Quarantine represents the biggest threat to men’s hairstyles since the invention of the bowl cut. Thanks to stay-at-home orders, maintaining men’s haircuts has suddenly gotten a lot harder. Men are learning how to cut their own hair and shape their beards without an assist from the neighborhood barber. Understandably, our appearances have all gone a little downhill. It’s okay, we’ll recover and get back to our sleekest selves soon enough. (We hope.) In the meantime, we can daydream about our less scruffy days and what we’ll do with our first real post-quarantine haircut.
If your hair is all grown out and you’re considering changing up your hairstyle, then we’re here to guide you through the process of selecting the right look. The best hairstyles for men of 2020 are a bit of a mixed bag, as not every style will look good on a particular dude. And when the era of professional men’s haircuts finally returns to every corner of the land, we want you to choose the right hairstyle.
We got a chance to discuss men’s haircuts with a few different barbers to talk about the top hairstyles of 2020. Kamau Preston, a Baxter of California Artist at Dop Dop Salon in NYC, walked us through his process for selecting the best hairstyles for his clients.
“When I’m creating a hairstyle for someone I like to look at three factors: the person’s career — the setting that the haircut will be in can influence the cut, the personality — the vibe of the person getting the haircut influences the style, too, the maintenance — how does this person keep up with their hair? Are they someone who gets up and goes, or will they use products to style their hair?” (Emphasis added.)
All of these factors are crucial to consider when you’re figuring out which men’s hairstyle is best for you based on the time, resources and effort you want to spend on daily grooming.
In this post, we’re going to break down everything you need to know to choose the right men’s hairstyle for 2020, with photos of cool haircuts for men to inspire your new ‘do.
We’ll break down:
- The different types of men’s hair (straight, curly, wavy and afro-textured)
- How to choose the right men’s hairstyle for you
- Photos of the best men’s haircuts of 2020
We’ll help you find the style, products and grooming routine that will help you leave quarantine even more handsome than when it started. Plus, we’ll get to look at some sick celebrity do’s in the process.
The Different Types of Men’s Hair
All of us human beings come in different shapes and sizes. Men’s hair can come in a variety of forms in terms of length, volume, texture, thickness, shine and color tones. Combined with your face shape, each of these components dictates the type of haircut that will look best on you and what’s possible and recommended in the styling space.
In general, you can break down this type of hair into three distinct categories.
First, many men have straight hair that grows without too many curls, kinks or bumps. It can be so fine and thin you can see the scalp. The hair strands are smaller and feel brittle and perhaps stick straight up.
It can also be medium-thick with a bit more volume — this type of hair is easily styled and doesn’t take a lot to look good.
Then there’s coarse, thick hair that grows in all sorts of directions. This hair type, though a bit harder to manage, lends itself to some really cool haircuts. Luckily, if you experience thin or thinning hair, there are a variety of shampoos and other products that can help you thicken up your mane and give it that healthy lush you’re looking for.
Men’s Wavy Hair
Manly curls can take many forms, and we’re in on all of them. The first one worth highlighting is wavy hair, which is an extremely common hair type among guys. It doesn’t form tight pin curls or corkscrews, but it’s not straight either. As any guy with wavy hair knows, it kind of has a life of its own.
Wavy hair can have loose waves, with a subtlety to it and a basic S-shape pattern that’s fluffy but relatively tame and close to the scalp.
There are also more defined waves, which happen naturally without any product or intervention. The hair is frizzier than other types and has more clearly defined S-shapes. You can experiment with this type of hair when it comes to styling, parting and even clipping, if that’s what you’re into. It’s difficult to style but is also a style in and of itself.
You can also have wide waves that consist of wider “S” shaped locks that are only a bit frizzy and have a ton of volume. This hair type is extremely difficult to style beyond maintaining the madness and responds well to light product usage, leave-in conditioner and regular hair styling. Recently, wavy-haired stars like Kit Harrington have proven that’s it’s possible to have a wild mane of wavy hair and still look extremely dapper. With this degree of waviness, the border between “wavy” and “curly” starts to break down.
Curly Men’s Hair
Your hair will need to be at least three inches long for you to know exactly what type of curls you possess, and therefore the best route to take when it comes to maximizing those curls’ styling potential.
Typically, men with looser curls have opted to grow their hair out longer so that it’s easier to style.
The second major category under the umbrella of men’s curly hair is coiled hair. Coiled hair consists of tighter curls that tend to grow in, up and around one another. If after a simple wash, air dry and no styling your hair forms tight coils, you’ve got naturally curly, coiled hair. There are a number of different, more specific forms this type of hair can take, including loose coils, tight curls and corkscrew curls — each progressing in tightness.
The good thing about coiled men’s hair is it takes very little styling to make it look great. It’s a hairdo in and of itself, and it’s known for a lush thickness many men will come to envy as they age.
If you don’t want to go too short or too long, you’ll want to adopt a more layered look with your hair. While he definitely falls on the scruffy end of the spectrum, Timothée Chalamet is a good point of inspiration for men with moderately curly hair.
Curly Men’s Hair — Afro-Textured
Another common type of curly hair is afro-textured hair, which requires its own set of descriptors as well as styling and care instructions.
Afro-textured hair can be broken down into a variety of categories, with looser S-shaped curls at one end of the spectrum and dense, tightly coiled hair at the other. There are also Z-shaped coils. Here, the general afro-pattern is not as pronounced but the Z-shaped coils are similarly tightened.
Afro-textured hair is very easy to identify in men and can also be described as kinky. It responds well to shampoos that won’t strip away the hair’s natural oils. The most important part is using conditioning products that give it moisture without weighing it down too much. There are many popular men’s hairstyles associated with afro-textured hair, and white men should avoid styles like dreadlocks and box braids, which are a poor imitation of the real thing.
What Are the Best Men’s Haircuts for 2020?
Okay, so now that we’ve described the different types of hair, you’re probably looking for the right style. Below, we’ll describe the best men’s haircuts of the moment, with photos of each to inspire your next look. If you’re looking for the most trendy haircuts for men of 2020, here are the best hairstyles for men to consider:
- Box braids
- High fade
- Side-tossed straight hair
- Ivy League haircuts
- Crew cuts
- Mid-fade with a pompadour or quiff
- The e-boy middle part
- The buzz cut
- Natural afros
- Long and layered
We’ll describe all of these men’s haircuts and more below, broken down by short, medium and long haircuts.
The Best Short Haircuts for Men
A lot of guys are wearing their hair short these days, mostly because it’s easy to maintain at home with nothing but clippers and a pair of dull scissors. Of course, you’ll need to put in some effort if you want to look truly dapper.
Side-Tossed Straight Hair
This haircut has a lot of versatility and gives men with relatively short, straight hair options. You can easily sweep it to one side and keep it there for a simple, straightforward, easy-to-style look. We’ve included a few examples below of this hairstyle in action. Jake Gyllenhaal is rocking a classic short hair side sweep to get it out of the way, but still have it rock lift, body and coif up front. Then there’s Ryan Reynolds looking especially dapper.
Best For: Short hair, straight hair, wavy hair.
Men’s Ivy League Haircut
This branch off of the side-swept hair is a specific type of haircut for men classified as the “Ivy League” look. This haircut is very similar to the side sweep, but it typically features shorter hair on the sides of the head, longer hair on top and a more defined part. It’s a sophisticated, polished look that gives you options in terms of styling up front with a quiff or throwing it off to the side slightly in a classic part. Depending on how long your hair is, the style gets slightly more unruly and the potential for texturing larger.
You can also experiment with a fade on the side of your head with an Ivy League cut to add definition to your head shape and emphasize the longer hair up top. Here’s Ryan Gosling rocking a very short Ivy League haircut.
Best For: Short hair, wavy hair.
Men’s Crew Cut
This haircut is a go-to for men with short hair who want it out of the way and stylized up top. The slow fade gives way to a full head of hair up top, with very little to work with on the sides. This type of men’s haircut can include a few different styles of fades, longer or shorter hair up top, and can include a sweep as well. Evocative of the Ivy League cut above, this haircut also first emerged at an Ivy League college. The crew cut originated at Yale University in 1927 when a member of the rowing team debuted this ‘do and the rest of the team followed suit. David Beckham, a man known for sporting crew cuts, is pictured below wearing it on the longer side.
Best For: Everyone! Short hair, wavy curly hair, afro-textured hair, it doesn’t matter — practically anyone can pull off this look.
The Buzz Cut
Lastly, for men of all hair types, there’s always the buzz. John Cotton, a celebrity barber, Gillette Barber Council member and owner of the newly opened John Cotton Studio in New York, cited the buzz as one of his favorite haircuts for Black men in 2020. He told SPY “The buzz cut (aka the Caesar) is a simple, classic, low maintenance cut which entails cutting the hair down to one length.”
If you want to start anew, simplify your grooming routine or shave it all off, this is a great way to go. Just make sure you use the right razor length and leave a little bit behind, as no one wants to go completely bald overnight.
With barbershops closed, the buzz cut has become one of the most popular men’s haircuts of 2020, as all you need is a little courage and a good set of hair clippers.
Best For: Any and all hair types.
Flat Top Afro Cut
This look could go for medium or short length hair, but if you’ve got the afro texture and want to return to the 1980s for a bit, this flat top look is the way to go. It’s a nice face framer and is completed by a high fade across the top which cleans up the sides as well. Let your natural texture flow with this stylized look.
The Best Men’s Medium-Length Haircuts
Men with medium-length haircuts have a ton of options when it comes to styling their locks. You can go with a low-key, just-got-out-of-bed hairstyle, or coif it up with a pompadour or quiff. It all depends on how much time you want to spend in front of the mirror each morning. And, of course, there’s the ever-popular fade, which is easily one of the most trendy men’s hairstyles in 2020.
Keep scrolling to see our favorite hairstyles for men with medium-length hair.
Men’s Straight Hair Layered Haircut
If you’ve got straight hair and want to do a bit of styling getting a simple trim or layered haircut is a great way to go. This leaves you open with options to bring your hair half up and half down, rock a small man bun, use headbands and hats to your advantage and still keep your hair healthy. Have your haircutter or stylist trim off split ends and give your hair a bit of texture and volume since straighter or thinner hair can lack the body that other hair naturally has. You’ll keep it healthy and give it life at the same time.
Best For: Grown out straight hair, slightly wavy hair, thinner hair.
Men’s Fade Haircuts
We decided to lump these stylish men’s haircuts together, since there are many things you can do with the glorious haircut that is the fade. In recent years, this has been the look for men. If you have short to medium-length hair and are looking for cool haircuts for men, the fade is where you want to start. There are many different styles of fades, but the classic look is buzzed on the sides fading into longer hair up top, either swept back in a pompadour or parted to the side.
You leave the longer hair up top to be styled in a comb-over, sweep or tousled around for fun, but the sides are where the fun begins. You can do a low fade where you trim your hairline below the midway line of your head so you’ve got plenty left to play with up top.
There’s also the mid fade that takes that lower fade and brings it up closer to the top of your head, so it’s between the tops of your ears and your temples. If you want to try an Elvis-style pompadour or a quiff to the front, this is a great option for taming the sides.
The classic pompadour is a hairstyle named after Madame de Pompadour, a famous mistress of King Louis XV of France. While it was once favored by the proto-punk greasers and rockabilly fans, you’re more likely to see a pompadour on someone like Nick Jonas. Here he is on the red carpet with a mid fade and pompadour:
Preston from the Dop Dop Salon told SPY that the fade was one of his favorite haircuts for Black men in 2020. He noted that he loves a “low fade with a mohawk. As far as fades go, your fade sets the tone for your haircut, entering and leaving any room. The mohawk, in my opinion, is a type of haircut that shows confidence, as well as command in whatever subject you’re speaking on.”
Lastly, the high fade is arguably the most artistic look of the three and works well with medium-length hair looking to be stylized. The fade happens well above your ears and temples so all your hair sits up top. This gives you space for other daring statements like a mohawk, faux hawk or even an 80s-style high top look that’ll place you right on a boy band album cover without an audition. If you’re looking for the most trendy men’s haircut of 2020, the high fade has been extremely popular recently.
There’s also a drop fade, a more sensible approach to the drop trend that takes a fade by the ears and slowly tapers it off down your head without drawing a defined and distinct line. It blends your whole head together easily rather than amplifying the length of your hair up top. Some men draw designs into their fades for an even more stylized look.
Best For: Medium-length hair, straight hair, short or medium hair, afro-textured hair. In fact, pretty much everyone, with apologies to bald men, can pull off some type of fade, which is one reason it’s one of the most popular men’s haircuts of 2020.
Men’s Undercut Haircut
As styles have gotten more alt-focused and men are less afraid to express themselves grooming-wise, we’ve seen a resurgence of the undercut in recent years. Similar to the mohawk in its form, this haircut isolates the medium-length hair up top by shaving the back and sides so you’re left with a piece of flow you can sweep, style or texture any which way.
You can quiff and position it out front for a night out or slick the whole thing back for a more professional boardroom look.
Best For: Straight hair, afro-textured hair.
Another hip afro-texture look is the natural afro, often seen on celebrities like Colin Kaepernick. If you’ve got the body and volume for an afro, it’s a powerful hairstyle. Rock the natural look and celebrate the beauty in afro-textured hair with this classic look.
Best For: Afro-textured hair, curly hair, coiled hair.
The E-Boy Cut
This haircut used to be known as the “butt cut” and was rocked by celebs and teenage heartthrobs like Leonardo DiCaprio and Nick Carter in the 1990s, but has since been brought back into the public eye by neo-emo Gen Z-ers on Tik Tok. They’re all about those long t-shirts, making dance videos, and rocking this Dwight Schrute-esque do that parts in the middle and has plenty of body on both sides to frame the face.
It’s the new trendy haircut for the next generation of hipsters, so if you’re ready to take the plunge or want to fit in with the youths of today, this haircut might be your next request at the salon. The immensely popular K-Pop group BTS has brought it back, as you can see in one of their band photoshoots below.
Men’s Long Haircuts
While some men have opted for a buzz cut during quarantine, others have gone the opposite direction and let their hair grow out. If your hair is starting to touch your shoulders, then you either need to embrace the long haircuts below or get out the scissors ASAP.
If you do decide to keep your long hair, there are a number of ways to style it so that you don’t look like a sasquatch. Check out some of our favorite men’s haircuts for long hair below.
Soft and Long Curls
If you’ve got looser curls and wish to let them grow long, all it takes is the occasional trim and regular conditioning to keep them moisturized and flowing the way you want them to. It doesn’t take a lot of layering or styling to give this flow texture and body since it’s already got so much volume. Keep it healthy, and let it do its thing.
However, be warned. While this is the kind of stylish look you’ll find on men like Daveed Diggs or Troy Polamalu, it’s also the signature look of “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Best For: Afro-textured hair, curly hair, coiled hair.
Long and Layered
If you’ve got straighter or wavy hair, then the long and layered look might work for you. Cutting layers into your hair gives it body, volume and style without you needing to do very much on a day-to-day basis. With straight long hair, a good haircut goes a long way, all you need to do is shower, let it air dry and use light conditioning products to keep the whole strand healthy root to tip. This haircut also makes possible the controversial man bun, and I know we’re all hoping for as many of those to pop up in public as possible.
Best For: Straight hair, wavy hair.
Dreadlocks have their roots (pardon the pun) in ancient Egypt and India’s Vedic culture, described as twisted locks of hair said to possess strength and power. In the 1980s and 1990s, the hairstyle became popularized by celebrities like Whoopie Goldberg and Lenny Kravitz. Typically, a dreadlock forms when hair is left untreated and untouched and folds back into itself. However, dreadlocks can also be styled in a variety of ways.
Today, it’s widely considered cultural appropriation for white people to wear dreadlocks, and white men should avoid this popular men’s hairstyle altogether. (Sorry, hippies.)
Long Hair Shaved Punk Style
This is a version of an undercut for longer hair that can be styled in a variety of ways. Think of it as the Jedi-hippie-viking look. Cutting long hair so that it just appears in the middle of the head gives you options for sweeping it to one side or the other, braiding it up the middle, or wrapping it all up in an emphasized bun. Rock your long locks with a little extra punk thrown in by shaving the sides, half of your head, or underneath the back for flair.
Best For: Long straight hair, afro-textured hair, coiled hair, dreadlocks.
Box braids are an offshoot of the dreadlocks hairstyle. John Cotton, celebrity barber, told SPY that box braids are one of the trendiest hairstyles for Black men in 2020 and said they’re “achieved by dividing the hair into square-shaped sections which are then braided using both natural and additional synthetic hair.”
The “box” comes from the grid visible on the scalp after the styling is done. Janet Jackson helped popularize box braids in the 1990s, but the style has been around for millennia. Historically, this hairstyle has symbolized wealth and power.