If you're after some haircut inspiration ahead of a new season, TikTok is the place to start. Why? Hairstylists from the U.S. to Korea and beyond have established themselves as the most influential beauty trendsetters on the app, serving looks like the 'U-shape' haircut (a curved cut, which gives limp hair serious volume), the 'midi flick' (a mid-length style that sits on the shoulders and flicks up prettily) and the 'C-shape' haircut (a heavily-layered style that makes fine hair look twice as full).
As we segue into winter, one haircut is picking up steam and it's set to float its way into a salon near you.
Enter: the air cut.
What is the air cut?
Like most viral hair trends, the air cut was established in Korea. The technique involves cutting in layers very close together, concentrating them around the face for a framing effect and at the forehead to create a wispy fringe. The idea is that when you muss up the hair with your fingers or rake a brush through your lengths, the layers appear fluffy and airy — hence the name.
"The airy hairstyle is fast becoming the new trend on TikTok," confirms Stephen Buller, hairstylist and cofounder of Buller + Rice. "This airy style is lightweight and flowy, and it's all about creating movement." The feathery, airy texture is all thanks to seamless layering throughout the hair for volume and versatility, adds Buller. "This technique creates a beautiful shape that can be personalized on pretty much every hair texture. It's actually a progression from those slightly more severe styles, like the wolf cut and the 'shullet' [a mix between the shag and the mullet]." Buller says that the air cut lends more bounce and glamour than edge.
What are the benefits of the air cut?
TikTokers like @jujujucloe, @lookwhoshira, @cynthiadhimdis, and @arinekim have all gone viral recently for sharing their airy haircuts. Not only are the results beautiful, but the layers add serious volume to fine hair. Depending on how it's cut, the style can also do the opposite if your hair is very thick and weighs you down.
"The layers are close together and seamless, giving that very airy visual," explains Buller. With this cut, it's easier to achieve volume when blow-drying; as a result, limp hair appears thicker. "Alternatively, if you have thick hair," adds Buller, "this style can reduce all that weight with the introduction of layering. It allows your hair to become lighter and lends more movement. That's because the layers reduce weight in areas."
Another great thing about this cut is that it works on many lengths of hair. That includes short hair, which is why #airybob is a TikTok hashtag in its own right. The air cut is especially mesmerizing on curls. Take inspiration from award-winning afro and textured hair specialist Michelle Thompson on Instagram, who is a fan of using internal layers to add lots of airy volume.
If your hair is very, very fine, however, Buller suggests being cautious. "Layering can be helpful but it needs to be bespoke to the client's hair and concentrated to certain areas." Layering isn't to take out weight, Buller continues, but to create texture and volume. Buller says that this style works great with very curly hair but suggests making sure your stylist is careful about how much length is removed when layering, as curly hair jumps up quite a bit once cut.
How do you style the air cut?
For the full airy effect, Buller suggests spritzing a volumizing spray (he recommends OWAY Volumizing Root Spray), lightly into the roots. Also try Color Wow Raise The Root Thicken & Lift Spray or Andrew Fitzsimons MODEL Volume Wave Spray. "If you have some velcro rollers [on] hand, they're a great way to achieve volume at the root," says Buller. "Get the hair 99% dry, roller up and spritz with [salt spray]. Dry the hair with a diffuser on a low heat to finish, and then softly brush out your hair once you remove the rollers. This will provide effortless volume."
Equally, explains Buller, heavily-layered hair will be great with a quick towel dry and a scrunch with curl cream. "Leave this to dry naturally or diffuse with a hairdryer," says Buller. "This is a more-relaxed version but equally beautiful and easy."
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How do you maintain the air cut?
The air cut isn't one for salon-dodgers. Buller says that with any heavily-layered style, it'll become harder to achieve the airy, voluminous style that's reminiscent of the cut after the six-week mark, as your hair begins to grow out. "Weight grows back," says Buller. "Layers grow, too, and become limp. For that reason, we always recommend to book in for a trim every six to eight weeks — and do it before you leave the salon as it's likely you'll forget."
Finally, how should you ask your stylist for the air cut?
That depends if you want your hair to be big and airy throughout (in which case, ask for lots of volume in the form of layers, plus face framing) or simply an airy fringe (ask for wispy bangs and face-framing layers).
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This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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