The elephant trunk hairstyle is iconic. You’ve seen it in movies like Grease, Cry-Baby, and countless other films and shows that take place during the 1950s and early 1960s. It’s like a distant cousin of the pompadour, but it’s for bad boys rather than crooners. It’s typically combined with a duck’s ass—and yeah, that’s a real thing.
In combing back the sides to form the elephant trunk, the place where they meet at the back of the head looks like a duck’s rear end. Never mind about that, though. The trunk itself is the more important part.
Thanks to hipsters with an appreciation of bygone styles, it’s on its way back in vogue. The question is, can you pull off such a rugged retro look? Stay golden, Ponyboy. We know you can.
Best Elephant Trunk Hairstyles
Some men pair their elephant trunk hairstyles with a duck’s ass in the back. Others combine their swirling quiff with long, carefully shaped sideburns. There are dozens of ways to style an elephant trunk, but all of them contain an abundance of vintage appeal.
Before you commit to the cut, however, you need to be aware of what you’ll need to style it. For starters, your hair needs to be at least 3-5 inches long all over. It helps if it’s longer in the front.
You also need pomade to spare, a fine-toothed comb, and a Youtube tutorial or two. Elephant trunks depend on shaping, and practice makes perfect.
1. Extra Long Trunk
Guys who want extra long hair should wear their elephant trunk down to the middle of their nose. Slick back most of the hair from the sides and some on top of your head.
To form the trunk, take pieces of hair from each side of your head and combine them to form the curl, so it looks like it has a lot of texture.
2. 1950s Side Swept Trunk
Not everyone is a fan of hair in their face, and that’s totally fine. Take it back to the 1950s and sweep the trunk to the side instead.
The rest of your hair should be sleek and brushed toward the back. Pair thin sideburns with a beard along your jawline.
3. Hard Part with Fade
The best thing about trunk hairstyles for modern men is that you can wear it retro or make it up to date. Adding a hard part and a fade, then using natural curls to form the trunk, is a great way to bring this style up to trend.
4. Messy Swirl
An elephant trunk in a swirling style always looks good sitting high on your forehead. You can leave a few flyaways out and don’t slick back the sides if you want to create a messy look that requires less effort than this style usually needs.
5. Elephant Trunk for Receding Hairline
Guys with receding hairlines but thick hair should show off their hair by creating a large trunk that swoops over to one side voluminously. Nobody will care your hairline is inching back when they see those magnificent locks.
6. Eyebrow Length Trunk
Want long hair but not long enough for it to fall into your eyes? Stop your elephant trunk an inch above your eyebrows.
Leave the front fluffy with soft hold gel, but the rest should have hard hold gel to achieve a retro appearance.
7. Pompadour Trunk
Pompadour styles have most of the hair fold to one side of the head while the rest remains sleek. Mix and match the pompadour with your trunk so you can wear two iconic styles.
You don’t have to wear sideburns with your elephant trunk hairstyle, but it doesn’t hurt. As mentioned, long, thick sideburns are one of the distinctive features of the retro ‘do, although they’re typically reserved for older bad boys.
9. Cascade of Curls
Guys, this ain’t just a hairstyle. It’s a statement. It’s an entire era in one ‘do. To keep your curls crisp, use pomade just on the sides, and define your curls only after rubbing a thin layer of gel on your fingertips.
Note the sharp part that separates the elephant trunk from the sides—you want to copy that.
10. The OG Grease ‘Do
Danny didn’t start it all, but he keeps the elephant trunk and the ducktail—a more demure synonym for the duck’s ass, of course—at the forefront of fashion pop culture.
Grease is an institution, after all, and Danny Zuko is the hottest T-Bird to ever slip into a leather jacket.
11. Undercut Ducktail
Most elephant trunk haircuts focus on the front, so here’s a modern variation that involves an undercut, which is pretty much the designated millennial haircut.
The hair in front forms more of a smooth pompadour than an elephant trunk, but you can still get that swirl. The ducktail is spectacular, though. That’s a perfect example of how it should look.
12. Cropped Sides
If the ducktail isn’t your thing, that’s no problem. Get the barber to crop the sides—whether or not you go with a close buzz is up to you. Keep the top long, however, and you can still get your trunk on anytime you like.
13. A Single Curl
Johnny Depp helped to make this greaser look popular during his Cry-Baby days, but Zac Efron carries the torch with aplomb. Arrange your elephant trunk hairstyle with a single curl hanging over your forehead, and you’ll have all the hotties screaming at your feet.
14. 1950s Haircut
Look at that swirl. It’s glorious. The sheen is perfect—that’s what you want when you’re going for a smoother take on the elephant trunk. You just know the ducktail in the back is fire, too.
15. Two-Toned Trunk
This version of the elephant trunk would look right at home in a production of Hairspray. Two-toned hair draws the eye automatically. In this case, it draws attention to the tousled trunk.
16. Blonde Ducktail
That duck’s ass is flawless, even intricate. The formation, particularly the way the hair flows smoothly into the cascading trunk, is fresh to death. See why undercuts pair so well with elephant trunk hairstyles?
17. Rockabilly Quiff
The haircut pictured here is part quiff, part elephant trunk, and all cool. This dude is all but destined to be the next leader of the T-Birds, you dig?
Some of our favorite hairstyles:
Elephant-trunk haircuts from the 1950s evolved into their iconic forms today. Why not bring that retro vibe into the here and now?