street culture. The appeal of the undercut is no doubt its edginess and on-trend appearance, but more importantly, it’s a style that is no longer reserved just for the younger crowd.
Fashion forward men like Nick Wooster and David Beckham have championed the undercut in recent years and slowly refined it to become something that still remains edgy but also exudes an air of elegance and class when styled the right way.
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How To Style An Undercut
Renée Baltov of Sydney’s Barberhood gave us her top tips for how to get yourself – and how to maintain – an undercut.
- It takes a lot of confidence to wear so make sure you’re ready to commit
- Don’t take it too high. What you can end up having is a long piece of hair at the top and not much else
- Undercuts can work on thick or thin hair but if you’re balding then this style won’t work for you – think combover territory
- They can be high maintenance styles which require visiting the barber more often
- Make sure it doesn’t get too long at the top as it’s a completely disconnected hairstyle
- Like any hairstyle it has to suit your head. The barber will be the best person to determine that for you
And with that, we present to you the coolest ways to pull off the men’s undercut. Whether it’s the classic undercut, the swept-back undercut or the curled undercut, we’ve got you covered on the sides and top.
Have a peruse of our gallery to see which undercut will suit your next cut. If you’re after something a little different, hit up DMARGE’s comprehensive hair bible.
1. Classic Undercut
The undercut in its most basic form, the classic undercut is one that has been championed by many men. Instantly recognisable for both its edgy yet sophisticated look, it’s a haircut that can be worn in many different variations – mentioned below – but the classic is one that can be enjoyed by the many.
A classic undercut sees the sides and back of the head cut to an even length all around, and to be shorter than the top. The amount of contrast you want to achieve is up to you, and naturally, for greater contrast, you’ll want the sides to be as short as possible. Then, with the long hair on top, you’ll want to style it up and push it back, similar to a pompadour.
2. Slicked Back Undercut
One of the most popular undercut looks of the past few years is the slicked back undercut. To pull off this look successfully, the hair needs to be long enough so that a sleek and polished look can be achieved. The slicked back undercut is especially popular because it is suitable for multiple situations, whether it be for work, casual weekends or even date nights, plus, men with thick, thin and even wavy hair can get involved. Sorry guys with curls, the slicked back undercut isn’t a style that will work for you.
The polished part is made possible with a wet look styling product such as a high-shine pomade, or if you’re on daytime duties, go for the matte finish instead. This one will take a bit more time to get right with the reworking and blowdrying required to get the perfect texture and hold from front to back.
3. Disconnected Undercut
Reserved for the edgier guys, the disconnected undercut is defined by the fact the long hair on top appears ‘disconnected’ from the short back and sides. Rather than graduate from long to short hair, there is a sharp contrast between the two. It can also be known as the military undercut – and has been rocked by the likes of Brad Pitt in Fury – and is a fantastic undercut for men wishing to give themselves a thoroughly modern look.
Because of the long section on top, it allows men to play around with styling options, although the most common examples are a pompadour, a quiff, a slick back or a combination of the two. Just be sure to not venture too far into mohawk territory.
Styling product is a must here otherwise the top part can droop or go frizzy if your hair isn’t naturally thin and straight.
4. Curly Undercut
Undercuts aren’t just for guys with straight hair, as guys with curls can also give the edgy haircut an entirely unique look whether it’s swept forward, to the side or held up for a more voluminous look. Curly-haired guys who opt for an undercut will also remove some of the added weight, resulting in a more polished look, which makes it easier for the hair on top to be styled.
The sides and back of the head can be disconnected if you wish, or you can choose to go for more of an undercut fade if you’re looking for a safer option.
Styling product is to be used but in lesser amounts than the other styles, but the combination of a brush, gel, blow-dry and naturally curly hair should hold in place whilst retaining the natural waves.
5. High Side Undercut
Similar to the classic undercut, the high side undercut is a combination of short (but not too short) hair on the back and sides, and with short (but longer than the sides) hair on top.
Slightly more low maintenance than some of the other looks on this list, the high side undercut is a great option for those looking to make their first steps into the world of undercuts, or even for the older gentleman who wishes to remain in the style game.
6. Layered Undercut
The layered undercut is an incredibly versatile undercut, as it works perfectly for all men, no matter whether they have thick or thin hair. As its name implies, this undercut style is all about layering, so be sure to mention this to your barber when you sit down in the chair, as it will require them to employ some specific techniques to get your desired result.
You can attempt it at home if you wish, by picking out sections of your hair between your fingers and cutting. You will be left with a layered cut that will definitely look homemade, but at the same time, will be completely unique and could help to express your personal style. How you have the sides and back is up to you, but incorporating something like a fade or a taper fade is probably your best bet.
What’s great about adding layers and texture is that it allows you to rock a more laidback look that you can run your hands through throughout the day to adjust and maintain your desired style. To do this, simply apply some medium-hold wax or styling paste to damp or towel-dried hair and work through.
7. Side Swept Undercut
You may think there isn’t much to separate the side-swept undercut from the other undercuts on this list, but you’d be wrong. An incredibly popular look right now, the side-swept undercut requires the hair on top to be much longer than the sides and back of the head. And when we say long, we really do mean it. If you want, you could have shoulder-length hair and combine it with shaved sides, leaving you with a look that will certainly turn heads.
Having such long hair on top of the head for the side-swept undercut also lends it to being worn in a man bun or top knot, which will find you fitting in immediately with the likes of Byron Bay locals or roller-skaters on Huntington Beach pier.
There’s no getting around the fact the side-swept undercut will require a fair bit of maintenance, both in terms of keeping the sides of the head short, and when styling. You’ll find enlisting the help of a hairdryer will help to sweep the hair into position first, before applying some product and a light spritz of hairspray to hold it in place.
8. Long Undercut
To be honest, a long undercut is more of an umbrella term for a range of undercuts. You would’ve seen these variations being rocked by the likes of rock and pop stars. Simply put, a long undercut requires the hair on top to be long. How long? If it goes past your eye-line then it can be considered long, but for greater effect, you’ll want it to be reaching your chin.
You can use the side-swept undercut above as a great starting point, or you could simply employ a taper fade and add some volume to the top of the head with some styling product to create a visually impressive look.
Styling products such as matte pastes can be used to give it either the wind-swept look or the heavily distressed look. Regular maintenance is necessary to retain this look.
9. Pompadour Undercut
A pompadour is already a stylish option for men wishing to shake things up a bit, so adding an undercut into the mix only amplifies the effect. The beauty of the pompadour undercut is the length of either section can be decided by you, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. You could combine a long hair pompadour with a disconnected undercut, or as a safer option, pair a short pompadour with a taper fade undercut.
You’ll want to invest in some high-shine pomade or wax for this look, and you’ll also need to make sure you maintain it on a regular basis, i.e. make regular visits to the barber to ensure the lengths of both sections are kept to your desired proportions. While men with thin hair can apply for this haircut, those with thick hair will find the extra weight will help add to the volumising effect.
10. Messy Undercut
Perhaps the most contemporary undercut hairstyle, the messy undercut is one that can be worn by virtually all men. Made popular by the likes of Zac Efron, a messy undercut is a great option for summer, as it certainly evokes a laidback surfer lifestyle.
Similar to the layered undercut, the messy undercut requires the hair on top of the head to be long and to have a great deal of texture, made possible by your barber point cutting into it. The hair on the sides and back of the head can be cut to whatever length you wish, but of course, it needs to be shorter than the top.
It can also be regarded as a low maintenance look since you only need to apply a small amount of product into damp or towel-dried hair. No need for long-hold spray or copious amounts of wax here.
11. Undercut With Beard
Pairing an undercut with a beard is one of the most masculine looks going. Not only is a fully grown beard associated with masculinity, but when teamed with a stylish undercut – a disconnected undercut works best – then you have yourself a seriously stylish statement. What makes this look such a standout is the contrast between the long hair on top of your head, short hair on the sides, moving back into long hair for the beard.
RELATED: How To Grow And Maintain A Beard
You can choose to pair any undercut hairstyle with a beard, whether it be a slicked back undercut, a side-swept variation instead or even just the classic undercut. You almost have free reign to experiment, since the undercut won’t be the only focal feature of your face, as it will be balanced out by your beard.