The Best Short Haircuts for Men Are the Perfect Swap From the Usual
There are almost as many short hairstyles to choose from as there are actual hairs on your head. That's no exaggeration.
For instance, maybe you're a crew-cut kind of guy. In which case, is that classic, textured, or high and tight? Or perhaps you're the fade type. Do you want it tapered, dropped, or blown out? Oh, and before we get started, that quiff of yours: disconnected or undercut?
It's hard enough to know what any of these terms mean, let alone what they'll do for your hair. We just want… a good haircut. To make matters worse, we've all just spent the majority of the past year living underground as a new species of mole-people, where haircuts were a simple binary choice between all-off or Willie Nelson.
No longer! Barbers are open. You can inch towards a semblance of your old self. Or, alternatively, go for something totally new and everyone will ‘wow' and you'll say ‘lockdown wasn't so bad y'know' and everyone will know that a short hairstyle is often the most successful.
"Men like having short hair because it makes them feel instantly sharper and more groomed, and we could all do with a bit of that right now,” says hairstylist Luke Benson, who counts model Isaac Carew on his client list. "Short haircuts are also the most low-maintenance option. You can basically get away with less of everything except trips to the barbers.”
A close crop is an ideal choice, then, for anyone who doesn't want to spend an hour wrestling individual hairs into place every morning. If you want to go long, that's no bad thing. But for something simple—and for some guidance on what to request upon your next visit to the barber's chair—we asked the experts for their key cuts for a long, open, ridiculous summer.
Who Does a Short Hairstyle Suit?
It's important to remember that, like your clothes, haircuts aren't one-size-fits-all. But unlike a bad outfit, you can't take your hair off when it's a dud.
So it's important to pick a hairstyle that suits you. The good news is that depending on your hair type—be it fine, thick, curly, flat, or wavy—there's always something out there to try.
"Short hair is more versatile than long hair in many respects, and most cuts can work with most face shapes," says Joe Mills, owner of Soho barbers Joe & Co. "If you have a square or oval face, you can pretty much have any cut. If you have a round face, then square styles work a lot better. Keeping a little length on top means you can work your cut to your face shape by adding a fringe or a quiff."
The Twisted 'Fro
What to Ask For: A low fade with length on top
Who It Suits: The golden face shape aka rectangular
What It Is: Daniel Kaluuya, Donald Glover and the late, and great Chadwick Boseman: all endorsers of the twisted ‘fro. "The beauty here is the contrast between the tight back and sides and the more rounded shape on top," says Kane Tuckwell from London-based Idris Barbering Co. "You can embrace as much length as you like, but you need to remain square on the profile for this to work. If you don't have one, get a curl sponge to bring out some of the hair's natural movement."
The Caesar Cut
What to Ask For: High skin fade with a blunt fringe
Who It Suits: Square face shapes with full cheeks
What It Is: Big in Rome, bigger now. "Our favorite iteration of this style takes things high and tight, using a blunt fringe and a bit of clipper work to frame the face," says Tuckwell. "I'd recommend it for guys with a square head and full cheeks because the tightness of the sides elongates the face and shows off your more rugged features." It's a masculine style that also works particularly well should you want to disguise a receding hairline.
The Silver Crop
What to Ask For: A grown-out crop
Who It Suits: Greying or thinner hair
What It Is: There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and grey hairs. Which looks great on Clooney, and will likely do the same for you in crop format. "Ask your barber or stylist for a grown-out crop, ideally done with scissors and then tidied up with clippers," says Mills. "A bit of facial hair can help it fit all face shapes, but the shaping of the beard will be important."
What to Ask For: A fade with your chosen cut on top
Who It Suits: Thick hair
What It Is: If there's one short hairstyle that's the FAQ in the barber's chair over the past decade, it's the fade. Although, it's technically more of a hairstyle accessory, as it can be paired with a number of cuts up top. "The hallmark of a good fade is that the hair on the back and sides blend seamlessly from the shortest length to the longest with no clear lines," says Benson. "Whether you keep the top blended or disconnected (which gives a more obvious contrast) is personal preference."
The Short Quiff
What to Ask For: A softer version of the military quiff, no clippers
Who It Suits: A strong hairline
What It Is: Clean, stylish, and versatile (and we're not just talking about Riz Ahmed), the short quiff is a solid all-rounder. "Whether you're looking to go shorter or are growing your hair out from a buzz cut, this is a style that can suit a variety of face shapes," says London-based stylist 5ive, who counts the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Craig David among his clients. "Ask for some texture to be put in. That way, you can choose to wear it with a classic side parting for the office or loosely push it off the face for a more relaxed feel."
The Bleached Buzz
What to Ask For: Grade two on top with a high fade and color
Who It Suits: Mr. Look At Me
What It Is: A buzz cut may be the most straightforward short hairstyle a man can have, but it needn't be boring. To break rank with the standard-issue, switch things up with a bit of bleach. "This cut is very low maintenance, but when it comes to the color, you should consult with a professional as to what shade of blonde would best suit your complexion," says 5ive.
The Textured Fringe
What to Ask For: A fringe that reaches the middle of the forehead, texturized with scissors
Who It Suits: Curly, textured, or unruly hair types
What It Is: Growing a fringe is one of the few ways you can use your hair to switch up the shape of your face and give the appearance of more proportion. But it only works if, like Normal People's Paul Mescal, if you pick the right style. "A textured fringe is a great summer cut that works well on square, oval, and rectangle face shapes," says Mills. "It can also work with rounder faces, but the length of the fringe will need to be longer."
The Natural Buzz
What to Ask For: One length all over using scissors, with lots of added texture
Who It Suits: Pretty much anyone growing out a lockdown cut
What It Is: There's something undeniably neat and classic about a close-cropped buzz. But, as with any classic, there are always new twists that can help bring it up to date. "Your barber should not make the hair too short, just blended and softened with clean edges," says Benson. "This allows you to work with your hair's natural texture, so it almost looks different each day but is still far more tamed than longer hair."
What to Ask For: Half head cornrows with short back and sides
Who It Suits: Great conditioned afro hair
What It Is: "You need at least three inches of growth to achieve a neat plait," says 5ive. At the risk of stating the obvious, the key is getting someone who knows what they are doing. "The finish is everything. Symmetry and the cleanness of the partings are what make or break this style."
The Textured Quiff
What to Ask For: Three to four inches on top, layered into the back and sides
Who It Suits: Straight or wavy hair
What It Is: "If you want a little more length on top while still keeping it simple, then Steven Yeun's look is the one to go for," says Mills. "It works well with all face shapes as you can use products to create height and width where you need it. You can also adapt the finish to be clean and conservative or rough and ready."
The Textured Crop
What to Ask For: A scissor cut into a textured quiff with weight at the temples
Who It Suits: Marvel jaws
What It Is: Though we love Thor's long, golden mane from the MCU's advent, Chris Hemsworth's recent crop is a more accessible style for the everyman. "This look is perfect for guys with a triangle head shape," says Tuckwell. "The extra weight along the sides will offset your jaw width and allow for a bit more length and texture on top. Try it with a clean shave and show that bad boy off."
SHOP THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR SHORT HAIR
A quick bit of science: every styling product falls somewhere on a grooming matrix, with the two main axes being hold and shine. A matte clay lands in the sweet spot for short hair, offering a hold that lasts throughout the day while also adding texture, without the overly wet look of gel or pomade.
Scalp Shampoo 100ml
A common misconception with short hair is that you don't need to worry about damage. That’s not true. While a closer crop is generally healthier (because it's cut more often), it also leaves more of your scalp exposed. If you want to hang on to what you have, grab a shampoo and conditioner designed to keep the skin around your skull in tip-top condition.
Sea Salt Spray
A relatively new addition to most guys' grooming vocabulary, sea salt sprays work by absorbing the natural oils in the hair, resulting in a voluminous and natural wave. Spritz them over limp quiffs to create a windswept matte texture, or use them to add a soft edge to more aggressive short cuts.
KEVIN MURPHY UN.DRESSED
A good styling cream won't simply tease your hair into shape. It will also nourish it to keep it looking healthy. Most contain a blend of antioxidants, fatty acids, and other hydrating ingredients, making it suitable for all hair types. It won't sculpt skyscraper styles, but it will add definition, enhance shine, and tame frizz, all while giving you a light hold that can be reworked time and again.
Supersonic™ Hair Dryer
For anything longer than a buzzcut, hairdryers are a handy styling tool that can be used to create a more natural finish, and even make your hair look thicker. Choose one with an adjustable temperature control, pair it with your go-to styling product, and good hair days will be a breeze.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.