Here's the 411 on Undercuts: The New Yet Nostalgic Hair Trend

  • An undercut hairstyle is typically shaven on the sides, with longer hair on top.
  • Like a disconnected haircut, the two layers are separate lengths.
  • Keep reading for everything you need to know about styling an undercut.

There's nothing like the feeling of getting a new and exciting runway-worthy haircut at the start of a new season. If you want to go shorter, there are plenty of trends to consider: the midlength bob haircut, an edgy tapered fade, or even the latest (yet nostalgic) look, the undercut.

Although the style is getting a lot of attention for being a "new" trend, with stars like JoJo Siwa trying the cut, the style dates back as early as the 1920s. Resurfacing in the '80s and having been predominantly worn by men, undercuts then made another grand revival in the early 2010s, when women and gender-nonconforming people could also be seen wearing the look.

To learn more about the old-made-new-again trend, we spoke with a few pro hairstylists for everything you need to know about trying, styling, and maintaining the undercut. Keep reading to find out more and see photos to inspire your next chop.

What Is an Undercut?

"Simply put, an undercut is hair that's cut short and disconnected from the hair that lays on top of it," Renée Gadar, a master hairstylist and educator in New York City, tells POPSUGAR. The back and/or sides of your head are shaved very low underneath, and the longer hair on top remains as such, she says. It's a subtle way to add more flare to your look, because if you have longer hair it can be as hidden or exposed as you choose by simply tying it up in a ponytail.

When I opted for an undercut myself in my 20s, my hair was in a neck-length bob — think Rihanna's "Good Girl Gone Bad" album cover. I was working at a high-end spa in Santa Monica at the time and needed to exercise a bit of modesty while working there. It was quite literally good girl on top and gone bad on the bottom, which I loved because I could hide or expose it at will.

How to Grow Hair For an Undercut

In my experience, hair doesn't have to be extremely long to obtain an undercut. I had a neck-length bob, but even folks with short pixie styles can get an undercut. "Pixies can have parts of the haircut undercut to assist in debulking, slimming, and flattening the overall shape," Gadar says. Atlanta-based hairstylist and educator Patricia Flournoy agrees, adding: "Your hair doesn't have to be extremely long to obtain an undercut. If you want the option to hide or expose at will, ensuring your hair is at least below the earlobe will give you the flexibility to do so."

People of color have been showcasing an undercut via protective styles for decades, so it's safe to say the length of your hair isn't a grand feat when it comes to achieving this versatile style.

Undercuts For Curly or Textured Hair

"Anyone can get an undercut no matter the texture of your hair. The only thing to consider is how you approach it," Flournoy says. Because textured hair coils and curls most times grow outward, in these cases undercuts should be shorter and tighter.

For example? "If you're going for the traditional disconnected undercut on long, textured hair, cutting hair with shears first as low as possible will minimize risk of holes," Flournoy says. "Then follow with one-inch guard and finally zero guard to ensure it's short, tight, and even." Gadar adds that if you're going for a sharp bob, "the undercut being shorter and as close to the nape as possible will give a sharper line, debulk, and will help with longevity of style, reducing the maintenance of at-home styling."

How to Maintain an Undercut Hairstyle at Home

First and foremost: this is not a haircut you should DIY at home. "Although undercuts are generally disconnected, they are meant to assist in the look of an overall shape, so it's best to see a professional to set the guide," Gadar says. Also, always bring in a photo of the exact cut you want to show the stylist — this helps tremendously. Book a bang trim, neck trim, or beard trim with your stylist every three weeks or so to upkeep style. If your hair is textured and you can't make it into the salon, use a pomade, brush, and wrap your undercut with a silk and/or satin scarf to ensure it lies down and stays tight until your next appointment.

If you can't find physical photos to bring with you into the salon, archive the photos ahead for inspo.

Types of Undercuts


Pixie Undercut

Pixie undercuts are the perfect cross between hidden undercuts and undercut fades. The hairstyle provides differentiation between the top and bottom sections of the hair but still makes it easy for people to spot the intentional haircut.

Curly-Hair Undercut
Getty | Matthew Sperzel

Curly-Hair Undercut

If you thought undercuts couldn't work for curly hair, think again. This hairstyle keeps the majority of the curls closer toward the top of the head, keeping the actual cut a bit more hidden and subtle.

Ponytail Undercut
Getty | Matthew Sperzel

Ponytail Undercut

Undercuts can be extremely versatile, especially if you want to retain some length to increase styling options after a haircut. This ponytail undercut is low maintenance but still a head-turning style.


Side-Swept Pixie Undercut

Side-swept pixie undercuts feel like the epitome of vacation hair. Choose your favorite place to keep your bangs and you have an easy hairstyle that can take you from the pool to dinner and a show with ease.

Braids With Undercut

Braids With Undercut

Undercuts paired with braids? A match made in heaven. Add some extensions and keep your hair on one side (similar to the side-swept pixie style) and you'll look equal parts edgy and sexy.

Disconnected Undercut
Getty | Kirstin Sinclair

Disconnected Undercut

Disconnected undercuts are perfect if you want your undercut to more closely resemble a fade. Add some more personality by adding line art at the point where your full head of hair and undercut meet.

Undercut Fade
Getty | Edward Berthelot

Undercut Fade

The undercut fade is effortlessly cool. The haircut features a perfectly blended fade starting at the nape of the neck, with hair that is medium to long at the top of your head and then short on the sides.

Long-Hair Undercut
Getty | Mauricio Santana

Long-Hair Undercut

Need more proof that long hair and undercuts just make sense? This hairstyle features the undercut on the right side with long, shoulder-length hair on the left. That's what we call duality.

Shaved Undercut
Getty | David Crotty

Shaved Undercut

It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but shaved undercuts are a thing. To get the look, shave your already-buzzed hair on one side so that the contrast between your hair and freshly shaved head can't be missed.

Slicked-Back Undercut
Getty | Kirstin Sinclair

Slicked-Back Undercut

Should you prefer keeping you undercuts more subtle, keep it somewhere that's hard to see like the back of the neck or the sides of the head. Then, style your hair as you normally would.


Man-Bun Undercut

Man buns are here to stay, so why not jazz up the quintessential style with an undercut? The style seen here keeps the majority of length toward the top-middle section of the head and shaves the sides.


Feminine Pixie Undercut

There is nothing quite like the bowl/pixie undercut mix. This cut actually keeps quite a bit of hair volume intact but instead plays with the levels of the hair. The differentiation between the undercut and the rest of the hair becomes even more evident with gorgeous colors like this platinum blond.

Undercut Twists
Getty | Mauricio Santana

Undercut Twists

Another easy-to-style look? Undercut twists. Opt for twists in a dramatic length, like the hip-length ones seen here, for a stark contrast between the undercut and the rest of the style.


Hidden Long-Hair Undercut

Don't want anyone to see your undercut? Make sure it's properly hidden by positioning the cut under the rest of the length of your hair. No one will ever know.


Curly Undercut With Designs

One of the best parts about getting an undercut? All the fun designs you get to play with. This curly undercut features a beautiful floral design etched into the sides.


Ponytail Undercut With Designs

Undercut designs are even more fun when you have to search for them. This cut features a wave design right at the nape of the neck and is only visible if your hair is up.


Undercut With Designs

If you are a bit more bold and want to make sure your undercut designs aren't missed, combine them with a shorter haircut, like the one seen here, and sharp line art.


Undercut With Designs

Undercuts even play well with geometric designs. The cut seen here gives the illusion of perfectly overlapping triangles all thanks to a few well-placed lines.