The mohawk is probably the very first radical hairstyle in human history.  In Neolithic times our ancestors’ stylistic hair choices consisted of long dreadlocks and not much else.  Then one day some enterprising caveman fashioned a cutting stone sharp enough to shave a head, and our forebears’ coif options expanded to include bald and not-totally-bald.  The easiest not-totally-bald style was the mohawk, as it’s symmetrical and easy to do oneself, with or without a mirror.

Since then it has been in constant use throughout the ages, from ancient Irish Celts to Ukrainian Cossacks.  Our modern version takes its name from the eponymous Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois Nation (although it’s arguable that the association really stems from an old Technicolor western from the 1930s starring Henry Fonda). Ironically, it’s actually a different tribe, the Pawnee, whose traditional hair most closely resembles what we today call a mohawk.

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Long Mohawk Design
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Long Mohawk Design

When the look burst back on the scene during the first wave of punk rock in the 1970s, it embodied the ideological spirit of a generation of frustrated youths fed up with a society that wanted them to fit in at the expense of any individuality. So they grew their hair long in protest, sheared off the sides, and blasted the long center into feral spikes using anything that worked, from egg whites to Elmer’s Glue to Aquanet hairspray. Extra ‘tude points for an additional mini-hawk on either side. Oi! Oi! Oi! Indeed!

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Medium Mohawk and Beard
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Medium Mohawk and Beard

An example of the more toned-down version that maintains its edge. The mohawk is already an aggressive look, a beard only adds to the style. The sides here are simply shaved right up to the TFT’s edges, so very doable yourself if you’ve got the steady hands to pull it off!

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Pink & Messy
jackf / Shutterstock.com

Pink & Messy

The middle strip’s length need not be dramatic, it can vary from short and tight to fully charged and blown out. Nowadays more modern takes can go for a more subdued, naturally styled look that approaches formality, but at its heart the style is rebellious, and it likes it that way. Here are some examples that may just inspire the repressed angsty teenager in you to go grab those buzzers and have at it!

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Full-On Punk
XiXinXing / Shutterstock.com

Happy Punk

For the always-smiling laid back type who’s always a dependable driver to your favorite band’s next gig. This long and narrow self-charged spike is about as edgy as the Hot Topic booth at the

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Multi-Color Punk
andersonrise / Shutterstock.com

Multi-Color Punk

If the hawk itself doesn’t capture your unique spirit enough, adding flamboyant fluorescent colors to it will surely make you stand out amongst the leather and metal spikes-sporting crowd.

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Curly Drop Faded Trendy Mohawk
@barbersinctv

Curly Drop Faded Trendy Mohawk

As you can see here, a mohawk and curls can be combined into one super edgy hairstyle. And it doesn’t take much effort either — just wear your natural curls thick and casual at the top, give the sides a drop fade, and you’ve got yourself an attention-grabbing ‘do.

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Electrocuted Mohawk
@barberbarrass

Electrocuted Mohawk

If you’re all about hardcore punk, you need the most OTT mohawk there is. This electrocuted hawk will definitely make you the center of attention with its extreme height. Just make sure to pick the most heavy-duty hairspray.

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Mohawked Mullet with Push Back
@ marcovfialho

Mohawked Mullet with Push Back

As we all know mohawk is quite a bold statement but sometimes it can be made more subtle when combined with other elements. Here the overall pushback makes everything quite subtle and dashing.