The ultimate Undershave hairstyle guide for your manbun
As we approach the year 2016 and the year 2015 is closing in on us, the man bun hairstyle continues to rock on after its furious rise in popularity in 2013. With that said, the man bun has, ever since 2013, been modified into different spin-off hairstyles that have become somewhat popular.
As far as manbun “spin-off” hairstyles go, we’ve had the man bun undercut hairstyle for those not happy with wearing a full manbun and we’ve also had the ponybun hairstyle as the epic half-bun-half-ponytail style that Jared Leto made famous in 2014 prior to him sacrilegiously (and foolishly) chopping his long mane in 2015. In between all of that in the last 3 years, we too have had the top knot undercut and other long-length hairstyles that have been favored by men from all around the world as well as (and particularly) by the hipster male community.
All in all, the man bun is simply a (what I call) “foundation hairstyle” for dudes. With a man bun (also known as a “bro bun” or “dude bun”), you’re simply tying all of your hair or some of your hair into a bun. Thus, whatever else you do to your hair becomes a mere modification to the beloved manbun hairstyle: you can get an undercut for your man bun, you can get a taper haircut on the sides and back of the head and/or you can tie your bun as a half-ponytail, just to name a few man-bun modifications possible. Then and as the icing on the dude-bun cake, you have the man bun undershave, and that’s what this guide is about.
What is an undershave?
An undershave is a type of men’s haircut that involves the shaving of the sides and back of the head with no tapering whatsoever. As a matter of fact, an undershave is a shaved undercut, meaning that the disconnected haircut line (i.e. where the hair on the top of the head meets the hair on the sides and back of the head) has no tapering, also known as “smoothing the edges” or “fading the perimeter” in barbershop jargon.
Here’s how the man bun undershave hairstyle looks like:
The undershave has always remained as a kind of dark hairstyle in that only those affiliated with hardcore urban tribes would wear such a haircut. I’m talking of punks and skinheads, which aren’t the type of people that you would have as co-workers at your office (unless you work in some seedy leather shop somewhere in the outskirts of Chicago or London). Since the hair on the sides and back of the head is fully shaved, the undershave hairstyle is classified as an extreme haircut akin to the Mohawk haircut or the Liberty Spikes hairstyle.
The man bun undershave as a new hipster trend
In retrospect, we owe a lot to hipsters; from nerd-like glasses to skinny jeans to the slicked back undercut, hipsters have deservedly taken over the fashion world for urban dudes. Of course, the man bun was made popular (in part) thanks to hipsters, and they have also popularized the different spin-off styles of the man bun, including the undershave. Indeed, back in 2012, the slicked back undercut hairstyle was all the rage among hipsters and then, in 2013, they started shaving the sides and backs of their heads to sport the not-so-popular slicked back undershave hairstyle.
As per the slicked back undershave, the same spin-off trend occurred with the man bun in that dudes were getting undercut haircuts for their man bun and then, once they were bored out of their buzzed undercut hair, they proceeded to shave their undercuts so as to add an edgy trait to their man buns.
The man bun undershave is a new emerging hairstyle that is becoming more and more popular in hipster-friendly cities like Brooklyn and San Francisco. American dudes in the age range between 16 and 35 years of age are shaving their man bun undercuts and top knots so as to sport freshly-shaven sides of the head (also known as “white walls” in barbershop jargon).
In essence, we’ve gone from regarding shaved heads as part of those hooligan-like urban tribes to now regarding a partly-shaved head as a trendy and hip style. Then again, no one thought back in the early 2000s that something as trivial as a bun on the head (i.e. the man bun hairstyle) would become wildly popular worldwide. Not even those of us barbers with long hair back then would have ever thought of a regular “hair-bun” becoming the most popular hairstyle in the 2010s together with the slicked back undercut of Jimmy Darmody!
How to get a man bun undershave hairstyle
I’ve covered the man bun undercut in this site and I’ve gone as far as to detail how you can use the slicked back undercut to transition to a man bun; as a barber, I’d say that the manbun undercut is among the top-3 men’s hairstyles in the United States. I’m not joking. Ergo, the man bun undershave is done exactly the same as a man bun undercut, only that the hair that is buzzed as an undercut (in the man-bun undercut) is to be shaved with a razor instead of buzzed with a hair clipper.
You see, while buzzing your own undercut with a hair clipper is a lot of fun, shaving your own undershave with a razor is even more fun; just ask the guy below after we gave him a man bun undershave.
Now, shaving your scalp (i.e. the skin of the head) differs from shaving your facial hair. For starters, your visibility is reduced when shaving your head, which poses a problem and a hazard if you want to shave your own undershave and you don’t have an extra hand-mirror to use aside from a main mirror. Likewise, while the skin on the scalp is thicker than the skin on your face, the skin on your scalp is not used to being shaved and thus irritation can become an issue if your shaving is erratic. All in all, getting a man bun undershave or any other type of undershave hairstyle requires some more finesse than that needed to simply shave your face.
Use new and sharp blades
I cannot stress this enough: use new blades to shave your undershave! Using old or chipped blades is already bad enough for your face but it will wreck havoc on your scalp.
The hair density on your scalp is much higher than the hair density on your face, which means that you must use a sharp blade to shave the sides and back of your head.
Use plenty of shaving cream
When it comes to using shaving cream, your scalp is no different to your facial skin. Coat the sides and back of your head with shaving cream and leave the shaving cream on for two minutes before proceeding to shave the hair. Prior to coating the to-be-shaved scalp with shaving cream, simply wet the area with warm water so as to open up the pores and prepare the skin.
By all means, you can use shaving gel or shaving soap instead of shaving cream for the undershave. Just pick your preferred shaving product and get shaving.
Only shave hair that is no longer than 1/4 of an inch long
It’s very important to be aware of the fact that hair in itself can create a strong-enough barrier against your shaving efforts. Thus, it’s imperative that you shave the hair on the sides and back of your head when it’s shorter than 1/4 of an inch. One-fourth of an inch is equivalent to a number-two hair clipper length; that’s how short the hair must be if you want to shave it!
Regardless of whether you want to keep your man bun in an undershave or an undercut, I strongly recommend that you own a hair clipper. Both the undershave and the undercut haircut are extremely easy haircuts to do on your own, which means that you will not have to visit a barbershop (and thus spend money) to simply re-touch and lightly trim your man bun undershave.
Have a look at my hair product guide for the man bun and get one of the two hair clippers that I recommend; they are not cheap but they’re by far the best hair clippers that you could get and either of them will last you many, may years. Likewise, both hair clippers that I recommend come with a wide range of hair clipper lengths so that you can give yourself an undercut or an undershave for your man bun at any given time.
Shave with the grain
When shaving your own hair (be it facial hair or scalp hair), you can either shave in the direction of the hair’s growth (i.e. shaving “with the grain”) or you can shave in the opposite direction of the hair’s growth (i.e. shaving “against the grain”). While shaving facial hair against the grain is easy and not bothersome, the opposite can be said when shaving scalp hair against the grain.
Shaving against the grain is usually done when your razor is crap or when it’s not sharp enough. Furthermore, shaving against the grain can furiously irritate your scalp; thus, owning a very-sharp razor is of the utmost priority when getting an undershave. By using a very-sharp blade in your razor, you will smoothly shave all the scalp hair without having to repeatedly pass the razor over the skin; the more you pass a razor over your scalp or your facial skin, the higher the chance of getting some extremely-annoying irritation and redness. So pay a little bit more and get a high-quality razor with very-sharp blades.
If you still insist on shaving against the grain once you’ve shaved your undershave, then cover the sides and back of your head with shaving cream again and let it sit for a minute prior to shaving against the grain. The reason for this is that the shaving cream will create a layer of lubrication on your scalp that will prevent any irritation from shaving against the grain. However, if you’ve picked a good razor, there won’t be any need to shave against the grain; trust me on that.
Use a safety razor
Shaving the back of your head is a bit tricky so straight razors are out of the equation. Simply use a safety razor for your undershave, otherwise you will be risking a bad cut on your scalp. I’m a huge fan of straight razors as a barber and we use straight razors to shave our clients facial hair and scalp, but, if you’re giving yourself an undershave, it’s much better to play it safe and use a safety razor.
The picture above is of a typical safety razor. You can either get a safety razor that comes with a replaceable cartridge (i.e. where the blade is) or you can get a disposable safety razor with which the whole razor is thrown away when the blade becomes dull. By far, the sharpest blades are found in cartridge-based safety razors, so try to use this type of safety razor for your undershave if possible.
In case that you don’t know what a straight razor looks like, here’s a picture of one:
Avoid an alcohol-based aftershave
Your chances of midly irritating your scalp during the first few times that you shave an undershave are high, so use a high-quality aftershave that has no alcohol. If an alcohol-free aftershave is too expensive for you, then at least use an after-shave that isn’t just an alcohol solution with a couple of extra chemicals to add some fragrance. Since you will also be using this aftershave when shaving your facial hair, you can justify spending a couple of bucks more on a decent aftershave.
Do not shave daily
Unlike your facial hair, scalp hair does best when shaved every other day or once a week. You can in fact go two or three weeks without shaving you sides and back, and you will still look like you have an undershave hairstyle. Men’s hair grows about half an inch per month, so, after two or three weeks without shaving, you will have grown enough hair to warrant a new shaving session.
After two weeks, you can expect your under-shaved hair to look as long as this, provided that you used a good razor to shave the hair:
Tie your long hair in a man bun when shaving
I just have to emphasize this: make sure that your long hair is tied into a manbun when shaving the sides and back of your head! It’s extremely easy to shave off some of your long hair when shaving the sides and back; I can’t remember how many times I’ve sacrificed some length of my mane back when I used to get the undershave and I would not tie my long mane.
Tying your long hair into a man bun will also make the disconnected haircut line (i.e. the perimeter of the hair on the top of the head) more visible, which will aid in correctly shaving the sides and back of your head. I actually recommend that you tie your bun tightly as you get ready to shave your undershave; despite the ritual of tying a man bun tight putting all men at risk of traction alopecia, this is the only instance (i.e. prepping the undershave) in which I recommend the tying of the man bun to be tight.
Conclusion to our man bun undershave guide
Sure, the man bun undershave may not be as popular as the man bun undercut, but it will surely add a different edge to your man bun. Shaving your head, even if it’s just the sides and back, is a lot of fun and you will quickly learn to shave your head in mere minutes as you polish your manbun undershave hairstyle.
Just make sure that you use a good sunscreen lotion to protect the under-shaved skin during the summer months and you’re ready to rock your shaved bro bun!
Guide last update: 1st September 2015