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Men's Haircut & Hair Style Terms


It's important to note that these terms are for reference points only. These cuts were traditionally performed by barbers and have since been adopted by hairdressers who may work on both male and female clients. Some hairdressers might not be as familiar with the terms and have their own descriptions they use.

Keep in mind that hairstylists and barbers often have their own mental picture of what different cuts and styles look like. They may also have their own slang and terminology. Even within the same salon a cut may be referred to differently.

The very best way to guarantee that you get the style you want is to take photos or other similar images. If you tell your barber or stylist that you want a brush cut, they might give you a much shorter cut than you might want.

Take photos that show the cut you desire from all angles, when possible. If you have a photo of a celebrity with the style, that works even better in some cases because the barber or stylist might be familiar with the celebrity.

Men's Haircut Terms

Although historically these cuts are mostly worn by men, some women have adopted some of the styles, such as buzz cuts. In the infamous movie, G.I. Jane, Demi Moore reached for clippers and gave herself what is known as a "burr cut" or an "induction cut".

(Image of Bruce Willis with bald style - - all rights reserved).

This is the same cut given to recruits in the US armed services for years. Technically Demi's cut could also be considered a buzz cut.

360 Waves - Popular today with young African American men. The style is named for the natural pattern of tight waves and ridges that form a 360 pattern through the use of special pomades, brushing and sleeping in du rags. The style is specific to African American hair textures that tend to be tightly coiled or kinky.

(Image to side of Nelly enhanced to show exceptionally developed wave ridges and patterns. Nelly is considered an icon for 360 "spinnin" waves. Image from - all rights reserved).

Afro - The Afro appeared in the 1970s as a specific African American hair fashion statement proudly adopted by both male and females.

The full and natural African American hairstyle was proudly worn by Michael Jackson, Jesse Jackson and other popular entertainment folks. The style was created with the use of a hair pick designed to maximize the natural kinkiness of black hair. The Afro is remembered as a symbol of black power.

This style gained a level of fame when worn prominently by rights activists Angela Davis, it was also popular in the black entertainment fields. Ironically, Samantha on Sex And The City wore an Afro wig in the last season of the popular show to cover hair loss from breast cancer. The Afro, which used to be worn primarily by African Americans has been adopted by all races and ages.

Bald - Complete absence of hair which may be due to deliberate shaving of head or due to genetic hair loss. Bruce Willis (see image above) has adopted the bald is beautiful motto for his unique style. Although Bruce has been experiencing accelerated hair loss for several years, he still shaves his head for a uniform look.

Bangs - Hair is scissored to specifically hang down over the forehead. Bangs are called fringes in England and some other countries. Bangs can take several forms from thick and full to wispy and texturized.

Bantu Knots/Braids - A combination of twisted plaits and knots. Bantu knots are created by dividing hair into individual plaits, then twisting each plait into knots along the top of the head. Sometimes worn by African American male celebrities.

Bowl Cut - A cut that gets its name from the origins of placing a bowl on top of the head and then cutting off everything that protrudes from under the bowl. This gives hair of up to several inches in length on top with and close cropped hair below the bowl line and no blend (or transition) between the two lengths.

(Image of Tom Petty with modified bowl cut with bangs - 12-06-05 - all rights reserved - 2005).

The bowl cut became popular during the Great Depression as an easy way of cutting boy's hair when money was unavailable for a visit to the barbershop. While techniques may have improved over the years, the cut still has the same basic characteristics of longer hair on top and shorter hair below a "bowl line", which is usually just above the ears.

Similar cuts to the basic bowl include the under cut and the dipped mushroom cut. Moe Howard of the Three Stooges was famous for his classic bowl. The bowl is less popular then it used to be. When it is worn (see Tom Petty above who has a style that is bowl inspired although with longer strands in the back) it tends to be softened and modified to eliminate the severe bowl lines that is part of the style's trademark.

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