How-To: Fix an Unflattering Men's Haircut

Unblended fades, bulky sides, uneven layers, high-up undercuts—the list of unflattering elements on a men’s haircut is seemingly endless. But when a man sits down in your chair, it’s your job to be “the fixer.” Here, today’s top men’s grooming experts give their best tactics for transforming an unflattering man’s haircut into a great looking style. 

1. Vaughn Acord, Founder V76 by Vaughn 

A “bad” haircut can be defined two ways: executed badly or a bad fit for the client. Start by asking the client, “How can I help you?” Let them bring up what the issues are, even if the problems are obvious. Follow up with, “I see what you’re seeing.” You never want to compound the situation by asking, “Who gave you this haircut?” If it’s a poorly executed haircut, look at the balance. Is there too much weight in the wrong area? Generally speaking, layers that are square look more masculine, and too much fullness on the sides is never flattering. If the cut is a bad fit for the client, figure out why. Was the cut too extreme or trendy? Did the previous stylist not take into account the client’s hair texture, face shape, body weight or thinning areas? Then adjust. Remember, a well-balanced haircut always grows out correctly. 

YOUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER - FREE

Enjoying this story? Subscribe to the American Salon Newsletter

Get inspirational trends, techniques, tips, education and the latest beauty news delivered right to your inbox! To read on the go, sign up today to get weekly beauty news and updates.

2. John Delgado, Andis Educator

I often see a lot of bad fades. That’s the result of a previous barber running the fade up too high. To fix a bad fade, it’s all about playing with the ratio of hair versus visible scalp. When playing with shorter lengths, you need to fix what you can, while taking off the least amount of hair. Always remember, there’s no situation you can’t salvage with a little creativity. Once, I got a little boy that took scissors to his hair, really high up on the head. He had a traditional little boy comb-over. So, I took down the sides short and gave him a lot of texture on top, blending in where he’d taken out the chunk of hair. With a little creativity I avoided running a blade over his entire head.

3. Megan Porter, barber for Paul Mitchell

Products can absolutely save a bad haircut. If your guest has fine hair and the bad haircut exposes a cowlick, the results can be difficult to work with. I recommend a strong pomade that isn’t too heavy, like Mitch Reformer, so it can bring texture to fine hair and the guest can pull off a messy, unkempt look while the length grows out. Try to recommend something that complements the current state of your guest’s haircut, so that they can still have a style while they grow out their challenging areas. 

4. Pat Regan, BaBylissPro Global Platform Artist

When top layers look off, it’s usually the result of not properly creating an initial desired-length guideline, or not following the guideline as you move section by section. The best way to fix this problem is find the shortest hair that was botched and match it up to the rest of the hair on top. When an undercut looks awkward, it’s because the stylist took it up too high. An undercut doesn't give you the option to correct it by maintaining weight on the sides. To fix this, I would preserve length in the parietal ridge area, fade down to compensate for any awkward head shapes, bumps or indentations and get the client back to a more squared, masculine look.

5. Jarrod Aldama, Senior Educator label.m

One of the most common bad haircuts that I get in my chair is the crown area being too flat for the head shape. It’s often cut too short, making the head look flat. I think this is happening because some stylists give their clients a shape that’s flattering straight on, but not in profile. For men’s grooming it’s all about understanding the head shape, making a man look more masculine and paying attention to every detail—the mirror doesn’t lie. 

Suggested Articles

Jim Shaw and Daisy Carter created this edgy men's cut, part of a collection that celebrates classic and contemporary men's hairdressing.

American Crew's All-Star Challenge encourages barbers and hair stylists from across the globe to showcase their top-tier technique and skill by creati

Wahl Clipper Corporation welcomed its first Fade It Forward program graduates this year.