I'm not going to lie, I was very affected by the "Rachel" haircut when it first made an appearance in the late '90s. Of course, I begged my mom to bring me to the salon so I could get it cut into the iconic layered 'do. However, once I sat down in the stylist's chair, they would always tell me my hair was too fine and would fall flat.
So when the butterfly haircut — a new hair trend that consists of face-framing layers and was originally coined by celebrity hairstylist Sunnie Brook — went viral on TikTok, I thought this would be my one chance to finally get the Rachel in an elevated way tailored to my specific hair type. When I went to see Lindsay Victoria, master stylist and educational director at Spoke & Weal in Los Angeles, I asked her to both keep my length and give me as much volume as possible.
Keep reading for tips on what to expect from the cut and how to style it based on your individual hair texture — plus photos of my own butterfly haircut.
What Is a Butterfly Haircut?
"A heavily layered '90s-inspired haircut, the butterfly cut consists of a more uniform layer and carved-out face framing, with the shortest layer starting anywhere between the cheekbone and below the jaw line," Victoria tells POPSUGAR. "The shape is typically more round, which allows the style to have a max amount of volume. This type of haircut has pushed the trend toward polished and refined with less of a messy undone style."
Since there are slight variations of the butterfly haircut, Victoria says it's best to go to the salon equipped with photos of the style and length you're after. "Based on what length you are currently at, face shape, texture, density, and curl pattern, ask your stylist what length the face-framing layers should be and what overall length would suit you best," she says. "Talk about your daily routine, including the products you use, to see if any adjustments need to be made in achieving this look. If you have a curl pattern and would like the option to wear it natural, let your stylist know so it is taken into consideration when designing the haircut for you."
How to Style a Butterfly Haircut
"Depending on your texture — fine, medium, or coarse — and your curl pattern, there can be technical adjustments made to customize a version of this style for you," Victoria says. "This haircut can be worn with natural texture as well. Similar to a blown-out style, the shape will be round and voluminous."
She explains that the best at-home tool for creating the butterfly effect is the Dyson Airwrap (£480)'s long barrel attachment, but it can also be achieved with a round brush or a medium to large curling iron. "Using your tool of choice, split your hair in half down the center back, curling each side in the same direction (toward or away from the face), and let it cool before brushing out the wave for a smooth polished finish," Victoria says. "Regardless if you are curling toward or away from the face, you want to curl the shortest front layer away from the face to create that signature butterfly wing."
When it comes to products, she says they'll really be determined by your hair texture. People with fine hair will want to look for products that are intended for volume and hold. "A root-lifting spray, mousse, styling foam, thickener, dry shampoo, and dry texture spray," Victoria says. "Stay away from oils and creams to not weigh down the hair." Medium textures will want a light blow-dry cream, volume spray or mousse, and a dry texture spray to finish. Coarse hair should look to a blow-dry cream, hair milk, or leave-in conditioner paired with a light hold product, finished with a light hair oil or styling cream.
My Butterfly Haircut Results
On the left, you'll see what the haircut looked like when I used a blow dryer and a 3/4-inch-barrel curling iron, and on the right is the cut when I let my hair air-dry. The butterfly haircut has definitely given my hair much more movement and volume, especially when I let my natural curl pattern do its thing. I'm a big fan of the longer face-framing layers that Victoria added in, which curl around nicely to get that iconic butterfly-wing flip.
Overall, it's been an extremely manageable style — I just use some texturising cream or spray to keep it easy — that works both air-dried and blow-dried and gives that extra boost of volume to my thin hair without making it look stringy. In other words: it checks all my boxes.