Quiff haircuts are a go-to style for men of all hair types and textures due to their versatility. Characterized by longer length up top and a seamlessly blended back and sides, the quiff offers a very natural looking amount of volume to a wide variety of style types. Once upon a time, this look was most popular on stars like James Dean and Elvis Presley who wore their quiffs in a shapely pompadour. Today, you'll see quiffs walking down the red carpet as well as down your own block, in variations that range from clean-cut to messy, preppy to punk.
We tapped celebrity hairstylist and men's groomer Kat Thompson for her expert input on the ever-evolving men's quiff. Keep reading for 20 of our favorite modern takes on the quiff.
Meet the Expert
- Kat Thompson is a celebrity hairstylist and men's groomer based in Los Angeles.
The Long Quiff
With some extra long, almost mullet-style length, Zayn Malik's quiff is reminiscent of James Dean but with a softer, modern approach. To get thicker hair to stay in place:
- Use a round brush to blow dry hair in the desired direction.
- Alternate drying directions on the longest hair upfront to help eliminate any strong partings and give it extra volume.
- Once dry, rub a wax-based pomade between your hands and run through the hair as you want it to lay.
- Run your pomade-covered fingertips over some of the heavier strands that want to fall forward. This will help the style hold its shape and keep your look clean and intentional.
Lots of Volume
"What makes the quiff haircut stand out," says Thompson, "is the volume the hair holds up on the top, typically with shorter hair on the sides and back." No amount of volume or distinction in length can make the hairstyle any more or less "quiff," as Thompson points out, saying, "there are plenty of versions of this hairstyle you can do while still achieving that 'quiff' look."
If you have natural volume and movement in your hair, it can definitely work to your advantage in achieving a quiff hairstyle. "Miguel has perfected this look by either straightening out his curls or leaving it natural," says Thompson. Keeping your sides tighter in contrast to your natural movement up top will help give it that quiff distinction.
Consider Your Hairline
The quiff is a great style option for anyone with a receding hairline. To keep the hair looking full and voluminous all around:
- Ask your barber or stylist to keep a little length on the sides and back, not going too short or too close to the scalp.
- Use your round brush and blow dryer to direct the hair back at those recession points and avoid any natural splitting or parting the hair may want to fall into.
Heat protection can be especially important when blowdrying a quiff into shape on bleached hair.
- Spray hair with a weightless heat protectant, like Living Proof's Restore Heat Protectant Spray ($29), to give damaged hair a smooth finish and natural shine.
- Blow-dry the hair straight up with a round brush, making sure to use the brush on both sides of your section to help smooth down the static that's created when applying heat.
- Finish by applying a small pinch of Oribe's Rough Luxury Molding Wax ($39) into your shape for a matte finish hold that will keep brittle hair moisturized and soft to the touch, while still adding a little bit of that rough texture to desired areas (as we see here on Zac Efron's sides).
The quiff varies in its amount of maintenance, based on your natural texture and how you choose to style it. Shorter sides may need more tending to, but according to Thompson, "to keep your haircut looking well-manicured, I’d recommend getting your hair cut every four weeks."
We love to see Charles Melton wearing his natural waves in a quiff-ed back style. To get a similar look on wavy hair types:
- Start by washing the hair with a moisturizing or hydrating shampoo and conditioner, like Oribe's Shampoo and Conditioner for Moisture ($95).
- Finger comb a curl cream into wet or dry hair.
- Air-dry the hair or blow-dry with a diffuser attachment.
- Use your curl cream as needed to help de-frizz or define any tendrils that need a little extra hold once fully dry.
Ode to the King
Considering his upcoming role as Elvis Presley, it is no surprise to see Austin Butler opted for a darker hair tone and a quiff style to emulate the King.
A Perfect Blend
"When asking for a quiff haircut, tell your stylist or barber you would like the top to be left significantly longer than the sides and the back," Thompson advises. "To keep it classic, ask for a low fade." And as always, present your stylist with photos whenever possible. "We all have different versions of the same vision," says Thompson, "and photos will make it easier for your stylist to achieve the look you want."
If your hair is naturally very curly, consider opting for something like this pompadour-styled look on Bruno Mars:
- Keep the sides short and tight, focusing your styling efforts on the top length.
- Use a 1/2" round brush and your blow dryer on high heat to straighten and smooth out the hair in very small sections.
- Use a small flat iron—like Bed Head's Pixie 1/2" Straightener ($26)—or pressing comb to go over those same small sections that were blow-dried, eliminating any excessively poufy volume by carefully getting as close to the roots as possible. Be sure to gently curve your iron back away from the face as you go over each section to avoid stick-straight hair or ends.
- Finish with hair spray.
The Textured Quiff
If you want to keep most of your natural texture intact while still adding more structure and a cleaner shape:
- Dampen the hair with a couple of sprays of water.
- Blow-dry only the front, face-framing sections on the top and sides to smooth things out and give noticeable direction for the style's shape.
- Use a defining styling cream (for thicker hair) or pomade (for thinner hair) to direct all hair back and blend the different textures together.
If you have a stubborn parting in your hair that you'd like to hide for an all-back, volume-focused quiff like this look on Nick Jonas, try using a hair shadow powder where the hair naturally wants to split. Gentle application near the roots will help fill in at the scalp and give the illusion of fuller hair with no obvious partings in sight.
The Messy Quiff
Second-day hair on an already styled quiff can work well for both short and long lengths. As seen here on Robert Pattinson, you can ditch your pomades in the days that follow and instead opt for a dry texturizing spray that will help give it that grit and movement, while absorbing some of that second- or third-day oil from the scalp and keeping the hair lifted.
This classic quiff is clearly an enhancement of Elvis Presley's signature pompadour. Benicio Del Toro has worn many iterations of the quiff, but seeing this redone classic for a red carpet event is very fitting.
The Scruffy Quiff
To fill out a quiff-styled cut on thinning hair types:
- Prep damp hair with a grooming spray to help give it more hold as you build shape into the hair with your dryer.
- Use the heat of your blowdryer to manipulate any stubborn cowlicks and use your fingers to lift the hair at the roots up top, away from the scalp.
- Rub a small pinch of medium hold pomade, like Paul Mitchell's Mitch Clean Cut Medium Hold/Semi-Matte Styling Cream for Men ($17), between your fingers and comb through the hair up top to give it the desired structure and separation.
- Optional: A little facial scruff never hurts to fill out the look.
The Curly Quiff
As with any new hairstyle, "styling the quiff might feel a little intimidating at first," Thompson warns, "but once you find the products that work best for your hair type and figure out how to use a blow dryer if needed, it will become a much lower maintenance style than you’d think."
Short and Soft
Thicker, shorter hair types may not need to use as much product as others, but styling will be required nonetheless:
- Use a 1" thermal round brush, like Olivia Garden's NanoThermic Ceramic + Ion Round ($20), as it will allow for a full range of motion in shorter hair. It will keep the hair smooth and distribute heat quickly. You'll only need to blow-dry the hair up top near the crown and curvature of the head.
- Finish with a soft hold hairspray to give your style extra protection and hold.
Range of Versatility
"This hairstyle can be incredibly versatile for different hair lengths and textures," says Thompson. "Depending on your hair's texture, it may require using a blow dryer and round brush to either smooth out wavy hair or to add wave and height to straight hair." We love how Will.I.Am played off his side-parted quiff with a similar shape in his goatee.
The Controlled Quiff
You don't need a lot of length to get a quiff look, as Ryan Reynolds proves. Here are some styling tips for those with shorter hair who want to emulate the look:
- Ask your barber or stylist for a close fade. "A close fade will create the illusion that the top is longer and buy you some time while you’re growing out your hair," says Thompson.
- Use a pomade to help keep the hair down on both sides and to guide the hair up in the front.
If you still need a little lift in the front, use your blow dryer on a low flow setting to help guide the top length up and away from the face, using your fingers to lift the hair at the root.
While a quiff can be pretty low maintenance when it comes to styling, it still boils down to which type of quiff cut you opt for and how frequently you need to get things trimmed up. "If you are keeping a low fade," Thompson says, "you may need a trim as often as every two weeks." Of course, tighter sides mean less hair to style. So it's all about weighing which part of the process you'd rather keep up with.