Complete Guide to Undercut Hairstyles for Men
The undercut is a recognizable style, and it’s got its fans and detractors. Because it’s a bolder look than the similarly popular (and classic) fade, it’s a good idea to look at plenty of examples before you sit down in the barber’s chair.
First, what exactly is an undercut? Well, it has a few defining characteristics:
- Longer hair on top
- Shaved or buzzed sides
- A hard or shaved part
If you’re considering a cut with shaved sides, longer hair on top that isn’t faded into the length of the sides, and a hard or shaved part – you want an undercut.
One thing we love about undercuts is their versatility. Most fades are going to look similar, but this haircut has many options for making it your own.
Want the popular slicked back hair on top with closely shaved sides? No problem. What about hair long enough for a ponytail on top with the sides shaved down to the skin? You can do it.
Feeling more comfortable about a short buzzed top, shaved part, and intricate designs shaved into the sides? We dig it. We’d describe the overall look of the undercut in one word: Contrast.
If the longer hair isn’t a stark contrast to the much shorter sides, it’s not an undercut. Likewise, if the long hair is faded, even a little, into the sides and back, it’s not an undercut.
If a bold, fresh look is what you’re going for and you have a little length on top to work with, you can totally pull off an undercut. But which style is going to work best for you?
That’s what you’re about to find out. Check out these examples to get some inspiration for your haircut, then stick around for a few things you should know before you take the leap.
30 Undercut Examples
Take a look at these 30 examples to see different ways this cut can be styled and done to suit you best. Which version of the undercut is your favorite?
This cut features medium length hair on top with a hard transition to shaved sides. The hair is combed over and styled with a little height at the hairline for interest.
Close-shaved sides complement the much longer, slicked-back hair on top in this example. To keep this style in place, use strong hold styling products.
We like that this version of an undercut starts a little lower on the sides, leaving more long hair up top for styling. A full beard balances this look that could appear top-heavy out.
There’s a slight curvature to the undercut portion of this haircut, which creates a little extra visual interest. The hair on top is kept medium in length for plenty of style options.
You can see how closely shaved the sides of this haircut are, and the length of hair on top creates a bold look. The hair can be slicked back or worn over to the side, covering the line where the undercut starts.
This cut takes a slight twist on the traditional undercut with more volume on top and a smaller shaved area on the sides and back. Tousle and style your hair with a light to medium hold hair product for a casual look.
A classic representation of the undercut style, this look creates the line where the long hair on top meets the close-shaved hair on the sides and back. Comb the hair back and away from the part to show it off.
This version takes the basics of the undercut hairstyle to the extreme. The sides are shaved close to the skin, leaving the top long enough to comb back into a dapper style.
Pair the undercut with a pompadour on top for a look that takes a modern twist on a classic style. The back is left longer, with only the sides getting a close shave.
Here, the shaved portion comes up a bit higher, leaving the hair on top long enough for a top knot or ponytail. The hair at the nape of the neck is trimmed and shaped into a straight line to keep the look neat.
This one takes the undercut and adds precise clipper designs to make this style stand out. The hair on top is left at a medium length, the sides are shaved with a guard, and then clippers are used to create the eye-catching designs.
Very short hair on the sides coupled with medium length, slicked-back hair on top create this suave style. The edges are shaped for definition and a clean look.
A shaved part creates a clear delineation between the shaved sides and lengthy top on this example. This style would work well with curly or wavy hair as well.
You can’t go wrong with the combed-over look shown in this example. Make sure to use a little medium-to-strong hold hair product to keep the hair in place!
Shaved nearly to the skin, the sides and back of this haircut are a stark contrast to the much longer hair on top.
Here’s another cool example of an undercut paired with intricate clipper designs. Don’t try this at home – you’ll need a skilled barber to pull this look off!
When you don’t feel like slicking the hair straight back, or if you want a second option for styling your long-on-top hair with an undercut, this combed over style works perfectly.
This example shows the long portion of the hair extending a little further down the sides of the head, so the line that separates the shaved part is a little less stark.
Leaving the top and back long with shaved sides creates a mohawk look that stands out and leaves plenty of styling options.
The long hair on top dips down a bit in the back, which isn’t typical of this cut but looks great. Keep the sides very short to create a line of distinction between the top and sides.
Who said you need long hair on top to make an undercut work? This example shows closely shaved sides and shorter hair on top for a crisp, clean look that we love.
Feeling bold and have a trusted barber you can call who’s comfortable doing complex clipper designs? Then this might be the undercut for you.
Young men can pull off the undercut, too! This example shows longer hair on top, creating a little height at the hairline that reminds us of the classic pompadour.
The gray-hued trend we see so often paired with the model’s tousled hair elevates this undercut to a new level.
Something about this look just screams tough. The hair on top is buzzed to a uniform short length while the sides are shaved closely to draw a clear line between the sections.
Undercuts look good with any hair color or texture, and we love this blond example. The sides are shaved nearly to the skin, leaving the hair on top at a longer length for styling.
Extending the long portion of this haircut slightly down the sides makes it resemble a fade when the hair is worn tousled to the side.
You may not have quite the beard this model does, but you can imitate the hair with ease. Leave the top long and let the longer portion dip down a bit in the back to create a look similar to a mohawk.
In this example, the longer portion of the hair extends down the sides a little further to create less shaved space. The words “bowl cut” might come to mind, but the look is modern and cool.
Here’s a great final example of an undercut with all the basics: That long top, close-shaved sides, and a special bonus of a precisely trimmed and groomed beard!
Things to Consider Before You Get an Undercut
The undercut may be a big change for you or just another cut, but there are a few things you should consider before you head to the barber shop. Here’s what you need to know about undercuts before you get one.
You might need to grow your hair out first. Depending on the finished look you want, you might need to invest a little time in growing your hair out before getting an undercut. The popular slicked-back style will require your hair to be a few inches long, and if you’re after man-bunnable hair, it will need to be even longer.
Regular trims are essential. The stark contrast between the longer hair on top and the short hair on the sides means you’ll have to visit the barber regularly for trims every four weeks or even more often. This will keep an undercut looking its best.
Growing it out looks bizarre. The most common complaint about undercuts for men and women is the grow-out stage. If you’re not going to keep this style, you’ll have to either get a fade to start blending the growing-out sides in or have the top cut to the same length as the sides.
Pay attention to the season. We’d recommend experimenting with this style in warmer months to see if you like it. With a shaved back and sides, you’re sure to notice how much colder the air feels on your head. That can offer some sweet relief in the hottest months of the year, but leave you feeling chilly in the winter.
Find a skilled stylist to do your undercut. A good stylist or barber will be able to recommend the best version of an undercut for your face shape, hair texture, hairline, and needs. Some might look better with the long portion extending further down the sides, while some need the shaved sides to extend up further to flatter the face more. A good stylist will know which suits you best.
Can You Pull Off an Undercut?
So, with all this information in mind and plenty of great examples to inspire you, what do you think? Can you pull off an undercut? The answer is almost certainly yes, and here’s why.
Undercuts are so versatile that there’s a style that will flatter absolutely anyone. Round, square, heart-shaped, and oval faces look great with an undercut. Straight, curly, coily, and wavy hair all work well.
Coarse, medium, and fine hair are suited for it. Thick and thin hair can make it work. If you tend to wear your hair short, you’ve got nothing to lose by experimenting with this bold look. You can always get your hair cut into a uniform length if you decide it’s not for you.
And if you typically wear your hair longer, you can have your barber ease it into a fade as it grows out to keep it looking good. Make it as tame or as edgy as you want it. Undercuts are one haircut trend that won’t be going away anytime soon.
So if you’re thinking about getting it done but aren’t sure if you can pull it off, know that there’s a version of this cut that will suit you perfectly. Just make sure you find a great stylist to make it happen!