One of the easiest ways to elevate your haircut is to have your barber shave a defined, clean part. This creates what is called a hard part, as opposed to a natural or combed-in part. Hard part haircuts call attention to themselves for their freshness—since they make a haircut look intentional, as opposed to a style you just woke up with. It’s like getting a fresh fade or a line-up; the hard part announces that your haircut is in fact a hairstyle, no matter its length.
Hard parts are often shaved in with a safety razor blade, or carefully etched with an electric shaver. They are particularly good at dividing two contrasting lengths of hair, or as an aesthetic flourish in a partless sea of hair. Again, the hard part is intentional, and very often it is purposely excessive. That’s what makes it appealing to so many men as a style.
And the good news is, not all hard parts need to be redrawn every week. Some of them grow out neatly and allow the hairstyle to take on new forms, while other hard part haircuts might need routine weekly or biweekly maintenance. It’s something to discuss with your barber before you get the style so that you can anticipate how frequently you will need to come in for them to clean it up.
For inspiration on possible hard part hairstyles that might work for you, have a look at the 20 cuts below. We also spoke with two barbers for their thoughts on each style: Alex Brenard, a barber at Blind Barber Philadelphia, and Jessica Ortiz, a celebrity groomer and stylist whose clients include Rami Malek, Timothée Chalamet, and Darren Criss.
High and Tight With a Hard Part
This style lasts a while between cuts, says Brenard, since the clippers bring all the short hair up high, just below the part.
Short Side Part With Straight Razor
"The crisp lines around the temple accentuate the hard part nicely," Brenard says. "This shows some expert-level use of a straight razor." Apply a light coat of hair balm to keep strays in check while enhancing the hair’s texture. Try Scotch Porter's Smoothing Hair Balm ($15).
"A hard part creates a very 'slick' look," says Brenard. "So, pairing it with a high-shine, high-hold pomade creates a traditional barbershop style." American Crew’s Heavy Hold Pomade ($19) is a sure bet.
Asymmetrical High Part
Here's a part that creates a nice illusion around the head. However, Brenard offers his suggestions on how to modify it: He reccommends pulling it away from the top so much, even by an inch. And if you want to get more life out of the cut between barbershop visits, ask for a thinner part than pictured here.
Pompadour With Subtle Hard Part
"If you are leaving a bunch of hair on top like this, I advise keeping the width of the hard part minimal," says Brenard. "There is a nice balance created between the skin showing through at the part, then again down at the temples via a low fade."
Hard Part With Mirrored Line
"This is a really creative approach to a hard part, in that it’s paired with a design line," says Brenard. "They sort of mirror each other. Beware though—this kind of a cut will require some high maintenance regular upkeep to stay looking fresh."
Kennedy Cut With Hard Part
"This guy took a very traditional cut and updated it with a shaved-in hard part," says Brenard. "If you have a full head of hair and are under the age of, like, 35, I think this totally works."
Hard Part for Disconnection
"Since the fade doesn’t get down close to the skin, and the guy has a heavy head of hair up top, the hard part is the star of this cut," Brenard points out. "That’s something to be conscious of when committing to a hard part with dark hair and no kind of skin fade... the hard part will absolutely be the most noticeable thing on your head."
Wavy Hard Part
"The subtle hard part enhances the less conservative faded sides," Brenard says of this cut. "But then there are texture, waves, and length up top, which all look good as long as a strong-hold product is used to keep things under control." Try BluMaan Monarch Matte Paste ($22).
Modified Gentleman's Cut With Hard Part
Brenard did this cut himself. "The challenge was fading the skin into the hair at the crown, which I feel was achieved nicely," he says. "This cut was all about being 'far out,' so in this case, the hard part really added to the edginess we were going for."
Classic Fade With Hard Part
"The crispness of the edge-up naturally fading into the part creates a softness around the face, and can help soften an uneven hairline," says Ortiz.
Pushed-Back Skin Fade
Ortiz recommends this look for diamond face shapes. "The hard part helps create volume to this hairstyle by pushing up the long hair on top while keeping the head symmetrical."
High Fade With Hard Part
"This hard part really accentuates the hairline, creating a really uniform frame around the face," says Ortiz. "The crispness of these lines create angles that can enhance the bone structure."
Asymmetrical Hard Part
"This clean, diagonal line achieves such a retro individual look that is suitable [for everything] from a high fade to a flat top," says Ortiz, who loves an asymmetrical part that exists purely for style.
Short Hard Part
"Refreshing a hard side part can help extend a haircut that started as a skin fade as it grows out," Ortiz says. "This sharp, short hard part can be achieved by an experienced barber using a razor."
Asymmetrical Hard Part Fade
"This deep, asymmetrical part balances thicker hair by distributing the amount of hair combed over," Ortiz says. "This makes the longer side of hair easier to style with a light, shiny pomade versus needing a stronger hold for larger amounts of hair." Try STMNT Classic Pomade ($25).
Taper Fade With Hard Part
"This natural hard part curves slightly with the head and enhances the softness of the haircut," Ortiz says.
Asymmetrical Hard Part for Thick, Straight Hair
Ortiz says that this longer cut will require a little more styling. "Use a low-shine, high-hold pomade to hold the slicked-back hair, add texture, and achieve a malleable finish." Try Baxter of California Hard Cream Pomade ($23).
Quiff With Hard Part
"This style looks like it was blown out following the part to create a little volume on either side," says Ortiz. "To keep the volume and texture achieved, I would use a spray wax to give the hair shine and bouncy hold." We recommend EVO Shebang-A-Bang Dry Spray Wax ($29).
Curly Hard Part
Hard parts will especially enhance curls, notes Ortiz. "The clean definition between the part and the fade pushes the curls up and contains them in a manageable section of the head. To achieve this look, start with damp hair and add a curl cream or gel to hold the curl as it dries." Oribe Curl Gelée ($44) is a great product for this.