Men's haircuts: style names and descriptions
To following are a few popular short haircut style names
and illustrations. Keep in mind that barbers (and individuals) in different
parts of the country or world (or even across town) may interpret these styles
differently, or may have popular local names for them. Some style names are
fairly generic, and can vary quite a bit in length and style interpretation (for
example, there are many ways to cut an "ivy league," and a "crew cut" can vary a
bit in overall length), so until you are your barber know get to know each
other, be specific about your length preferences, how you prefer your hair to be
tapered, and so on.
This is nowhere near an exhaustive listing of possible men's
haircuts; it just includes some of the more well-known styles. You and your
barber may come up with variations on the basic themes of these haircuts that
suit your face and personal style. You may also wish to check some of the sites
This cut features longer hair around the top of
the head, and shorter hair around the lower part of the head, with little or no
blending between the two lengths. It gets it name because it looks as though
someone took a bowl, placed it on top of the head like a helmet, and then cut
all the hair that stuck out from beyond the border of the bowl-- a popular way
of cutting hair at home on the cheap. Because this style is frequently
associated with kids getting their hair cut at home by mom, it may make the
wearer appear boyish and young.
For the brush cut, the sides and back are cut
short and tapered, but the hair on the top of the head is usually cut to the
same length (i.e., no tapering in length on the top of the head), following the
curve of the head. The top is worn straight up to resemble the bristles of a
Burr (also known as an induction cut)
The burr is created
by taking a clipper with a very short blade and cutting all the hair on the head
to the same length (usually 1/8 inch or shorter). It is shorter than a "butch,"
which is usually about 1/4 inch or so. You can see much more scalp with a burr
than you can with a butch. A burr is short enough that it feels a bit rough,
like sandpaper, when you rub the head against the grain of hair growth.
Business man's cut
A business man's cut is a generic term
for a conservative, short (but not too short) haircut that is appropriate for an
office setting. It usually refers to a tapered cut on the back and sides, with
enough length on the top of the head to be able to part the hair or wear it
brushed back from the forehead. There are several possible variations on the
business man's cut.
The butch is created by taking a clipper and
cutting all the hair to the same length on the top of the head (typically about
1/4 inch or so). It is longer than a "burr," which is often considered to be 1/8
inch or less. A butch may or may not be tapered around the ears and near the
neckline, depending on the preference of the wearer.
In the caesar, the hair on the top of the head
is layered to around a length of 1 to 2 inches, with the front combed forward
into short bangs. The back and sides are tapered. The style is named after
Julius Caesar, who wore short bangs forward in a similar way.
"Convertible" is a generic term referring to
a style that can be worn in more than one way. Taper cuts or layered cuts can be
styled with a little more hair left on the top so they can be worn parted,
without a part, forward in bangs, combed up and back, to the side, etc.,
depending on the length and the hair type.
A crew cut is a fairly generic term for a very
short cut that is tapered on the back and sides, and tapered on the top of the
head to have a little more length toward the front hairline. The contour of the
head is usually followed on the top, giving a somewhat rounded look. A crew cut
can be considered a very short version of a classic taper cut, or even a very
short pompadour if the hair is brushed upward in the front.
A fade is an extreme type of taper cut, where the
hair on the sides and back is cut very, very close to the head and then tapered
upward-- usually beginning above the ears or at the temple-- to a longer length
on the top of the head. There are many local and popular names for different
kinds of fades, such as temple fade, low fade, Philly fade, Brooklyn fade, and
more; be sure to discuss what you'd like with your barber.
For the flat top, the hair on the sides and back
are usually cut in a short taper, and the hair on the top is cut to stand up and
give a very flat appearance to the top of the head. There are a number of
possible length variations with the flat top, though the longer the hair on the
top, the more likely you will need some sort of styling product (hair wax) to
keep it standing up straight. There are also styling variations as to how the
sides can be cut to meet the top: the sides can go straight up and give a square
appearance to the top of the head (often referred to as a "boxy" flat top), or
the sides can be somewhat contoured toward the top, giving a more curved
appearance (often referred to as "rounded" or "beveled").
A very short flat top usually leaves the hair in the middle of the head cut
tight to the scalp. When viewed from above, that area of exposed scalp is
referred to as a "landing strip." The "U" shape of hair that surrounds a
pronounced landing strip (again, when viewed from above) gives a very short flat
top the descriptive name "horseshoe flat top." A flat top with longer hair on
the sides of the head is called a "flat top with fenders."
High and tight
The high and tight is frequently worn in
the military, particularly in the Marine Corps. The sides and back are extremely
short, either clipped almost to the skin or shaved with a razor all the way up
to the crown of the head. The top is usually worn very short (usually 1/4 inch
or shorter, though some guys wear the very front part a little longer) and on
the forward part of the head. There is minimal blending between the sides and
the top; the amount of blending varies by preference. A more extreme version is
the "high and tight recon," described below.
High and tight recon
The high and tight recon is an
extreme version of the high and tight (above). The sides and back are shaved
very high, about an inch or two past the crown of the head. There is no blending
between the sides and the top. The patch of hair left on the top forward part of
the head is more narrow and smaller than in a high and tight. The recon
resembles an extremely short mohawk.
Horseshoe flat top
See "flat top."
The sides and back are cut short and tapered
across the crown, and the hair gradually becomes longer and fuller toward the
front. In a classic ivy league (shown in the illustration), enough hair is left
in the front so that it can be neatly parted and styled, usually with pomade or
gel. More contemporary ivy league cuts may style the hair upward or forward in
the front, but are still generally neat cuts that follow the shape of the head.
See "flat top."
Layering refers to cutting hair at different
lengths throughout the hairstyle. Layers can be blended so that you cannot see
where one length leaves off and another begins, or they can be left unblended,
giving a chunky appearance. Layering can help remove bulk and weight from areas
where hair is generally left longer, like the top of the head in some men's
cuts. Some kinds of layered cuts can give a more modern, "messy" look when hair
gel or pomade is applied. In short, layering is a means to an end, and it
doesn't refer to a single specific style.
Layers can be uniform throughout, such as trimming every hair on different
parts of the head to approximately the same length (instead of being cut longer
in the center and shorter around the edges). If you are leaving your short
hairstyle a little on the long side overall, you can ask your barber for a
layered cut. If you decide to wear a layered style that is very long (several
inches or more on top), you might want to go to a men's hair stylist where they
specialize in longer men's cuts.
A pompadour is a generic term for a style that
wears the hair brushed up and back from the forehead. Pompadours can be very
short or very long on the top. Elvis Presley wore a few different pompadour
styles in his lifetime, some short and some long. Often, styling products such
as pomade are used to keep a pompadour in place.
"Regulation" is a generic term that refers to
short, military style haircuts, often featuring "whitewalls" (more on that term
below). The military isn't entirely specific about how hair should be styled, so
there are many different cuts that can technically qualify as adhering to
regulations. For example, Marine Corps regulations state that the hair on the
top of the head should not be longer than 3 inches, and that the hair from the
neck hairline should begin at zero length and be graduated toward the upper
portion of the head. As for sideburns, they must not extend below the top of the
orifice of the ear, must not be styled to taper or flare, and should not have
extended hair length of more than 1/8 inch. Those regulations leave room for
interpretation, and include many standard short cuts, including burr, butch,
crew cut, etc. However, those styles are not what is typically referred to when
someone uses the term "regulation cut." The styles more commonly known as
"regulation," are short cuts on the top (can be worn parted, brushed upward,
crew cut style taper, etc.), with the back and sides clipped very close (or
shaved) and tapered so that scalp is plainly visible. This area of scalp is
referred to as "whitewalls," and the height of the whitewalls determines whether
a cut may be called "low regulation" (short whitewalls), "high regulation" (tall
whitewalls), or "medium regulation" (somewhere in the middle). The illustration
below shows a few variants of the regulation cut.
A classic taper cut is simply a short haircut
where the sides and back are cut progressively shorter down toward the neck,
with even blending throughout. The hair on the top of the head is also tapered,
but can be cut quite short, or left long enough to part or otherwise style with
gel or pomade. A good taper cut should show no demarcation lines; the
transitions between hair lengths should be smooth. Most short cuts employ at
least some tapering.
Areas where the back and sides are clipped
very close (or shaved) so that scalp is plainly visible. This area of scalp is
referred to as "whitewalls."