by Ian Chandler
January 18, 2021
The undercut hairstyle is probably the most trending men’s haircut right now. Its high contrast structure is unique and memorable, and it gives the wearer a classy, refined look. It goes hand in hand with current men’s fashion, and guys love it.
It’s easy to see why––the undercut is distinctive and sophisticated. Unlike some haircuts, you can easily recognize it at first glance. You can also style it in several different ways, and each of the variations is as distinct as the undercut itself.
So we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to this hairstyle. Whether you love the cut or have never heard of it, this guide will discuss its finer points, variations, and tips for styling. We’ll also go over which products work best for each variation and help guide you to an undercut you’ll love.
What Is The Undercut Hairstyle?
It is a short – to medium-length style that contrasts the top with the sides. The hair is left long on the top, while the sides (and often the back) are buzzed short. This places emphasis on the hair on top of the head and creates a vibrant distinction between the top and sides.
There are many variations on the undercut hairstyle, but that’s the basic idea: long top, short sides. More specifically, the basic form is a long top and buzzed sides. As such, it is a high contrast hairstyle that emphasizes the hair on top.
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In the world of hairstyles, an undercut is a haircut in which under sections of hair are cut short or shaved with a longer top layer left resting above. An undercut is usually achieved by holding the top hairs away from the head. All of the hair on the sides and back that grows underneath are then cut or shaved.
The undercut is a unisex hairstyle that has been in and out of fashion for many years, with increased popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. Generally, the undercut, or variations of the style, more commonly has been known as a bowl cut. This term emerged during the Great Depression because the look was often achieved by placing a bowl on a person’s head. Then, all of the hair that fell below the rim of the down-turned bowl was cut or shaved away.
Moe Howard of the Three Stooges sported a famous example of the standard bowl cut. The mop-top style popularized by The Beatles in the 1960s is also a classic example of an undercut style. In addition to being known as a bowl cut, an undercut has been called a beach cut, mushroom cut, or pot haircut.
Undercutting may also refer more specifically to a hair-cutting technique than to a style, wherein chopping or shaving the under layers of hair can create variations on other styles. For example, a bob haircut can be undercut to create what is known as a wedge cut. A prime example of this hairstyle was made famous by figure skater Dorothy Hamill in the 1970s. Similarly, women with thick or coarse hair sometimes opt to undercut their normal style in order to thin out their hair and reduce its weight. Undercutting another style can make thick or heavy hair more manageable.
The hairstyle has also come to refer to a modern punk-inspired hair trend in which one area of hair is visibly shaved while the rest of the hair sports a totally different style. Model Alice Dellal has been credited as having begun this trendy variation of the style. In 2008, Dellal wore her long hair parted to one side, with the other side shaved around and above her ears. Singer Rihanna similarly adopted the trend in 2009.
This article was co-authored by Jenny Tran. Jenny Tran is a Hair Stylist and the Founder of JT Hair Lab by Jenny Tran based in the Dallas, Texas metro area. With over seven years of professional hair styling experience, Jenny specializes in hair coloring, haircutting, and hair extensions. JT Hair Lab is an authorized carrier of R+Co and of Milbon and is committed to using products with quality ingredients.
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An undercut is a hair style that can make an edgy statement. By shaving or cutting a lower section of your hair extremely short, you allow a longer layer to fall over the cut area. In most cases, an undercut is done to the section of hair just above the nape of the neck, so the rest of the hair falls over it. With mid-length to long hair, that means the cut section is only visible when you pull your hair up.  X Expert Source
Professional Hair Stylist Expert Interview. 31 August 2020. If you’re thinking about going for an undercut, you need a pair of hair clippers with adjustable blades. For beginners, it’s best to start with a small, subtle undercut and see how you like it before progressing to a bolder cut.
The term nape undercut is a bit misleading, if only because it implies that this haircut has anything to do with a traditional undercut.
Some do, sure, but the signature detail of an undercut at the nape is just that—it’s at the nape of the neck. The shaved spot is usually hidden by a longer fall of hair, so each hidden undercut is a surprise. The style offers girls and women a way to show off their individualism and personal style without the risk of violating dress codes or inviting unwanted opinions from random people.
Even if you’re wary of shaving your head, that’s the beauty of the nape undercut—you can hide it whenever you want or need to, and you can start small. Besides, your hair grows back so quickly, why not experiment?
Best Nape Undercuts for Women
It’s hard to stand out when trends rule the world, but nape undercuts make it a bit easier. Better still, you’re keeping a stylish secret that you don’t necessarily have to show anyone else.
Even if you’ve worn your hair long for your whole life, you can still shave a patch at your nape, if only for the knowledge that you’re rocking an edgy, bold look that’s safely hidden from the rest of the world. You can get quite creative with what you do with your undercut.
By no means, you have to restrict yourself to a simple, no-frills shave. Embrace the frills! Ask for a design, or consider coloring the secret section of your undercut with bright rainbow hues that you might not be able to experiment with otherwise.
1. Simple Lines
Because a nape undercut typically hides beneath your hair, you can go wild and keep it a secret. A few crisp, sharp lines are the perfect start. Get used to your undercut and its design. You might decide to get something more intricate next time.
2. Nape Secrets
women’s undercut is divine. As you can see, it takes talent to achieve this cut. Not only do you want to visit a reputable stylist with undercut experience, but you also want to make sure your stylist has an artistic touch. Don’t let just anyone try this.
3. The V Nape Haircut
You’re under no obligation to have any designs shaved into your undercut, of course, nor designs are necessary to make this cut look fly. The V shape is clean and flawless, yet it looks phenomenal when you wear your hair in a bun or ponytail.
4. Side Lines
The color here is absolutely gorgeous. See how the dusky pink of the nape undercut contrasts with the lilac hue of her hair? The way the lines peek out on the side is delightfully cheeky.
5. Glittery Nape
The glitter hair trend is fun, albeit messy. The style you see here goes a step beyond mere glitter, and it’s less messy, to boot. Would you ever bedazzle your undercut?
6. Chevron Nape Haircut
How on-trend is this delicate chevron pattern? It’s a more complex take on the V cut for sure, but it’s not extreme. It’s quite pretty—and imagine dyeing each V section a different color!
7. Chevron in Purple
Here’s a fabulous example of both the chevron pattern and the use of color. The undercut here is all one shade, more or less, but it still makes the design stand out in contrast. Also, note the varying shades of purple in the rest of the hair—that’s some serious depth.
8. Crosshatch Undercut
The pattern shaved into this nape undercut is detailed to death. That takes supreme skill, a steady hand, and an eye for straight lines.
9. Peekaboo Heart
You can also have little shapes shaved into your undercut. How precious in this tiny heart? It’s clean shaven, as well, right down to the skin, and that makes it pop.
10. On the Sides
This is a different kind of undercut for the nape. The hair along the back and most of the sides is significantly shorter than what’s on top, but the designs are located over the temple and right above the ear. Love the way the ear cuff adds to the fade!
The whole look you see before you is glorious, from top to bottom, from upper curls to undercut. Those curls should give you life, as should the zigzags and those sharp, divine, flawless edges. Make no mistake, this is the way a nape undercut should look.
12. Undercut Art
In the right hand, the electric razor is a paintbrush, and your scalp can be the canvas. The design is next level, and the stylist is an artist. Look at the detail on the leaves—that’s all the proof you need.
13. Contrast Nape Undercut
Black and hot pink always sizzle, and the combination is particularly popping in undercut form. The pattern is eye-catching, too, but imagine the bright pink peeking through strands of black.
14. The Shade
Seriously, the shading and fading on this design are flawless. Imagine the time and talent it takes to shave something like that into the scalp. Now imagine having a design just as stunning hiding beneath your hair.
Several things are happening here. This is a smaller, almost delicate take on the traditional nape undercut, but it works so well. Check out the way the upper point of the V lines up with the middle part. The honeycomb design is unique and fabulous. As an aside, the silver color is fire, and the braids are precious.
16. Curly Top
Here, too, is a prime example of what an undercut at the nape should look like. Always pay respect to the origins of a trend—no exceptions. On another note, this girl is gorgeous—hair, lips, eyebrows, all on-point.
17. Delicate Lines
The fade leading up to the pattern of lines is smooth as butter. The design here is another way to ease into the undercut lifestyle. It’s more intricate than a plain V cut, but it’s not complicated, either. That also makes for minimal upkeep.
18. On the Diagonal
An asymmetrical undercut is innovative and ahead of the game, so you might think about jumping on this sub-trend before it takes off like a rocket—and it will. You’re not committing to a full undercut, at least not technically. At the same time, however, not only are you taking the plunge, you’re diving in on the edge.
19. Hidden Kitten
First of all, this color combo is just about everything. Second, and more to the point, that cat is the whole world. It even has little pink ears. Look close, and you’ll spot a tiny, heart-shaped kitten nose. Can you even? Because we cannot even. You have to commit to a nape undercut with this much detail, and for the sake of your hair, go to a rock star stylist.
20. Technicolor Lightning
There are several layers of awesome involved in this undercut. It’s like a hidden Bowie tribute. It is also a dozen different kinds of badass. Like any dyed design, it takes a lot of upkeep to maintain a cut similar to this, but you’ll have a little leeway—they look surprisingly neat as they grow out a bit.
12 Modern Mullet Haircut Female
© Provided by Female Network Adding bangs, layers, and alteration how you tie your beard can advice abate the actualization of fine, abrasion hair. IMAGE INSTAGRAM/chahong_official
If you accept artlessly attenuate beard or accept noticed bit-by-bit abrasion over the years, change your haircut or go-to administration methods to bluff your way to fuller-looking tresses. Here are looks recommended by Korean hairstylist Cha Hong that you can try ASAP:
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Side bangs can instantly add aggregate to your hairline by filling in the abandoned spaces about your face that abridgement strands. Meawhile, a abounding binding will accord the top of your arch added volume, provided that you opt for a chiffon actualization over a blubbery cut.
A short, one-length bob won’t aloof accomplish you attending younger, but the edgeless cut will hug your jawline and accommodate an apparition of fuller locks. When commutual with a layered fringe, you’ll accomplish bendable layers that will atone for flat-looking roots.
Variations of continued brownie cuts bear a fresh, active vibe additional natural-looking arrangement to your hair. You can brace it with ancillary bangs to amplify the aggregate or add highlights for more arrangement after added cuts.
Cha Hong describes this attending as a layer-filled haircut that maximizes the aggregate on both the top and aback the head. It’s like a avant-garde and added adulatory booty on a mullet, and according to the hairstylist, is now accepted in Korea for its different vibe that additionally apparel accomplished hair.
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Long beard in a compatible length accentuates thinness and tends to attending flat. To antidote this, cut it in continued layers will atone for the “sagging” parts, abnormally about your face and about your collarbones. Go for blind bangs for a bendable look, or a texturizing actualization like a abandoned crew for that beach-inspired vibe.
Regular low ponytails will alone accomplish attenuate beard arise alike thinner, so Cha Hong recommends alteration how you tie your strands. First, give yourself a attenuate lift by adjustment the ponytail to the aback of your beard instead of absolution it blow at the nape of the neck. After accepting it with a beard tie, admit a baby catch central your ponytail to bluff added aggregate on the blind end.
Watch the video beneath for a complete demo:
According to the hairstylist, accoutrement your buns with a scrunchie will accomplish the agglomeration at the aback of your arch arise bigger, giving the actualization of thicker hair. It adds a beautiful ’90s blow to your look, too!
Watch the video beneath for added recommendations and tips from Cha Hong:
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Sooo, I know this probably isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but cutting your own hair is not freakin’ easy. There’s way more skill, technique, and practice that goes into it than you think, so unless you want to go viral on TikTok for a botched haircut (which, maybe that’s your thing?!), do yourself a favor and book an appointment with a professional stylist. But if you can’t make it into a salon right now, or you just don’t feel comfortable yet, you do have some at-home options. Just know that you’re gonna have to pick up the right tools (more on that in a bit) and meticulously study a few tutorials before you start snipping.
Now, keep scrolling for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cutting your own hair at home, including the exact shears you’ll want on hand, the best clips for separating sections, and more. Just promise me you’ll think twice before giving yourself bangs, alright? Speaking from experience here, people.
First: Some ground rules
New to cutting your own hair? Wait and see a professional
Okay, this is when you’re going to hate me a little, but I gotta emphasize it once more: There’s a reason hairstylists are professionals—a lot of skill and technique goes into a haircut, so if you can hold off, please consider waiting to see a stylist IRL. “Hair cutting is an art form, but it also requires a lot of geometry,” says Stephen Thevenot, senior stylist at David Mallet in NYC. “The most important thing is knowing what to cut and what to leave, and that comes with training and experience.”
Another reason to hold out until you can make it into the salon? “If you mess up, you’ll definitely need a professional—and more than likely, you’ll have to go shorter than you initially wanted,” says Thevenot. Which, uh, not fun.
BTW, if you’re dealing with intense split ends, there are things you can do at-home that don’t include taking a pair of scissors to your hair. Loading up on hair-smoothing masks and minimizing heat tool-use (or, at the very least, prepping with heat protectant spray) is a great way to treat and prevent damage while you’re riding out your haircut in-between salon visits.
It is easy to use clippers on a woman’s hair as well as on man’s. Using clippers creates a shorter style than some women like but for the adventurous woman, clippers can be her best friend. There are two easy clipper styles that look edgy and fun on women. These styles include the partial buzz and the textured shag.
Clip up the top half of the hair. Use a severe part to divide the hair into two equal sections, or create a slightly larger section on the bottom for a greater dramatic effect.
Place a No. 1 guard over the clippers or use no guard at all for an even more dramatic style. Buzz away the bottom half of the hair. Use the scissors to trim away any stray hairs that remain.
Let the top half of the hair down and cut it to about 5 or 6 inches long. Texture the ends by randomly making vertical cuts across the bottom of the hair to prevent the cut from looking too blunt.
Wash the hair to remove any loose hairs. Apply styling mousse to the top portion of the hair. Dry with a hair dryer and round brush to create volume near the crown. Use the styling pomade to mold the hair into one large clump that hangs in a dramatic wave over one side of the head.
Comb all of the hair from the crown of the head toward the face, covering the face with hair for now. Clip this portion of the hair up with hairstyling clips.
Attach a No. 5, 6 or 7 cutting guard to the clippers, depending on how long you want the style. The larger the number, the longer the hair will remain.
Start at the nape of the neck and work your way upward to the clipped section of hair. Clip all the hair away until it is even on all sides. Use scissors to cut any stray hairs.
Remove the hair clip. Use a No. 7 or 8 guard on the clippers and cut the top hair from the crown of the head forward. Use scissors to cut stray hairs. Pull the hair up between your fingers and add texture to the ends by creating vertical cuts with the scissors. Texture the entire head. Wash the hair to remove clumps of hair.
Dry the hair with a hairdryer and paddle brush. Brush the hair forward from the crown. Apply texturizing pomade all over the hair. Pull the hair into sharp spikes, twisting the ends slightly to create tiny points.
Shop Allure-curated cloth face covering and headband sets through the Banding Together project. For every set sold, an adjustable headband or medical cap will be donated to a health care worker fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.
There are many reasons people have been shaving their heads since the public was advised to stay home and socially distance in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus and, consequentially, COVID-19. Some buzz cuts are emotionally driven, others spring from boredom, but there’s no doubt that some are born of practicality. When we can’t visit salons and barbershops to get a professional haircut, it can feel like the only option is to just shave it all off.
The temptation can be especially strong for those with shorter hair. For those with longer hair, the idea of a DIY trim may seem less intimidating because a little mistake with scissors makes a much less noticeable impact than it would on a smaller area of hair. And with the good ol’ Flowbee currently not shipping, you may feel unequipped to handle cutting your own short hair.
You don’t have to cut your hair right now, but if you feel more comfortable with your short style staying that way, it can be done at home. We spoke to experts about what you need to give your short hair a trim and the tips you should keep in mind when attempting it on your own.
You may not have a Flowbee, but if you’ve got clippers and scissors, you should be fine. However, not just any scissors will do.
“You definitely don’t want to use the same scissors that came with your kid’s art set,” says Rob Louden, a Boca Raton, Florida-based barber and the founder of Brilliant Beards. He says you can find a decent pair of scissors in the beauty aisle of a pharmacy or supermarket but, “It is crucial to use the right pair.”
Working with clippers? Not a problem. Louden recommends using the largest clipper attachment that came with the set — usually, guard size eight — and working your way down from the top of your head to the desired length and ending at the neck. Louden also suggests investing in a cordless beard trimmer to get the edges around your ears and neck.
“Cutting your own hair is always hard to do; this is why I do not recommend it,” says stylist Tracy Folino of Hair Addict Salon in New Jersey. “However, if you can get some help, it will make it a lot easier.”
Louden echoes the sentiment, telling Allure, “Be patient and wait for someone you live with to help out with the haircut. Ask them to go over the same area a few times to ensure a cleaner cut.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to accept shagginess if you’re on your own. “If you don’t have that second hand to help or don’t have a second mirror, I tell people to outsmart the smartphone and use the selfie camera,” says Louden. “Use it as a mirror when doing the back of your hair in front of your bathroom mirror.”
Like Louden, Folino recommends starting with the longest guard that comes with your clipper. “You can always go shorter, but you cannot put it back,” she says. From there, after separating the top of the hair from the side, “Start from your hairline and work up the sides and back of the head. When you finish with your long attachment, take the next size down, going from the hairline up, but not as high as you did with the last guard.”
Her best technique tip: “As you move up the side of your head, make sure you pull back as you move up,” Folino tells Allure. “Think like you are making a scoop motion; this will help to blend from short to long.” Then, once the sides are short enough, use the scissors to blend the top and sides, holding the hair at a 180-degree angle and cutting off the point.
Louden also has a clever hack for a cleaner hairline. “Use a cheap makeup pencil or chalk to make the line and follow the clean line,” he says. If you don’t have either available, he says using tape as a guide works too, but it can be uncomfortable to remove.
Remember, there is truly no need to rush this process. “Take your time,” Louden urges. “You’re quarantined and you don’t have to rush out the door for a photo shoot or to catch the bus.”
On that note, you don’t have to cut your hair. We’re all in the same boat right now and no one is going to judge you if your hair is a little unshorn. “If you have patience, let it grow for the time being,” Louden continues. “If you don’t like the results, order a buzzer online. Wahl and Andis are reliable brands in the clipper industry.”
More on DIY hair changes:
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