Flatten Puffy Side Hair for Asian Males

If you’re an Asian male, you know exactly what we’re talking about: you asked your barber for the perfect undercut haircut and then… your sides grow out into a porcupine.

Yeah. Not very good-looking anymore.

Typically, an undercut would make Asian men look attractive because it tapers the sides of the head, giving the face a more angular and slimmer look. However, once the sides grow out, the problem begins. It becomes “puffy”. Without the flat sides that the undercut provides, the “side afro” that grows makes the face look round.

Unless you are genetically gifted with straight side hair, Asian hair is thick, black, and most importantly very straight. When hair is short, it sticks out like a porcupine because it does not have the weight it needs to grow downward. Many Asian men try to solve this problem by shaving the sides of their heads every few months or so. However, this isn’t a good long-term solution since it only solves the problem temporarily. Furthermore, people are restricted from having any other style of hair other than “short on the sides, long on top”.

Now here’s the thing: there are a lot of techniques that work, but they only work temporarily and require a lot of maintenance.

Here is an example of a quick and easy fix using what looks like a crash test helmet.

Yeah sure, it works. It’s just that you’ll have to use that every day and it doesn’t thin out your side hair permanently. Thanks Asian genetics! So, how do we solve the problem for good? Well, here’s the best long-term solution. Your hair needs to grow out properly after it is cut.

Here’s what you need to do to flatten puffy side hair.


We recommend two different scissors for this: broader thinning scissors, and precise barber scissors. You don’t need anything fancy, as long as it’s sharp and they’re the right kind of scissors.

Here’s what we’re talking about.


  1. First, use the jagged scissors (the ones with teeth) first. This gets all the major weight off. (Video provided)
  2. Second, use the precise scissors to cut into the hair sides.
  3. You should leave the top of the sides reasonably long so it becomes a taper, NOT a fade. See diagram [2] below for details.
  4. Do NOT have your sides shaved regularly. Allow your strands to grow heavy from the length and hang downward.
  5. Repeat this process every time you get a haircut until your sides naturally grow downwards.

For Thinning Shears

To use the jagged scissors, use the toothed blade of the scissor and lay it parallel to the side of the head. You should then cut your hair so that the scissors are facing vertically to the side of the head rather than perpendicularly. In other words, the scissor blades should not point to the head, but be laying flat on the head. We’ve provided a chart below.

Point the thinning shears so that they’re not pointing toward your head. Aim them so that they’re brushing up the sides.
We’ve also found a video on how to use the thinning scissors correctly. This is the best video we found that explains the process very well.

For Precise Scissors

Diagram 1: For the precise scissors, you’ll need to cut into the hair. So do the opposite. To cut into your hair, your barber needs to angle the scissors so that the tips are pointing to your head directly. It should look as if they are poking into the head. This helps the bottom parts of the puffy side hair to flatten more easily by making the texture less thick. It is important that your barber does this with scissors and not an electric razor; electric razors do not flatten puffy side hair because it keeps the hair at the same thickness.  

Make sure to have your barber cut perpendicularly, NOT vertically

Diagram 2: A taper will keep the top of the sides long and the bottom short. Typically, your barber will use an electric razor, but remember: NO ELECTRIC RAZORS. You need to have the bottom of the sides thinned out with scissors. This is different from a fade since it makes your hair, well, “fade”. Tapers on the other hand flatten puffy side hair by thinning the bottom and letting the weight of the top hang downwards.

Side hair tapers are characterized by their short bottoms and longer tops

And that’s it! That’s how you flatten puffy side hair in the long term. Just remember to cut your hair to thin it out. The top of the sides should be long so it can hang downward. Be sure not to shave your sides with an electric razor regularly, lest you end up making your hair thick again. Typically, you will need to repeat this process of hair growth and cutting 3-5 times before it gets used to the shape. Remember to be patient –you need your hair to get used to transitioning from its porcupine shape to a flat shape.

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