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What is a Bowl Cut?

Matt Brady
Matt Brady

The bowl cut is a haircut that resembles an upside-down bowl on top of one's head. Although the hair has the appearance of being long and shaggy—extending sometimes past the wearer's eyes and ears—the sides and back are clean-cut. Bowl cuts have remained popular over time, varying slightly throughout the decades. Some variations look as though they were cut with a bowl literally placed over the head, while others have a more textured appearance. The bowl cut has alternate names that are numerous although rarely heard, such as the beach cut, mushroom cut, pudding basin haircut and pot haircut.

The bowl cut has been one of the most prevalent haircuts in pop culture, seen as a fashionable style à la The Beatles—where its better known as a mop-top—as well as a slapstick prop worn by comedians such as Moe Howard in The Three Stooges' skits and Jim Carrey in the film "Dumb and Dumber." The cut has also been popular with females, having been worn by famous women throughout the ages, from Joan of Arc all the way up to pop star Lady Gaga. The cut has also found favor with countercultural movements, such as in the early punk movement of the 1970s, when it was popularly sported by such bands as The Ramones.

A bowl cut resembles an upside-down bowl.
A bowl cut resembles an upside-down bowl.

Aside from being a fashion statement, the bowl cut has remained popular because of its easy maintenance. It requires no gel, no comb and no fussing. If wearers want to add a bit of style to it, they might use a blow dryer and some hair product to sway the hair slightly to one side. This became fashionable in the 2000s, and was popularly portrayed by teen idol Justin Bieber. Many, however, still prefer to manage the cut by letting the hairs fall as they may.

While the bowl cut has been worn by all ages, it's probably been sported most often by younger, school-age children. The cut is naturally younger looking, owing to its shaggy, less kempt attributes, and thus is favored less by working adults trying for a more professional look. Adults seen wearing the style are often celebrities, who either wear it comically or as a fashion statement. Nevertheless, many adults do sport fashionable and professional-looking bowl cut styles.

Other short-long haircuts include the mullet and the rat tail. The mullet has short hair on top and long hair in the back. Someone with a rat tail has a completely short haircut, save for a tendril of hair that hangs down the back. The bowl cut, however, is arguably the most popular of them all.

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Discussion Comments


I wanted to try something different with my hair a few years ago, since I got tired of my usual swept-back style. It would look like a bad 50s pompadour if I didn't get it cut every month. I asked my barber to give me a short bowl cut. I thought my hair would look better if I could brush it forward.

He did what I asked him to do, but I really didn't like the results as much as I thought I would. The problem with a bad bowl cut is that people aren't used to seeing that style these days. It's a boy's haircut, not a hairstyle for grown men. I managed to brush it forward and make it look more like a Caesar haircut, like Steve McQueen had, but it still looked a little dated.


When I was a kid, my mom would try to save a little money by giving me a bowl cut. She really did put a kitchen bowl over my head and cut around the rim. I didn't mind it, because it meant I didn't have to go to a real barber and get the dreaded "buzz cut".

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    • A bowl cut resembles an upside-down bowl.
      By: EpicStockMedia
      A bowl cut resembles an upside-down bowl.