How to Grow Out an Undercut

Undercut Haircut
Photo © Drazen_ | Getty Images

Over the past year or so, a lot of guys picked up a pair of clippers or ventured to their barbers or stylists and decided to shave the sides and back of their heads, leaving a long and unblended top.  The undercut was a hot trend for a minute, but as the shaved sides started to creep higher and higher up the head, the style started to become a bit ridiculous.  These days, the trend is dying leaving a lot of guys struggling with how to deal with growing out their undercuts.

 How to grow out an undercut while still looking great can be tricky.  

The problem with growing out an undercut, especially if you have thick hair,  is that you are going to have that ridge of hair around the top of your head (and crown) that will just not lay down.  Dealing with that bit of hair is the challenge.  Here are your options.

The Impatient Route:

I've found the best way to grow out an undercut is to simply start from scratch.  Have your barber buzz everything down to one length (with a clean taper on the sides and back) and start fresh.  This will enable you to grow your hair out evenly and keep you looking neat between haircuts.  If you'd like to save some dough, you can even give yourself a buzzcut at home (or consider buzzing your head for childhood cancer with St. Baldricks).  Just be sure to get regular trims every few weeks after the buzzcut to keep it looking neat.

The Semi-Patent Route:

One of my favorite ways to grow out an undercut is to let the hair grow for a few weeks and then opt for a short Ivy League haircut.

 This style is cut short high up the sides and back of the head,  buzzed at the crown, and gradually gets longer at the front.  The Ivy League style corrects the problems of growing out an undercut (e.g. the awkward sides near the top and the sticking up crown).  This is a good style option if you don't want to go with a short buzzcut, but don't mind taking the top down very short.

 Depending on your hair thickness and growth patterns, the Ivy League will leave you a little hair to play with while still eliminating the awkward grow-out phase of the undercut.

The Patient Route:

Depending on your hair thickness and growth pattern and how high you have shaved the sides, growing the style out can be tricky.   First, you'll need to grow the sides and back out for awhile.  Keep the edges trimmed up and the back tapered neatly.  This will allow the hair near the top of the head to achieve some length and begin to lay down.  During this phase, keep the top trimmed neatly, but don't cut it shorter just yet.  Maintain the undercut style as the sides and back grow out some.

Once the sides and back grow out enough to begin to lay down, you'll want to shorten the top to balance things out.  Leave enough hair on top so you can still part it, but so that it looks more balanced in relationship with the sides.  It may take a few months to achieve this balance and, there will be a time, even after you have cut the top shorter, you'll still have some disconnection with the top.   During this phase, you can mimic a classic taper by keeping the sided combed back with a bit of product.


Whichever route you choose, have fun during the growing out phase -- this is a good time to experiment with some different looks and styles.  It is also a reminder to consider what will happen if you jump on a trend, but then later decide to transition to another style.  That's the great thing about hair -- you can try new things and it will always grow back.