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What Is a High and Tight Haircut?

Alicia Sparks
Alicia Sparks

The high and tight haircut is a short type of men’s haircut. Worldwide, the hairstyle is most commonly recognized as a military haircut. Since this cut is low-maintenance and non-intrusive, other professionals, such as law enforcement officers, as well as everyday citizens often wear some version of it.

Generally, the high and tight style features extremely short hair on the sides and back of the head, and longer hair on the top of the head. Sometimes, the hair on the sides and back of the head is cropped extremely close to the skin, and sometimes it is completely shaved. The length of the hair on the top of the head can vary, but usually, standard high and tight hairstyles feature hair no longer than 1 inch (2.54 cm) on the top. The point above the temple where the longer, top part of the hair starts is considered the “high,” and the line that separates the longer hair and the cropped hair is considered the “tight.” Different variations of the hairstyle can make the “high” and the “tight” features less severe, though.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Perhaps the two most common places to see a high and tight haircut are among military servicemen and law enforcement professionals. For some, a haircut that meets certain regulations might be required, and for others it might be optional. Individuals completing a military boot camp or a police academy, for example, might be required to have a certain short variety of the hairstyle. Once they graduate, however, they might be given more freedom regarding their hair. Longer hair on the top, sides, and back of the head might be permitted, or looser regulations might allow for many types of haircuts.

There are several adaptations of the high and tight style. A couple of the most common varieties include the “horseshoe flattop,” named for its resemblance to a horseshoe, and the “recon,” named for its popularity among military servicemen. Of course, this style isn’t known only as a police or military haircut. Civilian variations, known by names such as “buzz cut,” “hi-top,” “fade,” “hi-top fade,” and “skin fade” are fairly common among different age groups and ethnicities, especially Caucasians and African Americans. Since these individuals typically choose the high and tight haircut for personal reasons, they can also choose any style variations they like.

Discussion Comments


@SauteePan - I know what you mean. I have seen a lot of boys with a marine high and tight haircuts and I am with you. I like when there is a little more hair on top. I don’t like the hair to be cut so short because it over accentuates the ears and does not look flattering at all.

I want to say that I really like the pixie haircut for little girls. It is so easy to maintain and so flattering on most little girls because it has a nice defined style but it still allows the little girls to look like little girls.

It also looks good on some women. It really draws a lot of attention to the face so if you have prominent eyes and cheek bones this look might work for you.


I have seen little boys with a high and tight military haircuts, and many of the mothers say that cutting the hair this way allows the hair to grow back thicker and stronger.

I know that the marine high and tight haircut is easy to care for, but I like my son to have longer bangs in the front. I don’t like it when his hair is too short. My son’s first haircut was like this and I hated it because I wanted him to have more hair and have a more traditional hairstyle.

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      Man with hands on his hips