If nothing else, a classic pompadour haircut proves that the best looks never really go out of style. And what is a pompadour, one might ask? For a cursory idea, picture Elvis Presley shaking his hips and rocking a hairdo that’s big up top and slick or short around the sides. Not just the king of rock and roll, he remains the king of men’s pompadour hairstyles. One might even say that no discussion of this timeless cut is complete without him.
Meanwhile, the pompadour haircut goes much further back in time than you might think. In fact, it has origins in 18th-century France and a woman named Madame de Pompadour, mistress to Louis XV. It wasn’t until centuries later that figures like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and James Dean transformed Madame de Pompadour’s particular aesthetic into one of the coolest men’s hairstyles to date.
So cool is the pompadour haircut that it’s made a major comeback in recent years. Of course, the modern pompadour hairstyle represents a fairly drastic departure from its historic predecessors. For starters, the undercut or fade is so hot right now, as is the men’s pompadour with beard. Ultimately, there have never been more variations of this particular hairstyle than there are right now.
Hence, to the question: what does a pompadour haircut look like? The answer is: well, it varies. But don’t worry—we won’t leave you hanging. Here’s a full breakdown, including definitions, style pointers, and a list of 10 Pompadour Haircuts & Hairstyles for Men.
What is a Men’s Pompadour Haircut?
In the simplest sense of the concept, a men’s pompadour haircut features longer hair that’s swept up and back at the top and flanked by slick sides or shorter sides. The hair is usually the tallest and most voluminous at the front of the hairline, receding in size and scope as it flows back.
Since men’s hairstyles and face shapes vary, there’s accordingly a slew of pompadour haircuts to choose from. Generally speaking, however, most pompadour haircuts fall into two categories: classic and modern.
The “classic” men’s pompadour infers the longer, slicked-back sides once touted by the likes of Elvis and Johnny Cash. By contrast, the “modern” pompadour shortens the sides by way of an undercut, fade, or taper, and frequently takes more risks at the top to create a firmer sense of personal expression. To provide even further distinction, the modern pompadour with beard is as common as the classic pompadour with beard is rare.
Styling a Men’s Pompadour Haircut
If you’re exploring a new pompadour hairstyle for the first time, we always suggest going to the best barber in town and showing him or her exactly what you want (or what you think you want). That barber will also give you plenty of pointers in terms of sustaining the aesthetic at home. Nevertheless, here’s how you style a men’s pompadour haircut by your lonesome:
- Rinse your hair using shampoo and conditioner.
- Towel dry your hair until it’s damp, but not fully dry.
- Blow-dry your hair on the light heat setting while using a round brush to shape the pomp. Brush your hair according to how you want the pomp to look, but generally, go up at the front and then back while tracing the brush strokes with the hairdryer.
- Grab some pomade and rub it into your hands, then apply it your hair in an even fashion using your fingers. Apply more pomade if and when necessary. If you’re rocking a “classic” pompadour haircut, consider working the pomade in from the sides first.
- With the pomade now in your hair, grab a comb. Start at the front of the top and comb up and then back, following the movements of the comb with your fingers to keep the hair in place and to control height. Let the hair rest into place.
One extra pointer: If you’re struggling to maintain height at the front, you can also put your hand in the middle of your scalp during step 5 and lightly push your hair forward, then start combing upward.
10 Pompadour Haircuts & Hairstyles For Men
Men’s hair is like men’s clothing in that you style it according to your physical contours and wear it as a way to express yourself. That means finding a pompadour haircut which speaks to you on a personal level and, furthermore, blends brilliantly with the natural shape of your face. Scope the following 10 pompadour haircuts to get your journey started right.
1. Classic Pompadour Haircut
If you’re a vintage man living in the modern world, go full rockabilly by sporting a classic men’s pompadour haircut. Voluminous and slick, it looked great then and looks great now.
2. Pompadour Fade Haircut
Grab an electric clipper (or better yet, have your barber grab one) and buzz around the sides for a solid fade. Now flanked by a buzz cut, the hair on top has never looked so full and impressive.
3. Messy Pompadour Haircut
Finding that perfect balance between messiness and striking allure is a tightrope act, but if you can pull it off you’re a champ. Use some hair product and the magic of your fingers (or your barber’s fingers) to employ an extra level of texture up top. The resulting look is both untamed and unforgettable at once.
4. Side Part Pompadour Haircut
The side part is hot right now. Combine the best of two stunning styles by pairing a distinguished side part with that brilliant pomp. When styling the hair, be sure to comb sideways as opposed to straight back, aka “duh”.
5. Curly Pompadour Haircut
Do you have curly or extra wavy hair? Good news! You can still rock a quality pompadour. Our recommendation is to opt for a short pompadour cut to keep things manageable. Of course, if you have plenty of hair product and time to spare, by all means, go full fro. Couple that with a nice taper or fade and you’re ready to roll.
6. The Short Pompadour Haircut
Sure, you can go long and tall or you can keep those follicles tighter to the crown while looking just as sharp (if not sharper). We love the short pompadour and so should you.
7. Side Swept Pomp Fade Haircut
A quality side-swept pompadour fade entails going extra short around the sides and then sweeping your long hair across on top. It’s handsome, modern, voluminous and distinct.
8. Long and Tall Pompadour Fade Haircut
With the right hair product, anything is possible. Emphasise length and volume by growing your hair out and slicking it up at the front and then back. Surround that with a nice fade and you’ll be turning eyeballs everywhere you go.
9. Textured Pompadour Haircut
Similar to the messy pomp but more precise, the textured pompadour haircut aims for more layering up top. The result is definitely sharp, but less wild.
10. The Pomp Faux Hawk Haircut
Work those cutthroat lines, parts, and angles to create a distinguished strip up top. Apply plenty of hair product to keep the look intact. As opposed to the far more raucous mohawk, a quality faux hawk is approachable and classic.
This article is part of our Trimmed & Terrific Series.