A short textured haircut is stylish for all types of hair. For thick hair, it tones down volume and adds shape. For thinning or fine hair, it helps create body and movement, giving the appearance of a fuller head of hair. You can't go wrong with a cropped cut, but shorter hair doesn't have to mean skimping on style.
If you're not looking for a big change, that's okay. Despite popular belief, there's a lot you can do in terms of men's hairstyles, from subtle changes to growing out sections, and the results can really shake things up. "Shorter, textured styles can be created in minutes using a matte paste or clay," says hairstylist Stephen Marinaro. "The key is to try to mess your hair up on top to create a more textured, modern look."
For some much-needed inspiration for textured men's cuts, we turned to Marinaro and Patrick Butler, director of technical education at Floyd's Barbershops.
Meet the Expert
• Stephen Marinaro is an experienced hairstylist and media personality with over 20 years in the beauty industry.
• Patrick Butler is the director of technical education and academy at Floyd's Barbershops, a chain of salons with a wide range of services for both men and women.
Below, we've rounded up 20 great styles, including everything from crew cuts to styling curls.
As Butler notes, short hair is pretty much always in style—but particularly so in the 2020s, when the threat of a pandemic can make getting to a salon something of a challenge.
"Short hair is a popular option for men every summer as temperatures rise," he notes. "In the summer of 2020, it became especially popular as so many men got fed up with their hair during quarantine and shaved or buzzed their hair themselves." A buzz—seen here on Joe Jonas—is fairly easy to DIY and, better yet, requires little-to-no daily maintenance.
A flat top—in which the hair on top of the head is shaped so as to resemble a flat deck—is retro but still modern, and it's best for those who aren't afraid to wear their personality on their sleeve (or, as the case may be, on their head).
Keep in mind that this look requires a bit more maintenance, so it's ideal for those who are willing to put in the work, like basketball player Iman Shumpert, pictured here. "The key is finding what looks best on you and what type of maintenance you're willing to do to keep the look up to date," says Butler.
This haircut should be tapered with clippers at the nape and on the sides. The top is left longer and with layers and texturing throughout.
Use a blow-dryer to achieve volume on top, working the hair toward the back with a brush. Either a boar bristle brush or a ball-tipped vented brush works best. Work a quarter-sized amount of mousse through damp hair. Using the brush, blow-dry the hair with upward movements, working away from your bangs. Once hair is dry, and ample volume has been achieved, work some medium-hold pomade through your hair.
You may need a spritz of light-hold hairspray to set a quiff style if the weather is particularly humid outside.
A buzz with a bit more length—á la actor Michael B. Jordan—offers style and ease. "If you want something short and sweet with barely any maintenance, then a buzz cut is a great option," says Butler. "[It] you consistent length all over. Product usage is minimal since there isn’t much to style."
Short With Texture
This fuller-on-top look is chic and sophisticated for those looking for something stylish but professional. "A short cut, with two inches in length on top—blended down to shorter sides and back—is a very easy and stylish haircut that can be worn in a variety of different ways," says Marinaro. "Think Brad Pitt in Fight Club or in his Oceans movie series. It’s cropped, textured on top and can be styled with a matte paste very easily."
A Little Longer on Top
Maintaining this cut does require some styling skill. Wash hair with a volumizing shampoo to start with a strong foundation. Dispense an egg-sized amount of volume-boosting mousse into your hands, and work it through damp hair. Part the hair where it naturally wants to split. Using a blow-dryer and brush (a Denman styling brush or a boar bristle paddle brush is best), work the hair up and slightly off to the side.
Once the shape has been created, finish off with a quick-drying, medium-hold hairspray.
Instead of working against naturally curly hair, have your stylist or barber cut your hair into a shape that works with your curl and the shape of your head. This style is tighter at the temples and nape while fuller on top and in the crown area. The right amount of layering makes the curls spring like a dream.
Humidity is your enemy when you have curly hair, so you want to contain the frizz to keep your curls nice and wavy. It's best to let your hair air-dry, or you can use a diffuser on the end of the blow-dryer. Finish with a grooming cream that's designed for curly hair.
"If you want to add some style while keeping it short, ask your barber or stylist for a clean fade," notes Butler. Here, Idris Elba shows off a timeless, buzzed version of the cut in which the sides are faded and the top is just slightly longer.
Those who want a bit more coverage than what a clean fade offers might opt for a low taper, like Ryan Reynolds. "The choice here is based on how much skin you want to expose," notes Butler. "A low taper keeps you a bit more covered while a fade can expose more skin."
Nick Jonas's pompadour is perfect for the dapper gentlemen who has plenty of products in his arsenal, as it does require a bit more styling time than some other looks on our list. "Products for short hair are a must," says Butler. "A medium-hold styling cream is one of your safest bets. Pick one with low shine and a medium hold (this Floyd's Molding Paste, $18, is my go-to) so it supports your stoke without looking too precious."
Pompadour With Fade
For even more style, combine the above pompadour with a classic fade, like singer Miguel. The look requires regular touch-ups (see your barber every three to four weeks to keep it trimmed) and a roster of quality pomades.
The crew cut is classic and low-maintenance, but with a little effort, you can make it look stylish. Use a boar-bristle brush to distribute your hair's natural sheen, as this look can otherwise seem dry if you just wash and go. Take just a few moments to run a light-hold pomade through your hair to add shine. Done and done.
In between haircuts, use a personal trimmer to square off sideburns and the nape. This saves you both time and money.
The Weeknd made headlines when he chopped off his iconic locs in favor of a shorter, overgrown fro. Not only does the newer look embrace his natural texture, it has style in spades.
Diego Luna's hair is slicked-back but not stuffy, thanks to the use of a styling cream that doesn't harden the hair. The key here is to run the fingers through the hair with the product only a bit—so it veers more approachable and not overly styled.
Drake's short Afro retains his signature clean, blunt edging but is easier to maintain, as it requires fewer trips to the stylist than his usual buzzed style.
It probably comes as no surprise that actor Henry Golding once worked as a hairstylist. His own style is the result of a scissor cut and likely requires the use of a blow-dryer and texture cream.
Here, Kanye West's slightly grown-out hair is shaped into a modern version of the mullet—marrying style with sophistication. This look does require a trim every few weeks, so either be prepared to visit the stylist frequently or try it for a while before growing it out.
For those who fear damage, braids are a protective style and an easy way to keep hair out of the face. While they are typically seen on longer-haired men, rapper A$AP Rocky demonstrates that they work on shorter hair, too.
The style seen here on Justin Bieber allows for the illusion of longer hair, without all the effort of actually growing it out all over the entire head. Here, hair is grown out on the top of the head and simply brushed back, with hair kept shorter (or even completely buzzed) on the sides.
This variation on the quiff involves a bit more styling, to add shine to the hair. Here, musician Zayn Malik has added a few loose, stray hairs around the head, for interest. Use an anti-frizz hair serum (like Kérastase Discipline Oleo Relax Anti-Frizz Oil Serum, $39) to ensure hair stays shiny and healthy.