Certain terms get thrown around so often that it just seems easier to sit back and accept them. But undercut vs disconnected undercut – is there a difference?
The undercut and the disconnected undercut are exactly the same thing. Undercuts are “disconnected” by definition because the sides do not blend into the top. Because of this, the term “disconnected undercut” is actually unnecessary.
Although that’s the gist, let’s dig a little deeper.
“Undercut” And “Disconnected Undercut” Are The Same Thing
Undercuts and disconnected undercuts are exactly the same. The term “disconnected undercut” shouldn’t actually exist.
An undercut needs to be disconnected by definition. It’s characterized by a disconnection between the top and the sides.
There’s a sharp transition as you cross from the short sides to the long (and often slicked-back) hair on top.
The sides do not gradually blend into the top as they would with a crew cut or a short back and sides, for instance.
In other words, with undercuts, the sides are not connected to the top.
If they were connected to the top, it cannot be an undercut, because connected undercuts do not exist.
Because of all of this, the term “disconnected undercut” is unnecessary. You might as well just call it an “undercut” because all undercuts are disconnected by definition.
The simple act of getting rid of the “disconnected” part of the term is so important to truly understand what an undercut really is.
The Undercut: Key Features
Asides from the classic disconnection between the top and the sides, here are the other features of undercuts that should help you identify them.
1. Long Top And Short Sides
OK – so the top and sides are disconnected. But to what extent do they contrast each other?
The contrast in length between the top and the sides is very obvious when it comes to undercuts.
The top is often long enough to slick back, which usually requires around 4 to 6 inches of length up top.
But the sides, on the other hand, are ultra-short. In fact, undercuts often have the sides shaved down completely or clipped down to a #0.
This isn’t a “rule”, however. There are plenty of undercuts where the sides and back are clipped down a little longer. But they’re still very short compared to the longer hair on top.
This difference in length makes the sudden and harsh transition from the sides to the top even more noticeable and eye-catching.
There’s no blending – it just crosses over from the super short sides/back to the long hair on top with no warning.
That’s what makes the undercut special. It’s the combination of the disconnection and the significant difference between the short sides and the long top.
The high and tight has a similarly sudden and sharp transition from the “high” and short sides to the longer hair on top.
But the difference in length between the sides and the top is much less with the high and tight. It’s a more subtle transition as a result.
2. Slicked Back Top
I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s important to really hone in.
The “classic” undercut often has the long hair on top slicked back.
Not always. But often.
The only reason this would be important would be if you were aiming for a traditional and classic undercut aesthetic.
If this is the case, it’s essential that you grow your hair out enough to achieve it. Although 4 to 6 inches is a pretty good rule of thumb, it really depends on the texture of your hair as well.
The man bun undercut is another popular option where the hair is pulled back and tied into a man bun. But again, you’ll need enough length to do this.
While there are ways of training the hair to slick back, having enough length to do it really is the main factor.
Trying to slick back an undercut with 3 inches of hair on top is going to be impossible, no matter how hard you try.
If you weren’t keen on the slicked-back look, it isn’t essential.
There are plenty of modern undercut variations where the hair on top isn’t slicked back at all. Instead, it’s combed over, quiffed up, or left messy.
It begs the question, can they really be called “undercuts”?
I’d say yes, because the most important aspect of the definition of an “undercut” is the disconnection between the sides and the top.
If there’s a sudden and sharp transition from very short sides to long hair on top, it should be considered an undercut of some sort regardless of whether it’s slicked back.
Benefits Of Disconnected Styles Like The Undercut
Seeing the key features of the undercut may be enough to persuade you to style it for yourself.
However, if you’re on the fence, learning these key benefits of the undercut may be enough to sway you.
1. It’s Attention-Grabbing
The disconnected aesthetic of the undercut is immediately attention-grabbing.
It’s even more eye-catching than the cleanest of skin fades or the shapely of pompadours.
This is because of the disconnection itself.
Crossing over from short to long with no blending whatsoever – it turns heads. The eyes are immediately drawn to it.
There are few other styles that are able to do it in the same way. The mohawk is arguably the only other disconnected style that’s possibly even bolder and more attention-grabbing than the undercut.
But that takes nothing away from the in-your-face, harsh transition of the undercut.
The boldness of the undercut may appeal to a lot of men looking to make a statement. However, there are also plenty of them who would prefer a more subtle short-back-and-sides style.
There are many alternatives. Crew cuts and Ivy Leagues are the first ones to come to mind. Yes, the sides are often significantly shorter than the top, but the contrast isn’t quite as obvious as that of the undercut.
In addition, with these alternatives, the sides and back gradually blend into the hair on top, making them look more subtle than the undercut. In other words, the sides and top are connected and this is more subtle than disconnected.
Here’s an article I wrote on the undercut compared with similar styles if you’re interested.
But if you’re looking for a style that’s a little less common and a little more daring, the undercut may be the one for you.
2. It’s Good For Balding Men
Having the ultra-short sides suddenly transition into the longer hair on top very high up the sides is often great for balding men.
One reason for this is that having the sides so much shorter than the top can make thinning hair on top appear fuller in contrast.
It’s a pretty interesting effect.
But another benefit the undercut has for balding men is due to the extremely short sides going so high up.
This can actually make receding temples look less noticeable, especially when the sides are very short (i.e shaved or #0 in length).
3. It’s Versatile
Finally, having this much length up top is versatile. It gives you a lot of options when it comes to styling.
If you were looking for more of a “set it and forget it” type of style where you really don’t have many opportunities for styling, a crew cut may be a better option.
But undercuts are great because the hair on top is long and long hair can be styled in lots of different ways.
Yes, the “slicked back” undercut is the classic look.
But as we’ve discussed, you’ve got other options.
When the hair is this long, you could flop it forward into a fringe or crop instead. Alternatively, you could form a pretty tall quiff with it.
A pompadour isn’t out of the question either.
All of these styles up top will be made all the more attention-grabbing and eye-catching by the disconnection you’ll also have between the short sides and the long top.
It’s still an undercut, after all.
There you have it.
Hopefully, that should have cleared up any confusion you may have had over the terms “undercut” and “disconnected undercut”.
To sum that all up, these two terms are exactly the same thing. Because of this, remove the term “disconnected undercut” from your style vocab and just stick to “undercut”.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.