Men have been on the hunt for the supreme haircut literally for hundreds of years. In the 1700s, at the court of King Louis of France, men wore elaborate wigs that gave the illusion of theatrical men’s haircuts. They spoke of wealth, luxury, and status. Soldiers, on the other hand wore their hair as closely shaved as possible to fit under their helmets. What about today?
This is exactly what we’re going to elaborate in this article. An exhaustive look into the world of men’s haircuts. A throwback to the history of men’s haircuts and how they evolved over time. But we’re also going to detail what are the best men’s haircuts for each type of face, what products you should use to take care of your hair, and how to tell your barber exactly what you want! Every piece of info you’ve ever wanted is right in this detailed guide, so scroll all the way to the end!
The History of Men’s Haircuts
Let’s start by taking a look back at the way men have worn their hair throughout history. It’s a fascinating tour that has to do with culture, geography, and beauty!
One of the earliest recordings of men willingly changing the nature of their hair comes from the Bronze Age. Some of the men living then liked to use razors to shave their head partially or totally. However, this was not done on an everyday basis. The blades had to be re-sharpened which would make it last less than normal.
In Ancient times, things changed drastically. Men started to wear different hairstyles based on the culture they belonged to. For example, in Ancient Egypt, men would still shave their heads for practical reasons. Ancient Egypt was plagued by lice and it was simply easier to shave one’s head than to wash your hair all the time. However, men’s haircuts consisted of fake wigs that would go down to their shoulders. The wigs could be made of wool or even natural human hair.
In Ancient Greece, men’s haircuts were very short, almost resembling the crew cuts of today. Most men would also have long and bushy but well-kept beards, as seen depicted in most statues from that time. The only ones who did not wear beards were the Greek soldiers. The enemy could have pulled them to the ground by their beards.
The same goes for men’s haircuts in Ancient Rome, which were similar to the Greek ones. But here’s an interesting fact for you. Do you know why Caesar wore the famous golden laurel crown? Because he was balding and wanted to hide it! True story!
Men’s Haircuts in the East
In India, most men had medium length hair that went all the way to their shoulders. However, their culture did not allow them to display it in public, so they wore a fez or a turban.
The Ancient Chinese, on the other hand, became famous for wearing what we would today call man braids. In other words, they had to shave off the front of their heads. They had to grow the rest of their hair as long as possible so that they could then braid it in one, super long braid at the back.
The same goes for Japanese men. They would shave the front part of their heads as well, except that they wouldn’t wear the back in a braided plait but in a ponytail.
Masai warriors in Africa, on the other hand, would have to shave their heads as boys. Then they would allow it to grow freely until they officially became warriors, after which the hair was braided.
Native Americans loved to shave their heads as well, leaving just a few scraps of hair on top. And yes, it is true what they say. Some Native Americans did indeed wear Mohawks. They also wore braids which symbolized wisdom and experience as a warrior.
It is very interesting to note the change in perspective that happened over the centuries regarding men’s haircuts. As you can see, in Ancient times, a lot of cultures asked their men to braid their hair. Those braids had powerful symbols behind them, such as intelligence, experience, wisdom, and fearlessness as a warrior. However, today, in the modern world, men who wear braids are considered feminine and are often derided. There’s some food for thought for you!
Men’s Haircuts in the Modern Age
Let’s jump to the 15th and 16th century where we will see that most men wore their hair medium length, which meant down to their shoulders, but no longer than that. Bangs were very in style at that point in time, as was dying your hair. The Middle Ages were also the time when elaborate wigs were introduced, mainly at the court of King Louis the XIIIth of France.
However, the 18th century saw the rise of the short haircut for men when the Duke of Bedford started imposing a tax on hair powder in England. Not wanting to pay it, men chopped off their long hair.
The 19th century was not so much a time for men’s haircuts as it was a time for the mustache and sideburns to shine. Yes, men were entering the Romantic Movement and were absolutely loving the Bohemian look a good pair of sideburns could give them.
Still, all that came to a sudden halt when the world was plunged into the First World War. It happened at the beginning of the 20th century, as we all know, and it essentially meant that men had to go for short haircuts and clean shaven faces.
There were multiple reasons for that. First of all, long hair and a beard soon meant lice and fleas that, in turn, brought diseases in the trenches. Second of all, long locks and bushy beards also meant that their helmets and, later, gas masks, wouldn’t fit on their heads and faces.
Contemporary Men’s Haircuts
By this we mean the haircuts that came after the First and Second World War. Let’s start with the rocking 50s. During this decade, men were influenced heavily by the major music and movie stars that rose to fame. We’re talking, of course, about Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Frank Sinatra. They all wore slicked back haircuts, pompadours, and duck tails. The 50s were a decade in which men rebelled against the traditionalism of former decades and the idea that only women should try to look good.
When the 60s rolled around, they brought along what came to be known as the Peacock Revolution. This meant a tendency of men to wear flamboyant colors and theatrical suits, much like you can see Harry Styles wear today. It was an era that pushed the boundaries between genders and tried to erase them. Men’s haircuts in the 60s meant shoulder length, straight tresses. The most famous hairstyles of the decade are the Beatle haircut made popular by the boy band of the same name and the afro.
In fact, the afro continued to dominate men’s haircuts in the 70s as well. Big hair for men was definitely a thing in the following decade too. The 80s saw the birth of glam rock and with it came long, wild haircuts inspired by the most famous rockers of the decade. Examples include Steven Tyler, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, and Slash.
However, by the time the 90s came around, glam rock lost a lot of its hold on mainstream music and was replaced by pop. And this type of music brought along a whole new set of men’s haircuts. You might recognize the heartthrob haircut of the 90s as being worn by Leonardo DiCaprio and Hugh Grant.
Men’s Haircuts at the Present Day
The 2000s have definitely brought forth some of the most interesting and notorious men’s haircuts of all time. We have yet to experience a truly original one in the sense that nothing men have worn in the past two decades is new. They’ve all been popular at some point in the past and have now resurfaced in one way or another. However, some men’s haircuts worn in the 2000s and 2010s have definitely made headlines.
Do we even have to mention the man bun? This one is, probably, the most debated haircut for men of the modern age. The man bun started appearing somewhere along 2013-2014 when a huge number of celebrities were seen wearing it. Since then it has been accused of being too feminine for men and even too ridiculous a haircut to be worn in public to begin with.
Despite these accusation there is no denying that the man bun made a huge splash in the styling world as well as in pop culture. A company started selling fake man buns that men could attach to their short hair much like women attach extensions to theirs. And Mattel even put out a Ken doll who can be seen wearing a man bun.
But the man bun has dwindled in popularity since then. It was soon followed by the no less controversial man braids. This hairstyle as well was considered too feminine for men to wear, while the African-American community felt than any non-African American man who wears braids is guilty of cultural appropriation.
Both claims are somewhat unsubstantiated. As we’ve shown in the history of men’s haircuts above, men of all cultures, including Japanese, Chinese, and Native Americans have been wearing braids for thousands of years. Therefore, saying that they are feminine or they belong to a single culture is not entirely correct.
How to Choose the Right Haircut for Your Face Shape
Needless to say, no matter how good a haircuts looks, it cannot possibly fit every single man in the world. Sure, it’s incredible on Leonardo DiCaprio or Chris Hemsworth but will it look good on you? This exact question is the reason why you need to find the perfect haircut that flatters the shape of your face. As opposed to choosing a hairstyle that you just fancy.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of face you have. Buy a tape measure and let’s set to work doing precisely that! Remember to write down every single measurement you take!
- Measure your forehead from where one eyebrow peaks to the peak of the other eyebrow, straight across.
- Measure your cheekbones – start under the outer corner of your eye, where the cheekbone protrudes the most and finish on the other side in the exact same spot.
- Your jawline – start at the tip of the chin and finish under your ear where you can see your jaw line starting to angle up. You need to multiply the number you got by two so that you can get the entirety of your face.
- Measure the length of your face – start at the center of your hairline and go down until you reach the tip of your chin.
Take a look at all the numbers you’ve just written down. Decide which one is the biggest. Now compare them to the following face profiles for men’s haircuts to see which type of face you have!
What type of face do I have?
- Rectangular – if the biggest number is the face length. Your cheekbones, forehead, and jawline should be roughly the same size.
- Oval – the face length should be bigger than your cheekbones while the length of your forehead should be bigger than your jawline. Your jaw should also be round, not sharp at all.
- Round – your face length and cheekbones are equal in length. But they are longer than the jawline and forehead, which are also equal
- Triangular – the jawline is bigger than the cheekbones and they are longer than your forehead when measured across.
- Heart shape – your forehead is longer than both your cheekbones and your jawline. Your chin should also be small and pointed.
- Diamond shape – the face length is the biggest but your jawline is the smallest, with a very pointed chin, as if you are actually a diamond.
- Square – all the measurements of your face should be roughly equal, while your jawline should be sharp and straight, almost creating a right angle when seen from the profile.
What men’s haircuts should I choose for my face type?
Now that you have taken all the measurements and you know what type of face you have, here are a few haircuts that will flatter you the most!
Haircuts for an oval face
If you have an oval face, open the champagne because you’ve just won the lottery of genetics. Oval faces are often considered to be the most beautiful face shapes of all. Which is why most actors have them. So that they can look good on the big screen. But this also means that an oval face can provide a lot of symmetry and act as a bit of a blank canvas for any type of haircut you might want to try.
Still, as perfect as you are, we do have a few tips for you. Make sure you never cover your face by wearing bangs, for example. Create as much volume or even angles on top to increase the roundness and elevate the height and length of your face. Go for a haircut with a short back and side and a side sweep that will make you look dashing and handsome.
Haircuts for a square face
If an oval face is pure perfection overall, then a square face is usually thought of as a masculine ideal. In other words, men with square faces have that classic type of beauty that we all admire. Think Prince Charming and you’ll understand! A square face is typically characterized by the coveted square jawline. It has a straight angle that can be used to solve math problems, much chiseled features, and the most even proportions you will ever see.
This means that if you have this type of face, not only will Disney be calling you soon to star in one of their live action movies, but you will also be able to wear almost any type of hairstyle you want.
However, we do have some tips. Try to stay away from super short men’s haircuts. Since you have such strong features, they might make you look a bit scary. Go for medium length and wavy hairstyles that will soften your features.
Haircuts for a Rectangular Face
This type of face is somewhere between the square and the oval. Therefore, when it comes to men’s haircuts, you will need a few tips and tricks to make sure you have chosen the best one. For example, rectangular faces look longer than typical ones. Therefore, never go for taper fades and a lot of volume on top. This kind of haircut will only make your face look inexplicably thin and long.
As opposed to that, you could try a haircut with bangs, for example, that will mask your forehead and hide some of the natural length of your face. You can also try one that has more volume on the sides, to make your face appear wider than it actually is.
Haircuts for a round face
We’ve made it to the tricky one. Rounded faces have very soft lines and a rounded chin that needs a lot of definition. And you will be able to get that if you choose the appropriate men’s haircuts. For example, a hairstyle with a lot of volume on top such as a pompadour or even a man bun will give you extra height and accentuate your cheekbones.
You can also try growing a full and well-manicured beard. It will define your jawline making it look square, even if it’s actually rounded. It’s an optical illusion!
Haircuts for a diamond face
This is, in fact, a very rare face shape. Therefore, you will most likely need to discuss your options with your stylist. He or she can tell you exactly what type of hairstyle will suit you best. As a rule of thumb, what you need is a lot of width for your forehead and chin. Therefore, do not get a taper fade and forget about shaving!
Instead, try to go for a fringe or a wavy hairstyle that will add a lot of volume and texture to your bone structure around the ears. And definitely, definitely start growing a beard. Your narrow chin can benefit from anything from a five o’clock shadow to a bushy beard!
Haircuts for a heart face shape
Heart shaped faces look… well, just like a heart. In the sense that they are very wide in the temple area, gradually becoming lower and lower as you go down toward the chin. Therefore, you will need a hairstyle that can accommodate that and make it seem as if you face is better proportioned.
Try to go for short men’s haircuts or even a taper fade. It will thin the width of your forehead and that around your ears. To continue with the illusion that you have a balanced face, you will need to grow a beard that will make it seem as if your chin is a bit bigger than it is in reality.
Haircuts for a triangular face
Triangular faces are basically the complete opposite of a heart shaped face. The width or length is at the bottom and the narrow portion is at the top. Therefore, try some men’s haircuts that give you extra volume on top. Anything with extra length or even curls and bangs will do the trick.
Men’s haircuts that reach down to your nose should create the optimum balance for the perfect optical illusion. As per the beard? You shouldn’t really grow one. If you can’t help it and want to join the facial hair trend, you can get away with a light stubble!
The Best Hair Products for Men
Good hair is something that you’re born with. We all know that. Especially when it comes to men who are prone to alopecia and loss of hair very early on. But good hair is also about how well you take care of it.
Starting with the 1950s when the very first hair styling products for men were developed (think of Brylcreem!), the past 70 or so years have brought us a giant plethora of hair products to choose from. So how do you do the selection? Well, it all depends on your needs, on your type of hair and on your preferred men’s haircuts, of course! Let’s take a look at some of the best hair products for men!
· Hair wax
You know it, you’ve probably been using it for a long time if you were a teenager back in the 2000s. Hair wax is a styling product with high hold and low shine that is also capable of adding a lot of texture to your hair. However, remember that it’s only good if you use it on super short hair. If you use wax on hair that goes beyond two or three inches, it will only make it look dirty.
· Hair gel
This is a product you have used gallons of if you lived through the 90s and 2000s. Or a product you’ve never heard of if you’re a teenage boy now. Hair gel was used back in the day to create the famous spikes of the 90s that absolutely every single teenage boy wore. Some men still wear those spikes today. Of course, you can still use gel. But be careful because most formulas have alcohol which means it will dry your hair.
Meet the king of all styling products when it comes to men’s haircuts. Pomade was the first styling product ever developed for men back in the 50s. It was the secret behind the famous ‘greaser’ look worn so well by the likes of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. And literally everyone else for that matter who loved pompadours.
A word of caution though. Some types of pomade today have remained faithful to the original formula. Which means they are based on grease or Vaseline. Therefore, they will be almost impossible to wash off once used. To clean your hair you will need a special shampoo or even dish soap. You might also develop pomade acne because of the grease. Therefore, you are advised to go for a water-based type of pomade.
· Hair spray
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of hair spray? It used to be the go-to solution for styling men’s haircuts before everything else was invented. Nowadays we advise you to try and go lightly on the hairspray. It’s highly flammable and can damage the hair. Not to mention it’s no friend to the environment!
· Hair clay
This styling product can offer you a medium hold and a bit of versatility when it comes to the shiny factor. For example, if you use it when dry, it won’t shine at all. But if you apply clay to your damp hair it will remain medium shiny throughout the day. Keep in mind that clay is not a styling product that allows you to play with your hair. Therefore, if you style your hair in the morning, it’s going to have to do until you take a shower!
· Hair fiber
If you have thick hair, fiber is the way to go! It offers super high hold and no shine at all. You can only use it on dry hair and it will lock your locks into place in no time! Pun intended. The amazing thing about fiber is the texture it gives your hair. Most men report they love the fact that fiber makes their hair look as if they’ve just gotten out of bed. Perfectly messy! But we know the secret!
Like putty in your hands! Think of this product like the half way between fiber and clay. You need to use it on damp hair for best results and it will produce a high hold as well as a little polish. Just remember that putty works best when it comes to short men’s haircuts. If you have medium or long hair, you might want to reach for another styling product.
How to Ask Your Barber for the Men’s Haircuts You Want
Let’s talk hair terminology! This is a very sensitive subject for most men. They find a haircut they absolutely adore online, and they run to their barber to get it. But once there they find themselves unable to express exactly what they want. Which is why they end up with something completely different from what they wanted in the first place. How many times has that happened to you? Not anymore. Here are the basic hairstyling terms you need to know!
- Taper vs. fade – a taper is a gradual change going from long hair to short starting from the top of your head and ending with your neckline. It should only happen around your sideburns and neckline. The fade is all around your head.
- Thinning – this is a useful thing to ask for if you have thick hair. Tell your barber to use thinning scissors on you to remove some weight and give your hair a little more bounce and freedom.
- Neckline – decide if you want your neckline to be a V or flat. Also make sure to let your barber know how high you want your neckline to be.
- Haircut grades – they decide how long your hair will be cut. Just to give you an example, number two is shorter than number four.
- Sideburns – the lines of hair next to your ears. Decide if you want them or not and talk to your stylist about them.
- Scissors vs clippers – don’t be afraid to ask for one or the other. If you see your stylist or barber using a clipper and you want him or her to use the scissors instead, just tell them!
What about your favorite men’s haircuts?
The one thing you must always remember is that there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to men’s haircuts. If you like it and it makes you look good, then you should definitely go for it! Alright, maybe with the exception of the mullet! Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comment section below!