The undercut hairstyle trend is a favorite among those looking to add some edge to their aesthetic, as well as the barbers that help them look their best. For the unfamiliar, the undercut is, in its simplest form, a haircut with the sides cut at a much shorter length than the top. It's virtually everywhere, and judging by a panoply of A-list celebs like Maluma, A$AP Rocky, and Justin Bieber sporting them, who can blame anyone for considering an undercut to add a little flair to their hair? But while most fixate on how to shape and style the sides of an undercut, fretting over the base length, whether to go for a tapered or more abrupt look, and so on, there's just as much room for creativity when it comes to the top. If you're looking to have some fun with your style, embracing a longer length on top may be just what you need.
While crafting the sides of an undercut still matters, the top deserves an equal amount of thought. A longer length requires a bit more consideration to plan out the result you want, but it's also a totally customizable category that can leave you with a result that feels completely you. Chat with your stylist to create a look fitting to your head shape, hair type, and hairline, being sure to consider what products and routine may be necessary to create your desired look from day to day.
Does this dramatic yet versatile haircut sound right for you? Read on as we consult the experts on what should be top of mind as you think about the top of your head for an undercut for men with long hair.
Choosing the Best Undercut With Long Hair
Hairstylist and Balmain Hair Couture international education manager Kasper Heemskerk provides some reassurance for those considering an undercut who may be unsure about how to make it work for longer hair. “The undercut can be a great way to spice up your hairstyle without changing your hairstyle and length too drastically,” he says. While he does caution that an undercut requires more frequent visits to the stylist to maintain the style’s crisp look, he believes the right variation can work for most anyone—just be sure to chat with your stylist to be sure your look enhances your face shape. “The face shape plays an important role when shaving one or two sides for a bolder look,” Heemskerk explains. “A small, long shape will look elongated, but a round face shape will look smaller (only when the top longer hair still covers the undercut). The undercut can enhance the round face shape when it's fully exposed.”
For men with a long forehead, an undercut is still an option, but Heemskerk advises talking with your stylist about the best approach. “The undercut doesn’t affect a prominent forehead negatively or positively,” he explains. “As the name already reveals, it is an undercut. Keeping hair longer on top will cover the undercut when hair is worn loose. A fringe could be a better solution to help cover the forehead when dealing with a prominent forehead.”
What should men discuss with their stylist in order to achieve the right look, with attention to the top of the head? Heemskerk tells us that the most important element to discuss is how much of the undercut you want to show. “For a more daring look, someone will show off the sides, and for a more conservative undercut, someone will only limit themselves to the nape area. Check with the stylist if your face shape perfectly fits the style you are going for.
Customizing and Styling an Undercut With Long Hair
Another item to consider, Heemskerk says, is whether you want to consider adding some color “to show off your creative side.” He adds that it's important to use the right aftercare products when coloring your hair. He recommends Balmain's Couleurs Couture Color Care range of products. As to ongoing maintenance, Heemskerk tells us that the look doesn’t require a lot of styling products beyond shampoo and conditioner, but cautions that “longer lengths require the correct styling products to maintain the hairstyle all day long. Let the stylist advise which products will work best when going for a curly or sleek look.” To start, he recommends the Argan Moisturizing Elixir or the Overnight Repair Serum, both from Balmain, as they will nourish the hair and add shine.
The Best Undercuts for Men With Longer Hair
Need some inspiration to figure out your ideal cut? Ahead, hairstylist and SachaJuan creative director of education, Trey Gillen, shares several undercuts worth considering for men wanting to keep longer hair at the top.
An edgy yet sophisticated look, this undercut for longer hair is the most recognizable trend. The sides and back are cut evenly all the way around, while the top keeps a significant amount of length. “The length of the top remains up to you, but for more contrast, you’ll want the sides to be as short as possible,” Gillen tells us.
This version of the undercut works for most, since the haircut is customizable to suit a range of head shapes. “The strong vertical sides give a very masculine vibe,” Gillen says. “The top of this cut can either add to that vibe by staying short and square, or softening it up with length and flow.” The voluminous top with tight sides adds interest by showing off the contrast between the two sections of hair.
Gillen explains that this look requires layers on top, with hair left purposely long. “Tell your barber you want to see movement on the top and a fade or even a tapered fade on the sides,” he says. “This is a great style to run your hands through throughout the day to keep it looking casual and slightly unkempt. SachaJuan's Hair Wax ($34) is great for this: It’s not sticky or hard and has just enough hold to pull those ends together and piece them out to show off the texture from the layers.”
Extra-Long Undercut Hairstyle
According to Gillen, this look is generally achieved when the hair on top of your head reaches down to at least the nose in length. The top and sides typically show a clear distinction, with the latter usually faded tight. “The longer the hair on top, the more versatility you have in styling your hair very differently,” Gillen says. “The man bun, a flatiron, a blowout, volume, or flat—you name it, and length can achieve it.”
Gillen tells us that the military undercut, in which the sides and top are completely disconnected from one another, is one of the edgiest trends today. “There is a sharp contrast between the two: keep the sides tight and really short, while the top can be whatever length you want, giving off a very modern look,” he says.
Gillen recommends SachaJuan's Fibre Paste ($31) to “really show off the disconnection by spiking the top.” He also says that if you have a round face shape, “the short, tight sides will help balance you out. Just don’t bring them too high above your temples, or you could end up looking like Bert & Ernie.”
Gillen explains that in this look, the top and back maintain plenty of length, while only the sides are cut short. “If you have full, puffy hair, my suggestion to keep this trend current and stylish is to fade the back short at the bottom to match the length of the top,” he says. “If your hair is flat and straight or with a slight wave, keep the length in back, especially at the bottom. This mohawk can give off mullet vibes, which is definitely a hit trend in men's hair right now.” To style, Gillen suggests using SachaJuan's Ocean Mist Spray ($34) “to give texture and grit while air-drying your hair in place.”
Textured and Combed Forward
Gillen explains that this trending look works well for those with hair that falls forward along the front hairline. This style features tight sides with a slight fade up to a top cut consistently in length from back to front. “The front should fall forward about two inches onto the forehead, which is great for guys with large foreheads or to manage a receding hairline,” he says. “Lots of texture should be cut into the top to help with undesirable puffiness. And product is key to keeping this style looking fresh all day. Kevin Murphy's Night Rider ($32) will give you all the movement you need and hold it in place.”
Named after a mistress of France's King Louis XV, this hairstyle features the top of the hair styled at least a couple of inches above the forehead, usually blow-dried in a rounded curve back with product used for volume and hold, while the sides are cut very thin. Gillen tells us that this look is “super stylish and fun” but if you choose it, you should plan on styling your hair often. “For a more stylish feel, disconnect the sides from the top and keep the top long,” he says.
In terms of products, mousse “is your friend” and often necessary to achieve the volume required for a pompadour. Gillen recommends applying this to wet hair and blow drying your hair up and back off your face, lifting the roots up with your fingers. “This style balances out triangular face shapes where the forehead is small and the jaw line is wide,” he adds.
Undercut with Beard
Gillen reinforces what we already know about beards: They evoke masculinity and never go out of style. “Many professional guys feel that wearing a beard looks too unkempt to pull off at work,” he says. “Pairing a beard with an undercut gives purpose and attention to the beard, so that you are not just being lazy and not shaving… it’s a fashion statement.”
Gillen tells us that almost any style of undercut can work with a beard, especially longer hair on top, since the beard provides some balance. “There’s free rein to explore here since the undercut won’t be the only focal point. SachaJuan's Intensive Hair Oil ($48) is great for softening up beard hair and adding moisture to the hair on top of your head.”
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Article written by Alfredo Mineo for Byrdie