Which men’s hairstyles and trends defined 2021 and which celebrities did everyone want to look like? Here are a few hairstyles that were extremely popular over the past year, all inspired by a celebrity.
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The Best Men’s Haircuts for 2021
Best Short Men’s Hairstyles
It’s related to the quiff, but it’s significantly lower maintenance. Likely as a confluence of these factors, this haircut featuring a short length, a fade on the sides, and some fringe on top surged in popularity over the past year. Attesting to its adaptability, it delivers texture and that just-slightly-messy look with ease, and stays out of the way throughout the day.
If you could sum up 2020 with one hairstyle trend, it’s this: The classics are returning. While the quiff received most of the attention, the crew cut came in second, perhaps due to its light relationship with the French crop. Rather than keep it short all over, go for a modern update with faded sides and a bit more length on top.
The undercut has proved to be one of the more versatile and adventurous cuts out there, and its grip didn’t let up throughout 2020. In general, while the undercut can sport short to long hair on top, its definitive factor is the length distinction between both portions, and this leaves room for styling a quiff or adding fringe.
Low, Mid, and High Fades
If it’s short on the sides, your hair is generally good to go. Fades have also dominated men’s haircut trends throughout 2020, and they can be divided into three types. Low fades go for a nearly uniform length throughout, while a mid-fade adds a bit more body and length around the temples. A high fade approaches French crop territory, with a longer length that quickly tapers into a short length around the ears.
Taking this to extremes, the formal top fade offers enough length for styling – yet, it doesn’t approach an 80s flat-top fade – and keeps things short and cropped on the sides.
Just take it all off. Zayn Malik, Frank Ocean, and other celebs did just that over the past year, perhaps adding a smattering of hair dye for some variation. It’s the original no-maintenance cut, and is likely a reaction to the past few years of pompadours, quiffs, and longer locks.
Let’s take a trip back to 1999 – but don’t frost those tips just yet. A Caesar’s essentially the midpoint between fringe and fade, and keeps things simple in the styling and maintenance departments. And, as the 90s and early aughts fashion trends are back in full swing, it seems like the right time to bring back this quintessentially late-90s do.
Best Medium to Long Men’s Hairstyles
Of course, this one will be right on top. There’s no one right way to do a quiff, but its popularity is built on two principles: It’s a lazy-man’s pompadour (without making you look like you can’t be bothered), and there’s a version that flatters every face shape. And, maintenance varies, from the simple French quiff to the ducktail-like teddy boy. The sides are faded – but aren’t quite an undercut – and most of the work goes into the front.
Speaking of early aughts looks making a return, this thing’s back, but in a messier, less half-hearted form. Essentially an undercut taken to extremes, the modern faux hawk adds more length on top, brings the fade a little higher, and adds a ton of volume.
The Peaky Blinder
Who knew that a period piece – and its leading man’s hair – would become so popular in the menswear circuit? Yet, Cillian Murphy’s hair – in spite of the early 20th-century setting – ends up being quite modern with its long, slightly disheveled top and nearly shaved sides.
Curtains is the 90s bowl cut by its proper name, and today, it’s basically an undercut with more length on top and less volume. For a modern update, avoid any hard edges, yet keep it neat and textured – like rock icon hair without the all-night partying.
Men’s Hairstyle Trends in 2021
Amongst short- and medium-length cuts, fringe – or pieced bangs, to be more direct – was everywhere this year. At times, it appeared blunt, with a single uniform length all the way across, or it offered a secondary textural dimension through irregular lengths. Either way, we don’t see fringe going away any time soon.
Comb it in or have it shaved, if you’re being extra edgy. In all cases, side parts were one of the year’s ubiquitous hairstyling trends. And, as it adds some definition to an even all-over mussed-up look, it’s fairly versatile across short, medium, and long lengths.
Don’t even think about using a curling iron – instead, you’ve got to let your hair grow out naturally. From there, embrace its naturally wavy character by highlighting it with a texturing paste for that just-out-out-of-the-ocean surfer-esque effortlessness.
Consider it the formal quiff with plenty of retro underpinnings. Although your barber needs to cut your hair in advance, the styling’s up to you. These days, it’s one way to style long hair without going the modern Grunge rocker route, and offers a more office-appropriate solution if you’re looking to experiment with length.
Or, rather than go through all the styling involved in upkeeping a pompadour, you can just slick it back. The key, here, is you need at least medium-length hair and have to pare down the amount of product used. Otherwise, by the time 3 p.m. rolls around, you’re left with a flat, oily slick moving down toward your nape.
It’s how women with medium- and longer-length hair have styled their locks for years, so now, it’s a prime opportunity for men to add volume and keep their shoulder-length -˜dos on point. You don’t have to make bi-weekly appointments at the hairdresser’s though; instead, learn to finagle a blow-dryer and round brush for the perfect windblown-yet-straight combination.
Due to the current political climate, this hairstyle has gotten a bit of flack in recent years. Yet, at the simplest level, it’s a strong, exaggerated side part that creates an asymmetrical illusion – just make sure you have enough hair on both sides.
2021 Trend Forecast by Experts
Fades On Point
“Most of the shorter men’s hairstyles for 2021 involve some kind of fade on the sides and back. I don’t mean really long hair cut on the sides like Boy George in the 80s. But if your hair is long enough for a pompadour on the top, the faded look on the sides is just right for you.
You’ll see any length shorter than that worn all kinds of ways – but still with that tight fade on the sides and back. From a tousled top to a crew cut, there’s a lot of room this year to do what you want with your hair, while still being on trend.”
– Ghanima Abdullah | Hair Expert | TheRightHairstyles.com
The Anything Goes
“Gone are the days of just a few hairstyles for men. Nowadays, there are so many trends for men to select from and 2021 will be its epitome. It seems as if it’s going to be ‘anything goes’ this year with men’s cuts.
We are seeing awesome buzz cuts that initially rose to prominence with the advent of manual hair clippers. Equally trending is the afro fade. Box braids and twist fades that range from high to low.
Long layers are another prime choice this season along with the slicked-back hair quiff. The quiff is best known for combining the 1950s pompadour hairstyle with the 1950s flattop, and sometimes a mohawk.
Another look taking the stage will be disconnected styles. Think of a disconnected hairstyle as two different hair cuts in one. The name is due to the varying lengths that aren’t blended together in any way. This style tends to offer a lot of texture, and responds well to a messy, bold look, especially when the right products are used.
Finally, let’s not forget hard parts and designs because they are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The great thing is that anything goes, it’s no longer a one size fits all approach. Think lots of texture in 2021!”
– Gina Rivera | Hair Artist & CEO | Phenix Salon Suites
Texture Is In
“We are seeing a looser, more grown-out texture when it comes to men’s cuts. They aren’t going into the office as much and are feeling like they can express themselves through their hair working with more of their natural texture.
As far as shorter cleaner styles, we are dropping the weight distribution lower on head and face shapes and working the movement away from their face. They are also playing with some lighter interest pieces on color through where they have longer lengths.
A lot of the younger male clients are bringing in inspiration photos of women shag cuts from the late 70s.”
– Holly Dear | Hair Artist & CEO | Dear Clark Hair Studio
Best Celebrity Men’s Hairstyles
Good for Most Hair Types
Blake’s hair has seen it all. He’s rocked a mullet, curls, and longer hair. Most recently, his polished look features shorter cropped sides, while the top is left longer to be swept back with molding hair paste.
This cut is very flattering on most, works well from day to night, and is very easy to maintain.
Good for Medium to Thick Hair
Bradley’s natural wave is ideal for medium-thick hair. Its uniformed layers add a natural kink and is also easy to maintain. Learn about how he groomed for the Academy Awards.
Good for Most Hair Types
Kumail short cut is a classic. The back is cut short, while the top features several layers to give the swept to the side look.
Good for Most Hair Types (Including Thinning Hair)
This look is on-trend right now. Men seem to be going back to pushing their hair forward and up vs. the hard part and brush to the side. It’s a cool look and even great for thinner hair.
The back and sides are cropped short, with top layers created for blending. All you need is a little hair paste for the front tips. This cut requires a trim every 4 weeks to maintain.
Good for Medium to Thick Hair
Jason has the right hair for a longer cut. Be sure to check with your stylist to see if your mane can handle the length. Just remember, the coarser the hair, the bigger and bushier it will grow out. Also, a longer cut will draw attention to receding hairlines.
Trimming is crucial if you want to grow your hair out. Also, you’ll need to invest in a sulfate-free leave-in conditioner*.
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Joanna Klubek Pereira is the salon manager and lead stylist at 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon (Morristown, NJ). With more than a decade of industry experience, Joanna is known for her expansive experience in hair cutting, men’s color correcting and barbering.