Medium-length hair—that is, hair that falls somewhere between the tops of your shoulders and just below your collarbones—is a versatile length that works on most people. (There’s a reason why it’s been the reigning style in Hollywood for years.)
And, as you’re about to see, you can wear it up or keep it down and tailor the length and layers of the cut to fit your specific hair texture and personal style. Here, 25 easy hairstyles for medium hair.
1. The Lob or Long Bob
A lob (which is shorthand for long bob) is a solid style for ladies who have naturally thick or wavy strands like Chrissy here. The length of the cut keeps it from poufing out too much, but isn’t so long that it overpowers the rest of your features or weighs things down.
2. A Center-Parted Style
For straighter strands, an angled, slightly asymmetrical cut (so it’s shorter in the back and gradually lengthens in the front) is an ultra-chic option. Pair it with a crisp, center part and a bit of shine serum on the ends for added polish.
3. Flipped Out Ends
Or rather than curl in the ends like Sandra above, you can flip them out for a more playful look. To replicate J.Lo’s style here (sequined plunging dress not included) comb a small amount of texturizing paste or gel through the lengths and run a flat iron over the ends to lightly flick them out. Total style time: Two minutes, tops.
4. Straight-Across Bangs
Looking for an easy way to liven up a lob? Try adding some brow-skimming fringe. Just make sure that your stylist cuts into them so the ends are lightly tapered (which will help them lie better on your forehead).
5. Side-Swept Bangs
Or you can always go for side-swept bangs (and a corresponding deep side part) instead. This is a good alternative for ladies who have a stubborn cowlick or are looking for ways to add volume to limp hair.
6. Layered Midi-Cut
What’s that saying about when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Jennifer Aniston has been rocking a layered medium-length cut and sunny highlights for over a decade (and has spawned millions of copycats in the process). This cut is universally flattering and timeless. Ask your stylist for long, sweeping layers throughout to keep your strands from falling flat and to frame your face nicely.
7. Half-Back Style
Can we first take a quick moment to appreciate the radiance that Julia Louis Dreyfus is exuding here? Wow. Ok, now where were we? Ah yes, her hair. At this year’s Emmy awards, JLD went for a half-up style that kept her brunette locks out of her face and put those gorgeous gilded drop earrings on full display. The beauty of a half-up ‘do is that it’s dressy enough to wear to a party, or, you know, a red carpet without coming off as stuffy (like an updo sometimes can).
8. Side-Swept Waves
Our longtime fandom of Emma Stone has already been documented at length. (Here, here and also here ICYMI.) And honestly, we don’t see that ending anytime soon because, in addition to being ridiculously charming and talented‚ our gal always keeps things fun on the red carpet, too. Case in point: Her side-swept crimped waves at this year’s Met Gala that gave us major early Madonna vibes. Tip: This is a surefire way to boost volume in finer strands easily since you’re gathering all of your hair to one side.
9. Natural Lob
Of all the things we love about Oprah (and believe us, the list goes on and on), we’re really feeling the natural curls she’s been wearing lately. (Tied only, of course, with her fancy frames and spot on book recommendations.) To rock a crown of coils like momma O, work a conditioning leave-in to soften strands and infuse them with shine as they dry.
10. Shaggy Lob
British trendsetter, Alexa Chung, may single-handedly be responsible for making the lob the “it” haircut of the last decade. (Seriously—we’ve interviewed dozens of celebrity hairstylists and she always makes the list as being one of the most requested cuts.) We’re guessing this has something to do with her artfully rumpled waves and beautifully blended curtain bangs that gently frame her features, while lending an aura of effortless cool.
11. Sleek Layers
Here’s a timeless cut for all of our ladies out there who are blessed with thick strands. Long layers that start below your shoulders will add movement and keep your ends from looking too heavy. Tip: If you have naturally dark hair like Olivia, adding some lighter pieces around your face can help brighten up your complexion, while also breaking up your hair visually so there’s more dimension throughout.
12. Blunt Ends
Or if your hair falls on the finer side, keeping the ends all one length can add the illusion of fullness (while adding a loose bend to the lower half of your hair adds some laid-back glam). To replicate the look at home, you’ll need a 1-inch flat iron and good flick of the wrist to get that subtle curve. Finish with a light misting of a shine spray for that expensive-looking sheen that makes it look like you spent a lot more time and money on your hair than you actually did.
13. Surfer Girl Swoop
In the middle of growing out bangs or need to quickly camouflage greasy roots before work? Take a cue from Natalie here and just sweep the front pieces of your hair up and over to create a little wave up top. Note: If your hair tends to part to one side anyway, use that to your advantage here (and for extra stubborn strands that refuse to stay put, set things in place with a blast of hot air from your blow dryer for 30 seconds).
14. Loose Braid
Who says braids don’t work past the age of 50? Certainly not Halle Berry (who is sitting pretty at 53 in case you were about to Google her age like we just did.) And yes, we realize that it’s Halle Berry and she could make a mullet look good, but her loosely-woven French braid would look fetching on anyone, anytime—trust. Just do a low plait and pull out a few pieces in the front to soften the overall look and keep it from looking like you’re about to play at a piano recital.
15. High Ponytail
Another easy style to try on mid-length hair? A high ponytail, as modeled by Priyanka after a recent taping of “The View.” The trick to wearing it like the grown woman and fashion plate that you are (and less like the version you might have worn as a tween during the pop princess era in the early 2000s) is to keep the pony no higher than the back of your head. You should see it peeking from the top, not spouting a fountain of hair.
16. Double-pinned ‘do
Confession: We have an entire Instagram folder filled with saved images of South Korean model, Irene Kim. (Fans of street style may remember her multi-colored rainbow strands from a few years back.) Since then, she’s committed to just one shade and has continually stepped out with a number of very chic and simple looks—like this all-white ensemble and double-pinned back style she wore to a Chanel show last year. Lucky for us, this style requires zero bleach and is super easy to recreate (which, let’s be honest, is a fancy word for blatantly copy) at home. All you need are two matching barrettes and you’re basically done. It also helps that the whole hair accessory trend has steadily been gaining popularity for the past couple of years.
17. Top-Knotted Twist
Remember when top-knots were all the rage? Everywhere you turned, someone was wearing one—ballet class or not. Then, like most trends, they were overdone and soon phased out. So when Karlie Kloss recently arrived at Rihanna’s annual Diamond Ball donning the highest of top knots, we were quickly reminded of how much we loved the style. It’s fun and playful and gives you an instant face lift (not that you need one, girl). And, as the messy bun’s slightly more polished sister, you really just need to twist your hair in place and pin in the ends to keep the knot more black-tie and less rolled-out-of-bed.
18. Messy Top-Knot
Unless, of course, you’re going for the messy top-knot—in which case, we say, lean all the way in, sister. Let those pieces fall out casually from the bun. Have it sit slightly askew on top of your head. Go ahead with those baby hairs. The more imperfect, the better.
19. Baby-Banged Lob
Admittedly this is not an easy look to pull off, but we think Emma does a pretty (ahem) bang up job. All puns aside, we wanted to call out this particular cut because it’s a rare and refreshing moment when you see a woman—in this case, a young actress in Hollywood—continually push the envelope and evolve their style to fit whatever it is they’re trying to convey at that time. (Reminder to self: Beauty is about self-expression, not trends or perfection.)
OK, now that we’ve stepped off of our soap box, let’s go back to the baby bangs. They’re a great option for ladies with medium-length strands because of the contrast they create between the top and bottom of your hair, which visually opens up your face. The trick to getting these guys just right is to make sure they sit a couple inches below your forehead so you always have the option to curl them slightly under (a la Audrey Tautou in Amélie) or sweep them to the side to soften the overall effect.
20. Glamorous Lob
How glam is Mandy’s buoyant blowout here? With a subtle side part and tons of volume throughout, the curled ends are just the icing on the cake. Paired with those classy drop earrings and sleek slip dress and she looks every bit the part of a leading lady. Bravo, Mandy. We want moore. (We can’t be helped, y’all.)
21. Half-Up Twists
Mindy’s teetering on the edge of what we’d consider to be medium-length hair (another inch or so and we think it’s safe to say she’ll have officially crossed over into long hair territory) but for this exact moment in time, we deeply appreciate the sweetness of her half-up style. The subtle twists on either side and loose curls compliment her scalloped collar-and-sweater combo. Filing this under: Date night looks.
22. Side-Braided Lob
Why settle for tucking your hair behind one ear, when you could put it all back into a cool side braid like Gina here? Just make sure to lay the braid flat against your head and pin the tail underneath the rest of your hair for an edgier twist.
23. Double-Dutch Braid
Or you could always take a page from Zooey’s book and try a low and loose double-dutch braid. A quick note on trying this look at home: After braiding each side, use your fingers to gently pull apart the braid (aka “pancaking”) so it’s bigger.
24. Banana Bun
Be still our hearts. When Gemma Chan stepped out in this light pink Oscar de la Renta number and a casual banana bun (remember those?) earlier this year, we immediately pinned the red carpet images to our board the next day. The ease of the hairstyle makes even a flouncy ball gown appear laid-back somehow.
25. Slicked Back Style
It’s hard to imagine Issa Rae feeling insecure (ha) about anything with her glowing gorgeous skin, sky high cheekbones and perfectly-shaped almond eyes. This slicked back ‘do puts those stunning features of hers on full display and is an easy way to dress up your natural curls. Starting just above your ears, pull the top half of your hair back and smooth on a bit of a styling cream for a look that's just as fitting for a night out as it is for the office.