Understanding Undercut Styles and 15 Looks to Try Now

Avoid any disconnects by learning the right terms.

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:

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.”

2. Divulge

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.

Texture

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.

1. Voluminous

undercut voluminous
Balance your undercut with some major volume.

Balance out your super short undercut with some major volume on top.

2. Tease Away

undercut pompadour
Get familiar with a teasing comb.

Grab a teasing comb and create some major volume at the front of your style.

3. Swooped

undercut swooped
Learn how to create this classic swooped style.

Give your style some definition and edge by trying this trendy swooped style.

4. Slicked Back

undercut slicked back
Grab some hair gel, boys.

Grab a dime-sized amount of hair gel and comb your hair back to create this slicked-back style.

5. Shaved

undercut shaved
Go big or go home.

Go for an authentic undercut and completely shave the bottom half of your style.

6. Sharp Edges

undercut sharp
This look is edgy and cool.

This style is all sharp edges and edgy angles.

7. Pompadour

undercut modern pompadour
It’s a classic for a reason.

The classic pompadour invites an edgy undercut for a very cool combination style.

8. Natural Waves

undercut natural waves
Go for a softer look.

Soften your style by wearing your waves naturally and embracing that easy texture.

9. Messy

undercut messy
Consider a more laidback casual style.

Opt for a super messy and laidback style by pairing your undercut with a tousled top.

10. Messy Man Bun

undercut messy man bun
Pair your undercut with a messy man bun.

Throw your strands up into a messy man bun and show off the undercut underneath.

11. Streamlined Man Bun

undercut man bun
Try something a little more work-appropriate.

Opt for a larger undercut and pull the top half of your hair up into a work-appropriate man bun.

12. Hard Part Man Bun

undercut hard part man bun
Try this trendy combination style.

This trendy combination style incorporates a man bun, undercut, and hard part!

13. Full Hair

undercut full hair
Amp up the volume.

Amp up the volume with this super full and dynamic style.

14. Classic Undercut

undercut classic
You can’t go wrong with a 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.

15. Braids

undercut braids
Pair your braids with a sleek undercut.

Pair your braided man bun with an undercut for an easy style that still feels cool.

Thinking about trying one of these undercut styles? Snap a picture and tag us @AllThingsHairUS!

Next Read

Hair Quiz
All Things Hair
All Things Hair US
Hey! I'm Athena, your personal Hair Assistant. Got a question about your hair?
Chat with All Things Hair in Messenger