Whoever predicted that the undercut hairstyle would prevail to this day is probably laughing all the way to the bank. Did you know that this edgy, directionial style making its rounds on the fashion scene had quite the colorful past? To give you an update on the most modern ways to wear it, we’re sharing a brief history lesson, as well as 10 of the swaggiest undercut hairstyles to check out:
History of the Undercut Hairstyle
It first gained attention around 1910 during the lavish Edwardian era, but its association as primarily being a poor-boy’s haircut, though, is what gives the undercut its curious appeal. It was a style apparently adopted by blue-collar Englishmen, who couldn’t afford to go to skilled barbers and would then end up with a crude, non-blended hairstyle. The shaven sides were apparently also practical in street fights, making the undercut the go-to style for gang members. It also was a popular haircut with soldiers during WWII, which furthered the style’s controversial reputation.
It then became a fixture of the punk and new wave scene in the 1980s and gained even more steam two years ago, thanks to celebrities who displayed and rhapsodized the undercut in its various forms. Today, it remains one of the most sought-after styles, notoriety aside, due to its versatility, ease of wear and some would say an unparalleled swag factor.
How to Wear the Undercut Hairstyle
1. Undercut with side quiff
Blended with a slight downwards taper, this style incorporates two trends in one: the undercut and a fun quiff at the hairline. One of the more wearable versions due to the fading and slightly mussed-up feel at the crown, it’s a trendy, boyish take on this look and is popular with the model-off-duty set. Style with a clay or putty, like Axe Signature Spiked Up Look: Styling Putty, to maximize texture.
2. Undercut with clipping
A high and tight fade is one of the best ways to showcase some cool hair clippings or designs on your whitewalled (shaven) sides. Ask your barber for something distinctive, yet minimal near the hairline to keep it fresh but still professional.
3. Slicked-back undercut
The classic of all classics, tell your boys this is literal street style right here. Ask your barber to leave at least four inches of hair at the top for a length that can neatly be slicked back à la scallywag—or you know, to keep hair out of your face while typing out reports in your cube. We like the shiny but non-icky look of Bed Head for Men by TIGI Slick Trick.
4. Comb-over undercut
Made for the dapper dudes out there, the comb-over is the good brother of the slicked-back undercut. Simply run a comb lengthwise on your natural part and comb hair away to each side towards the ear. Use a gel or pomade, such as Dove Men+Care Defining Pomade, for a glossy look to play up the retro vibe, or a matte version for a less vintage feel.
5. Undercut with pompadour
Another hip 2-in-1, the definitive pompadour cut gets updated with shaven sides. This look starts out as your regular top-heavy undercut, but with a slight fade where the tops are styled with a 1950s greaser wave. A dime-sized amount of strong-hold gel, such as Dove Men+Care Control Gel, will keep that pomp in place.
6. Fauxhawk undercut
Either you’re trying to relive that CBGB life or you have a killer facial structure to pull this off, because this style is definitely not for the regular Joes of the world. Cop this confidence-booster by asking your barber for a high fade that tapers both at the sides and towards your parietal ridge, and relatively shorter hair on top (around three inches). Use a blowdryer and some mousse on damp hair for more volume and create your faux hawk. Finish the style by clamping in some extreme-hold gel, like TRESemmé TRES Two Extra-Firm Control Gel, to keep it from budging.
7. Knotted undercut
It’s the style du jour of busy-slash-peacocking celebrities and sports heartthrobs everywhere. The top knot or man bun with an undercut is a pretty handy way to keep your long hair out of your face on off days, or even grow the style out if ever you decide that you’re over it. Make sure hair is at least six inches long before knotting to avoid pressure on your scalp.
8. The Caesar undercut
Famous during the ’90s (aside from, well, Ancient Rome), the Caesar bowl cut gets a 2016 revamp with a high and tight fade on the sides and back. The top lengths, which are normally left to an inch short, can be left to grow up to three inches and styled flat on the hairline for a masculine fringe effect (Yes, boys can get bangs too.)
9. Curly top
Guys with wavy or naturally curly hair shouldn’t be averse to trying an undercut hairstyle, as it looks equally interesting worn with curly textures. Emphasize the hip, modern feel of your undercut by asking for a taper on the sides and styling the tops by simply following your natural texture as you dry. Run a softening product on your curls, such as Axe Natural Look: Softening Cream, and blast your hair with a blowdryer, finger-styling to refine.
10. Floppy long bangs
We’ve been seeing a lot of gentlemen rocking this major undercut hairstyle #tb to the ’90s, but with a cool twist: a sexy mid-fade. Easiest to style with straight hair, this undercut hairstyle variation also an awesome way to show off that full, bouncy head of hair. A finger-swipe of classic styling cream, like Axe Natural Look: Understated Cream, for some light hold, especially towards the hairline/bangs area, is enough to keep this look on point.
What are your favorite versions of the undercut hairstyle?