Whether you’ve grown up going to the same corner barbershop or have a new, well-researched place on lock, the first step to getting the right undercut is choosing a barber you like and trust.
Although it might be tempting to just name-drop your celebrity man-crush whose look you want “copied exactly,” it’s extremely helpful to actually know some basic barber terms. Yes, it can help, but not all hair types and grooming habits are created equal.
What might work for a Hollywood A-Lister with an on-call stylist might not work for the busy everyman who can barely squeeze a cut in every two weeks. Sometimes scoring the right cut is as simple as telling your barber exactly what, but that you’re also open to his expert opinion. Read on to discover if the undercut sounds like it could be your next style to experiment with:
How to Get the Undercut You Want
1. Last Look First
Very important, and a step most guys forget, is telling your barber how long it’s been since your last haircut, undercut or fade. This gives your barber a good reference point of how your hair looked when it was freshly cut. Secondly, it gives you something to work with during your current appointment,” e.g. “I want something shorter/longer/more manageable than last time.”
It pays to be open about your lifestyle and habits—specifically how much time you have (or want) to spend on your hair every day. Whether you can commit to something more intense or if you’re a wash-and-wear guy, makes a big difference. Also, if you work in corporate but still want a trendy style like an undercut, which involves partially or completely shaving off hair underneath a longer layer, ask your barber for his opinion. He can suggest a more moderate version of these cuts, or at least offer up some tips and products that will help tone things down for the workweek.
3. Set Your Terms
We’ve all learned the hard way: One man’s trim is another’s crew cut. Be specific, and as with most things, inches get your point across the best. If you’re clueless as to how short you want to go, start long and work up from there. If you want to make life really easy for the both of you, know your clipper guards, then you can clearly ask him for the following:
Taper or Fade (interchangeable)
A taper is a style that gradually shortens in length from the top of your head to your neckline. This implies hair “fading” from the crown downwards. Sounds almost crazy obvious, but this long-to-short distinction is good to know. This comes into play when asking for styles like a true undercut, which has no taper at all.
Neckline (or nape, back of the neck)
Commonly, there are three basic neckline styles available: blocked, rounded or tapered. Blocked necklines are shaved in a square shape with hard edges and give a crisp-looking outline. Downside: Regrowth outside the outline is quite obvious, requiring frequent touch-ups. Rounded necklines have no angled edges, offer a softer appearance and are great on longer, non-shaved hairstyles. Lastly, tapered necklines are the most versatile (and slimming, if that is a concern). The hair gradually just “disappears” into the nape. This is the most natural-looking and easily maintained style.
It pays to know your hair type. Thinner hair can do with more volume at the crown. Ask your barber for some choppiness, which he might give you by point-cutting hair at a 45-degree angle for some sexy texture. Thicker, coarser, generally unruly hair? Tell your guy you need your hair to be thinned out at the top. He’ll most likely take some thinning shears on your crown—special scissors that cut some strands and leave others alone—for more balanced, refined tips.
4. Post-Cut Products
Once you’ve got the undercut you’ve been hoping for, it’s important to add the right styling products to your arsenal to keep the cut looking fresh. If you’re going for a quiff or pomp look, you’re going to need a product that can give you hold throughout the day to maintain your style. AXE Texturizing Cream is a perfect product to add to your lineup, it’s lightweight and will give you the hold to create the perfect volume to show off that undercut.
If you’ve got a curly style on top of your undercut, try SheaMoisture Men Argan Oil & Shea Butter Defining Cream to keep your curls defined and in place.
15 Undercut Styles to Inspire You
Balance out your super short undercut with some major volume on top. This contrast will give you the best of both worlds when it comes to short and medium-length haircuts.
2. Tease Away
Grab a teasing comb and create some major volume at the front of your style. This level of volume and smooth finish will give you a cool and intentional style.
Give your style some definition and edge by trying this trendy swooped style. This look is defined and sleek and one of the trendiest undercut styles.
4. Slicked Back
Grab a dime-sized amount of hair gel and comb your hair back to create this slicked-back style.
Go for an authentic undercut and completely shave the bottom half of your style. This super clean look is military-inspired and will give you a sharp edge to your style.
6. Sharp Edges
This style is all sharp edges and edgy angles. We love the unexpected edges of this style and can’t recommend it enough.
The classic pompadour invites an edgy undercut for a very cool combination style. This blended style is messy and edgy at the same time.
8. Natural Waves
Soften your style by wearing your waves naturally and embracing that easy texture. This is a great way to style your curls for fancier events or a busy workday.
Opt for a super messy and laidback style by pairing your undercut with a tousled top. This look is easy and laidback and one of our favorites of the collection.
10. Messy Man Bun
Throw your strands up into a messy man bun and show off the undercut underneath. This is a great way to play with an undercut style without sacrificing your length.
11. Streamlined Man Bun
Opt for a larger undercut and pull the top half of your hair up into a work-appropriate man bun. This look is sleek and refined and totally office-appropriate.
12. Hard Part Man Bun
This trendy combination style incorporates a man bun, undercut, and hard part! One of the edgiest styles in the collection, this look is as cool as it gets.
13. Full Hair
Amp up the volume with this super full and dynamic style. Achieving volume of this level will give your look a unique and personal vibe.
14. Classic Undercut
The classic undercut is the perfect choice for someone looking for an easy yet still trendy style. Use a touch of Dove Men+Care Medium Hold Molding Paste to hold your style in place.
Pair your braided man bun with an undercut for an easy style that still feels cool. This is a great way to wear your natural hair with an unexpected twist.
16. Combed Over
This isn’t your grandfather’s combover. This combed style pulls the top half of your undercut style over to one side for a super cool and edgy look.
17. Undercut Fade
Are you looking for a classic undercut style? Be sure to consider the undercut fade. This go-to style is trendy and pretty much universally flattering.
18. Styled Up
Style your hair for some major volume to make a statement with your strands. This look balances height and a closely shaven look for a super-cool finished result.
Make your undercut make a statement with this clean-cut look. This look balances a closely shaven look with your natural texture for a perfectly cool finished look.
20. Shaved Sides
Keep the top long and shaved the sides completely for a high-contrast style. This look is particularly cool with a close-shaven beard.
Consider this the male equivalent of beach waves. This messy and undone look is the best way to make an undercut work as a messier style.
22. Clean-Cut and Cool
Keep your hair clean-cut with this military-inspired style. This cut works on a range of hair colors and textures and requires very minimal upkeep.
23. Play with Pattern
Play with patterns in your undercut to make a major statement. Bring this photo to your barber for inspiration and get creative with your look.
24. Classic Undercut
Go for a classic undercut if you’re just dipping your toes into this style. Voluminous on the top and short on the sides, this classic undercut hits all the major notes.
25. Easy and Clean-Cut
Wear your style in an easy and clean-cut look with a short and easy undercut style. We love how this look works with a shorter beard.
Thinking about trying one of these undercut styles? Snap a picture and tag us @AllThingsHairUS!