If you have long hair but you're bored with your look, you may be tempted to go for a chop. And while that may very well be an option, it's not the only option. As beauty editors, we've learned you can transform your look without sacrificing your length.
So how, we hear your cry, is it possible to achieve this? Well, thanks to stylists Vernon Francois and Rena Calhoun, we've identified a few options, whether that's adding in fresh new layers to your style, opting for a blunt or side fringe, or even going for the "invisible haircut" (that's a real thing, we promise). As always, we've gathered examples as seen on our favorite A-listers to give you plenty of hairstyle inspiration before you sit down in your stylist's chair.
Click through our gallery for 20 of the best long haircuts to transform your look.
Meet the Expert
- Vernon Francois is an internationally-acclaimed A-list hairstylist and founder of the Vernon Francois® Collection. His clients include Lupita Nyong'o, Amandla Stenberg, and Elaine Welteroth, among others.
- Rena Calhoun is a Virtue Ambassador and Hair Stylist at Andy LeCompte Salon.
Really stuck in a hair rut but happy with the length? Then perhaps a fringe is for you. Whether a fringe will suit you and your hair type, Francois says, "It’s always best to have a consultation with an experienced hairstylist beforehand. Also, fringes for long hair often change your look and give you more options for wearing your hair up." If you’re still not sure, "Opt for a side fringe that way you can have the best of both," he advises.
Natural, Air-Dried Waves
Rosalía makes an argument for stepping away from heat styling and embracing your hair in its natural state. However, as Calhoun points out, "Regardless of whether your hair is thick or not, air-dried hair can be most flattering when your hair has plenty of natural wave and texture in it. I recommend a different styling method if you have stick-straight hair."
She advises, "Always be sure to prep before air drying by using a curl-enhancing product to tame frizz and bring hair to life. Virtue Lab’s Moisture Defining Whip ($36) is my go-to for bringing bouncy textures out of hair. It’s highly effective, super lightweight and virtually undetectable to the touch."
While there are pros to getting a layered haircut—layers offer movement, break up weight, and make hair look bouncier—just be wary if you're not blessed with super-thick tresses since layers can make fine hair appear flat. The trick to keeping hair looking healthy at all times is maintaining thickness at hair's ends. To do so, ask your stylist to take out your layers (that means cutting off some length).
If you've got mega-long hair, why not switch it up by adding some different lengths in at the bottom? It will give a cool, hippie vibe. Groovy, right? Francois recommends "slicing the ends of your hair which creates a softer, more contemporary appearance and tends to work very well with thicker hair. This is also great for those who don’t want to cut their hair often."
To give your long hair definition, consider incorporating a few simple shorter pieces at the front. Not only will it mean you can style your 'do similarly to Cara Delevingne's look here, but it won't take long to grow out if you don't like it. We love using GHD Gold Classic Styler ($159), to create soft, loose curls.
Layered With Bangs
JLo has got it all, from flawless skin to the perfect booty and now, long, luscious locks. The secret to her beautiful mane? Calhoun says, "Layers create dimension and texture. They’re great for anyone with medium to thick hair. For finer hair, I recommend sticking to one-length haircuts. Bangs work for most people if they are cut to frame your face in the most flattering way. You also have to be committed to styling them every day. Bangs are never great for clients who are 'wash and go' types." As for her product picks, she recommends Virtue’s Volumizing Primer ($36) to get lasting volume and Virtue Dry Shampoo ($16) to bring bangs back to life.
In order to ensure your bangs look their best, you need to make sure you're styling them. Since they tend to get oily and flat by the end of the day, Calhoun recommends prepping with a volumizing product and carrying a travel-sized dry shampoo in your bag to refresh throughout the day as needed.
Vanessa Hudgens's mermaid waves add texture and movement to her long, thick mane. If you have naturally curly or wavy strands, simply air-dry hair and when still damp, apply a sea salt spray to create texture. Those with straighter strands might need some help from Bed Head A-Wave-We-Go Adjustable Waver ($40) which creates the perfect siren-esque waves and other customizable curls to fit any mood or occasion.
Invisible or Interior Layers
The term "invisible haircut" was created by the clever folk over at Hershesons to give movement to hair in order to make the best of its natural style without adding obvious layers. Anyone, whatever texture (or length), can go for this, and it will help give your hair a boost without compromising on length.
To ensure you make the most of your curls, consider blending long layers throughout to remove some weight and instantly lift hair. Invest in a pair of curling tongs to help enhance your style too.
Extra Long and Straight
There's long hair and then there's Naomi Campbell length. If you're considering growing out hair—and then growing it out some more—Calhoun advises, "Extreme lengths work best on thicker hair types. Finer hair can tend to look straggly and flat at lengths that go further and further beyond the collar bone."
She adds, "To grow the healthiest possible hair, it starts with the foundation. Scalp health is a crucial part of maintaining healthy hair, and only healthy hair grows. I’m obsessed with Virtue’s Scalp Collection. On a weekly basis, I use the exfoliant ($46) to cleanse and reset and I follow by massaging in the topical treatment to give my scalp extra nutrients."
Side-Parted Voluminous Curls
Kate Hudson's golden curls deliver like a ray of sunshine. To ensure you make the most of your curls, incorporate layers to lift and volumize. Invest in a pair of curling tongs to help enhance your style too. We're fans of Amika The Autopilot 3-in-1 Rotating Curling Iron ($120).
You don't have to commit to a blunt fringe to give yourself a dramatic makeover. Try a softer approach with a side-swept version à la Kerry Washington. To style, part hair to one side, then curl bangs toward the back of your head using a round brush and blowdry. Spritz with Kristin Ess Ultra Fine Workable Hairspray ($14) to finish.
Soft and Texturized
Shay Mitchell has been a major source of hair envy for us, but also, hair inspiration. And this long texturized cut and style of hers is another winner. As to what texturized actually means, Calhoun explains, "Texture doesn’t equal layers, it means that the ends of your hair are soft and point-cut into. This is a great cut to keep your hair versatile when styling. It can be worn smooth and sleek or simply styled with a curling iron and enhanced with texture spray. Virtue’s Texturizing Spray ($36) is my hands-down favorite for being so lightweight."
Texturizing works on most hair types and the thicker your hair, the more texturizing you can afford to cut into it, according to Calhoun. However, ask your stylist to use their best judgment based on your hair’s density.
Selena Gomez enhances her long waves with ombré, a coloring technique that achieves a gradient of dark to light dimensional highlights. Make sure to invest in a cleansing routine to keep color-treated hair healthy. And in case you're looking for more ombré hair inspo, we've got you covered.
Curtain bangs are one of the most trending bang options out there, and for good reason. If you're low-commitment when it comes to maintaining your mane, curtain bangs are a stylish, flexible, and low-maintenance option. A triple win, if you ask us.
Super Long and Wavy
Another extra-long 'do to make our list, but this time worn wavy rather than straight, Winnie Harlow has got us googling the fastest ways to grow hair naturally or if we're being honest, extensions. She gets extra points for pulling off the cool-girl side flip.
From voluminous bobs to closely-cropped pixies, it feels like Solange is always finding new ways to wear her natural hair and we're loving this long, braided take. "Braids are an amazing and versatile way to protect your natural hair from heat and other environmental stresses and work best on curly and coily hair. Having texture in your hair prevents the braids from slipping out over time and will give you a longer-lasting result," says Calhoun.
Once braids are removed—typically after several weeks—she recommends using "Virtue’s Purifying Shampoo ($28) to deep clean and reset. A reset will help you maintain the overall health of your hair, especially after keeping it in a protective style for an extended period of time."
Straight and Sleek
There's something about Ciara's long, thick mane that makes you want to wrap yourself up in its warm embrace like a comforting blanket (what, just us?). She adds subtle angles at hair's ends to remove some weight, which helps thick tresses from feeling too heavy.
Sofia Vergara's hair looks sunkissed with this honey-blonde color that is all the rage. It's so natural-looking and looks especially flattering against her signature long locks. Worn straight with a middle part, it's a classic style that never fails.
How many times have we bowed down to worship KKW's hair? The secret to this lived-in look is texture. Just apply a medium-hold mousse then blowdry hair. Once hair is dry, create loose waves using Ghd Platinum+ Professional Performance 1" Styler ($249). The effect is kinda casual and kinda sexy, which makes it kinda perfect.