I’m not going to lie: when the “Rachel” haircut first appeared in the late ’90s, it had a big impact on me. Of course, I begged my mother to take me to the salon to have it cut into the iconic layered ‘do. When I sat in the stylist’s chair, however, they would always tell me that my hair was too fine and would fall flat.
So when the butterfly haircut went viral on TikTok — a style that consists of face-framing layers and was originally coined by celebrity hairstylist Sunnie Brook — I thought this would be my one chance to finally get the Rachel in an elevated way tailored to my specific hair type. I asked Lindsay Victoria, master stylist and educational director at Spoke & Weal in Los Angeles, to keep my length while also adding as much volume as possible.
Continue reading for information on what to expect from the cut and how to style it according to your hair texture, as well as photos of my own butterfly haircut.
What Is a Butterfly Haircut?
“The butterfly cut is a heavily layered ’90s-inspired haircut with 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, allowing the style to have the most volume. This style of haircut has pushed the trend toward polished and refined hair that is less messy and undone.”
Because there are slight variations of the butterfly haircut, Victoria recommends going to the salon with photos of the style and length you want. “Ask your stylist what length the face-framing layers should be and what overall length would suit you best based on what length you are currently at, face shape, texture, density, and curl pattern,” she says. “Discuss your daily routine, including the products you use, to see if any changes are required to achieve this look. If you have a curl pattern and want to wear it natural, let your stylist know so that it is taken into account when designing your haircut.”
How to Wear a Butterfly Haircut
“Technical adjustments can be made to customize a version of this style for you based on your texture — fine, medium, or coarse — and curl pattern,” Victoria says. “This haircut can also be worn with natural texture. The shape will be round and voluminous, similar to a blown-out style.”
She explains that the Dyson Airwrap’s long barrel attachment is the best at-home tool for creating the butterfly effect, but it can also be achieved with a round brush or a medium to large curling iron. “Using your preferred tool, split your hair 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 suggests. “Whether curling toward or away from the face, the shortest front layer should be curled away from the face to create that signature butterfly wing.”
When it comes to products, she says your hair texture will be the deciding factor. People with fine hair will want to look for volumizing and holding products. Victoria describes her products as “a root-lifting spray, mousse, styling foam, thickener, dry shampoo, and dry texture spray.” “Avoid oils and creams to avoid weighing down the hair.” To finish, medium textures should use a light blow-dry cream, volume spray or mousse, and a dry texture spray. For coarse hair, use a blow-dry cream, hair milk, or leave-in conditioner, followed by a light hold product and finished with a light hair oil or styling cream.
Results From My Butterfly Haircut
On the left, you can see how the haircut looked after I used a blow dryer and a 3/4-inch-barrel curling iron, and on the right, you can see how it looked after I let my hair air-dry. My hair has definitely gained movement and volume thanks to the butterfly haircut, especially when I let my natural curl pattern do its thing. I love Victoria’s longer face-framing layers, which curl around nicely to achieve the iconic butterfly-wing flip.
Overall, it’s been an extremely manageable style (I just use some texturizing cream or spray) that works both air-dried and blow-dried and adds volume to my thin hair without looking stringy. It basically checks all of my boxes.