The 25 Most Popular Black Male Hairstyles of All-Time, Ranked From Worst To First


It's been almost 20 years since Allen Iverson inspired me to go from the low close fade to the straight ceasar. I haven't looked back since, staying faithful to the ceasar while witnessing the death of the bald fade, the emergence of the frohawk, the rebirth of both the bald fade and the high top fade (the "box"), and whatever the hell Kanye was doing in 2012. And those are just a few of the styles from the last two decades. If you go back even further, you'll find jeri curls and afros. Even further, and conks and civil rights' cuts — the not quite fade/not quite ceasar/not quite curl/not quite coarse with the not quite defined hairline — will show their processed faces.


But, which one out of these dozens of different hairstyles for Black men is/was the best? (And the worst?) Let's find out.

25. The Conk

Perhaps the worst thing that ever happened to Black people, and that includes slavery and Big Sean.

24. The Jeri Curl

Although the Jeri Curl rates as the second worst, I think it's kinda underrated just because of its utility. It remains the only hairstyle that can also be used as a weapon.

23. The Kanye Shag

kanye shag

Fuck no.

22. Plats

"Those plats are sexy as hell." — said by no one, ever.

21. The Pompadour

Not even Morris Day could save this.

20. The Mohawk

Only effectively pulled off by Mr. T and other men too scary looking for people to tell them they look stupid.


19. The Lightskint


The hard-to-describe hair style only rocked by light-skinned Black men, The Lightskint is basically them just not doing a damn thing to their hair — no shape up, no trim, no nothing — but being lightskinned. (Also known as "The Russell Wilson before he started dating Ciara.")

18. The Mini Locs

Apparently, men with perpetual mini locs are derided in the dreadlock community. Because, according to VSB's Shay-d-Lady, you can't trust a man whose locs won't grow


17. The George Jefferson

george jefferson

Also known as the "Dad, PLEASE let me take you to the barbershop."

16. The Civil Rights' Cut

No one has ever explained why in every picture taken between 1959 and 1965 of Black men marching, they all have the exact same haircut.


15. The Blowout

Also known as the "Indecisive."

14. The Gumby

bobby brown

Gets points just for sheer difficulty. There have only been like 17 successful Gumbys in the history of Black male hair.

13. Twists

Whenever I think of this, I think of Isaiah Washington's character in Love Jones. Which usually makes me the only person on Earth at that moment thinking of Isaiah Washington's character in Love Jones.


12. The Frohawk

I can already picture the relatively high placement of the frohawk inspiring people to leave angry comments I won't read until Thursday.


11. The High-Top Fade (aka "The Box")


Although not the best, is perhaps my favorite haircut, just because of how difficult it is to grow and maintain a perfectly square hair box on the top of your head.

10. The Twist Fro

After being very popular in the late 90s and early aughts (both Shawn and Marlon Wayans always seemed to have them) seems to have quietly faded into obscurity. (Which oddly mirrors the careers of Shawn and Marlon Wayans.)


9. The Mini Fro

If done right, the mini fro looks kinda hot. If not, it looks like a sponge drenched with root beer. Fortunately, it's done right more often than not


8. Cornrows

Look, love them or hate them, cornrows are what they are. They are the only hairstyle that's completely self-aware. Everyone who currently still has cornrows is a person who still should have cornrows.


7. The Close Fade (aka "The Blend")

close fade

Although other hairstyles are more difficult to maintain, a blend requires the most trust from your barber. Only expert barbers can pull this off, and only experienced ones should even try. A good blend can take you from a 6.5 to a 7.5. A bad blend makes you assume the barber was hungover.

6. The Rakim


Only rates this high because I had a Rakim in 5th grade. (And I was fresh to death!!!)

5. Dreadlocks

When did women loving men with dreadlocks become a thing? It wasn't a thing in the 90s — at least, it didn't seem to be a thing — so when did this start, and who started it?


4. The Bald Fade

stringer bell

Few things have surprised me more than the bald fade's sudden return from retirement. No haircut teeters the line between professional and intimidating like it does, which is probably why Stringer Bell had one for so long.

3. The Bald Head

Works like a motherfucker if you have the head for it. And, if you don't have the head for it — basically, if you're someone like me — it can make you look like any and every thing from a cage-free egg to a baggy condom.


2. The Afro

Is the shit. And would win if not for…

1. The Ceasar


The one haircut that has never — and will never — go out of style. There were Black men with ceasars in the 40s, the 70s, the 90s, and now. Every other cut cycles. The ceasar is forever.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


And yet, there are hairstyles that just qualify as "Other"…