When you have thick hair, going shorter can be intimidating—and risky—as your locks may be prone to building extra body that could change the shape of your cut. But one fool-proof length for thick hair worth trying no matter your texture is just above or just below the shoulders. Whether your thick hair is stick straight, wavy, curly, relaxed, or natural, there's an ultra-flattering shoulder-length haircut that suits you. We tapped stylists to the stars Fallon Toni Chavez and Marcus Francis for their insider tips and tricks to taming thick tresses and expert insight into why mid-length cuts are the most flattering for this hair type.
From blunt cuts to long layers, keep scrolling for the most flattering shoulder-length haircuts for thick hair.
Meet the Expert
- Fallon Toni Chavez is a celebrity hairstylist based in Los Angeles. Her client list includes Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Bella Thorne, among others.
- Marcus Francis is a sought-after stylist. His A-list clients include Julianne Moore, Emma Roberts, and Olivia Colman.
Textured and Blunt
Olivia Palermo's wavy locks look effortlessly cool with a rough chop that gives her blunt cut more dimension. Chavez adds, "Shoulder-length cuts for thick hair are good for a few reasons. First of all, eliminating dry damaged ends, getting a fresh new start—it's a great alternative to cutting your hair short for a completely new look."
Sleek, Long Layers
Sleek hair looks impeccably polished in long layers that fall just below the shoulders like the ones Joan Smalls has. For added gloss, finish with Kenra Professional Shine Spray ($18).
Kerry Washington's curls make a glamorous statement as they sit right at the shoulders. You just have to ask your stylist to cut a tad longer so the length is maintained after your curls set. To get Washington's shiny, bouncy curls, we suggest investing in a curl cream. Amika Curl Corps Curl Defining Cream ($25) works especially well for thick tresses.
Okay, technically this cut is a tad shorter than shoulder-length, but we had to include given just how good it looks on JLaw. Francis especially favors this cut due to its versatility: "The length is long enough to keep the texture manageable and has several style options. The shaggy layers give the cut lots of movement and body while allowing the natural texture to look its best," he says.
To replicate this wavy shag, Francis instructs, "Apply [Better Natured Hydrating Milk, $22] when the hair is damp/wet. Make the desired part, and either let air-dry or use a diffuser. Use a flat iron to make a few additional waves around the face and on top of the head or a small curling iron to wrap around the hair once to create more of a bend here and there." Finish off with a few spritzes of Better Natured Beachy Texture Spray ($22).
Sleek and Blunt
There's nothing boring about a blunt cut like Margot Robbie's that shows off the healthy thickness of your locks. Chavez says that when it comes to shoulder-length cuts for thick hair, you can't go wrong with "a super-clean, straight polished look."
Ombré With Long Layers
Long layers that fall just below the shoulders showcase Jourdan Dunn's gorgeous ombré. The gradient color is ideal for those with thick tresses since the lighter shade at hair's ends creates an effect that makes them appear less heavy.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's choppy, face-framing layers give her hair shape when worn wavy or straight. It's a versatile cut that can match any mood or occasion. In other words, this 'do is a winner among her many great hair moments.
Varied, Woven Layers
Nathalie Kelley's varied layers, cut just above the shoulder, are an effortless look for wavy-haired girls that requires little styling. Her caramel highlights show off her delicately woven hair, adding a feminine flair.
Choppy layers in a rough cut just above the shoulders help to bring voluminous body to Selena Gomez's platinum locks. Layers are key here since they soften this cut and keep it from appearing too blocky—a risk when it comes to thick tresses.
The same cut stays fresh even when grown out a bit like Aimee Song's cool-girl lob. Although we're highlighting the best cuts for thick hair, this length is known to flatter all hair types and textures.
Curly Shag With Bangs
From long to short, Zendaya has rocked a lot of looks that gave us hair envy, but we're into this shoulder-length shag that finds the best of both worlds and beautifully incorporates bangs. "Curly or wavy bangs are having a moment because it has shown many women you can have bangs even if your hair isn’t straight. They are sexy and effortless with this shaggy cut, giving lots of movement and texture. This style is no-fuss and makes a statement," says Francis.
To replicate this look, he recommends first applying Better Natured Hydrating Milk and Strengthening Leave-In Cream ($22) to wet hair and then again to dry hair after diffusing, lightly scrunching on ends to create definition.
Tousled and Blunt
A blunt cut can also look just as good on hair with a slight wave like Kendall Jenner's. Chavez tells us the best part about shoulder-length hair when she says, "You can get a fresh new look without cutting all your hair off. This length is also great with long layers or even bangs, and it can still be pulled back and up for other looks or exercise."
Sleek and Retro
Tessa Thompson's well-oiled waves are vintage glam. This style also serves a practical purpose by maintaining and shaping her thick tresses. To get her silky glass strands, we recommend using a product that will add a little weight and shine like Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($38).
Wavy Shag With Fringe
We first set eyes on Linda Cardellini as the loveable Lindsay Weir in the cult hit Freaks and Geeks, but now she is all grown up and she never looked better. Her modern shag is on point. She strikes a balance with her thick, heavy bang that pairs perfectly with her soft, romantic waves.
Big, Voluminous Waves
Janelle Monáe serves as one of our go-to sources for beauty inspiration, especially when it comes to hair. While we've seen her rock many styles, we can't take our eyes off of this shoulder-length 'do. Full of body, it's finished with a side-swept wave that gives off a slightly retro vibe.