Styling the High and Tight

Victor Macias is the Co-Founder of, a site devoted to such pressing issues as “Are you using the right razor?” and “What’s an exfoliator?” We know a kindred spirit when we see one—plus we were impressed by his August Birchbox Man Haul. We tapped Macias for his grooming knowledge, starting with some hair inspiration.

Also known as a “military cut” or “flattop,” the high and tight made its debut on male military members in the late 1980s. Though the style's specific origins are unknown, it's thought to be an evolved form of the mohawk. Needless to say, it's remains popular among both military members and civilians.


The first popular high and tight haircuts were known as “flattop” cuts. For this, the hair is cut very close under the crown and then grown a few inches above the head. It is cut off very flat at the top, hence the name. From that basic style, there are three main variations: the fade, horseshoe, and the recon. The fade cut leaves a good amount of hair near the crown of the head, but is then cut very close to the scalp further down. The horseshoe cut is the most extreme high and tight cut. This cut leaves a small section of short buzzed hair about an inch or two above the crown resembling a mohawk. The recon cut is similar to the horseshoe, which the majority of hair being a small section cut a few inches above the crown. However, unlike the horseshoe, there is also an inch or two of hair under the small section buzzed very close to the head.

Is This Cut for You?

Since the high and tight cut is a bit drastic, there are a few things you should consider before taking the plunge. First: your face shape. Short cuts accentuate many face shapes, but high and tight cuts look best on those with round and oval shaped faces. The style also works well for oblong face shapes because they create the illusion of a shorter face. You should also consider your hairline and height. Wearing your hair forward with a receding hairline is obviously a bad idea, so if you're balding you might want to look elsewhere for inspiration. Finally, growing your hair above your head will give the illusion of more height, so this is definitely something to consider.

How to Style

This style is very easy to maintain. Beyond your daily shampoo and conditioner, all you need is a light, flexible cream like Oribe's Crème for Style to keep any strays in place.

Victor Macias

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