If you're shopping for a new 'do, you might want to consider a shoulder-length hairstyle. Not only is medium-length hair flattering on nearly all hair types and textures—not to mention, face shapes, too—but it's also an incredibly versatile cut. Whether you're looking for a hairstyle to suit your personality, lifestyle, or occasion, the possibilities with a swingy-yet-sexy, collarbone-grazing length are endless.
So in order to inspire—rather than overwhelm—we consulted expert hairstylists Nunzio Saviano and Trey Gillen on what makes medium-length hairdos so flattering, plus gathered some of their favorite looks and the celebs who wore them best. From mussy shags to tousled lobs, scroll on for some serious medium wavy hair inspo to show your stylist.
It-girl Alex Chung proves that "Jane Birkin's bangs are still the rage for today’s lobs," according to Gillen. To get this look, he notes that you'll want to opt for shattered ends rather than blunt. "Piece [hair] out and separate with Sachajuan's Matt Wax ($22). You don’t want too much shine with this trend," he says.
Chrissy Teigen's wavy lob looks stunning on her. By maintaining length and parting hair to the side, this cut and style work to elongate and balance round faces.
Instead of telling your stylist to cut so many inches off your hair, show them where you want your hair to fall. It's far more accurate and ensures you get the finished length that you would like.
For women who have enjoyed long hair for quite some time, deciding to go shorter can be a little intimidating. However, "With balayage color and trending brighter ends, chopping off a few inches into a lob is almost necessary from time to time. It removes all those tired, over-processed dry ends and allows you to hit the reset button on your hair," says Gillen. "Medium to thick textures will absolutely love this haircut."
If you have any wave to your hair, you can easily show it off with this cut. Saviano says, "This face-framing [cut] gives a soft look to the bangs, accentuating Marta's cheekbones. The crown layers are quite short to give body and movement to the crown of the head." According to Saviano, this style works best on those with thick, wavy hair and is not recommended for those with thinner strands. To pull off this look, simply let your hair air-dry and scrunch to style. If you want a little more wave, grab the curling iron.
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige's cut is a perfect example of the volume and movement layers can add to straight hair. According to Gillen, "Long layers are classic. Thicker hair tends to work better as thin hair may lose too much with all the layering. I always tell my clients that layers are the alphabet for the hair to make a perfect sentence. This haircut is ideal for thicker hair if you want to wash and wear or style out."
Lauren Santo Domingo
The shoulder-length cut looks fabulous with straight hair. Lauren Santo Domingo's hairstyle is a little edgy because it is so straight and choppy. Get this look by asking your stylist to avoid blunt ends as they cut. If your hair isn't naturally straight, you'll have to blow dry and/or straighten hair using a flat iron.
According to Gillen, "A medium-length lob with bangs pushed to the side brings all the focus to your eyes. Don’t style this too perfect; keep it messy and sexy. Use Sachajuan's Dry Shampoo Mousse ($37) for added grit and tousled fun."
If you have flat, thin hair that is naturally straight, you'll find that going a little shorter may be your best bet. Taking a little more length off also reduces your hair's weight so you won't need to use as much product. Best of all, this style requires little upkeep—perfect for us low-maintenance girls.
"Going ‘mussy’ or the ‘bedhead’ look is super trendy these days. Many people don’t want to look 'overdone' or that they tried hard to look good," notes Gillen. He suggests using moisturizing and shine-inducing Sachajuan Leave In Conditioner ($36) for this style, which tends to work best on thicker, wavy, and curly textures.
Saviano adds, "A great natural look, this shoulder-length hairstyle shows off how easy and versatile shoulder-length hair can be. It's simple styling: naturally dried to enhance her hair natural texture, and softly pulled back into a low ponytail or a bun to show off her beautiful long neck."
If you have naturally curly hair, it's best to let it grow a bit longer. Longer hair weighs down curls, whereas shorter hair can pouf up. It's important to get long layers cut into your hair; some stylists prefer to cut curly hair dry so that they can see exactly where the curls lie.
Taraji P. Henson
Asymmetrical cuts aren't just chic, on-trend, and sophisticated—they're super versatile depending on how you part your hair. Saviano points out, "A side part or middle part gives a totally new look to a shoulder-length lob. A middle part isn’t the best look for a thin, elongated face shape, but off-center would work perfectly. A middle part works best on a round face shape. By just changing the part, it can also give the front more body and an all new look."
"Shoulder length hair is great for a mature woman," says Gillen. "Choose a length anywhere from mid-neck to the collarbone. I especially love the shag at this length. The extra layers add a lot of 'flirty texture' and it’s very versatile to wash and wear or take time to style out. As we age, our hair can thin a little; however, this length can accentuate the positive aspects of your hair. The ends look full, the roots have volume, and the mids flip and twist and add personality."
Curls flatter almost everyone. Here, Rosario Dawson's curls serve to balance and soften her strong jawline, as well as frame her face perfectly.
Zoe Saldana's shoulder-length hairstyle is incredibly versatile and can be styled conservatively for the office and then tousled and messy for a Friday night out. "It works great on finer hair textures because it keeps the ends looking full (I usually cut this haircut on the blunter side)," says Gillen.
There's not a hair out of place on Iman's sleek 'do that hits just under her neck. Gillen admits, "I love a haircut that keeps them guessing! I often find that women who change their hairstyles up seem a lot younger." If you're looking to change up your look a bit, Gillen recommends that you start your week off with a blowout, followed by a dry shampoo on your day off, and flat ironing hair pin-straight at the end of the week.
One half of R&B duo, Chloe X Halle, Chloe Bailey's medium-length locs are as beautiful as they are protective. Added throughout are a couple of subtle metallic accents for good measure.
Nicole Richie's "medium-length lob, tapered and beveled on the ends, is great for fine to normal hair," says Gillen. It gives great swing and movement on the ends. This haircut really pulls the focus up to your cheekbones and eyes." To get this chic style, he says to bring out the flat iron, and remember to use a heat protectant.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of our go-to sources for hair inspiration with her back-to-back gorgeous styles. The middle part allows hair to fall organically, framing her face and creating symmetry. Her subtle wave and chopped ends lend body and movement to her thick tresses.
A shorter bob is a great choice for thick, wavy hair. Brandy's retro waves are gorgeous, and this particular length is just long enough to keep her thicker hair from bowing outward. Any shorter and you would be risking the pouf effect that comes with thick, short hair.
Beanie Feldstein exudes Hollywood glam with her swooped side-part and shoulder-length curls. If you have fine hair, curls can add texture, movement, and a much-needed volume boost to thin and/or flat strands.
Christina Hendricks proves that if you have flaming red hair and bold curls, show them off. While it can be glamorous, this style can also be fun and bouncy with jeans and a T-shirt. "Curtain bangs with naturally wavy hair is a very unique and edgy look on mid-length hair. It’s a versatile look that you can naturally diffuse to enhance the hair’s natural texture or you can add waves with a curling iron," says Saviano.
La La Anthony
This shoulder length cut with long layers gives La La Anthony's hair body without making it look thin. "Long bangs incorporated into the short layers give this mid-length a lot of movement while flattering her face shape. It’s a very versatile cut and can be done wavy or straight," says Saviano.
Gillen recommends using a generous amount of Sachajuan Root Lift ($32) from roots to ends, blow-dry with a round brush, and twist the brush as you dry your hair.
Thandie Newton embraces her hair's natural texture in this explosion of lush, curly volume. Enhance your curls and eliminate frayed hair cuticles by using a curl cream to style, define, and moisturize your strands.
Kelly Rowland's hairstyle is sweet and subdued. It's just the right length, and the soft waves add movement and volume.
When Kim Kardashian cut her hair from long to shoulder-length, everyone went crazy. What really sets this style off is "Texture, texture, texture," says Saviano. He explains that this style is "another version for super thick hair, textured at the bottom to give a non-blunt look that’s soft and stylish. It can be ironed straight or curled very loosely with a curling iron for a wavy look." Finish with a texturizing spray for extra volume.
"Show off that natural wavy texture by adding some dimensional highlights around the face," says Gillen. "Use Sachajuan's Over Night Hair Repair ($50) to help repair the dryness highlighting can cause."
Janet Mock's natural hair is giving us serious curl envy. Her angled layers and shoulder-length cut create a shape that flatters her features rather than overwhelm them with fullness. It's a look that feels both empowering and refreshing.
Reese Witherspoon's heart-shaped face is perfect for this cut. Since the curls begin along the jawline, it slims down the wider part of her face. This is a look that you can wear to the office or for a night out.
"Have some fun with this asymmetrical lob and curl it for a new twist on a '70s classic," encourages Gillen. He adds that a finishing cream is a great way to get shiny, silky curls that won’t frizz out.
Keri Hilson's wavy style done with a large barrel curling iron is soft and romantic.
This shag on Halle Berry looks visually effortless and sexy. Her fringe and face-framing highlights make her radiate.
When commenting on Jennifer Lawrence's piecey fringe lob, Gillen notes, "These disconnected chunky layers that define the jawline are a hot number right now. A center part is a must, as is a light round brush blowout using a styling mousse."
This tapered bob on Chanel Iman is oh-so elegant. Waves and layers add movement and texture to hair without weighing it down.
A wavy lob with a simple hair tuck is so practical and flatters nearly all hair types and textures. A middle part works well on round, oval, and oblong face shapes.
Jennifer Aniston's long layers beautifully complement her oval face. To get the look, Gillen suggests trying a few more layers starting around your upper lip and gently layering all the way to the ends.
"Use Sachajuan's Curl Treatment ($34) for soft, silky curls that won't frizz or fall," says Gillen. "I love how Oprah doesn’t hide her forehead but celebrates it by pushing the fringe up and over."
Saviano says, "Jaime Pressly's bangs and face-framing layers are ideal for shoulder-length, fine hair, and give this style edge without compromising hair's natural texture by making it either too flat or thin-looking." To get this look, he says that it's important to use a volumizing spray at the root before blow-drying/styling. To finish, mist with hairspray for hold and shine.
Gemma Chan's chic lob flatters and falls right at the collar-bone. A side part creates the illusion of symmetry for square and diamond-shaped faces.
January Jones's lob with curtain bangs is "always a great option to open up your face a little bit more," says Gillen. He recommends wearing this lob wavy, especially if you've got thick hair.
This medium-length shag on Laura Harrier is equal parts sultry and casual. Use a shine-inducing spray to duplicate her glossy style.
Emma Stone's long blunt lob with side-swooped fringe is très chic. Gillen notes that this style is perfect to soften a square face shape." He instructs to blow-dry with a round brush and Sachajuan's Volume Cream ($32) "for a soft, natural, polished look."
Solange Knowles' fluffy curls are a thing of dreams. If your hair's texture is on the coarser side, angles and layers can remove weight and lift your style.
According to Gillen, Lauren London "keeps the lob fresh with this chunky, layered technique—read: tapered with shattered ends—that modernizes how the hair hangs at the perimeter."
Queen Bey is seen here at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards with an elegant lob. Her waves lend an air of romance and her blonde highlights brighten her complexion.
Camilla Belle's chic bob is gently flared out at the ends for a retro vibe.
Here, Gabrielle Union is letting her curls live their best life in a layered lob with fluffy fringe.
Choppy ends are always in and a great way to freshen up your look. Here, Ashley Olsen has an unfussy chop that sits between a long bob and a shag.