What do all brilliant haircuts for men have in common? An expertly trimmed contour! And there’s no better way to make sure your hairstyle is on point than with a shape up haircut.
But what is a shape up haircut, you may ask? In our extensive guide, we will not only explain what it is but also how to do a shape up haircut.
In between, we’ll also show you all the different types of shape ups haircuts you can try out for a fresh appearance.
Without further ado, discover the coolest shape up haircut you can try out today, all below!
What Is a Shape Up Haircut?
Even if you don’t know what a shape up is, you’ve definitely seen it before.
In essence, a shape up haircut consists in lining up the hairline, including the temples and sideburns. The barber uses liner clippers and/or a straight-edge razor to create a clean boxy outline around the forehead.
For this reason, the shape up is also referred to as an edge up or line up haircut. A shape up can be incorporated into numerous other haircuts, as a key element.
The shape up is a traditionally black hairstyle that rose to popularity in the 1980s. After that, it continued to develop alongside hip hop culture throughout the following decades.
Therefore, it often comes in various combinations depending on how you want the rest of the hair to look. Today, men from all around the world add shape ups to their hairstyle to obtain a clean-cut finish.
Rapper Big Daddy Kane photographed by Al Pereira while getting a shape up in 1989. Source
1. 90 Degree Shape Up Haircut
First off, we’ll present specific angle options for shape up haircuts. The classic choice is a 90-degree angle, with the shape up in the form of a rectangle. If you want your line up to be razor-sharp, it’s undoubtedly the best approach to go for.
2. Front Slanted Line Up Haircut
On the other hand, a slanted line can help you obtain a more dynamic look. If the shape up leans forward, it can create the illusion of a smaller forehead or lower hairline. In addition, slanted line ups complement men with beards.
3. Sharp and Curved Shape Up Haircut
Alternatively, you can mix multiple approaches for the silhouette of your shape up. For instance, start with a sharp angle halfway down the temples. After that, from the center point, curve the line inwards in a half-circle manner. The combination results in a sleek edge up with an unmistakable barbershop touch.
4. Rounded Corner Shape Up Haircut
Some men don’t want their line up to be super sharp all around. In this case, you can ask your barber to round off the corners to soften the look. After getting the main boxy contour in place, adjust the corners accordingly. We recommend the technique for guys who want to keep their hair longer in the shape up area.
5. Inward Edge Up Haircut
Similar to the slanted line, men can also look into edges that lean inward in addition to forward. By curving the tip of the line towards the interior, the overall width of the forehead will seem to be reduced. Furthermore, it works best when paired with an extra curved line down the sideburns.
6. Curved Hairline Shape Up Haircut
Aside from line up angles, there are also two main approaches for shaping the upper hairline. First of all, you can opt for a curved hairline that follows the crown of your head. Although very much recognizable, a curved hairline will lower the dramatic effect of a shape up haircut.
7. Straight Hairline Edge Up Haircut
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the shape up with a straight, blunt hairline. The alternative is ideal for guys who really want to get a boxy shape for their line up. Even though it’s on the showy side, it makes the haircut look even cleaner.
8. Receding Hairline Shape Up Haircut
When it comes to finding effective hairstyles for men with receding hairlines, the struggle is real. However, the process becomes easy with a shape up executed by a pro barber. You can mask the key balding areas by creating acute angles at each temple. As a result, the receding hairline won’t be as visible as before.
9. Shape Up and Shaped Beard
If you’ve put the time and effort into getting a killer beard, it goes without saying that you should do the same for your haircut. Oftentimes, men with beards prefer connecting their shape up to their beard through their sideburns. In this context, the edges should have a continuous line that curves with the natural shape of the beard.
10. Soft Shape Up Haircut
You don’t need a sharp shape up to look your very best. In fact, many guys with textured hair look far better with a softer hairline. To get the effect, leave the hair around your temples a little bit longer than with a regular shape up. Also, don’t push too far into the lines for a natural touch.
11. Shape Up Haircut with Waves
Men who want to keep their afro-textured locks neatly cropped should definitely look into deep waves. Not only do they look incredible but they also bring out the best in a shape up. For a waves hairstyle, we recommend the sharp and curved line combination.
12. Undercut Shape Up
If you have an undercut or are planning on getting one, a line up is just what you need. No matter what type of hair you have, a set of sharp edges has the magic of pulling the haircut together. You can add a shape up to the mix regardless if you have a disconnected or faded undercut.
13. Two-Layers Undercut with Line Up
On that note, a shape up works incredibly well with a two-layer undercut. If you want your undercut to feature two distinct layers, each with a separate length, line up the edges. Stop the shape up exactly at the transition from one layer to the other. To accentuate the contrast, shave a line along the middle, like in the photo below.
14. Afro Shape Up Haircut
There are plenty of ways you can rock afro hairstyles for men. While some guys like funky fresh retro afros, others want a tighter, more modern approach. To get the best of both worlds, try a medium afro shape up haircut. You can retain a good few inches of textured curls while cleaning up the hairline. A subtle fade around the ears will complete the look perfectly.
15. Cropped Shape Up Haircut
In contrast, you can opt for a short and easygoing haircut that won’t need as much daily maintenance. To keep matters simple in between touch up appointments, ask your barber to follow the shape of your natural hairline as much as they can. The shorter the top, the less you’ll have to deal with combing and styling.
16. Temp Fade Haircut
What happens when you combine a line up with a taper fade? You get the temp fade haircut. Essentially, a temp fade or box fade is a shape up haircut that fades towards the edges. If your main hairstyle will have some sort of fade, an added temp fade is the detail you have been looking for.
17. Bald Fade Shape Up Haircut
Speaking of fades, there is a huge variety you can choose from to top off your shape up. For starters, you can go all out with a line up bald fade. The fade transitions from the hair on the top all the way to a shaved scalp, which is why the haircut is also known as a skin fade. If you don’t want to show that much skin, you can also see how a bald fade would look with a beard.
18. Burst Fade Shape Up Haircut
Another type of fade you can try with a shape up is the burst fade. Typically paired with a cropped mohawk, the burst fade outlines the sides of the head in a half circle fashion. All in all, the hair starts longer and tapers down to a low or skin fade around the ears. In the end, the fade seems to burst out from behind the ear, hence the name of the haircut.
19. High Top Fade Line Up Haircut
Shape ups and high top fades go hand in hand as few other haircuts do. In 9 out of 10 situations, a high top fade will always be accompanied by a skillful line-up. Unless you have a fully shaven undercut below your high top, the edges need to be tidied up for the hairstyle to work.
20. Low Fade Edge Up Haircut
Are you more of a low key kind of guy? In your case, a shape up with a low fade haircut may be the most suitable choice. Here, the fade will start exactly where the line up ends. Therefore, you’ll have a good amount of contrast in your hairstyle. To balance the gradient, add a curved line below the main sharp angle.
21. Drop Fade Shape Up Haircut
If you’re looking for an even subtler alternative, try a low drop fade. In this case, only the sideburns and the hair on the back of the neck will be faded out. Furthermore, you can even soften the corners of the shape up for well-rounded results.
22. Dreadlocks Line Up Haircut
No matter how long, short, tight or loose, dreadlocks will always look awesome. All the same, you might want to add a sharp touch to your main dreads hairstyle. To do so, you can section off between a fourth and half-inch of hair around your forehead for a shape up. It won’t be the primary focus of your hairstyle but rather a simple yet effective detail.
23. Dread Twists Shape Up Haircut
Likewise, a line up can flatter a hairstyle with short twisted dreadlocks. Considering that most short dread twist hairstyles come with a taper fade, a well-shaped hairline will effortlessly fall into place. If some of the dread twists fall over your forehead, think about creating a wider shape up so it can be noticeable at all times.
24. Braids Edge Up Haircut
If your plan is to protect your long natural locks, you should try some type of braids for men. Cornrows, for example, often look appealing in combination with a shape up haircut. As with dreadlocks, you need to reserve a small section of hair around the forehead to create the line-up.
25. Long Hair and Shape Up Haircut
Whether braided or left down, long hair can also benefit from a good edge up. If you have long dreads, twists, or braids, apply the sectioning method we previously described. You can also emphasize the shape up by pulling your hair back into a ponytail, bun, or half up half down hairstyle.
26. Hard Part Line Up Haircut
Nothing exudes class, confidence, and grooming smarts quite like a hard part haircut. It’s basically a side part hairstyle that has the part shaven into the hair. When coupled with a shape up, the hard part can continue from the corner where the upper hairline meets the hair around the temples.
27. Half Moon Part Shape Up Haircut
Another cool part style that goes well with a line up is the half-moon. Popularized by rapper Nas in the 90s, the crescent moon part can be placed anywhere along the hairline. From it’s starting point, it branches out into a curved line that usually measures between one and two inches.
28. Shaved Design Edge Up Haircut
A regular hard part is just the beginning when it comes to details for customizing your shape up. You can take your haircut to a completely new level with an intricate shaved design. Some guys even go so far as to create complex hair tattoo designs with their barbers. The possibilities are endless, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different shapes and angles.
29. Disconnected Afro Shape Up Haircut
Would you rather have your afro reserved for a certain area? For instance, if you want a shorter afro only on the crown of your head, you can separate it from the rest of your hairstyle with a shape up. The sharp hairline created by the edge up haircut will enrichen your hairstyle with definition and contrast.
30. Comb Over Line Up Haircut
With a comb over hairstyle, nailing the dapper look is just one step away. To tidy up the hairline without overdoing it, go for a subtle shape up. The side part in your comb over should begin where the horizontal and vertical lines meet on your forehead.
31. Military Inspired Edge Up Haircut
You don’t have to be an army man to pull off a military haircut like one. For guys who value efficiency, a buzz cut or induction cut will help them save time they would have otherwise spent styling their hair every day. If you outline the edges well, the haircut will be even more imposing.
32. Frohawk Shape Up Haircut
From the 80s to the present day, the frohawk has maintained its relevance in the natural hair community. If you plan to sculpt your afro into a frohawk, you can use a shape up haircut for highlighting the shaved sides. Even if the frohawk covers your forehead, your edges will stand out.
33. Caesar Cut Line Up Haircut
Most modern Caesar cuts come complete with a sleek line up or temp fade. Even if the front is slightly longer, the edges should be trimmed into neat lines. Moreover, the same principle applies to French crop hairstyles or any other haircuts with notably short bangs.
34. Asymmetrical Shape Up Haircut
With a haircut like the one pictured above, you’re bound to make an unforgettable impression on any person you encounter. Unleash your creativity and dare to try an asymmetrical shape up haircut. For example, the one shown here has a clean line up, high fade, curved hard part, and sculpted two-layer afro.
35. Shape Up Haircut for Older Men
Part of the reasons you should love the shape up is that it flatters boys and men of any age. Whether a teen or a senior, it will provide an admirable clean-cut appearance. In the case of mature men, it’s been a barbershop staple for decades now!
36. Long Top Shape Up Haircut
It doesn’t matter how short or long the top portion of your hair is – a shape up will always boost the wow factor of your haircut. For a longer top, lining up the edges will separate the sections of your hair while keeping them in harmony.
37. Pompadour Shape Up Haircut
A polished modern pompadour deserves an equally impressive hairline. Even back in the 1940s, greasers would have their edges touched up to get a nice, boxy shape below their pomp. In the context of pompadours, we generally recommend a softer shape up.
38. Sponge Twists Edge Up Haircut
If you want ultra-accentuated curls, a hair sponge is just what you need. The accessory can help you obtain tight, defined, picture-perfect coils in general. When you top everything off with a shape up, you have one great-looking haircut indeed.
39. Top Knot Line Up Haircut
With the top knot on the rise among popular hairstyles for men, it’s good to know that it works with a shape up haircut. Similar to mixing a side or hard part with a line-up, the edge of the long top section starts where the two lines meet.
40. High and Tight Shape Up
Lastly, a fantastic low maintenance haircut you can combine with an edge up is the high and tight. The line up can be as subtle as you please, adding just the right amount of precision to your hairstyle.
How to Do a Shape Up Haircut
Before we briefly explain how to do a shape up haircut, we have a strong recommendation. Do not try to give yourself a shape up at home if you’re not a barber.
The shape up is one of the most precise haircuts out there. Consequently, without a barbershop background, the chances of nailing the precision are close to none.
If you haven’t worked with tight cuts, clippers, and straight razors before, leave it to your barber!
However, if you’re familiar with the craft, follow the steps below to get a shape up:
- Firstly, press down the clippers gently and pull away from the hairline. Do not push the clippers forward because you’ll be entering the hairline too much.
- Secondly, comb the hair forward and in different directions after each trim to clean up any loose strands.
- Step back and inspect the hairline both face-to-face and in the mirror after every step.
- Repeat the process until the angles are as sharp and clean as possible.
Pro tip: Start by going over the entire hairline to create the base shape. After that, go and touch up specific areas to make them sharper.
Don’t try to get the perfect outline from the beginning because you risk pushing the hairline too far up.
If you’re a visual learner in general, we suggest watching a video tutorial depicting the process before you get started.
To conclude, we’re sure that all the different types of shape ups haircuts we’ve presented have inspired you. You’ve learned the basics of how to do a shape up haircut and you’re one step closer to getting the clean hairstyle you’ve always wanted!
All in all, whatever silhouette you choose, always remember that confidence is the key to pulling it off like a pro! And don’t forget to tell us which one of these is your favorite.
Recommended: If you’re looking for more afro-textured cuts, we also encourage you to look through our list of hairstyles for black men.