Though it's filled with seriously useful gems, TikTok beauty trends are usually a toss-up on IRL wearability, especially if your day-to-day vibe is decidedly casual. Every now and then, though, a viral trend takes over in large part thanks to its genuine versatility, and those often become trends that define the year, not just the moment. Think curtain bangs, graphic eyeliner, and all-over slugging. 2022 is only half-over at this point, but it looks like the TikTok viral butterfly haircut is here to dominate the rest of it. Somewhere between a '70s-style approved shag and the intricate long layered looks of the late '90s, the butterfly cut is winning FYPs over with its flattering angles, bouncy volume, and massive crossover appeal. Put it this way: if Rachel Green were born in 1999, she'd probably have a butterfly cut at this very moment.
For a complete look at the butterfly trend, Byrdie turned to two top stylists to explain the ins and outs of the viral trend. Below, everything you need to know about TikTok's butterfly haircut.
What Is the Butterfly Cut?
Sometimes referred to as the octopus cut or a thousand-layer haircut interchangeably, the butterfly cut (coined by hairstylist Sunnie Brook) features contrasting sections of short, face-framing layers on top with longer bits beneath. By concentrating the choppier layers around the face, the butterfly cut allows for both length and serious volume and movement. With butterfly cut TikToks already pulling millions of likes on the app alone, it's poised to become one of the summer's biggest haircuts. Matt Swinney, Global Creative Director for RUSK, thinks the cut owes its popularity to a combination of playfulness, how well it gels with the layer trend as a whole, and the resurgence of defined haircuts in general. "The focus has been on color for so long but now," he says, "having a beautiful haircut makes a statement like no other.”
Because the butterfly cut pulls from so many decade-defining looks of the past (Farrah Fawcett's floppy shag and Pamela Anderson's piled-high layered updos come to mind), it's one that already looks and feels so familiar. Both Swinney and celebrity stylist Clariss Anya Rubenstein note that the butterfly cut feels like a modern take on "The Rachel" in particular. "I think we are having a resurgence of '90s trends and this was a major one," Rubenstein explains.
Who Best Suits a Butterfly Haircut?
Part of why the butterfly cut has gone so viral is just how flattering it is on so many bone structures and hair types. While there's a version of the butterfly cut (just adjust layer placement) to suit every face shape, Swinney says some may like how it looks more than others. “This haircut will be most flattering on oval and square-shaped faces because of how the layers frame and sculpt the face," he explains, adding that it also works well on hair types 2-4.
If you're trim-averse, this could be the perfect haircut for you. "The thing that’s great about these layers is that they require little maintenance and can go up to 12 weeks without a trim," Swinney tells Byrdie. "This look grows out beautifully and is great for all hair lengths,” Rubenstein adds that the butterfly haircut is one that grows out very well too (not unlike the curtain bangs it's often paired with), making it a low-risk choice for those looking to experiment with layers.
How To Style A Butterfly Cut
So you've decided to go for the butterfly cut—all that's left is actually getting one. If possible, definitely try to prepare for your salon appointment by gathering photos of exactly what you're looking for. Rubenstein says a visual reference is key, as well as discussing the desired look with your stylist. "They can assess if the cut will work for your hair type," she says. "I would tell your stylist you want to keep the length, add shorter face-framing layers around the front that graduate to longer layers in the back."
TikTok and Instagram might be full of butterfly cuts styled into glossy, curled blowouts, but the layers lend themselves well to a wide range of styles. Starting with a foundational blowout, though, even before an updo, is the best way to maximize those ultra-voluminous layers. Swinney says classic blowouts and mid-height ponytails are particularly complementary to the cut thanks to how alive and vibrant they make the layers look. Just like with makeup, laying the right groundwork is the trick to easy styling and all-day hold. "Priming your hair with the RUSK Volumizing Mousse ($19) and RUSK Puremix Blooming Sunflower Volumizing Mist ($18) is the best way to prep for any hairstyle," Swinney advises.
To go all-in on the '90s glamour of the butterfly cut, Rubenstein loves the look of everyone's favorite retro accessory. "This cut is also super cute pulled half back with a claw clip," she says. "It shows off the length and the layers and lets a little fall out around the face." For bouncy blowouts that stick around all day, Rubenstein recommends a lightweight styling aid, like the MONAT Smoothing Anti Frizz Blow Out Spray ($42), to eliminate frizz without pulling the haircut down with product — it's all about letting those airy, layered wings fly free.