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Best short hairstyles for men | Image: Ahmad Ebadi

8 Short Hairstyles That Work For Any Man, According to a Barber

Whether you are looking for a stylish modern haircut or a low-maintenance classic, short hairstyles are for men what the little black dress is for women. Always in style and never out of place, the iconic short back and sides is easy to control and simple to maintain, but that’s not to say you can’t get creative. As a qualified barber, I’ve seen just about every possible combination and adaptation of the straightforward style, many of which rely on your hair density and texture.

To make things easy, I’ve put together an extensive list of men’s short hairstyles from which to peruse next time you find yourself on the way to the barbershop. Within this guide to short haircuts, you’ll discover curly tops, simple undercuts, short side front bangs and a bunch more, but it must be said, landing on the right cut is more of an art than a science. In my opinion, you should consider everything from body type and personality to preferred clothing and face shape before settling into the barber’s chair. Certain short haircuts will suit some men over others, so make the most of consultation before you choose a cut and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Best Short Hairstyles for Men

Most men still prefer a simple look that’s handsome but not necessarily runway-ready and there remain a few tried and true masculine styles that will never out of fashion. Here is a list of the best short hairstyles for men, but don’t be afraid to add your own personal touch. Read on to find some inspiration.

Close up of Jeremy Renner with an Outgrown Buzz Cut
Jeremy Renner with an Outgrown Buzz Cut | Image: Getty

1. Outgrown Buzz Cut

Outgrown Buzz Cut Characteristics

  • Longer Length on Top: While a traditional buzz cut keeps the hair on top very short, this style leans more towards a longer clipper length (around a 5 or 6).
  • Messy Styling: With the hair short and spiky, styling for this cut should be messy, so look for a matte product that highlights the texture.

Best Face Shapes for Outgrown Buzz Cut

  • Oval
  • Round
  • Square

Rocking a buzz cut has always been a good option for men due to its low-maintenance style, but in recent years, the hairstyle has taken on a new life. Celebrities like Adam Levine and David Beckham have spearheaded a trend towards longer clipper-lengths on top, giving the appearance of an overgrown buzz cut. Ultimately, this may require a little more maintenance and often some hair product, but what you get in return is more room to flaunt those follicles and demonstrate a bit of style.

Alternatively, you can opt for the buzz cut and then simply grow it a tad more so that you can play with texture or volume. If you do choose this cut, it’s a good idea to keep the hair on top about an inch longer than your standard buzz cut. I often find that it’s easy to create texture and movement by taking the hair down with scissors, despite the desired look being akin to a clipper cut.

In my opinion, the major benefit of this style is its versatility. The outgrown buzz cut is best suited to men with oval, round, or square face shapes, as it can help elongate a rounder face and balance out a square jawline.

How to Achieve an Outgrown Buzz Cut

  • Run a long clipper blade all over the head (usually a 5-8 clipper)
  • For a more sleek look, run a shorter clipper on the back and sides
  • Blend accordingly to remove the blunt edge
Collage of two images of men with short crop cut
Short Crop | MHT

2. Short Crop

Short Crop Characteristics

  • Blunt Fringe: The front section of the hair will be very short and styled forward. This can help add width to an elongated face shape.
  • Texture: The hair on top should be highly textured, giving a messy and worn-in appearance to offset the bluntness of the fringe.

Best Face Shapes for Short Crop

  • Oval
  • Round
  • Square

A solid crop cut is usually defined by short hair fixed close to the crown and commonly pointed forward or up. For most guys, this will see the barber style the hair in a forward direction before blunt-cutting the fringe to create a harsh, straight line. Ultimately, you can style this section however you want, but I always find that keeping the fringe down and forward will give the hairstyle the most aesthetic look.

In some cases, the bluntness of the fringe can make you look like you have a bowl cut, which is never a good option. To avoid this, ensure there is enough contrast between the sides and the top, or style the fringe diagonally downward. This will add movement and flow to the cut, essentially offsetting the harsh and straight lines.

Importantly, this style is incredibly adaptable, working with pretty much every face shape, however, it’s at its best when paired with oval, round, and square faces. The short sides and textured top can balance out rounder features and add definition to square jawlines. It’s a great look for the modern professional who works as hard as he plays.

How to Achieve a Short Crop Cut

  • Ask for a fade on the back and sides. The starting point should be particularly short, generally under a 1-blade
  • Scissor-cut the top to around a finger length.
  • Ask to have the top point cut for texture.
  • For a more blunt look, you can ask to line up the front, however, this will be dependent on your hairline.
  • Using texture powder, style the hair forward.
Close up of man with pompadour hairstyle
Pompadour | Image: MHT

3. Pompadour

Pompadour Characteristics:

  • High Volume: The pompadour is best characterised by its high-volume top section. Think Elvis Presley and James Dean.
  • Styling: While the classic pompadour is generally slick, modern interpretations utilise matte creams and pastes to give a more natural finish.

Best Face Shapes for Pompadours:

  • Round
  • Square
  • Triangle

The pompadour is a classic short hairstyle that suits almost every face shape. The iconic cut has been around for centuries, but you’ll probably recognise it best as the style of choice for one Elvis Presley. Of course, The King’s take on the pompadour is a little dated by today’s standards, courtesy of the slick creme-based styling and extra length on the sideburns, but modern adaptations are still as stylish as ever.

Short on the sides and back, with extra length on top that you can push back and style neatly or embrace a natural wave, this short to medium-length men’s hairstyle is extremely versatile. If you have a round or square face shape, the extra height and volume on top can help elongate the silhouette and keep you looking in proportion. Conversely, if you have an oblong face shape, I would steer clear of this option, as it can make you look a little lanky in the face.

The classic option is a scissor-cut style that involves combing the hair back over the ears, however, more modern interpretations will use a clipper on the nape and sideburns for a cleaner look. Additionally, you could go for a hard side part, prop it up or sweep it back, however, my favourite option is a slick-back skin fade. The sharpness of the top is a nod to the haircut’s 1950s origins, while the skin fade adds a nice touch of modernity.

How to Achieve a Swept Back Pompadour

  • Ask to scissor or clipper the back and sides
  • Leave significant length on top, however, the texture is up to you. Pompadours can be sleek and polished or have a more textured and messy look
  • Depending on the desired texture, style the product when the hair is damp by brushing it all back, before elevating the front section
Close up of Zayn Malik with a Messy Hairstyle
Zayn Malik with a Messy Hairstyle | Image: Mark Cuthbert

4. Messy Hairstyle

Messy Hairstyle Characteristics

  • Texture: Ask your barber to point-cut the top section for extra texture and movement.
  • Powder: Rather than weighing the hair down with thick creams and pastes, a texture powder is the most natural-looking option for this style.

Best Face Shapes for Messy Hairstyles

  • Oval
  • Triangle
  • Oblong

It might look effortless, but a quality messy hairstyle is anything but. Messy styles are best suited to short hair as longer styles will naturally fall and part due to the weight. As a result, you should look to clipper the sides to a 2 or 3, leaving around two to four inches of hair on top.

The key element for making this hairstyle work is texture, a visual aid that helps to create volume and definition. When opting for this style, I would ask the barber to ‘point-cut’ the top section, which is a technique that creates slight variances in length and movement. When it comes to styling, look for a textured product that can add some volume to the overall look, either a matte clay or powder.

How to Achieve a Messy Hairstyle

  • Ask to clipper the sides short or fade from 0
  • Blend the sides using a combination of clipper over comb and scissor work
  • Trim the top to around two to four inches
  • Ask to have the top point cut to increase texture
  • Style using a texture product such as matte clay or powder.
Close up of clipper near a man’s head with a side part haircut
Side Part | Image: 360 Jeezy

5. Side Part

Side Part Characteristics

  • Defined Parting: The hair will split at a defined and predetermined section, running directly from the hairline to the crown.

Best Face Shapes for Side Part Hairstyles

  • Oval
  • Round
  • Diamond

The men’s short-haired comb-over is another option that never goes out of style. More often than not I see the classic short hairstyle best suited for those in a professional or formal setting; however, it has become a common haircut across the board. The obvious defining characteristic of this short men’s hairstyle is the clear and predetermined parting that runs from the front of the hairline all the way to the crown.

That’s an important distinction, as the side of your head on which the crown (the spiral section at the back of the head) sits will ultimately determine which side you part your hair on. To find the optimum spot, run a comb in a straight line from the centre of the crown forward to the hairline. This should create a natural parting, however, inconsistencies such as cowlicks and curls can make this tricky. You might be able to work with a cowlick in some instances, however, this style is very much suited to those with thick, straight hair.

In recent years, barbers have been known to shave the hair all the way up to the part known as ‘disconnection’; however, this is not advised. The hair will grow out awkwardly and often, this process involves shaving a small section of the crown. Instead, ask to leave some weight on the side and to be blended. From there, leave a significant amount of hair on top, generally two to three inches, and style it to the side in one direction. For a cleaner and classic look, you should opt for a pomade or water-based product, however, you can usually tone down the look with a matte product such as clay.

How to Achieve a Side Part

  • Ask to clipper or scissor the sides and back
  • Using the natural part as a guide, ask to leave some weight on the part side and blend it
  • Trim the top to around two or three inches
  • Style the top by combing the hair to one side and elevating the front section
Close up of man with undercut
Undercut | Image: Style Mann

6. Undercut

Undercut Characteristics

  • Harsh Disconnection: This cut will have a distinct and noticeable variance in lengths from side to top, whereby the elongated sections on top overhang the sharp sides and back.
  • Short Sides and Back: To make the hairstyle work, the sides and back will be dramatically shorter than the top, so it’s always a good idea to opt for a fade on these sections.

Best Face Shapes for Undercuts

  • Square
  • Round

The simple undercut is sharp and clean, leaving no room for wrong impressions. This men’s short hairstyle is best characterised by its unique approach to the sides and back, marking a significant contrast to the long sections on top. Unlike a fade, where the hair transitions smoothly from short to long, the undercut clearly distinguishes between the short sides and the longer top.

While it might seem a little extreme, the undercut can actually be a good choice for a number of different face shapes, particularly those with extra width towards the jawline. For square and round face shapes, the added height can create the illusion of length, giving you a more balanced look. Though harder to maintain than other men’s hairstyles, the simple undercut is both practical and attractive.

How to Achieve the Undercut

  • Ask to shave the sides and back relatively high
  • Disconnect the top by having a defined contract between long and short sections (no blend)
Close up of Colton Haynes with a Buzz Cut
Colton Haynes with a Buzz Cut | Image: Huff Post

7. Buzz Cut

Buzz Cut Characteristics:

  • Clipper Length on Top: Short clipper-length hair on top leaves little room for styling.
  • Low-Maintenance Hairstyle for Men: The buzz cut is easily the most low-maintenance hairstyle for men as it does not require any styling.

Best Face Shapes for Buzz Cuts:

  • Oval
  • Square
  • Round
  • Diamond

Being the fastest hairstyle for men, shaving your entire head might sound like the lazy man’s way out, the truth is that a quality buzz cut can often do wonders for your overall appearance, especially when it plays off the contours of your face. I’ve always found that oval and square-shaped faces usually go best with the buzz cut, but any shape that has significant width across the forehead will benefit from this style. As mentioned above, you can take the top down with a longer clipper in order to leave yourself some hair to style and play with, but the best option is likely a #2 or #3 guard over the scalp.

How to Achieve a Buzz Cut

  • Run a clipper over the entire head to create a uniform length
  • For a cleaner look taper or fade the back and sides with a shorter clipper
Close up of man with 4 Back and Sides haircut
4 Back and Sides | Image: Style N Designs

8. 4 Back and Sides

4 Back and Sides Characteristics:

  • #4 Guard Lengths: As the name suggests, this hairstyle takes a conservative #4 guard to the back and sides, giving you a grown-in look that is easy to style.
  • Corporate Look: This hairstyle is best categorised as a corporate haircut. Straightforward and inoffensive, it is the everyman’s cut.

Best Face Shapes for 4 Back and Sides:

  • Oblong
  • Round
  • Triangle
  • Oval

Not every short back and sides haircut has to cling tightly to the crown. Instead of a buzz cut or undercut, ask your barber for a 4 back and sides cut, which keeps things uniformly short in length, but not too short. In essence, this is the perfect example of a textbook corporate hairstyle and in my time working at inner-city and CBD barbershops, I executed thousands of these cuts. The 4 in the name refers to the #4 clipper guard that is used on the back sides, which roughly equates to around 13mm in length.

The big benefit of this style is that it is entirely inoffensive and simple, making it incredibly versatile. You can add a side part if need be, create a bit of movement and texture with a powder product, or simply give it a comb, and you are on your way.

How to Achieve a 4 Back and Sides

  • Run a 4 blade clipper on the back and sides
  • Ask to blend the shorter sections with the top
  • Trim the top to a manageable length, generally three yo five inches
Man fixing his hair looking at his reflection in the mirror
Men’s Short Hairstyle Tips | Image: Maridav

Men’s Short Hairstyle Tips

What’s important is that you strike a balance between personal aesthetics and contemporary trends, making every strand and follicle work to your benefit. You should also be prepared to get handy with the hair product, as even short men’s haircuts can go awry when left to their own devices. In the case of short haircuts, each new year brings with it new styles and trends, so it pays to keep up with the times.

Here are some pointers from the experts:

  1. Add Texture – Be sure to utilise texture to its fullest potential. More texture means more room to play with various looks and styles. That goes for simple haircuts and complicated ones alike. You can gain texture through layering, choosing the right cut, using quality shampoos and conditioners, using sea salt sprays and even adding natural highlights.
  2. Go a Little Longer – Try to go a little longer on the top than on the sides. A nice taper, fade or undercut compliments just about any short hairstyle on top and will serve you well.
  3. Add Product – Proper men’s hair products will help you go the extra style mile and allow you to experiment. Consider using some holding gel for conditioning and firmness, and then adding a touch (and just a touch) of pomade for texture and shine. Avoid the cheap stuff because you’ll get what you pay for
  4. Haircare – Don’t take your short hair for granted or let your aesthetic fall by the wayside. Visit your barber or hairdresser once every four weeks and maintain a diligent grooming regimen, including the removal of visible neck hair.
  5. If You’re Receding – If your men’s hair is thinning out and bald spots are forming, avoid the comb-over or equivalent equally transparent methods. Instead, go for a short crop cut, a buzz cut or shave your head entirely.

Why Trust Our Men’s Hairstyle Advice?

As a qualified hairdresser and barber with an SHB30516 Certificate III in Barbering from The Queensland Hairdressing Academy, Nick Hall is an expert on men’s haircuts and styles. Prior to joining Man of Many as Editor-in-Chief, he spent five years as a senior stylist at Brisbane salon The Chopspot and two years at Sydney-based barbershop Kings Domain. The men’s hairstyle expert has personally chosen every haircut on this list, providing extensive first-hand details and insights related to each style.

Men’s Short Hairstyle Images & Inspiration

Now that we’ve covered the basics, peruse images of over 50 men’s short haircuts to see which one is right for you. Good luck, gents!

Close up of man with Side Part Slick Back hairstyle
Side Part Slick Back | Image: Christopher Campbell
Collage of two images of men with Undercut Fade
Undercut Fade I Image: Rockstars Barbers & Coffee/Moda Sem Censura
Collage of two images of men with Medium Wavy Fade hairstyle
Medium Wavy Fade I Image: Bart Dors/RPB
Close up of man with Short Choppy Bangs hairstyle
Short Choppy Bangs I Image: Prada
Close up of Justin Timberlake with Neat Sweep Slick Back hairstyle
Neat Sweep Slick Back I Image: Getty
Close up of man with High Fade Curly Hair
High Fade Curly Hair I Image: MHT
Close up of man with Drop Fade with Tapered Neckline haircut
Drop Fade with Tapered Neckline I Image: MHT
Close up of man with High Fade Textured Comb Over hairstyle
High Fade Textured Comb Over I Image: Javier Chacon Perez
Close up of David Beckham with Crop 0.5 Fade Back and Sides haircut
Crop 0.5 Fade Back and Sides I Image: Gareth Fuller
Collage of two images of men with Textured Crop Buzz cut
Textured Crop Buzz I Image: Javier Chacon Perez
Collage of two images of men with Short Textured Crop haircut
Short Textured Crop I Image: MHT

On the lookout for more men’s hairstyles, haircuts and pointers? Be sure to check out the links below: