Short Back and Sides: 5 Ways to Wear the Barber’s Cut

Short back and sides basically make up the description of the classic Filipino haircut, the Barber's Cut. But do you know what kind you're getting?

Short back and sides make up the quintessential men’s haircut. It’s a description that all barbers can create for their clients, so much so that, to Filipinos, it’s simply called the Barber’s Cut.

The Barber’s Cut is a cultural Filipino icon that is defined by the “2×3,” or the practice of taking off two fingers’ worth of hair on the sides and three fingers’ worth on the back. Sound familiar? It’s basically the short back and sides haircut.

short back and sides barber's cut
The Barber’s Cut can take many shapes and forms. Credit: Shutterstock

Then again, so are these other popular men’s hairstyles. In an ideal world, we would leave it up to the barber to take care of our hair. Since we can’t all be so lucky, find out for yourself which short back and sides haircut you actually want to get when you ask for that Barber’s Cut!


pompadour fade professional hairstyles for men
The pompadour fade is a versatile look great for both work and casual days or nights out. Credit: iStock

The pompadour features a great volume of hair, known as the pomp, on its top, but is made up of the fundamental short back and sides. These two hairstyles are complementary, thanks to contrasting hair textures, hair lengths, and hair heights to create a balance of sleekness and funk. No wonder Elvis loved it!

Editor’s Tip: The pompadour will usually require a hair styling product. Find out which one is best for you to use here. When the day is through, though, get all that product out of your hair with Dove Men + Care Refreshing Clean Shampoo.

Side Part

model man on the runway with slick hair
Slick side part. Credit:

Having short back and sides is the foundation of the side part hairstyle. This traditional men’s hairstyle can look edgy if you can ask your barber to do a fade on the usual 2 by 3. The fade is another hairstyle that is determined by the back and sides of the head getting shorter and shorter hair, eventually “fading” into the skin. The side part looks good on any face type, too, so it’s safe to let your barber take the clippers on this one.

Editor’s Tip: Style your hair into a side part with hair wax for men. Sometimes also called hair clay or hair putty, it’s an easy hair styling product you can use all day. Make sure to pat some TONI&GUY Mattifying Putty for Men on the top and the sides when you do this style.

Military Cut

buzz cut hairstyle for men
Hairstyle for men: Buzz cut. Credit:

The military cut is also sometimes called the buzz cut, which is a prime example of a short and back sides haircut. For a modern take, keep the top just an inch—or even a finger—longer than the usual buzz cut. Depending on your face shape, the buzz cut can highlight your features or complement some aspects with its height—or lack thereof.

Editor’s Tip: While the military cut is maintenance-free, improper hair care can lead to dandruff that will show up as crusty white flakes on your scalp. With the hair on your head that short, it will definitely be a feature you don’t want to highlight. Use Clear Ice Cool Menthol Anti-Dandruff Shampoo to activate your scalp’s natural protective layer and keep it fresh all day.

Mohawk with Fade

Short back an sides: Side view of a man with Mohawk with fade hairstyle
Make barber’s cut trendy by going for a Mohawk with fade. Credit: Shutterstock

Update a regular barber’s cut and try the Mohawk with fade. This haircut features a thick top and short sides that are not fully shaved. You can go for a taper fade as well for a more dramatic look. Then, keep this haircut young and fresh by giving your Mohawk haircut a matte finish.

Square Cut

Short back and sides: Man with short dark hair wearing a white sleeveless top
If you want a sleek and clean look, the square cut is for you. Credit: Shutterstock

Also known as the flair or shape up hairstyle, the square cut involves a straight line on top as well as the sides and back. It’s a simple and clean haircut that you can wear every day no matter the occasion. If you want to spice it up, you can grow the top a bit longer and style your hair in different ways.

Now that you have these ideas on how to wear short back and sides, you can specify what you want when you ask for a barber’s cut. Bookmark this page so you can show it to your stylist on your next trip to the salon.

Next read: No matter what hairstyle or haircut you have, it is important to keep your hair and scalp dandruff-free. Check out these dandruff solutions for every type of scalp so you know the best answer to your hair and scalp problems.