Skip to Content

Undercuts And Receding Hairlines: A Complete Guide

October 25, 2021
Undercuts And Receding Hairlines: A Complete Guide

It’s a classic style that shows no signs of fading away anytime soon. It has plenty of benefits, but one that’s rarely talked about is how good it is for balding men. You’re about to learn everything you need to know about undercuts and receding hairlines. 

Let’s get to it. 

Is The Undercut Good For A Receding Hairline? 

The undercut is a good choice for men with receding hairlines because the sides are clipped very short and brought up very high. The receding temples blend seamlessly into the short sides, making them look less noticeable as a result. 

A great undercut. Notice the long, slicked back hair on top and the harsh transition into the disconnected short/shaved sides. 

From 123RF

An “undercut” is a style where the hair on top is left long and often slicked back, while the sides are clipped short and left disconnected from the hair on top. 

Here are the benefits for receding hairlines explained in more detail. 

The Short Sides “Absorb” Receding Temples

As you’d expect, the shorter the sides, the less noticeable the appearance of the receding hairline. 

For example, when the sides are basically all shaved, there’s barely any contrast between the receding temples and the shaved sides. 

It almost just looks like the receding temples are part of the shaved sides. 

Most people don’t shave the sides all the way down and simply buzz them down instead, but the effect is still noticeable. 

The Short Sides Make The Top Look Thicker

Another benefit of the undercut for balding men is the contrast in length between the very short sides and the significantly longer hair on top. 

Keeping the sides so short compared with the hair on top makes the hair on top look thicker and fuller in comparison. 

For men whose hair is already very thin to begin with, this is a bonus. 

The hair on top is often slicked back with undercuts – in fact, this is what you might call the classic undercut aesthetic. 

The trouble with doing this is that it can sometimes expose the receding hairline more than you might like. Pulling the hair back can do this. 

If you find that this is a problem for you, you’ve got a couple of options. 

One would be simply clipping/shaving the sides down shorter. As I mentioned earlier, this can definitely make a receding hairline look less noticeable. 

But another option would be simply not slicking the hair on top backward. You could try combing it to one side, sweeping it up in a pompadour, or even leaving it in a fringe. 

While the undercut has traditionally been slicked back, a more “modern” definition of the style is basically one where the sides are clipped short and left disconnected from the long hair on top. 

What you do with the long hair on top, is essentially up to you. If you find that styling the top hair in a certain way makes the receding hairline less noticeable for you, you could definitely leave it like that and still reasonably call it an “undercut”. 

As long as the long hair on top is disconnected from the clipped, short hair at the sides. 

Great Undercut Styles For Receding Hairlines

Here are some fantastic undercut hairstyles for receding hairlines – use them as a source of inspiration. 

Disconnected Undercut 

A standard, disconnected undercut with short, clipped sides and the top hair combed over to one side is a good option for receding hairlines. 

Not much recession here at all, but a great example of what an undercut can do

Image From Deposit Photos

Technically all undercuts are “disconnected undercuts” – it’s important to bear this in mind. By definition, all undercuts must have some disconnection between the sides and the top. 

There needs to be a harsh transition between the short sides and the long top, with no gradual blending as you may get with other short back and sides styles.  

As you can see from this photo, the sides are disconnected from the top. 

It’s bold, in-your-face, and attention-grabbing. It’s a great style for anyone looking to make a statement with their hair. 

Slicked Back Undercut

The slicked back undercut could be seen as the classic form of the undercut. It’s great for men with receding hairlines because short, clipped sides absorb the receding temples and make them look less obvious. 

undercut hairstyle in barbershop
Image From Deposit Photos

With this undercut, the hair on top is very characteristically slicked straight back. 

Note that the hair does need to be long enough on top in order to allow you to do this. While there are ways of training hair to slick back, having enough length is the main factor here. 

It has a pretty striking appearance from the front on given how the sides look so much shorter than the slicked-back hair on top. 

While the short sides are great for receding hairlines, one of the downsides of slicking the hair straight back is that it can make receding temples look more noticeable. 

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re finding this a problem, try changing things up on top if you want to. Leave it messy/textured, pull it forward into a fringe, slick it to one side – it doesn’t matter. 

But if you like the slicked back hair on top with short disconnected sides look, it’s the classic undercut aesthetic people have come to love over the years. 

Man Bun Undercut

A man bun undercut is where the hair on top is pulled back and coiled into a bun around the level of the crown, while the sides are clipped and disconnected from the top. 

neat man bun undercut with beard
Image From Shutterstock

Although the style isn’t for everyone, it’s a great way to turn some heads. It’s immediately eye-catching. 

One of the downsides is maintenance. 

It’s quite high maintenance, mainly because man buns can be tough to keep tidy, although you’ll most likely get better at it over time. 

Having said that, it’s a great way to keep the long hair on top neat and out of the way if it’s done properly. 

Once again, pulling the hair back like this can sometimes make the receding hairline appear more noticeable. 

Having said that, a solution would be trimming/shaving the sides so short that they absorb the receding temples. 

If there’s barely any contrast between the bare, receding temples and the shaved/clipped sides, the hairline really won’t look as noticeable even with the hair pulled back into a bun. 

Undercuts And Receding Hairlines: Styling Tips

Here are some additional undercut styling tips for men with receding hairlines. 

1. Consider Some Texture

Yes, undercuts are generally known for being slick and defined up top. But the definition of “undercut” has loosened up over recent years. 

As long as you’ve got a disconnection between the long top and the short sides, you can do what you want with the hair on top and still reasonably call it some form of an undercut. 

My point here is, consider some texture. 

Going for a matte, layered, or textured finish with the hair up top may not be typical of an undercut, but it’s a great way to make thin hair appear thicker and fuller. 

In addition, doing so with the hair at the forelock (i.e hair above the forehead) is a great way to make a receding hairline appear less noticeable. 

You don’t even necessarily need to slick it all back. You could go for a messy, modern pompadour or even a textured quiff, for instance. 

These options would all most likely make a receding hairline look less noticeable than slicking all of it back would. 

2. Don’t Go Too Short (The First Time)

I’m referring specifically to the sides here. 

Clipping the sides down very short can be a nerve-wracking experience for a lot of men, especially the first time they get an undercut done. 

Because of this, it’s probably a good idea to ease yourself into it. Don’t go for shaved sides right from the start. Maybe go for a #1 or a #2 on the sides first. 

If you like the look of it and you don’t mind the incredibly sharp contrast between the sides and the long hair on top, consider going even shorter. 

Remember, the shorter the sides, the less noticeable a receding hairline often looks. 

But there’s no rush. 

Experiment with the sides, the top, and the contrast between the two. But don’t rush into a style you’ll be uncomfortable with or too shocked by because it’s so different to what you normally get. 

3. Get Regular Trims

The undercut is quite a high maintenance style, unfortunately, and the reason for this is the sides. 

When you’re clipping the sides so short, you’ll need to get them done pretty frequently if you’re looking to keep it looking fresh. In other words, keep it looking consistent and don’t let it get too untidy over time. 

The shorter you go with the sides, the more often you’ll need to get it done. For example, when the sides are literally shaved, the growth of even a few millimeters can look pretty obvious. 

When you’ve cut the sides down so short in an attempt to make a receding hairline look less noticeable, you’ll probably want to keep it consistent without letting the sides get too long. 

If you do, it’ll defeat the purpose. 

Because of that, get regular trims. Go for one whenever you feel the sides getting out of control – as long as your budget allows for it. Haircuts can get costly when you’re looking to maintain these short hairstyles. 

One of the benefits of undercuts, however, is the hair on top. You can afford to let that grow out because the top hair is characteristically pretty long on top in any case. 

One tip would be to see if you can find a barber that gives you free or cheap top-ups for the sides from time to time as part of their service. Some do, but they can be hard to come by. 


There you have it. 

Hopefully, everything you could ever want to know about undercuts and receding hairlines. Why they’re great, some styles you could try out, and some styling tips to round things off.