For most, trying a daring new haircut trend — say, the sci-fi bob, baby bangs, or incredibly long lengths — requires serious thought and careful planning. Does the cut work with your lifestyle? Will it drive you crazy as it grows out? Are you changing your hair for the right reasons?
It's enough to make anyone drag their feet. Luckily, there's a tried-and-true cutting technique that leaves hair looking and feeling bouncy and light, brings new life to any length or texture, and only requires a trim to achieve. Enter: the A-line.
You may have heard the term before, but what exactly is an A-line cut, who is it good for, and why is it spiking in popularity right now? We checked in with a handful of top hair pros for all the details.
What Is An A-line Cut?
Simply put, it's a cut that's shorter in the back and longer in the front. "The change in length can be dramatic or subtle," Jon Reyman, editorial hairstylist and the creative force behind Spoke & Weal salons, says. "An A-line haircut is typically shown as a bob, which begins between the nape of the neck and the shoulders. [It's shortest] at the back perimeter and gradually lengthens to the front."
As a rule of thumb, most stylists recommend the very back to be one inch shorter than the very front, but this can (and should) be tweaked based on your length and texture. The larger the difference, the more impact you'll get. All stylists can accomplish the look, but some refer to the technique as "adding an angle," while some just call it "an A-line."
A-lines work on long hair, too, but require more than an inch in length difference to land. This cut can be blunt and smooth, big and bouncy, or somewhere in between. "Usually there is some movement in the cut itself, like mid to longer layers," hairstylist Anh Co Tran points out. He's known for his A-lines, which normally come in short to mid-lengths.
Why It's Trending Right Now
We've been seeing the subtle cut everywhere — and experts have theories as to why. Tran attributes it to the resurgence of the classic bob, which relies heavily on the technique, but notes that that's just the start. "Everyone will have their own interpretation of an A-line [this year], which makes it very current," he says.
Reyman notes that Spoke & Weal's bicoastal salons have been seeing more requests, too, saying, "We have definitely noticed an increase in request for an A-line cut. Adding an angle will give you a fresh new spin to your style."
Justine Marjan, celeb stylist to the Kardashians, Ashley Graham, and Olivia Culpo, adds, "It’s such a chic, flattering, fashion-forward cut that can elevate a woman and make her feel empowered."
Ready to see a few A-lines in action?
On Short Hair
A classic rendition done on straight hair from Spoke & Weal.
Proof the style works well on curly hair, too.
Marjan has used the technique on clients Olivia Culpo and Dove Cameron.
Shai Amiel, L.A. hair pro and owner of Capella Salon, adds bounce to curls with an A-line finish. (See the back of the below look here.)
Tran's given Alexa Chung, Nora Zehetner, and Aimee Song the look over the past year.
Kelly Rowland's rendition is super subtle, but so gorgeous.
On Mid & Long Lengths
As we get into longer A-lines, you'll notice how impactful the look can be, taking long hair from simple to modern. We've also noticed a huge surge in the A-line length done on locs. Kelela's crystal-adorned version was done by L.A. stylist Nai'vasha Johnson.
This modern variation makes hair look fuller and more voluminous thanks to a subtle A-line.
Kristin Ess took the back a tad shorter than most, below, and the result is thoroughly modern.
While also great for long hair, you'll notice that more than an inch difference is required to achieve the same drama.
The greater the length difference, the more impact you'll get.
What To Ask For
As always, it's best to bring a picture of the angle you like, but don't get too caught up on the difference in length. "Instead of talking about metrics, show your stylist where on your shoulders, neck, or chin you are comfortable with the length sitting," Reyman says. "The length in the back is determined by how dramatic you would like the A-line cut to be. The shorter your hair is in the back, the more noticeable the angle can become."
That being said, those planning on wearing their cut straight or slightly wavy, and anyone with box braids, can stick to about one inch to start, while those with very wavy, curly, and textured hair might need more than an inch to see a difference. "We want to see one level and a smooth grade from the back to the front," Reyman says. But at the end of the day, it should be a cut that works with your hair texture, so layers, a blunt finish, or a soft undercut are all great add-ons.
Have you tried an A-line cut before? Tell us in the comments below.