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Why the Undercut is an Athlete’s Secret Weapon (and Hella Stylish)

August 14, 2017

Why the Undercut is an Athlete’s Secret Weapon (and Hella Stylish)

A year and a half ago, I spotted a girl at a mountain bike race looking hella stylish and edgy—but not scary. Then, a couple months ago, one of my best friends also started looking significantly edgier—without adding a tattoo or piercing. It wasn’t that they made a drastic change: both of them had simply buzzed one side of her head, making an easy-to-maintain statement with their hair that looked rad—but was completely hide-able for more office-style environments.

Naturally, this appealed to me, but as someone who spent four years growing out a pixie cut (that I will eventually go back to, and once I do, my hair will never be long again), I didn’t want to lose a ton of hair on one side, since the grow-out process sucks. But I loved the vibe… and so, I settled on an undercut—buzzing the hair at the nape of my neck into a triangle.

Turns out, this is THE BEST move for athletic ladies. Why? Let’s dive in.

Edgy Ponytail Vibe

I was lamenting my hair being kind of boring in this middle-length faze. It’s not super long, but it’s no longer the super cool pixie cut I sported for so long. It’s just… a lob. Everyone has it. But now, with the undercut, I can put my hair in a ponytail (or top knot, I am a Millennial, after all), and it looks a little bit more edgy than it used to. (The tattoos help.) It just feels a little bit more ‘me’ than the basic ponytail ever did.


Lots of Air with a Helmet On

I did this the week ahead of Ironman and it was genius! The back of my neck was so much cooler and breezier both on the bike and during the run. A lot less sweat dripping down my neck, for sure.

Easier/Higher Ponytail

Back to ponytails… For those of you in the grow-out process, this is something I wish I did two years ago. When you take out the 2-3 inches of hair at the base of your neck, ponytails become a lot easier, because you’re not waiting for the bottom bits of hair to be long enough. I would have avoided a lot of awkward stages and a lot of bobby pins if I’d done this sooner.

Low Maintenance

If you have a design—like what I originally got—then sure, it’s an every-two-week salon visit. But I had no intention of doing that. Rather, I got it done in a salon once to get the lines that I wanted, and the design was a plus. But now, we just ordered a cheap buzzer and do touchups in the yard—and I can buzz Peter’s hair at the same time!

Decreases Volume

This may not be an issue for some women, and I’m sure plenty of women reading this are cursing my name. But if you’ve suffered a life of “triangle hair” (flat-ish on top, poofed out on the bottom), you know what I mean. Taking out the bottom layer doesn’t do anything to the volume on the top, but it helps calm the triangle vibe and lets hair rest a lot more naturally. And when it’s up, there aren’t the little wisps falling out of the bottom constantly! (Side note: IN LOVE with this Modern Nomad bobby pin from Favor, my new favorite handmade jewelry company in Portland.)

Still Mom-Approved

I say this because this afternoon, we were re-buzzing it in the backyard while spending a long weekend with my parents. My mom consistently laments my tattoos, hated when I had my lip and nose pierced, and generally wishes I was a little bit less ‘alternative.’ (Less an issue now but definitely a fight as a teenager.) Still, it’s nice to have a haircut that looks rad when it’s up, but when it’s down, it just looks like a normal lob-style (ugh, apologies for the Millenialness of such a trendy cut) when it’s down.


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  1. I think another benefit of this would be that you don't get hair caught in your wetsuit velcro or falling out of your swimming cap. I'm considering it myself, but also trying to decide whether to go for a pixie cut.

    • Oh man, I hadn't even thought of that but you are SO RIGHT. I hate that with swim caps!! And I'd do undercut first, then go full pixie—that's sort of what I'm gearing towards as well, but figure since I have the length at the moment, might as well have fun with it before I cut it all off again!

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