Michael Jordan’s Short Haircut
Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com

35 Iconic Haircuts for Black Men

From fades to braids, we've got you covered.

written by Shane McCarthy

Historically, black haircuts and styles stem from function and symbolism. Who would have thought that the most common hairstyles, such as box braids, dreadlocks, and afro, were derived from ancient Egypt – as seen in drawings and hieroglyphics? Dreadlocks, which were thought to have originated from the Rastafarian and Jamaican culture and became popular in the 20th century, were found in Hindu scriptures that were said to be written about 2,500 years ago. Many figures in India’s history wore the “jaTaa” – which translates to wearing twisted locks of hair.

Knots and braids for women were not just on display, these signify tribal association and marital status, especially in West and South Africa. Agriculture and order were depicted through cornrows on the hair and were worn by those working in the same sector. As time went by, cornrows were worn because it was practical with hard labor (for those who fell into slavery) and also as a homage to their home.

This is probably one of the reasons why cultural appropriation exists and is something that is currently debated especially for public figures. Iconic haircuts for black men and women are deemed iconic because there’s so much history enveloping each style. And although times have changed so much, there is still a strong pull between hair and culture.

But that doesn’t mean that black men haven’t experimented on haircuts these days. There are many versatile haircuts for black men to create all kinds of looks. From clean looks to long dreadlocks, box braids to tall afros, one can wear their hair as long as they are comfortable with it. Of course, once you decide upon a cut, ask your stylist how much daily maintenance it will require. Just remember that each head of hair differs and may require unique types of care to ensure that you look your best.

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High and Tight

High and Tight

This is an example of a bald fade hair cut that is kept high and tight. The sides are seamlessly blended into the top of the cut, and the top is only slightly longer than everything else. The hairline is tightly lined up to add shape to the style. This style requires little everyday maintenance.

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Curly Afro with Subtle Line-Up
@juliuscaesar / Instagram

Curly Afro with Subtle Line-Up

If you like longer hairstyles, this exploded afro may be right for you. The expanse of curls on the top is nicely framed by both the beard and the subtle line up that acts as a foundation for the afro itself.

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Short Afro with a Discontinued Mirror Beard
travisanthonyhair / instagram.com

Short Afro with a Discontinued Mirror Beard

An afro, though an all-time favorite haircut, can be amped up by adding a mirror-styled beard. Grow your beard and when you go to your stylist or barber, have them shape it at the same angle as your taper, creating an almost semi-circle. In the middle, shave all the hair clean so it looks discontinued. And voila! A unique take on a medium-sized afro.

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Short Drop Fade
mattjbarbers / Instagram.com

Short Drop Fade

This short drop fade is an easy, breezy, no-fuss haircut to achieve. Not only do the clean lines and sides make you look fresh, but it’s also a haircut that goes great with any occasion – whether it’s for everyday work, athletics, or even formal events.

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Medium Locs with Accent and High Temple Fade
mattjbarbers / instagram.com

Medium Locs with Accent and High Temple Fade

With a high temple fade that is a common haircut for men, how could you make yours unique? The answer is simple. Grow your top hair really long, opt for thick locs and add one hair accent – like a silver piece of ornament.

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Two-tone Long Top with Temple Taper
santanaalisson / instagram.com

Two-tone Long Top with Temple Taper

Color is always a good thing when wanting a unique hairstyle. Go for a lighter or more striking hair color than your own for the half-top portion of your hair (make sure you’ve grown it long enough or at least 2 inches) and add a clean temple taper.

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Two-Ponytail Dreads with High Fade
travisanthonyhair / instagram.com

Two-Ponytail Dreads with High Fade

If you think that just having dreadlocks is quite boring, think again. There are so many ways to wear it, from one bun to two and even high ponytails. And why wear just one ponytail when you can do two? A big one in front and a rather small one at the back. The sky’s the limit!

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High Crown Spikes
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High Crown Spikes

Have you ever wondered why hair is sometimes called, your crowning glory? Wonder no more. With this haircut, you will be revered everywhere you go. Aside from that, it’s so easy to maintain and keeps you cool during the hotter months.

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Messy Shag Top
@jelle.vissers / Instagram

Messy Shag Top

Messed up dreadlocks with that volume are just attention snatchers. The length is long enough to be fancy and short enough to manage it perfectly. Moreover, the line up is streamlined with the temple so well that it looks like as a whole.

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Disconnected Undercut and Natural Curls
@jelle.vissers / Instagram

Disconnected Undercut and Natural Curls

This one is quite similar to the last one but this one has few of the trendy hairstyling elements to it. The sides are tapered to make the top look dense and the temple is faded at the very bottom. The line ups are small yet shared out pretty well. The top, well, has all the attention it deserves.

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Burr Cut with Temple Fade

Burr Cut with Temple Fade

Want to make your burr cut extra crisp and clean without sacrificing a bit of style? Add a temple fade to it. You’d still have a bit of hair on the sides, which is good, especially if you decide later on to add a geometrical design to it.

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High Top with Shaved Line Up
z_ramsey / Instagram.com

High Top with Shaved Line Up

This stylish twist on the line up features two shaved lines intersecting the lineup and running all the way to the back of the head.

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Loose Flat Top
by @dannyandcobarbers / Instagram

Loose Flat Top

Here’s another take on the flat top that’s casual and relaxed. The hair is still defined, but it doesn’t have the angular edges seen on other flat top looks, which makes this a great laid-back haircut.

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Short Curls with Drop Fade

Short Curls with Drop Fade

There is no better combination than a drop fade with short curls. Why? The contrast of the curls’ rich texture with the hard lines of the drop fade brings an undeniable edge to an otherwise plain look when done separately.

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Almost Mid Fade with High Volume Top
@jelle.vissers/ Instagram

Almost Mid Fade with High Volume Top

This is another great option for coiled hair. The top is kept full and neat, and the sides are gently faded, which produces a very unique visual effect.

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Afro with Undercut
@jelle.vissers/ Instagram

Afro with Undercut

Undercuts are quite versatile and can be mixed with many other styles for a stunning result. This style uses an undercut as the base for a high volume blown out afro to provide contrast and definition.

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Short and Crisp
Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

Short and Crisp

A short cut never seems to go out of style and it looks wonderful on anyone wanting to simply look clean and neat. Low maintenance, you can simply apply moisturizer, brush (use a boar bristle) and get on with your day!

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High fade Short Curls
z_ramsey / Instagram.com

High fade Short Curls

A short cut with curls is quite the trend today. It sets off facial features nicely and by simply using a small amount of cream for definition, it is low maintenance, just be sure to get trims about every six weeks to keep it looking neat.

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 High Top Fade
z_ramsey / Instagram.com

High Top Fade

This is one of the trendiest haircuts for black men, particularly young men. With virtually no or little work, this cut keeps hair very short and close to the neck (this area can also be buzzed or bald) while top length rises towards the head top. Great for men with curly or afro textured hair, tapering starts usually at the ear and leads up a few inches according to your length requirements and texture.

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 Medium curls
mattjbarbers / Instagram.com

Medium curls

If you desire to emphasize natural long curls, this is among the best haircuts for black men as it requires easy care. Like any good style (particularly if you choose longer hair), trimming is unquestionably needed to make sure that hair stays healthy and ship-shape. By trimming frequently you avoid frizzes, the potential for knots and split ends. Make sure that you inform the stylist if you desire some layers and exactly how much hair you wish trimmed. You also should ensure that you visit a stylist who understands how to keep black hair healthy.

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 Buzz Cut with Line Up
Twocoms / Shutterstock.com

Buzz Cut with Line Up

A buzz cut never goes out of style when it comes to haircuts for black men. If you find yourself constantly on the run, then a buzz would probably suit your daily regimen. You need very little care in maintaining it daily and you don’t need styling products unless your hair is a medium length. Simply put a dab of moisturizer and brush it.

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 Mini Afro
by @travisanthonyhair / Instagram

Mini Afro

Regarding many of the haircuts available for black men, the small afro doesn’t take much to look great and up-to-date. Ever so popular in the 70’s, this short length is attractive and refined on any man and requires a small bit of styling. If you are considering this look and your hair is longer, consider having it cut down to achieve this look. As far as styling tips, some men apply wax to their hair while damp prior to styling it. Be sure to have hair conditioned regularly to avoid breakage and use good styling products.

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 Flat Top
@anthonythebarber916 / Instagram

Flat Top

Often resembling a crew cut, a flat top differs in that the top head hair is cut to that it stands up then cuts evenly across to achieve a neat shape that is square. If you want a style that is not much work, then you should consider a flat top cut. Usually it only needs some daily application of a wax or gel, with frequent trims to avoid shabbiness and keep it looking neat.

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High Taper with Discontinued Mirror Beard
z_ramsey / instagram.com

High Taper with Discontinued Mirror Beard

If you’re the kind of guy who likes to maintain their beard and make it a part of his haircut and not leave it alone to grow wild, then this cut’s for you. The beard slides down from the ears to the mouth at almost the same angle as the taper on top, hence, a mirror beard.

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Medium Length Dreads

Medium Length Dreads

Dreads don’t need to be long all the time. In fact, medium-length dreads are becoming popular for two reasons. One, it’s easier to untangle once you outgrow it, and two, it’s lighter in weight without compromising the oomph factor of this style.

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Cornrows
@juliuscaesar / Instagram

Cornrows

An extremely simple style, this cut is always trendy. It looks well on grade school-age boys to teachers, virtually any professional. Cornrows also allow one to easily grow hair into another look that may be longer, perhaps like an afro or other styles. Be sure that the stylist you choose has expertise with cornrow cuts.

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Large, Short Curls with Low Fade and Side Line Design
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Large, Short Curls with Low Fade and Side Line Design

There are a lot of things going on in this haircut, and let us dissect it for you. The main bulk of the hair is in large, short curls partnered with a low fade continuing down to the beard (or a 5 o’clock shadow in this photo). And the main eye candy of the whole ensemble? The two geometric lines that look like blades edging out at the back of the ears.

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High Top with Line Up
patty_cuts / Instagram.com

High Top with Line Up

Thin curly afro hair is a dream but here it does come true. Let’s start with the undercut with the sharpest line up ever. The sides are finely tapered but not skin faded into the beard and that is what makes this cut slightly different than others.

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Tape Up with Afro
Pinterest

Tape Up with Afro

Closer to its roots, the tape up when paired with an Afro is the hairstyle to make a statement, if you were ever looking for one. The contrasting lengths of the hair are so striking that a look like this is bound to attract the best kind of attention.

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Low Fade with Two Shaved Hairline
@patty_cuts / Instagram

Low Fade with Two Shaved Hairline

This haircut is simple, but it has a couple of unique touches. The defined line up creates a half moon shape on the face, and the two shaved lines on the side add an extra dash of style.

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Eyebrow Match Hardline Design
@lieanne_ / Instagram

Eyebrow Match Hardline Design

Welcoming the coolest hairstyle with a blend of too many nice elements. The hairline is amazingly straight with no frizzy hair, the sides are tapered with twin shaved slits. Also, it is low faded to make it even better and the top is dense with a high volume of thin hair.

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High and Tight Curls
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High and Tight Curls

The recipe to this marvel is actually quite simple although it might not look like it. The classic undercut to separate top with sides, the sides are then skin faded with temple almost non-existent. However, the beard starts with temple length to balance the face!

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High and Tight Afro
javi_thebarber_ / Instagram.com

High and Tight Afro

We all can agree this is one of the most common hairstyles for this year with dense and longer top with shorter sides. This one though is not all that same, the faded temple with short yet sharp line up makes it pop. Next up the subtle undercut is a great cherry on the cake.

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Short Line up with Goatee
patty_cuts / Instagram.com

Short Line up with Goatee

This one is very close to a military haircut with a very balanced texture overall. The line ups are sharp and pocky as ever to show that details matter. Next up, the temple is the most tapered part with a very clean beard. Maybe this is perfection!

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Relaxed Dreads Undercut
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Relaxed Dreads Undercut

Here’s a casual look that incorporates shorter dreads and an undercut. As shown here, this haircut can seamlessly connect with a beard, which frames the face and creates symmetry.

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Pitch Perfect Volume with Mini Line Up
@kevinluchmun/ Instagram

Pitch Perfect Volume with Mini Line Up

If you strongly favor neat and tidy hairstyles, this cut is one you should consider. The hair is trimmed and cropped almost to perfection, and a small line up further emphasizes the neatness of the cut.

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Short Curls
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Short Curls

This straightforward look is a great way of managing curly hair while still allowing it to behave and flow naturally. Since it’s a shorter cut, it doesn’t require much styling.

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Classic Afro Cut with Faded Temple
@v.hugostyles / Instagram

Classic Afro Cut with Faded Temple

Line ups are well known for their fresh and clean appearance. They’re common with afro-style cuts like this shorter haircut with a temple fade.

FAQs

What is the most attractive hairstyle on a black man?

Though the hair is a crowning glory for most black men, having a fade is one of the most attractive hairstyles they can wear. For one, a fade can be combined with so many different tops (a fade with an afro, a fade with short curls, a fade with a twist, a fade with an almost bald cut, a fade with dreadlocks, etc.). The fade clears the face and draws focus on their facial features, enhanced by the style on the top.

Related topics Buzz Cuts Curly

Shane McCarthy is the Content Director for Capillus, the world’s first, clinically-proven, FDA-cleared laser cap to treat hair loss. Shane works to share informative and engaging content based off of the struggles and prevention of adult hair loss and thinning. In his free time, he enjoys spending time out on the water wakeboarding and fishing.