While you might not recognize this hairstyle by its new name, you've almost definitely seen it before.
Fashion trends can be abandoned with a simple change of outfit, while makeup trends can be washed off at the end of the day. Haircut trends, though, are a little — OK, a lot — more permanent, unless you've got Rapunzel-level strands that grow out ridiculously fast. Still, all good trends come back in style eventually, and I'm happy to report that this one's return has wings. Literally.
The butterfly cut is back, and while you might not recognize it by its new name, you've almost definitely seen it before. This look has been around for quite some time — in fact, it was basically the industry standard for the chicest celebs of the '90s. Supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Iman often opted for this layered look, and Pamela Anderson adopted the piece-y cut as her signature for years during that decade.
Gen Z has quite the penchant for reviving '90s trends and reworking them to suit a 2020s aesthetic, and I started noticing the butterfly haircut trending on TikTok a few months back — just as my ends were getting a little tattered and I was craving a fresh style. I always know it's time to head to the salon when, no matter what I do, my wavy, thick hair falls flat after styling. The longer it gets, the heavier it is, so my strands tend to need lots of shaping and layers for added lift.
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It was this video posted by @quecut on TikTok that ultimately convinced me to book an appointment. The video, which has garnered 2.7 million views to date (and counting), shows off a fresh chop featuring bouncy, blended layers that perfectly frame the model's face without sacrificing length.
According to Eli Pjetraj, a hairstylist at Fekkai Salon in New York City, the magic of this look is in the layers: "A butterfly cut is a very layered haircut with short layers that softly frame the face giving you volume and bounce, along with long layers that give you the illusion of longer hair."
And while most trendy cuts don't suit all hair types, Pjetraj is confident that the butterfly is one that be adjusted to flatter most of them. "This cut works best on curly and medium-to-thick hair, as well as thin and fine hair," she shares. "[For kinky and curly hair] it's always best for the clients to have their hair in its natural form [when you go to the salon] so you and your stylist can really see how curly the hair is, and from there, they can design the hair cut together."
The key lies in having your stylist cut the layers according to your face shape, keeping the jawline in mind, so they hit at the ideal point. From there, your stylist can blend the front into the additional layers, which allows for more body than a heavy, blunt chop might. "It frames the features of your face very softly, giving volume and shape without losing length," says Pjetraj of the butterfly cut.
While this can certainly be done on all hair types, Pjetraj is quick to clarify that no two butterfly cuts are exactly the same, and people with fine hair should be especially careful when layering up. "As a stylist, I always make sure to give the client what they want, taking into consideration what they have [to work with]," she explains. "On finer hair I'm more careful, creating fullness on the bottom and adding nice layers at the crown for volume and movement with soft face framing."
Given that I'm looking to get a major chop in a few months — let's see if I actually go through with it — I figured a cut like this, which shapes the overall silhouette without losing length, would be perfect to hold me over. Still, a For You Page filled with trending shags and wolf cuts left me anxious to add some layers to my look, so I visited Pjetraj at the Fekkai salon in SoHo to steer me in the right direction.
After taking my hair type — long, thick and wavy — into account, Pjetraj reassured me that the cut would in no way resemble a choppy shag on me, mostly because of the way butterfly layers blend together. "A butterfly cut has long layers that are soft and connected on the back and start below the shoulders," she said. "Most of the layers are designed around the face-framing butterfly wings."
Post-chop, my hair felt so much lighter, but it hardly looked any shorter. That's the beauty of the butterfly: all shaping, no lost length (unless you also want your stylist to take things up a few inches in the process, that is). Pjetraj styled me out with a blow dryer and a round brush, pinning each section to better hold the shape and create the ridiculously bouncy blowout of my dreams.
Eager to be able to replicate it again on my own, I got the scoop on exactly what she used: Pjetraj began with the Fekkai Prime Mist pre-blowout, along with the brand's Brilliant Gloss Creme just on the ends for hydration and shine. After pinning the strands, she misted the Fekkai Clean Stylers Volume Lock Spray through the roots, locking in what she refers to as "a bombshell finish."
At home, I found my dream blowout was surprisingly easy to replicate, as the layers really lent themselves to round brush styling. Still, I was able to use my go-to GHD Classic Curl 1" Curling Iron at home for my usual beach-y waves with zero issues — and the layers added that volume I was looking for. As for air-drying, the shaping also helped out here, as my strands were no longer flattened by their own weight.
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All in all, I've found the butterfly cut has given my hair a total refresh, without riskier side effects of other, more drastic haircuts. If a lifted look and blowout-friendly layers are what you seek, it may be time for your butterfly era.
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