The Jellyfish Haircut Is the Modern Take on a Throwback Hairstyle

·3 min read

You either love it or you hate it.

Many of the latest trendy haircuts have had animal-inspired names—the wolf, the butterfly, the octopus—and now there's another aquatic animal on that list. "Jellyfish haircut" videos have over 1.7 billion (yes, billion with a B) views on TikTok, and even celebs are getting in on the trend; Nicole Kidman was recently seen sporting the edgy look. So, what exactly is the style and how can you tell if it will work for you? Here, stylists explain everything there is to know about the jellyfish haircut.

XiXinXing/Getty Images
XiXinXing/Getty Images

What is the jellyfish haircut?

"The jellyfish haircut features a short, head-hugging layered shape through the top of the head, and long, disconnected lengths around the perimeter," says Adam Federico, hairstylist and R+Co's vice president of technical education. It emulates, well, a jellyfish—the top part of the hair is the body and the lengths are the tentacles, adds Joey Figueiredo, a stylist and owner of Sola Salons.

It's important to note that there are a few different iterations the cut can take (more on that point in a moment). Exactly how short and exactly how long you go is really up to you, but, "in order for it to be a true jellyfish cut you want there to be a drastic difference in the length between the top and the bottom layers," says Howard McLaren, co-founder and creative director of R+Co. The nice thing about it is that it really is a combination style, so you get the benefits of both a short and long style, he adds.

What hair types is the jellyfish haircut best for?

Aside from the fact that this look definitely skews on the edgier, more high-fashion side, it's also not universally flattering on all hair textures. For example, it's probably not the best option if you have extremely fine hair, as it can make your hair look even thinner and flatter, notes Federico. (This holds especially true for the longer lengths, which can quickly start to appear stringy). Similarly, the cut won't have the same impact on curly hair: "The severity of the difference in layers doesn't translate the same way on curly hair as it does on straight hair," explains McLaren. "It can also tend to look bulky on both curly and textured hair," adds Joey Figueiredo, a stylist and salon owner in Sola Salons. Long story short, the jellyfish cut works best on medium to thick hair that's naturally straight or has just a little bit of wave to it.

What should you ask your stylist for?

All of the experts we spoke with underscore the importance of showing your stylist photos of jellyfish cuts that you like, especially given that many stylists may not have yet heard of the look, says Federico. He or she will also be able to help you better decide how the top, shorter part should be cut. It can either be more of a pixie or a bob—just keep in mind that a jellyfish haircut does alter the growth pattern of the hair. If you don't love the end result, "you'll have to wait until the top part grows out to your desired length and then cut the bottom to match," notes McLaren. "Transitioning to a longer bob would be the easiest."

How do you style a jellyfish haircut?

At the risk of a cringy, ocean-related pun, the world really is your oyster when it comes to styling a jellyfish cut. You can smooth out the top portion and then curl or braid the longer layers for a contrast in textures, suggests Figueiredo. Or, you can let everything air-dry and simply enhance the natural texture and pieciness with a pomade or sea salt spray, says Federico. Basically, anything goes. And you really don't have to do much at all in the way of styling if you don't want to, given that the cut is so statement-making in and of itself.