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LOOK AT any group of teenage guys right now and you’ll notice something: some of them have the same
hairstyle. For Gen Z dudes, it’s all about short cropped sides and a floppier, longer, textured top. The style is so ubiquitous that it’s now commonly referred to as TikTok Hair—after the social media platform that gave birth to the trend—or in some circles, Fuckboy Hair—after, well, a certain stereotype about the type of guys who popularized the look. No matter what you call it, or frankly what you think about the style, if you have any teenage dudes in your life, they almost certainly have TikTok Hair—or are about to get it.
To help you navigate the eventuality of your son (or nephew or cousin) asking for TikTok Hair—and it is an eventuality—we asked professional barbers what to ask for, how to find the right barber and, most importantly, what products are needed to style it. Because as we all know, the cut is only half the style. Here is everything you need to know.
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What Is TikTok Hair?
Think of this style as a version of a fade. “It’s basically clean on the side—not necessarily shaved, but just tighter behind the ear—with about double length on top and a lot of texture,” says Alberto Modesto, a barber at Persons of Interest in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He’s been providing a version of this cut to his young clients with increasing frequency. The key, he says, is to have close-cropped sides that don’t go too high as to verge into “mohawk” territory and to keep enough length on top that the hair can be pulled down to between the nose tip and eyebrows.
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“It’s the epitome of a hybrid cut,” he says, meaning that to really get it right, it requires both a hair clipper and scissor skills. Ideally, you’d want to look for a barber who is proficient at both, since some traditional barbers rely mostly on clippers and some hairstylists only work with scissors.
How short the sides are cut and how high the crop goes on the side of the head depends on head shape and personal style, but TikTok Hair “all comes down to having the same style up top,” says celebrity barber Vince Garcia. “It’s a messier, textured type of cut.” The length and texture are key, particularly because one of the draws of this cut is that it can be styled multiple ways.
How to Ask a Barber for TikTok Hair
Sure, you could walk into the barber shop and announce that your son wants TikTok Hair, but not every barber is going to know what that means unless they’re cutting a lot of teenage guys. Your best option, according to both Modesto and Garcia, is to have a few photos or videos. Ask your son to pull a few off social media. “It’s better than trying to explain it to the barber,” says Garcia, since barbers speak a specific language and style names can vary by region and country. Plus, “the barber can also tell you if they’re capable of doing that cut,” says Modesto (remember, this is a hybrid cut that requires both clippers and scissors).
If you don’t have a photo, the best thing to say is “I want a lot of movement and texture on top, clean on the sides, but not too high,” says Modesto. A good barber may ask you some additional questions, but should be able to understand what you and your son are going for.
How to Style TikTok Hair
One of the reasons this style is so popular is because it’s versatile and can be styled in a variety of different ways. “Once it gets to a certain length, there is so much you can do with it,” says Garcia. The biggest thing is keeping the texture. “If you have curly hair, you have an advantage,” he says, but straight hair works too as long as enough texture is cut into the top. Thicker hair is also ideal, says Modesto, since it can show off the spiky, messiness of texture a little bit better.
The key to styling TikTok Hair is bringing out that texture. For that, Modesto recommends styling powder to add volume and pomade to give it shape and hold. Add the styling powder to dry hair and then run a dime-sized amount of pomade or paste through the hair to shape it.
Uppercut Deluxe Styling Powder for Texture and Volume
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The Best Paste Natural Shine Medium Hold Hair Paste
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For thinner hair, be careful of heavier pomades and look for lighter weight versions that give a natural finish—Garcia prefers American Crew Molding Clay for that look and American Crew Fiber for thinner hair. Sea salt sprays also add texture and volume without weight—ideal for thinner, straighter hair—but be careful using them on curly hair as they could dry it out. Apply the salt spray first and then the pomade on top.
American Crew Molding Clay
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American Crew Hair Fiber
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Brickell Texturizing Sea Salt Spray
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The one essential styling element people often overlook, according to Garcia, is blow drying. “You’ve got to use a blow dryer and dry it the way you want it styled first. Make sure it’s fully dry, then apply the product,” he says. Think of the blow dryer as a styling tool and use it along with a brush to shape the hair into the shape you want. Then use product to shape and hold it in place. You’ll end up with a longer lasting style and use less product to keep it in place.
Plus, it’s more efficient. “If you’re rocking the same style every day, a blow dryer is key because you’re training the hair to just naturally fall the way you want. After a while, you won’t even have to blow dry for as long because your hair will naturally move that way.”
INFINITIPRO by Conair Pro Hair Dryer
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Jack Dean by Denman Flexible Vent Brush
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