Just because a guy is thinning on top doesn't necessarily mean he has to buzz all of his hair down to nothing. "Thinning hair is a challenge, but one that can be dealt with by choosing a shorter length," notes Patrick Butler, a hair stylist and director of technical education at Floyd's Barbershops. "Often, men try and grow their hair to cover a thin area and it backfires, as you can tend to see through the area."
Meet the Expert
We spoke with Butler and Benjamin Mohapi, the founder of New York's Benjamin Salon, for tips and examples of how to style thinning hair. While they noted that, for many guys, a buzz or bald head is a good option, but there are actually several options that offer a bit more length and texture, while still minimizing the thinning top. Take a look in the mirror, and then browse this gallery of haircuts for men with thinning hair to see which option you feel suits you the best. Better yet, print a photo of the style you're leaning toward and take it with you to the barber to ensure you get exactly the haircut and style you're going for.
Below, see 20 of the best haircuts for men with thinning or balding hair.
A Short, Low-Effort Style
For this style, the hair is simply cut with a number 2 blade all over. The sides and back should then be tapered neatly. To further minimize the thinning top, the sides and back can be taken shorter, to allow for more even coverage. If you can see the scalp on top, it's a good idea to cut the sides and back short enough so an equal amount of scalp is visible. Remember to use a sunscreen when prolonged exposure to the sun is expected.
Grown-Out and Textured
"I encourage men with thinning hair to opt for a shorter length that can stand up and give fullness to the style," says Butler, of the grown-out style seen on actor Jude Law. Butler recommends using a texture powder (like Floyd's Texture Powder, $18), which "will give you a light hold and boost the hair up."
Men with thinning hair should avoid waxes, "as they tend to clump the hair together, which will accentuate the thinning area," says Butler. Powder will help to promote a thicker, fuller style.
A Short Caesar Cut
For this style, the hair is cut clipper-short on the sides and back, and left finger length on top. The hair is styled using a light pomade or gel and brushed forward with the fingers. This will help conceal a receding hairline and thinning top.
Medium Textured Style
This is a great option for a guy with just some light thinning on top. The hair is cut short all over (about three finger-widths on top) with the sides and back tapering slightly. To style, apply a very small amount of paste to damp hair, and distribute it evenly throughout. Using the fingertips, mess up the hair on top to give it a rough texture. This will help maximize coverage, while minimizing the appearance of thinning.
Actor Steven Yeun provides a perfect example that, when it's grown out long enough, hair can be styled in a way to mask a receding hairline. In order to keep growing thin hair out, try to maintain a healthy routine—one free of stress. "Stress actually plays a major role in hair loss. Increased stress pushes a high number of hair follicles into a resting phase," says Butler. "Over time, the affected hairs will fall out through washing and combing."
The natural reaction to run your fingers through your hair and inadvertently tug at it when you are frustrated also causes hair to weaken in the follicle, and in turn, fall out.
A Buzz With a Beard
For thinning hair, a buzz cut with clippers using a number 2 blade all over is a good call. A thin beard, similar to what Idris Elba is rocking here, adds a touch of trendiness, and draws the eye towards the face. This is a good option for a man with thinning hair who can easily grow full—but still neat—facial hair.
Grown Out and Textured
For those looking to grow their thin hair out (like singer Chris Martin, seen here), Butler recommends using high-quality products. "Using better ingredients in your hair care routine helps," he notes. "Find a quality shampoo and conditioner and/or use a product like Actiiv Shampoo and Conditioner ($52). This easy-to-use system is alternated every other day in your shower with your regular shampoo and conditioner. The great news is that it can penetrate into the follicle and strengthen it so that you won’t lose more hair."
While a bald head is not a good look on everyone, these days it can actually be trendy, and it's considered appropriate for most professions. Consult your barber or stylist before you take the plunge, to determine if your head shape is right for this look.
If you opt for a shaved head, consider adding a bit of facial hair which can help draw attention from the head and bring the eyes down toward the face.
Five O'Clock Shadow
Jason Statham offers a prime example of the wonders of going a few days without a shave. Here, his facial stubble is rivaled only by a slight overgrowth of the hair on his head. The result is masculine and rugged.
Prince William has never shied away from showcasing his hair loss—vacillating between a completely shaved head and a slightly grown-out head of hair. Here, the heir apparent showcases a tousled look (one that requires no products at all, but could benefit from a high quality hair dryer).
Antonio Banderas has almost always showcased his luscious locks in a lengthier hairstyle—but one needn't a full head of hair in order to achieve this look. Here, some styling paste (we like Sachajuan's Hair Paste, $13) can add sheen and be used to mold hair in a way that makes it look thicker.
Grown Out With a Beard
Actor Matthew McConaughey's hairline is a big part of his signature 'do. Here, he uses a bit of product to slick back the top, while keeping the ends and the beard lived-in. The key to ensuring hair stays put, but doesn't look too rigid, says Mohapi, is to utilize a hairbrush. "Brushing out hairspray stops it from looking stiff while still holding a style," he says. "You should still be able to move it around and I think it's cooler when it's a bit looser."
Rapper Tyga showcases a long, braided look, in which much of his scalp is clearly visible. The look not only protects his hair, it offers a heavy dose of personality and style.
Longer on Top
While he typically wears his hair in a shaved style, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has worn it longer before. Here, his hairline is clearly visible, with his side burns remaining cropped and his hair slightly longer up-top.
Short and Spiky
Designer Tom Ford manages to look casual and sophisticated all at once with his short, spiky 'do. The key here is to not overwhelm the hair with product, so it retains a natural look.
Smooth and Sophisticated
Actor Victor Rasuk keeps his hair slicked back and short. Here, a medium-hold gel or paste comes in handy to keep hair in place. Try a product like Aveda Control Paste ($31) for a similar style.
Short and Tapered
Actor Omar Williams' short cut is classic through and through–and even with a receding hairline, the look manages to be sauve. For this look, the sides are left much shorter than the top. A short beard adds even more personality and ups the cool factor.
Combover With Fade
While Zayn Malik has pretty thick hair, this look is ideal even for those who don't. Here, the dated combover gets a upgrade thanks to a fade at the temples and a slicked-to-the-side look. With a beard, you achieve even more balance.
Even men who are balding can get away with a funky haircut like this one on Ryan Reynolds. You don't have to worry about hiding a receding hairline, either, as it can be blended in to the fade.
"The best way to get (and keep) volume on the top is to dirty it up a bit with a mix of a few products," notes Mohapi. A bit of texturizing spray can go a long way with the look seen here on Prince Harry. When hair is brushed forward, it helps conceal any bald spots and the right products can make hair look thicker. We like Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($23).