Medium hairstyles: 48 ideas to inspire a new mid-length 'do

Need some medium hairstyles inspiration? Take our handy cheat sheet to your next salon appointment

medium hairstyles collage image of diane keaton with a blown-out shag against gray background
(Image credit: Future/Getty Images)

Medium hairstyles may be the middle ground of hair, but they're by no means average. This versatile length is long enough to sweep into a gorgeous up-do, but short enough that it's easy to blow dry and style. There really is a mid-length hairstyle for everyone.

Society may have (wrongly) told you short hairstyles are "the thing" to do once you reach the age of 40 or 50. But at woman&home we're all about sticking two fingers up to society's expectations and doing whatever makes us feel great—especially when it comes to our hair.

Falling anywhere between the jaw and collarbones, medium hairstyles are both very modern and incredibly flattering. They can be cut and styled in so many ways to create a flattering, face-framing style. Plus, shoulder-length cuts are so much easier to manage than long hairstyles and require trims less often than, say, bob hairstyles. Winner-winner.

“From conversations I’ve been having with my clients, I think we’ll see a move towards a technique known as slicing [this year], which is an alternative to layering where the ends of the hair create a softer appearance,” explains celebrity hairstylist and Global Ambassador for Redken Vernon François. “This tends to work very well with thicker hair; it’s also great for those who don’t want to cut their hair too often.”

The best medium hairstyles for women 

The trick to perfecting medium hairstyles is ensuring that your 'do is both well-kept and suits your face shape. Long faces are flattered by face-framing layers and side bangs, while oval-shaped faces can pull off heavier bangs. Round faced? Opt for long layers and gentle waves. Square faces will suit soft, rounded layers that sit around the jawline.

If you're still on the fence about medium hairstyles, we’ve rounded up the best looks to inspire your next haircut. Our hair type and face shape suggestions below are just a guide, and there are no hard or fast rules; your hairstylist will be able to tailor a style to suit you.

Medium hairstyles with bangs

It's true what they say about bangs hairstyles being for everybody with the right variation. The key is bearing in mind your natural hair type, versus how much time you're prepared to put into daily styling to achieve your desired style. If you're a wash-and-go woman, you'll need to factor in how your hair dries naturally. Many salons will trim your bangs for free, which is an essential step to keep them looking fresh. 


The wavy style with feathered bangs

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to medium; wavy


The shoulder length style with curtain bangs

Face shape: oval, square | Hair type: medium to thick


The curved bangs with loose waves

Face shape: square, oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The super curly style with bangs

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: curly, coily 


The feathered style with bangs

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The soft layered style with side bangs

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The naturally curly bangs

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: curly, coily, kinky


The classic shag haircut with bangs

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: medium to thick


The shoulder length style with blunt bangs

Face shape: oval, heart | Hair type: medium to thick


The bob with curtain bangs

Face shape: square | Hair type: fine to medium

Medium hairstyles with layers

Feathering can be extremely flattering and lends itself well to medium hairstyles (plus can easily be maintained by styling with one of the best hair dryers for fine hair, as these can easily add volume and definition with minimal damage). Rounded layers marry up well with a square face shape, while round face shapes can carry off blunter layers. Thick hair can pull off a load of choppy layers, while fine hair requires fewer layers to stop it looking sparse. Jane Fonda's signature style is the perfect example of a layered cut done right.


The rounded layers with side bangs

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: medium to thick


The shoulder length style with soft bangs

Face shape: oval | Hair type: medium to thick


The layered coily hair

Face shape: any, especially heart or oval | Hair type: curly, coily


The feathered style with side bangs

Face shape: oval or heart | Hair type: medium to thick


The wavy-curly chin length style

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: medium to thick, wavy/curly


The choppy layered style

Face shape: any, particularly oval, square | Hair type: medium to thick


The tousled layers with side part

Face shape: round, oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The choppy volumized layers

Face shape: any, particularly oval, square | Hair type: fine to medium


The long and thick layers

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: thick


The thick layers with centre part

Face shape: oval, square | Hair type: thick

Medium Hairstyles for Curly Hair

One of the best bits about curly hairstyles, whether wavy, curly, coily or kinky, is that they have enviable natural volume. A dry haircut will enhance your natural curl type while keeping the ends fresh. Use best hair dryer, drying with a diffuser attachment, and learn how to plop your hair for frizz-free curls. Whether you're after wavy hairstyles or natural hairstyles, including braided hairstyles, there are plenty of medium hairstyles for your texture to work with. 


The shoulder length curly lob with side part

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: curly


The layered natural curls with centre part

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: curly


The Afro

Face shape: any, especially oval, heart | Hair type: coily, kinky


The curly chin length bob with side part

Face shape: any, especially oval | Hair type: curly


The shoulder length twists

Face shape: any, particularly oval or heart | Hair type: coily, kinky


The lob with voluminous curls

Face shape: any, especially oval, square | Hair type: curly


The medium box braids

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: naturally curly, coily or kinky


The shoulder length loose curls with centre part

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: wavy to curly


The naturally coily hair with tapered layers

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: coily, kinky


The beachy curls

Face shape: any, particularly square or heart| Hair type: curly

Medium Hairstyles for Thick Hair

Thick hair gives you a lot to work with when it comes to medium hairstyles: a super blunt style that keeps your hair all one length can look seriously chic. But thick hair also works well with tons of layers because it has a natural volume that many envy. Keeping thicker hair nourished with the hair masks is super important, especially if your strands are prone to becoming coarse or dry or you're looking at the Dyson Corrale vs GHD Platinum and thinking about buying a new heat styling tool. 


The thick and sleek lob

Face shape: oval | Hair type: medium to thick


The thick and coily hair layered style

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: coily, kinky


The long and rounded layers

Face shape: any, particularly square | Hair type: medium to thick


The side parted waves

Face shape: square, heart or oval | Hair type: medium to thick


The thick long bob

Face shape: any, particularly oval or square | Hair type: medium to thick


The chin length rounded bob

Face shape: square, oval, heart | Hair type: medium to thick


The long bob with layered ends

Face shape: any, particularly oval or heart | Hair type: medium to thick


The graduated bob

Face shape: any, particularly oval or square | Hair type: medium to thick


The loose waves with side part 

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: medium to thick


The subtly layered bob

Face shape: heart, oval or square | Hair type: medium to thick

Medium Hairstyles for Thin Hair

Yes, our hair tends to thin with age, but that doesn't mean you have to compromise on finding chic medium hairstyles that make the most of your strands. Volumizing products and heat tools that add texture are your friends here. Editor's tip: dry shampoo also doubles as a root-lifting volume spray. For more medium hairstyles inspiration, look to celebrities like Helen Mirren, whose fine hair looks chic on every occasion, as well as as our guide to the best youthful hairstyles for over 50s.


The mid length shag haircut

Face shape: heart or oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The classic blunt bob

Face shape: oval, round | Hair type: fine to medium


The shoulder length lob

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The shoulder length layered style

Face shape: oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The lob with layered ends

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The classic shag haircut

Face shape: any, especially square or oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The asymmetric bob

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: fine to medium


The classic lob with side part

Face shape: any, particularly oval or heart | Hair type: fine to medium


How to style medium length hair: expert tips & tricks to know

It goes without saying that the condition of your hair is super important with any style. But as mid-length hair can require more intensive heat styling than shorter styles (and the ends will have been grown over a longer period of time), it's even more crucial to keep it in good nick. Ghd's ambassador Zoë Irwin's has shared her healthy hair commandments below to nurture medium hairstyles now and forever.

  • Freeze dry your blow-dry: "With a powerful hairdryer, like the ghd helios ($249/£159) the airflow means that you don’t need to rely on heat for drying your hair as the power itself is enough. Always flash cool each section of your hair and dry with a round bristle brush to add moisture and shine."
  • Massage your scalp for 10 minutes per day: "It will relieve tension and increase the blood flow for thicker, healthier, longer hair. And it's so easy to do!’’ 
  • Treatment layering: “Supercharge your hair by layering hair treatments, this technique is equivalent to a facial but for hair. Simply apply a mask and leave it for 15 minutes, rinse off and towel dry, then repeat twice until you have used three masks in total. The secret is to start with a protein mask which helps to bind broken fibres together and strengthen fragile, damaged hair. Then follow with a conditioning mask and finish with a colour mask to retain and enhance colour and shine."
  • Bigger is better: "Swap small brushes for big paddle brushes. As you sweep it along the scalp it will lightly massage and increase blood circulation, helping to stimulate healthy hair growth. Plus, the wide surface means that more hair is being brushed at once, so less brushing is needed overall and thus less stress is put on the hair.’" 
  • Cold rinse: “By rinsing or washing your hair with cold water, you close and seal the hair cuticles which helps add extra shine and combat frizz. So always turn your shower to cold for a quick cold rinse before getting out. This also benefits your skin!"
  • Gently does it: "When hair is wet it is fragile and vulnerable to breakage so brush wet hair very gently. Use a wide-tooth comb. The wide tooth design allows for delicate detangling on damp hair which is fragile and more prone to damage.” 

Armed with our cheat sheet to the best medium hairstyles of the moment, you're well on your way to a fresh and fabulous new 'do. Whether you choose a lob, mid length braids or a layered shag cut, we've shown you that there are medium length hairstyles out there to suit everybody.