How To Style Spiky Hair: Tips, Haircut and Products

Spiky hairstyle guide: from styling to hair products

The hair in the Spiky hairstyle is made to look as if thick spikes are growing from the scalp, and this hairstyle is very popular among young males. Also known as “spikes”, this hairstyle was most popular during the 1990s together with the iconic shoulder length hairstyle; back then, it was not uncommon for young males to also dye their spikes with colors like green and blue. Incidentally, dyed spiky hair was a 1990s’ craze in European countries like Germany, Netherlands and Sweden, which lead to dyed spikes being referred to as “European spikes” in barbershop jargon.

A photograph of a young European male with spiky hair dyed green as part of the hairstyle craze that surrounded the decade of the 1990s

Nowadays, spiky hair still enjoys a small-albeit-strong following, so I’ve published this guide on how to get spiky hair for those of you wanting to get into this hairstyle. Let’s rock!

Hair-length category

Short hair.

Suitable hair type

Straight hair and wavy hair.

A barbershop photograph of a young white male with spiky hair styled with a short fade haircut

Haircut for spiky hair

The hair on the top of the head can be any length from 0.5 to 2 inches. The hair on the sides and back can either be cropped in a taper cut or cropped in an undercut haircut with a single guard length; men with straight hair will do better with an undercut while men with wavy hair will fare better with a taper haircut. The perimeter line between the hair on the sides/back and the hair on the top of the had should not be smoothed (i.e. tapered fast) as the hair bordering the head’s top is to be also spiked.

A picture of Taylor Lautner with his hair styled in spikes and with a wet-hairstyle effect

Alternatively, the hair on the sides/back can be at the same length as the hair on the top.

Haircut difficulty

2 out of 5 (it’s an easy haircut).

How to style spiky hair

Styling spiky hair for men revolves around lifting one’s hair to create the illusion of spikes or sharp tubular shapes. Use hair gel, wax or pomade to lift your locks up, and, once you have lifted them all, use your fingers to go lock by lock to further define their spike shape, rapidly running the fingers from the base to the tip of all spiked locks so as to ensure that all locks are coated with the hairstyling product.

A picture of a dark-haired male with a spiky hairstyle for his short straight tresses

You spike all the hair on your head or only get spiky hair on the top of your head (depending on your chosen haircut). If you use hair gel to create the spikes on your hair, you can, once you’ve crated the spikes with hair gel, also coat the tips of the spikes with hair wax so as to further mold and detail their spiky shape. You can use a hair dryer to dry the spikes and harden them, but make sure that you have the hair dryer at least one foot of distance (about 30 centimeters) away from the hair and with a diffuser clipped in so that the blown hair doesn’t deform the spikes.

A photograph of an Arab male with spiky hair styled with hair gel and a blowdryer

Spikes can be styled up fully or styled at an angle to the scalp in a tousled manner. Strictly speaking, a textbook spiky hairstyle has the hair spiked up in defined thick locks, but such a textbook definition would be namely to categorize such a hairstyle by its shape rather than by the concept itself: to shape your hair in spiked-like locks.

Spiky hair can also be achieved with long hair (although not with super long hair!), but its styling is more elaborate since the longer length of the hair multiplies the time spent shaping the spikes. Likewise, you need to use hair spray when styling long spiky hair, which adds even more time. But, for those of you interested,you only need to follow the same hair-styling instructions in this guide and finish off the hairstyle is a good hair spray to lock and secure the hairstyle into its finished-off shape.

A photograph of a blonde male with long spiky hair styled with a strong-hold hairstyling gel and hairspray

Styling difficulty

3 out of 5 (relatively easy; it’s mostly time consuming if you want to sharpen the spiked shape of each lock, though).

Male celebrity with spiky hair

A perfect example of hair spikes is Taylor Lautner’s spiky hair in The Twilight Saga films.

A photograph of actor Taylor Lautner with his trademarked spiky hairstyle as he poses in front of the camera with a green t-shirt

Taylor Lautner also rocked spiky hair is in his younger years. Below is a picture of Lautner’s spiky mane in the 2005 movie “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D”.

A picture of Taylor Lautner with spiky hair in the movie The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D

Recommended products to style spiky hair:

  • Super-strong hair gel: the go-to product for spiky hair. Make sure that the holding strength of the hair gel is at least a “strong” or “high” hold.
  • Hair wax: great for shaping natural-looking spikes or for shaping them as sharply spiked as desired. Get at least a firm-hold hair wax, although a strong-hold hair wax is by far the best hair product for shaping spiky hair. If you use a matte hair-styling wax, you can also recreate naturally spiky hair easily.
  • Pomade: to be used if you want to give your spikes a high-shine look. It’s imperative that you use a water-based pomade for spiky hair and not an oil-based pomade. The best pomade will have a strong hold and provide a high-shine finish (don’t worry, these two pomade-product characteristics are written on the product’s label).
  • Hair dryer: a hair dryer will give your spiky hair a harder and drier look. It will also help you to dry your hair faster and you can point the hair dryer to your hair as you spike it.
  • Hair clipper: if you like to keep the sides and back of your head in an undercut, then a hair clipper is a must-have hairstyling product as you can easily give yourself an undercut haircut with a hair clipper.

A photograph of a bearded hipster with his spiky hair in a slicked back undercut hairstyle

I also highly recommend that you take a look at my hair styling products guide for advice and tips on hair gel, hair wax, pomade and other styling products for men if you don’t still master the at of selecting the right hair product/s for you.

Summary of our spiky hair guide

While it’s true that spiky hair won’t win you any awards for the hippest dude in town, it’s equally true that hair spikes still have their place as a hairstyle in a male’s daily grooming, especially if you have short straight hair or wavy hair. The products needed to style spike hair are regular products that most guys already have for many other hairstyles so whenever you feel like giving your hair a new look, consider spiking your hair; after all, they are an iconic hairstyle of an already-iconic decade!

All the best


For your male grooming needs, visit the Barbershop Forums, the mens style and fashion community with some epic male grooming stuff thrown in!

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