The Butterfly Haircut Is The Long-Haired Shag Of Your Dreams

Everyone loves a layered moment.

Originally Published: 
Your guide to the trendy butterfly haircut, the lengthy version of a shag.
Jeff Kravitz/BMA2015/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images
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Between bright ’90s blonde, dip-dyed pastels, and the Y2K resurgence, contemporary hair trends are all telling a similar story: that it’s very much time to have fun with your mane. That’s why long hair lovers are now embracing the adorably-named butterfly cut, as the heavily layered look doesn’t sacrifice length for playful vibes.

According to New York City-based hair artist Dan Williams, the trending butterfly haircut is especially popular because of how much movement it gives your strands — not unlike the similarly-layered octopus cut. But the butterfly is especially versatile and able to accommodate super lengthy hair. “It can be styled to fit any length because of how much layering is involved,” Williams explains, noting that everyone can benefit from “a good layered moment.” Think of it as a longer version of a shag — aka the perfect alternative for those who want to add some edge to flowing lengths.

Curious about the choppy but long haircut taking salon chairs by storm? Read on for everything to know about the butterfly cut.

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What Is The Butterfly Cut?

Stylists describe the butterfly cut as a more modern take on the ’70s-era shag. “The butterfly is a very feathered and layered haircut, with short layers on top through the crown,” Jenna Spino, hairstylist at Maxine Salon, tells Bustle, adding that the shorter layers are then blended through to the longer layers at the ends. “This naturally creates tons of texture,” she explains. And those shorter layers along the top and front of the face are reminiscent of butterfly wings (hence the name).

Atop adding movement and texture to your locks, celebrity hairstylist Mirna Jose notes that the butterfly also gives the best of both worlds: the illusion of shorter hair without having to actually chop it all off. “The shortest layer should just be a few inches below your chin, which lets you experience both short and long hair,” she explains. Her take? It essentially allows you to try on a short haircut. Plus, Jose asserts that it’s surprisingly simple to maintain.

Furthermore, this look can work with any hair type or texture so long as you’re OK with additional styling. If not, experts suggest the cut for those with medium to thick hair that already has some natural movement on its own. “It works best on wavy and curly textures because it would not require much styling at all,” Spino says.

What To Ask For At The Salon

As with any hair service, Williams suggests sharing pictures of your desired look with your stylist. “It gives us creatives a visual of what you saw and love,” he tells Bustle. Plus, you might want to modify what you see in the picture depending on your hair IRL — for example, Williams wouldn’t recommend an excessive amount of layering on finer hair as it can make hair ends look frail.

In terms of how to describe it, Williams says to ask for heavy layering with a short-face frame. And, according to Tatum Neill, hairstylist and artistic director of Aveda Arts & Sciences Institutes, you should show your stylist exactly where you want your layers to fall. If you’re unclear about this, he warns that the haircut can easily transform into a shag with a curtain bang, which is slightly different. Unsure of where to have your layers fall? Neill suggests requesting for your shorter pieces to keep enough length to tuck behind the ear.

How To Style A Butterfly Haircut

1. Prep With Moisture & Styling Foam

Neill says this look is all about shape and volume, which calls for products that give a little moisture and hold.

2. Style With A Round Brush

Once your hair is prepped, Williams suggests styling the butterfly with a hot brush, such as the Dyson Airwrap. “This will give the layers wisp and definition,” he says.

If you prefer traditional blow-drying, Neill suggests using a medium-size round brush, as this will define the layers. “Make sure that you put a backward flowing bend at the ends of your hair,” he says. Pro tip: Let your hair ends cool in the brush before you release it. “Try a cold shot to speed up the cool — if the hair is still warm when you release, the ends will fall straight,” he tells Bustle.

3. Finish With Spray & Accessories

Jose and Spino both suggest finishing with products that add additional volume, hold, and texture, such as a texturizing spray. Spino’s advice? Lift up your layers and spray each individually, as this will add definition and allow you to show them off.

If you’re in the mood, decorate your ‘do with some accessories. “Makeup, fashion, and accessories can really amplify this look,” Neill says. So grab your oversized hair clips and decorate your butterfly cut as your heart desires.

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