I've said it before and I'll say it again: Medium-length hair is the most versatile length since it falls smack dab in the middle of long and short. It's long enough to tie back into a ponytail or bun yet short enough to style without spending too much time or effort (speaking of styling, check out our favorite braided hairstyles for medium-length hair). The only difficult thing about medium-length hair is finding a definition that everyone can agree upon. Some say it's defined as hair that reaches past your collarbone but falls just short of your armpit. Others expand the definition to include anything between shoulder-length and Rapunzel-length hair. Either way, it's a cut that's perfect for fine-haired people like me.
Take it from me, someone who's had thin and fine hair her entire life. If my hair grows too long, it starts to look scraggly and stringy. If I cut it too short, it looks sad and limp. The only length that really works for me (no matter how often I shake my fists to the sky) is medium-length. It gives movement and life to my hair, while also keeping any little amount of natural volume that I have intact. But there are only so many cuts you can dream up on your own, which is why I all but hoard celeb photos for salon inspiration. Below, discover some of my favorite shoulder-length hairstyles and cuts for fine hair.
Nicole Richie's medium-length hair looks sleek and polished thanks to big barrel waves and lots of shine—we like Sachajuan's Shine Serum ($30) for replicating the latter. Richie is proof that you don't need to fake huge volume for an elegant, red carpet-worthy result.
Ciara's hair is all about softly layered feathery ends that give the appearance of extra volume and density. These tapered ends also help breathe movement and bounce into her strands, which makes it look incredibly healthy.
The secret to Elle Fanning's bouncy hair seems to be the softly curled ends, which keep any indication of limpness out of the picture. Use a 1.5" curling iron, like T3's Voluminous Curls 1.5" Clip Barrel ($95), to get that soft, seamless wave.
Lily Collins's hair looks youthful and beachy, thanks to its lived-in texture and deep side part. That red lipstick and those bold brows don't hurt either.
Parting your hair deep on one side can give the appearance of more volume—especially if you tease your hair at the root before combing the top down.
If you've got fine locks and a shoulder-length haircut, take a page out of Zendaya's book. Here, her hair is softly tapered off at the ends and curled throughout. The waves add texture and movement, which can help fine hair appear bigger and healthier. The slightly messed-up texture makes it the ultimate cool-girl look.
Is there anyone more qualified to wear this '70s shag haircut than Georgia May Jagger? We don't think so. Her waterfall layers add extra body to this medium-length hairstyle, especially when they're curled back.
Felicity Jones's hair is verging on long, not medium-length, but we had to include it due to its feathery texture, which takes us back to the '70s in the best way possible.
Ask for layers to be cut starting at your shoulders and ending about an inch before the ends. It gives movement and an appearance of softness to the hair.
January Jones shows us how to add bangs to a shoulder-length hairstyle. The bangs are long and wispy, which blend into the rest of her wavy hair perfectly. Although bangs can sometimes make fine hair look even, well, finer, you can avoid the stringy look by styling them with a texture spray like Moroccanoil's Dry Texture Spray ($28).
Jessica Alba's medium-length hair looks healthy and voluminous thanks to glamorous Old Hollywood curls. We'll be using Ghd's Curve 1" Classic Curl Iron ($199) to keep our hair's shine and strength intact.
Cara Delevingne's blunt-razored ends make her hair look thick and dense (which is something those with fine-hair can usually only dream of). The alternating back-and-forth wave doesn't hurt either.
Ever since she sported "the Rachel" back in the '90s, Jennifer Aniston has remained big on face-framing layers. Although there don't seem to be any layers in the back, the front is sheared little-by-little, creating a curtain effect.
If you have fine hair and you avoid traditional bangs for fear they'll make your hair look sparse, Emma Watson's baby bangs might be the answer. The short feathered strands are eye-catching and not stringy in the slightest.
Yes, Doutzen Kroes's hair looks majorly volumized here, but as fine-haired girls know, sometimes a little volumizing spray or hair-heightening dry shampoo works wonders on second-day strands. We love OGX's Bodifying + Fiber Full Body Renew Dry Shampoo ($9), which literally boosts hair up before our very eyes. Nonetheless, her long layers build upon each other, making the mid-lengths of her hair look majorly dense.
Margot Robbie's blunt lob goes from polished to rock 'n' roll depending on the red carpet she's walking. Even still, it never looks thin or scraggly, and we're thinking that has to do with her blunt cut, which makes the ends appear thicker.
Kerry Washington's lob looks thick and healthy thanks to lots of shine and tiny alternating waves. The side part brings volume to her roots, while the blunt ends bring density down to the bottom. Basically, it's perfection.