The 'butterfly' haircut is quickly becoming one of 2022's top styles. With shorter cuts ever popular — like the blunt-cut bob and the shaggy mullet — the butterfly haircut's popularity is thanks, in part, to its illusion of a shorter style, without actually compromising length. It's a true have-your-cake-and-eat-it offering. Plus, it taps into the cool, '70s vibes from this year's most popular styling trends.
Unlike the wolf cut and octopus hairstyles, the butterfly cut consists of shorter layers on top, blended into a series of longer layers to deliver movement and texture. The style is often referred to as a two-in-one haircut: the shorter, bob-length top layers create a whole new shape when the hair is tied back, giving the appearance of a shorter cut from the front. For visual, see this look created by Vintage Esther on Instagram.
I've dipped into long-bob territory before, but otherwise have always loved having long hair. I'm lucky that my hair grows quickly, and although the strands aren't particularly thick, I'm always told by hairdressers that there are a lot of them. A downside to having fuller, longer hair is that it can easily go flat and look heavy. My last flirtation with a multitude of layers was longer ago than I can remember (my usual cut pretty much keeps the hair one length, with shorter strands blended at the front for a sweeping fringe).
Swiping through glossy images of the butterfly haircut on Instagram, like this one by Richard Anthony, I was excited to give my flat and shapeless hair some life but equally nervous about the maintenance it could demand. I'm going to be honest: I am very lazy when it comes to my hair. I shampoo, condition, and leave it to air-dry. That's my go-to daily routine — if you can call it that. Luckily, within minutes of arriving at Blue Tit's London's Brockley salon, my hairstylist Kostas calmed my worries. Even though I've mostly seen the butterfly haircut on Instagram rather than IRL, he explained that it's perfectly suited to my hair type — and is actually lower maintenance than it looks.
"The butterfly haircut works much better when the hair is past the shoulder," Kostas told me, adding that the cut is great for those with a natural wave or curl to their hair. "A bit of a wave makes it look much nicer and you can actually see where the layering sits." Although Kostas thinks that the cut would suit a multitude of different hair types, he wouldn't recommend it for those with very-fine hair as the layers can start to make the hair look wispy. "It's mostly about the weight that needs to be taken out in order to create the softer look around the top," he said.
Kostas divided my hair into sections and tugged at my grown-out fringe (I fell into the trap of wanting to emulate Daisy Edgar-Jones' fabulous bangs after watching Normal People and, sadly, it didn't work out.) He showed me how the shortest layer would sit just below my ear, and then guided the longer layers so that they would blend in seamlessly. This would help us avoid the dreaded 'step' you so often see when layering goes wrong.
To begin, Kostas snipped an inch or so off the bottom of my hair to achieve the right length. Then, the layering began from the top. In his opinion, the shorter the layers, the better. "The shorter we go with them, the longer the haircut will last," he explained, and I was surprised to hear that the cut doesn't demand increased visits to the salon. Kostas said that by going higher with the layers, and thus creating natural bounce in the hair, the style shouldn't go flat, meaning it can last 10-12 weeks before a freshen-up is needed.
Once the top layers were done, Kostas worked on the longer layers, meticulously checking that they were blended in well. Then, it was onto the styling. Kostas gave my lengths an added moisture hit by spritzing on a leave-in conditioner and followed that with OWAY Thermal Stress Protector. He told me that although this haircut is generally quite low maintenance, like anything in life, I'd have to put some work into it. Kostas blow dried my hair using a barrel brush to enhance the layers. He reassured me that while this does produce the best (and glossiest) results, I'm not necessarily expected to recreate it at home.
While my hair was still damp, Kostas ran OWAY Flux Potion (a light, gel-like styling product) through my strands. If I'm going to use just one product, this is the one, he said, as it helps create a bit more texture and wave to the hair. Giving hair a blast with a diffuser or leaving it to air-dry will give it a slightly more natural, texturized look. A wand or iron can be used to add curl. Kostas would advise against styling it completely straight to avoid a flick-y finish.
Another concern I'd had prior to the chop was how practical the cut would be for me, as I work out a lot. My usual hairdresser had warned me that the Daisy Edgar-Jones fringe wouldn't work with my love of cycling and helmet-wear, combined with my unwillingness to style it. I didn't listen (Spoiler: he was right.) Would the butterfly haircut be a pain when it came to throwing it up for a run or cycle? Well, the layers do make it a bit messier to deal with, but it's nothing a few strategically placed bobby pins can't handle. I also get what Kostas meant about reducing the weight of the hair. Pulling my hair into a ponytail feels much lighter than it did before as the layers have thinned out my hair ever so slightly.
If you're keen on keeping the length of your hair but looking for a freshen-up, the butterfly haircut is a good bet. This is especially true for those with thicker hair types — and Kostas says the curlier, the better. Even after the blow-dry had faded, my hair felt bouncy and had added movement to it. I think Vogue was right in its prediction: 2022 is going to be the year of the butterfly haircut.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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