What It’s Like To Have An Undercut

headshot copyThis article originally appeared on afashionfriend.co.za when I worked as their Beauty Editor, and has been modified since.

Let’s backtrack a bit; it feels like 2010 again as we’re seeing girls rocking the undercut once more. While this shave isn’t something we’re seeing on the catwalk (only because models book other jobs too), the interwebs and quite a few local babes still isn’t quite over this ‘do. And while mine is now grown out for quite a few years, I’m not quite over it either. This is my undercut story; from the first shave, to owning it, major mistakes and the process of growing it out.

Braver Than The Razor
If you’ve never done this before (and especially if your hair is long) it’s exciting and scary as hell.
When I first shaved almost half of my head five years ago, I was so nervous and afraid of the shaving machine, I told the hairdresser to use scissors and manually cut it to a “number 5” length. Once it was done, I felt like the coolest, edgiest mega babe on the planet. Except, no one noticed my haircut! The shorter side still completely covered my scalp, so it just looked like I’d slicked one side of my hair back with gel. My hair grows so quickly that pretty soon it REALLY did look that way. I finally braved the razor, and trimmed it down to a “number 4″ nozzle length. You could see my scalp, and finally the full effect was achieved and by that time I was used to the look and loved it. However, like the last time, my hair grew out really quickly and I started shaving it down to length number #2 on the machine’s nozzle number. I had finally found my perfect length and loved my cut and the way it made everything I wore look so interesting and edgy, like the 22 year old that I was. I felt like it summed up the two sides to my personality and it made me really happy.

Settled Into The Snip

One week, I was booked on two shoots to be in both Cosmo and Glamour. I wanted my cut to be fresh, and only planned on shaving it on the morning of the first shoot. By this time, I was doing it myself almost weekly using my brother’s machine. To my horror, the morning of the shoot with Cosmo, I forgot to attach the nozzle onto the shaver, and went full-force into the area, cutting my hair down to about 1mm, maybe shorter. In a nutshell, half of my head was pretty much completely bald. The girly, dramatic me felt like crying because I thought I now looked more goth than stylish. But it was shoot morning and I was being featured in an article about my style and being a blogger, so I had no choice but to own it and pretend it was intentional.

However, eventually as before, I loved it, and “number 0” became my go-to length, shave after shave.

my undercut_0

My Experience With Growing It Out

In 2012 I got a job as a flight attendant abroad (read more about that here), and I knew I would have to say goodbye to my beloved chop. The application process took about three months, and I could just kind of tell it was my short-term destiny, so I began growing my hair out as soon as I sent the airline my CV. Two months later I went for the interview, and my hair had grown out just enough for me to part half of it over the shaven part and fake a chic side-part chignon. Another month or so later, I was in Doha training to be cabin crew and camouflaging my shaven side.

Honestly, growing it out wasn’t too bad for me. Despite being forced, it wasn’t hard to make it work. I kept rocking the comb-over parting and pinning in any strays, until eventually I could tie it into my ponytail as I usually would. When my hair was loose, I would blow-dry it into a middle path. After about 6-8 months, I had my hair layered by a stylist and blended it all in, and officially, it was gone without a trace.

Photographer: Marnus Meyer

Should You Do It?

I would say yes to anyone wanting to try out this cut, if your work/school won’t be affected. I remember it as a really fun time in my life and my hair echoed the space my style was in. The only “con” that it had for me was that I couldn’t have a completely slicked-back up-style without it showing, but I always found alternative ways of styling it because my hair was long.

Having an undercut is not as dramatic as it looks, and it gives you the best of both worlds! As girly as I can be, I’ve seriously considered doing it again. Bare in mind this cut isn’t just for the ultra edgy babe who only wears black. On the contrary it looks pretty fresh when your outfit is all glammed up too.

Do you find yourself loving this look but too chicken to make the chop? Slick back one side of your hair for a faux snip, while adding tons of volume to the other side to create a similar sexy contrast. Try this trick out for a while and let it act as your training wheels before you take the plunge!

After writing this article and looking at all of these pictures, I’ve honestly just tempted myself to grab the shaving machine again, but realistically, I feel like it’s a time in my life I can look back at with a HUGE smile without actually needing to repeat it. You’ve got to know when it’s time to let something go you know? Rather leave on a high. So instead, these days, I’m having fun with ‘hair piercings’ and a single side cornrow instead when I’m in a more edgy style mood (see how it looks here).

What’s your most daring ‘do been like? Tweet me at @SAFashionBreed, I’d love to hear your story!


Photographs by Ashraf Majiet, Marnus Meyer and random others.


By sharing her personal style, fashion and beauty advice, written reflections and more, Fashion Breed is a place for women to learn, relate and connect.

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