The Faux Hawk Haircut: What It Is & The Best Fade Versions For 2023
A mohawk minus the shaved sides, you don’t have to be a punk to pull off a faux hawk.
More wearable than a punk-approved mohawk, the faux hawk haircut is traditionally styled with a shorter, more refined centre spike and subtle tapered sides.
Actually very high on the suitability scale for most men, this time-tested cut works with the majority of face shapes. It’s also a good choice for men dealing with thinning hair as it draws the focus away from the temples and towards the centre of the hairline where hair tends to be denser.
Eager to learn if the faux hawk should be your new short, back and sides adaptation? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a faux hawk?
What do David Beckham, Zayn Malik, Zac Efron and Elijah Wood have in common? They’ve all sported the faux hawk at some point in their hair history. A distant relative of the mohawk – the punk rock hairstyle that conjures up images of multicoloured spikes and shaved sides – the faux hawk is a demure, contemporary take on an otherwise ‘out there’ hairstyle.
“Although a great vibe about 25 years ago, fashion and trends have progressed and the mohawk has evolved into the faux hawk,” says Ricky Walters, owner of Salon64 and Toppik brand expert. “A tight skin fade on the back and sides, leaving the top chunky and heavier, it is cut a that sits squarer on top compared to its predecessor, giving it a far more modern edge.”
The faux hawk is super versatile as you can wear it long, short or textured on top (usually between an 1-5 inches in length). You can also style it in various ways, be it brushed back, parted, with or without a fringe, or pumped up with an airy volume to give the style some edge without being offensive.
Often accentuated with a low taper fade, or ‘faux hawk fade’ as it’s known, while the top section remains the same, it’s the sides where the differences become apparent. “The fade will create a lot more distinction between the top and sides of the haircut, giving a far sharper look as opposed to the softer finish of the traditional faux hawk. You can achieve this look by cutting from short to long as you reach the top of the head,” explains Jim Williams, also known as The Barber Envy.
Ricky agrees. “For best results I would take the back and sides super tight on a zero guard and keep the fade low – if you travel too high up the head with the clipper it can result in the head sometimes looking a little flat.
“I would then climb up the clipper guards in halves (0.5, 1, 1.5, 2. 2.5, etc.) and leave plenty of length on top. You could then soften the entire look by running scissors over the fade to create a more ‘lived in’ vibe.”
What kind of hair does a faux hawk suit?
The faux hawk can be a great disguise for thin (or even thinning) hair as the focus stays up top and the natural layering of the haircut will work to make your thatch look fuller.
Thick and wavy hair can also buy into the style as by keeping it longer on top you can work with your hair’s natural texture to create height and definition, while straight hair can enjoy a smoother brushed back finish or spiked ‘ducktail’ effect.
The only hair type that might struggle with a faux hawk are those with tight curls. “If you want to keep your curls and not have to blow-dry them, this one’s not for you,” advises Ricky.
What face shape does the faux hawk suit?
A really big benefit of the faux hawk is that it can be adapted to suit most face shapes. For example, oblong and triangular faces should go for a shorter crest and keep the sides fuller, while heart or round face shapes can afford to have a closer clippered or tapered shave on the sides and add more height and texture on top to elongate the face.
The only watch out is if you have a long or oval face shape as the top section, depending on the height, will elongate your features more so.
How to style a faux hawk
“My personal choice would be a sea salt spray blow dried into the hair to create texture then either a small amount of matte wax or volumising powder to finish,” says Jim.
Pastes, waxes and pomades also work to give a flexibility to the hair, without it looking too set or spiky. And if you have curly or textured hair, a mousse will give your hawk extra hold if you’re concerned with it flopping about.
The key is to get hands on and use your fingers to style and create definition through the top. As a friendly warning though – the longer your hair is, the more effort and product you’ll need to keep your style in place. But for extra reassurance, you could use a blast of medium-strong hold hairspray to ensure your hard work pays off.
16 modern faux hawk/fohawk haircuts for men
Textured faux hawk
Emulating the squarer shape of the faux hawk rather than a peaked and spiky mohawk, the longer length on top is mussed up using wax or paste to give it structure without appearing uniform while the sharp part line and gradual skin fade keep it looking smart and suave.
Ducktail faux hawk fade
Shorter on top then brushed forward into a ducktail quiff at the hairline, this is a great entry point into faux hawk hairstyles.
Keeping the hair super short on the back and sides, the fade is clippered to zero round the neckline to accentuate the length on top.
Faux hawk fade with curved line design
Creating volume from the crown this faux hawk has been blow dried forward using fingers and a strong hold pomade to create texture and definition without the length flopping or falling flat.
Using a curved line design to separate the hair on top with the skin fade at the back and sides, it’s a striking effect that gives the look a crisp, contemporary finish.
The closest you can get to the traditional mohawk, this textured fohawk will instantly create an impact.
Rather than shaving high up the sides, the hair is kept neat with a subtle low taper fade ensuring all the focus stays on the beachy, mussed up quiff.
Salt sprays and wax will help keep the hair in place while adding to the ‘just woke up like this’ essence.
Thick faux hawk
Keeping the fade high at the temples, all focus here is directed to the hair on top. With thick hair like this you want to keep the length shorter as it’s not only easier to style but also won’t flop under the weight.
Rub a matte paste or clay into your fingers and work into shape, creating definition and texture as you go. Finish with a blast of hairspray to secure the style.
Step cut faux hawk
With no parting line and all focus falling to the top half of the head, the hair is step cut around the temples then falls into a clean shaven finish with no graduation or fade.
Higher maintenance than some of the other options, it’s a smart style that especially suits dark, thick hair.
Fohawk fade with hard line
Not only does the grey hair colour give this cut some extra edge, the hard line design with short skin fade and neatly shaped beard makes this a distinctive and bold faux hawk fade.
One to go for if you’re feeling creative or like to stand out.
Short faux hawk haircut
A high skin fade that starts lower at the back and shorter length on top dumbs down the drama on this style, making it ideal if you want to give the faux hawk a go but have certain remits to fill.
Work appropriate/in-law approved, it’s a smart yet contemporary cut that’s easily styled with a matte clay or paste.
Brushed up faux hawk haircut
Showing how you can wear a longer faux hawk but keep it looking neater than a mussed-up version, the hair is finger-tousled forward and pushed up into a quiff at the front.
Squarer in shape than a narrower fohawk, the fade starts in line with the hairline making it look uniform and slightly more polished.
High & tight faux hawk haircut
Consider this cut version 2.0 of the mohawk. It has the high shaved sides and a spiky top, but by widening the crescent section and styling the hair forwards rather than straight up it gives the style a truly contemporary feel.
Crew cut-inspired faux hawk fade
Illustrating that the faux hawk is another iteration of the short, back and sides, this nods towards a crew cut.
Brushed forward with a gentle flick at the front makes this hairstyle wearable for most men. It’s particularly suited to those with longer faces as the high skin fade and flatter top section won’t elongate your features.
Long faux hawk with low taper fade
Longer through the back and sides and with plenty of length on top, this hawk doesn’t have a defined quiff shape but the texture through the top sections gives it lift.
Ideal if you’ve got fine hair but lots of it, it shouldn’t weight the hair down while a pomade or salt spray will give it that grit and hold.
Faux hawk with high taper fade
The length and wavy texture of the hair combined with a high taper fade work together to create a mohawk-esque shape on this style.
To help aid definition with hair like this, using a hairdryer with a diffuser will enhance its natural texture without the need of copious styling products.
Boxy faux hawk haircut
There’s something a touch ‘pompadour’ about this cut thanks to the shape and silhouette that’s been created. With a high drop fade and a flat top, it would suit those with thick hair that are happy for the hair to lie flatter.
A medium hold hairspray will be your best friend if you choose this look.
Faux hawk and facial hair
Shorter at the back then graduating to a longer length at the front (from crown to hairline), this shows how a faux hawk can work with a full beard too.
Keeping the hair to a manageable length balances out top and bottom, with the neat taper fade creating a clear distinction between the top section and facial hair.
Style it with waxes and pastes that still allow you to run your fingers through your hair but have enough hold to keep the spikes upright.
Faux hawk drop fade
Rather than a horizontal fade line, here a drop fade arcs around the ear to create a contrast between the hair length on top and shorter sections at the back and sides.
Brushing the hair forward from the crown and culminating in a peak at the front, you can’t deny this style definitely winks at the traditional mohawk.