What is the butterfly haircut? The layered 'Rachel 2.0' style, explained

Expert stylists break down the butterfly haircut – think bounce, body and plenty of flutter

Jennifer Lopez on the red carpet with a butterfly haircut
(Image credit: Future/Getty images)

Calling the butterfly haircut the Rachel 2.0 is a bold statement. Hairstyles really don't come more iconic than Jennifer Aniston's choppy-as-the-North-Sea, unfeasibly-volumized and infinitely-imitated 'do. 

But I believe I've got grounds to make the claim. The butterfly haircut has much in common with its hair hall of fame predecessor. Sure it's a long hairstyle, as opposed to a long bob hairstyle, but both are ultra-layered, bouncy cuts that have set the cultural epicenter of their respective eras - 1995's television and 2022's TikTok - alight. 

"You're bound to come across the iconic butterfly cut that's taking the internet by storm just now," agrees celebrity hairdresser Jay Birmingham (opens in new tab). "It's an updated take on the 'Rachel' style and classic '90's layering look, that we all love again." After the '60s Italian bob and '70s curtain bangs, it was only a matter of time before the feathery styles of the floppy disc era reared their head too. Let's find out if this trending hairstyle is right for you. 

The butterfly haircut, explained by the pros

What is the butterfly haircut?

Kelly Rowland with a butterfly haircut

Kelly Rowland

(Image credit: Getty images)

"A butterfly haircut is a heavily layered haircut. With shorter layers around the face to frame it and at the crown, going all the way down the length of the hair," explains Lesley Drummond (opens in new tab), Senior Stylist at John Frieda Salons Aldford Street. "This technique gives the hair a feathery texture with lots of movement and bounce."

With supermodel-style bouncy blow dries and 'shag' cuts back on trend, it's no surprise creative hairdressers have been thinking about how to style layered hair in a fresh modern way. As for that lovely name, "butterfly comes from the shape," explains BaByliss Ambassador and celebrity go-to stylist, Syd Hayes (opens in new tab). "Layers flow from a 70s-inspired center parting fringe, working back and down into the V, creating a butterfly shape."

And this style doesn't just sound pretty, it looks it too. The face-framing layers of the butterfly style open up the facial bone structure and give long, fine hair some muscle. "This cut is for anyone who wants their hair to appear thicker and fuller without losing any length," confirms Birmingham.

Can anyone get the butterfly haircut?

Every expert agrees that there's really only one prerequisite for trying the butterfly, and that's a bit of length to accommodate all those layers. "It's more impactful on long hair, but it's versatile in terms of types of hair and texture," explains Drummond. Hayes agrees most hair types can wear this style, with one key exception, "This always works really well on long, smooth hair - a slight wave will work too, however with tighter curls it may be difficult to create the same shape." Looking for a shorter style that also ticks the trend box? The boyfriend bob may be more your speed. 

What face shapes suit the butterfly hairstyle?

Sydney Sweeney with a butterfly haircut

Sydney Sweeney

(Image credit: Getty images)

One excellent side effect of layered haircuts' return is that it allows your stylist to do what they do best and create a bespoke, flattering shape. "The beauty of this look is that it works for any face shape. Just customize it to suit you," says Birmingham. "To elongate your face shape, try longer layers around your face. If your face is more square you could try some curtain bangs to soften your jawline." 

As always, having a thorough consultation and a skilled stylist is key to success. "Your hairdresser will put the layers where they'll enhance your features," agrees Drummond, who also recommends that "color can also accentuate the haircut and give it more life." Subtle techniques such as balayage hair and babylights can create a lovely multidimensional effect. 

How to style the butterfly haircut

This style looks best with plenty of movement, so relies on the right styling as much as it does the right cut. For a classic big and bouncy butterfly, try Drummond's step-by-step styling tips:

  • "Add dry shampoo to the roots, tip your head upside down and rough dry, this will keep your hair bouncy."
  • "Always blow-dry the shorter layers at the top of the face forward with a big round brush and push back, it will naturally flick to the sides."
  • "You can also put your hair in big rollers, take them out, rub a bit of hairspray in your hands and work the product through your layers to define them." 

Product-wise, Birmingham recommends, "a high-quality texturizing spray and/or volumizing product." and Hayes concludes you should always, "remember to use a thickening spray."

Our beauty editor recommends...

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Babyliss Cordless 9000 Hot Brush | RRP: $200/£180

The ideal tool to create defined flicky layers and bouncy butterfly 'flutter'. Use it on 90% dry hair as an at-home finishing tool, or take it on the go for day-to-night restyling. 

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Virtue Refresh Dry Shampoo | RRP: $17/£16

Lightweight and kind to the hair and scalp, this gives roots just the right amount of guts without overloading strands.

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R+Co Dallas Thickening Spray | RRP: $29/£24.50

Hayes' thickening potion of choice. Mist onto damp hair and blow dry in the style. It'll give fine hair a bit more heft to show off those layers. 

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Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set | RRP: $12.50/£11.50

This clever set helps you create dressing gown curls (opens in new tab) (another TikTok trend - what else?) resulting in '70s-style waves that show off a butterfly haircut to perfection. 

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Color Wow Firm + Flexible hairspray  | RRP: $26/£23

Finish your butterfly hairstyle with a mist of this hairspray, which lives up to its promise of holding your style in place without stickiness or crunch. 

Fiona McKim
Beauty Editor, womanandhome.com

 As woman&home's Beauty Channel Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about brilliant finds on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair experiments and cute shih-tzus). Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013 under industry legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know (learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). She has since covered every corner of the industry, from interviewing dermatologists and celebrities to reporting backstage at Fashion Week and judging the w&h Beauty Awards.