The "Butterfly" Haircut Is the Perfect Low-Commitment Look
We'll just come right out and say it: the thought of getting a haircut can be terrifying sometimes. It takes a lot to be able to commit to a completely new style that requires you to sacrifice your length because, if the cut somehow goes wrong, it may take a while to grow your hair back out. The good news is that, if you're currently debating whether or not you should get a short cut, there's a way that you can experiment without fully taking the plunge with what is called a "butterfly" haircut.
Originally coined by hairstylist and Biolage ambassador Sunnie Brook, the butterfly haircut leaves shorter, face-framing layers around the top of the head to give the illusion of shorter hair — without lobbing it all off. That makes it a perfect style for people who aren't ready to fully commit to the big chop. So, what exactly does the cut entail? Keep reading to find out.
What is a Butterfly Haircut?
"This is a very layered haircut on hair below the shoulders that's cut in a way that the top layer can be separated from the bottom and easily pinned under to look like a short haircut," Brook tells POPSUGAR. "The shortest top layer falls about two to three inches below your chin."
The finished result is a lot like the recent Farrah Fawcett-inspired look, which is all about shaggy texture and face-framing layers. The only difference, according to Brook, is that this haircut is ideal for people who want to play with short hair without actually cutting it off.
"Shorter pieces toward the front of the face give you the face-framing effect that a shorter cut does, but with length so you can continue to style it your usual way if you're used to having long hair," says Lynne Soares, hairstylist at Taylor Taylor London. "If you've already got a fringe, mention you'd like to grow it out for more of a feathered effect."
Butterfly Haircut Inspiration Photos
If this sounds like a trend you'd like to try, join the club. Even Hailee Steinfeld is a huge fan of the look, recently debuting the cut in October 2023. To see for yourself, keep reading. We rounded up some examples of layered haircuts that can give you the illusion of short hair, plus a few tips on how to style the look at home.
What Hair Types and Lengths Can Pull Off the Butterfly Haircut?
The best part about the butterfly haircut is that you can achieve it on short or long hair, so long as it's heavily layered. While Soares says it works best on thick, wavy, or curly hair, really any texture can get in on the trend if done correctly.
"The cut is versatile and easily adaptable, so anyone can get the look," she says. "It works well on wavy and curly hair as the layers blend into each other, and on straight hair we recommend flicking the ends to give extra bounce and movement.
What to Ask For At the Salon
First, the most important step: "Show your hairstylist a photo of what you want, and they can adapt the style to suit your hair texture and face shape," says Soares.
Then, make sure to emphasize you want layers and texture. "Ask for soft, face framing layers around the crown of the head — the shortest should come down to a few inches below your chin — and long layers that fall below the shoulder, giving you movement and volume on the bottom."
How to Style a Butterfly Haircut
You can style the cut by separating the short layers at the top of the head from the bottom, and then pinning the bottom ends under for a shorter look. "Or create a quick, undone, cool-girl up-do by bringing the lengths up into a claw clip or bun, and allowing the front pieces to loosely frame the face," says Soares.
The key is to blow-dry the layers with a round brush to curl the ends under. (If you're not as experienced with a round brush, you can always use velcro rollers.) This will help add a little extra bend to bring the layers to life.
If your hair doesn't hold a style well, add in a small amount of mousse to the crown of your head before blow-drying. Then, once the style is in place, use a soft-hold hairspray or texturizing spray all over for the perfect finishing that lasts.
Hailee Steinfeld in a Butterfly Haircut
Hailee Steinfeld got a butterfly haircut in October 2023 from celebrity hairstylist Mara Roszak, which had lots of face-framing layers.