We Are Officially Entering an Era of Soft-Girl Hair
With modern shags, wispy bangs, butterfly cuts and box bobs trending, 2023 hair is all about embracing movement, ease and options.
Haircut trends come and go, and each passing season brings about some dramatic new style (anyone remember last year's wolf cut or 'skullet'?) that requires a fairly extreme commitment — at least until it grows out. But so far in 2023, trending hairstyles are decidedly less harsh.
"This season is our soft girl season," declares Los Angeles-based hairstylist Sophie Gutternam. "Haircuts seem to be moving toward more layers and movement; we're moving past super-sleek, refined looks and going for more body and texture," agrees hairstylist Kat Thompson, whose clients include Lana Condor and Drew Barrymore.
Instead of relying on harsh lines around the face, "we're moving closer to soft girl hair that opens up our faces to highlight our features," according to Gutterman. That also means a major emphasis on bangs, wispy face-framing strands and fringe. "I think 'curtain fringe' — or that soft, almost short layer that hugs the cheekbone — is still going strong," says hairstylist Bobby Eliot, who counts Julia Garner and Grace Van Patten as clients.
We're also seeing a nod to past decades with the '90s-inspired box bob (as seen on Hailey Bieber) and Jenna Ortega's modern shag, which has a decidedly '70s/'80s rocker-chic flair to it. And if you are looking for something massively transformative, the striking buzz cut (à la Jodie Turner-Smith) is always an option.
For more from the pros about the trendiest hairstyles of the moment — as well as how to wear them IRL, even if you're not a Bieber or a Kardashian — read on.
BOX BOB CUT
Without a doubt, one trend that's picked up steam and isn't slowing down this season is the tousled '90s box-cut bob, as seen on the trendsetter of all trendsetters: Hailey Beiber. "The box cut bob looks a lot like a regular bob, but what makes it different is in the styling," says Nine Zero One stylist Jill Buck.
It has a blunt finish, she explains, but it's slightly shorter in the back. "What I love about this cut is how effortless it looks while still maintaining a structured shape," adds Thompson. The idea is to be carefree, undone and not super 'styled.' "It looks lived-in and unfussy, with a natural texture — or it can be straightened to give it a more elevated look," she says.
We can pretty much credit Jenna Ortega with single-handedly reviving the shag, as well as bringing a modern edge to it.
"[This look] draws inspiration from the '70s and '80s, and the layers pair well with a fluffy bang to give the hair volume, body and movement," says hairstylist Sarah Potempa, who is also the founder of The Beachwaver Co.
Tai Simon, who regularly works with Zendaya, calls this "one of those gem trends that's so good – it's really hard to style wrong." It's the ultimate get up and go, minimal effort, cool-girl style. And it works well on wavy or curly hair because "that many layers allow your hair to take its own shape based on whatever wave or curl pattern you naturally have," says Thompson.
This style still works for straight hair types, but per the pros, you'll definitely want to add in some products for texture and body. On wet hair, Gutterman likes to use All About Curls Bouncy Cream, then diffuse, and follow with a texture spray.
This currently trending flouncy haircut is a few different techniques all wrapped into one. "It incorporates long layers as well as face-framing layers or long curtain bangs, which help to frame and keep the face bright and open," explains Potempa.
The fluffed-up look is "a great nod to the bouncy '90s layers," says Thompson and it's the epitome of "girl next door" energy, describes Simon. "Lots of layers give lots of body, which looks amazing every time you curl or blow dry it," adds Gutterman.
If you have finer hair, take note: "be careful of going too short with the layers, because it can take away density from the bottom," adds Gutterman. For styling, hot rollers or velcro rollers are a helpful time saver, especially if you're not great with a curling iron.
Long fringe is less harsh than straight-across, blunt-cut bangs, not to mention a whole lot easier to style. "It's a softer look that rounds out at the cheekbone and hugs the bone structure," explains Eliot, who recently created this look for Julia Garner.
The center part of the bangs are cut more evenly (but not razor-sharp) and the key is the two longer, wispier sides that go past the temples and hit at the high points of the cheekbones. "This is a great option for someone who has a cowlick and can't have a short fringe, [plus] it's flattering on most people," adds Eliot. For styling, he suggests: "Flat wrapping with a paddle brush is the easiest way and creates movement.
NATURAL TEXTURE AND CURLY BANGS
The curly fringe trend is about leaning into your natural texture and not fussing with it too much. "Texture to me is beautiful, and you can see it in all the shows right now on the runway," encourages Eliot who did the look recently for Whitney Peak.
To achieve the look, have your stylist focus on layers around the mouth. The trick with this is to remember that, when it dries, your texture should bounce up around the cheekbone and eye socket area — so be sure not to go too short. To style, the pro also suggests using a blow-dryer with a diffuser attachment: "It can help enhance texture you may not know you had," he adds. He'll then use an oil (like Fable and Mane's Smooth and Shine Hair Oil) to help tame and moisturize natural texture.
FRENCH CURTAIN BANG
French curtain bangs have been going strong and aren't going anywhere for 2023. "They're the ultimate effortless fringe," says Eliot, who perfected the look on Grace Van Patten.
It's a heavy, fluffy fringe that gets evenly split in the middle and swept to each side. The layers are tapered, getting gradually longer as the hair reaches the temples. "This fringe is flattering on everyone and is a great way to change up your style," adds Eliot. To style, a blow-dryer and a round brush are your best friends. Part damp hair at the center, angle the brush away from the face, and blast it with heat to set.
HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR BOB
Zendaya's layered bob majorly encapsulates this season's soft-hair theme. "It's soft and sexy, but powerful," says Gutterman. Simon, who actually styled this look for Zendaya, says, "I'm a bit biased, but I absolutely love it."
While some may call this a 'French girl bob,' the pro officially dubs it the Hollywood Glamour bob (shoutout to Ursula Stephen, who did the actual chop). To get the look, be sure to ask for a blunt cut with subtle layers.
"I would say proper hydration and a really good blowout is key in achieving body while also keeping it airy," Simon notes of this haircut. And remember: "A round brushing really brings on the body," she adds.
Kim Kardashian's latest look is one of Simon's favorite go-to's, and is ideal for those who want a change, but aren't ready for anything drastic. It adds movement, is face-framing to long layers and pairs well with an updo.
Potempa calls the look "the perfect middle ground between curtain and blunt bangs." And since these bangs are piece-y and textured, they're also relatively easy to grow out. To do it right, Potempa says to ask for "long, wispy bangs with point-cut ends and longer face-framing pieces." That will achieve a lived-in, casual look (and the longer face-framing pieces will help blend with the rest of your hair).
Perhaps one of the boldest looks on this list is a buzz cut, which pros are embracing for its freshness and individuality.
"I love the confidence of a shaved head; it's such a beautiful way to really show off your facial features," says Thompson.
The good news: This look requires almost no styling. However, there are variations you can take, from a fade to the design and cut. "Whether it's leaving the top long and shaving the sides or buzzing it all the way around, the options are endless," says Thompson. For those who have curly hair, Gruttman advises keeping a little length on top and adding a leave-in detangler to moisturize and define curls. As far as who to see, Simon says "barbers are the best to go to for this."
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