The art of barbering has been around for centuries, but it flourished in America between the 1880s and 1940s when cuts, beard trims, and lathery, warm shaves were a regular part of a man’s personal care routine. While barbershops saw a period of decline due to world events and a shift in grooming habits, barber haircuts have been making a comeback in recent years. Many silhouettes are the same, but they’re given a modern-day twist to suit a man seeking a stylish, original cut.
If you require some inspiration, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to barber hairstyles to suit all face shapes, hair types, textures, lengths, and vocations.
Short cuts provide versatility and are a good choice for those noticing thinning because the hair appears thicker. Since they’re cut close to the scalp and don’t have a lot of height, they flatter a long face. On the flip side, short styles with a bit of height on the top can balance out the proportions of a round head. Hair texture is also a consideration when choosing a shorter cut since you work with less hair. However, styling products like paste, pomade, gel, wax, and clay are essential and should be selected based on the look you wish to achieve — pastes and waxes are great for texture, whereas pomades and gel provide a glossy finish.
As the name suggests, the Caesar is a short haircut that goes back to the time of emperor Julias Caesar. In modern times, it hit peak popularity between the late 90s and early 2000s — but it still hasn’t gone out of vogue. This high-fashion, low-maintenance cropped style is an excellent barber cut for concealing the early stages of hair loss. A Caesar cut is typically the same length, with the top brushed forward. Measurements can vary from as short as a Crew Cut (0.5 inches) to a little over 3 inches. Add more volume and texture to the top for a more structured look while shortening the back and sides with a fade or taper.
A buzz cut is achieved with clippers and no scissors, so it falls high and tight. It’s considered a traditionally military style characterized by closely shaved back and sides with a slightly longer patch of hair left on top. Regarding buzz cuts, most barbers follow the 3-2-1 rule — a #3 guard on the top, a #2 guard on the sides, and a #1 guard to trim the edges.
The crew cut is allegedly named after the style Ivy League rowers wore in the 30s. It’s different from a buzz cut because it has greater length on top and incorporates fading on the sides and back. Start at the nape of the neck and cut upward to the top of the head using a #2 (¼”) clipper guard. Leave the top of the hair long and continue cutting around the sides and back. Switch to a #5 (⅝”) guard and run the clippers across the top of the head from front to back. Continue until all of the hair on top is the same length.
Messy Crew Cut
This variation on the crew cut is perfect for the man who no longer wants to deal with their long hair but still wants a bit of movement on top. It’s achieved like a traditional crew, but a bit more hair is left on the top, and texture is added. Hair clay can help shape the “messy” look.
As the name suggests, a fade haircut involves a barbering technique that fades the hair into the skin using clippers. You’ll use shears to cut hair at decreasing lengths down the sides and back so that it gradually transitions or tapers until it almost blends in with the skin. It can be paired with nearly any hairstyle on top, making it easy to customize the fade to suit a client’s personality and lifestyle. As a bonus, the fade flatters almost every hair texture and face shape. Check out our complete guide on how to cut a fade.
A taper haircut starts longer at the top and gradually gets shorter as you reach the natural hairline on the nape of the neck and sides of the head. The length of a taper can vary from short to long. Unless the goal is to grow out your tresses, most men’s haircuts include some sort of taper.
One of the most popular barber cuts of the last decade is the textured crop, essentially a party on the top and business on the back and sides. The crown is longer and tousled while the rest of the hair is tidied up. It’s frequently accompanied by a short fringe. Typically, the style is approximately finger length on the back and sides and cut with scissors. The top should be around 2” long and bolstered with texture.
Short Faux Hawk Fade
Here’s an excellent cut for the man who wants to add a little edge to his style without committing to a full mohawk. It involves adding texture on the top and pushing the hair towards the middle using a styling gel, paste, or wax to create a hawk. Complete the look with a fade on the sides and back.
Medium-length men’s haircuts can be characterized as a style anywhere between 2” and 4” but can also be short on the back and sides. They typically require more maintenance because the length in different areas is detailed and precise. However, the cuts that fall under this category generally have more personality and flair and are increasingly becoming more acceptable in the workplace, thanks to relaxed dress codes. A medium cut is also flattering to most face shapes.
As with fashion, history tends to repeat itself with hairstyles, and the pompadour is once again in vogue — but with a modern-day twist. To keep the style from looking dated, accompany it with a high taper fade on the sides to create a sleek, clean appearance and highlights the height on top of the head. Perfect your pomp and retain its shape with hair gel or wax pomade.
Like the pompadour, the quiff is about creating height at the front — however, in a less dramatic fashion. It’s worn short at the back and sides, and the longer hair on top is styled forwards and up close to the hairline. You’ll need a comb and a little product, such as wax, paste, or pomade, to keep hair in place. If you want to add a variation, opt for an underfade cut up to the temple to add structure to the face.
This simple yet well-groomed style is basically an extended quiff, meaning all hair is lifted, not just the strands at the front of the head. The sides and the back can be trimmed in a short taper, fade, or even undercut haircut to accentuate the tresses up top. You may need a hairdryer and fingers to create vertical volume when styling.
The ivy league look (also coined as the Princeton or Harvard clip) is a preppy play on the crew cut. The hair on the top front is long enough to be styled into a side part, while the hair on the crown of the head is cut short. Typically, the height is approximately 0.5-1”, but the front is more extended. That said, the top is tapered up to 1” depending on the lengths chosen for each.
This cut has so many variations, but it generally falls within the medium-length haircut category. However, as the name suggests, the Faux Hawk (aka Fohawk) is an edited, more subdued form of the Mohawk. It features tapered sides and a crested top versus being completely shaven and spiked. The “hawk” can be as long as desired, but it’s traditionally 1-2” longer than the shorter hair lengths, typically between ¼-¾.” When working with cutting shears to create the style on the crown, use a traveling guide to ensure consistent measurements.
Afro Faux Hauk
Men of color with textured tresses can also make a bold statement with an afro faux hawk. It starts with a closely trimmed undercut that accentuates the height and texture of the crown. You can leave the hawk natural or give it more personality with dreads, braids, or twists. Add hold and definition with a wax or pomade.
Classic Comb Over
The comb over, also called a side part, is a classic cut. It’s characterized by shorter sides and back and a longer top that’s parted to one side. This style has many variations depending on personal preference and what compliments the head shape, growth pattern, the direction of the part, and hair texture. A scissor cut helps preserve some length on the back and sides, though you can also achieve a fade on the sides starting with a #3 guard.
Gents with longer hair need to be clear about how much hair they want to be cut off — a “trim” could mean two different things to two different people. Hair goals should also be a part of the conversation. Will the hair go up in a man bun? Are layers of interest? Whether straight, wavy, or curly, long hair requires regular trims (every eight to six weeks) and proper haircare treatments to keep it from looking scraggly and lackluster.
Disconnected Undercut With Man Bun
Of all the man buns, this is one of the most popular. The bun is placed high on the head and is coupled with a high fade with a rounded back. A well-groomed beard is a nice compliment to this on-trend look.
Side Swept Undercut With Beard
The side-swept undercut is a low-maintenance style where the top is long, stylish, and naturally parted to the side. When paired with an undercut, the weight is removed from the back and sides while keeping the shape clean — this highlights both the volume at the crown and a well-maintained beard.
If you have the self-restraint to grow out your hair (and deal with those awkward in-between phases), the curtain is currently one of the most in-demand hairstyle trends. While it’s not necessarily a new style, it’s making a dapper comeback. This cut is characterized by a long, layered fringe parted on either the middle or the side.
Textured Comb Over
The textured comb over is a fashionable barber style for men who like to sweep their long hair over to one side. To make the difference between shaggy and chic, tresses are given a slight taper to help frame the face. Use a pomade to give hair a light hold (you don’t want a helmet head) and some texture.
Long Hair With an Undercut
Here’s an excellent choice for men who want to update their look without sacrificing the length. Adding an undercut provides versatility because it can be paired with a cut suitable for personal preference, texture, and face shape. Also, longer locks can always be swept into a top knot or man bun.
Remember, there are multiple variations of all these barber haircuts! The possibilities are endless if you have quality clippers, trimmers, cutting shears, and hair products. Remember to keep face shape, growth pattern, hair texture and length, and lifestyle in mind before choosing the perfect style.