If you’re a black man looking for a fresh new cut, we’ve got you covered with this list of our favorite hairstyles.
Black men can achieve some of the most unique hairstyles in the world. Their coiled hair type is one of a kind and lends itself to a variety of fascinating and fashionable cuts.
On the flip side, this also usually means that black men can have trouble finding new haircuts because a lot of inspo guides don’t include their hair type.
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To help combat that, we’ve put together a list of our favorite black men’s hairstyles. From short and low-maintenance to long and bold, we’ve got something for everyone.
Before I list off the styles, I need to bring up the 3 different hair types that are most common among black men.
The 3 Hair Types of Black Men
In the 1990s, stylist Andre Walker (who’s best known for being Oprah Winfrey’s stylist) created a hair type chart to help his clients figure out which haircuts and products would be best for them.
It can be difficult to figure out which hair type you are for a couple of reasons.
First, most of the information out there is specific to women’s hair, which is usually longer. Problem is, these hair types can look a lot different when they’re shorter, and most men’s styles are going to be short to medium-length.
Second, there’s a lot of confusion around these types. (Just take a look on Reddit and you’ll see a lot of conflicting comments.)
So I’m going to break down the most commonly agreed-upon definitions of these hair types.
First, here’s what the Andre Walker chart looks like:
Most black men will have hair type 4, which is defined by tightly coiled hair.
Importantly, Walker created two subsets: 4a and 4b.
4a hair consists of S-shaped coils. Here’s an example of someone with 4a hair:
4b hair is even kinkier, with smaller, Z-shaped coils that often look fluffier. Often, 4b coils will be more tightly packed than 4a coils. Here’s what 4b hair can look like:
While there’s no 4c in the Walker chart, over time it’s been informally added to the list. 4c is hair that is usually kinkier and often more matted than 4b. Here’s one type of 4c:
It’s also possible for your hair to be in between two of these hair types. For example, you might have 4b/4c hair.
The 6 Best Black Men’s Hairstyles for 2021
Now that we’ve cleared that up, we’ll start off our list with an undeniable classic…
1. Contemporary Afro
The afro has always been a staple for black men. It’s a timeless haircut that’s perfectly suited to 4a, 4b and 4c hair.
While perhaps the most classic style is the mushroom-shaped afro that’s been seen on the heads of everyone from Prince to Colin Kaepernick, the afro has many more variations.
One popular take on the afro is the shorter look shown above. A sharp line up and fade place all the focus on the afro and keep everything nice and clean. The afro itself is neatly trimmed and shaped, but the hair’s natural properties still shine through.
This hairstyle is extremely versatile. It works well with almost any outfit, and it’s great for most casual and formal environments.
You can also style the afro itself if you want. Here’s one example where the hair is styled into small spikes:
There are countless ways to style the afro, which makes it one of the most versatile black men’s haircuts. Whether you want to go big or opt for something more understated, you can’t go wrong with an afro.
2. Flat Top
The flat top is another one of the most iconic haircuts for black men.
Characterized by its neatly sculpted silhouette, the flat top is satisfyingly tidy. All of the hair on top is cut to the same length and formed into a rounded shape that extends straight out of the head.
The flat top will work with all hair types. It’s well suited to 4b and 4c hair since those types can be densely packed, but you can also get a flat top with 4a hair.
If you want to change it up, you can go with a looser, more textured flat top like this one:
This is still a flat top, but it’s very different from the structured flat top that’s widely considered the classic version of the style.
Like most of the African American hairstyles on this list, the flat top can be achieved in many ways, which makes it a really flexible style.
3. The Close Crop
If you’re choosing between short black hairstyles, consider the basic crop. Inspired by standards like the French crop, the close crop keeps everything short.
However, you can still play around with length a bit by getting fades or letting the hair grow out a little longer than you would for something like a regulation cut.
This is a barbershop classic that works really well for black men because it offers a nice low-maintenance option. Since type 4 hair can quickly become wild, many black men opt to keep it short.
It’s slightly longer than a buzz cut and allows for more texture. If you have 4a hair, a close crop will bring out the fluffiness, and if you have 4b or 4c, it will show off your coils nicely and you won’t have to do a lot to maintain it.
4. Textured Fade
If you’re after a medium-length hairstyle that’s still clean and tidy, you should consider this textured fade. True to its name, the textured fade emphasizes the hair on top by trimming it into a neat shape while the sides are faded.
The top is somewhat similar to the flat top but extends toward the back of the head and has a slightly less defined shape.
The fade adds another touch of class to the haircut. And since African hair reacts uniquely to fades, you can get truly one-of-a-kind looks by incorporating a fade into your style.
This style is a great option for 4b hair. Those kinky coils can be hard to manage, but shaping them and keeping them at a medium length will alleviate a lot of that difficulty.
There are tons of fade haircuts for black men, so don’t be afraid to explore the world of fades and find the one that’s right for you!
5. Buzz Cut
Another barbershop classic, the buzz cut has always been a go-to choice for black men who like shorter hair or just want a simple cut that’s still fashionable.
Because hair type 4 is so richly textured by nature, it looks fantastic in a buzz cut because you can still see the texture even at that short length.
In addition, a buzz cut is great for almost any occasion. You can dress it up or down, and you can bounce between formal and casual situations without a hitch.
6. Line Up
Last but not least, let’s look at the line up.
The line up isn’t a particular hairstyle. It’s a technique that involves giving the hairline and sides a sharp, defined edge, giving the hair at the temples a strong 90 degree angle that tapers down to the sides.
This simple technique has become the focal point for a lot of black men’s hairstyles.
Often, line ups will be extremely sharp, like this one:
You can also get a more subtle line up if you just want to add a little definition to your haircut:
All of the styles we’ve included on this list look great with line ups, and they work with pretty much any style you can think of. They’re that versatile.
I hope you’ve found our list of black men’s hairstyles useful in your search for a new ‘do. Which one did you like the best? Let us know in the comments!