Medium hairstyles—35+ ideas to inspire a new mid-length 'do

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

Selection of hairdressing tools
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Medium hairstyles may be the middle ground of hair, but that doesn't mean they're boring. The joy is in their versatility; long enough to sweep into a gorgeous up-do, but short enough to keep on top of those split ends with regular trims, there's a mid-length style for everyone.

You might be tempted to browse short hairstyles after a certain age and there’s a real societal perception that it’s the “thing” to do over 40 or 50. But here at woman&home we're all about sticking two fingers up to society's expectations and doing what makes us feel great instead. 

Falling anywhere between the jaw and collarbone, medium hairstyles are both incredibly flattering and modern. They can be cut and styled in so many ways to create a flattering, face-framing style. Not to mention shoulder-length cuts are much easier to manage than long hairstyles and require less frequent trims than short or bob hairstyles.

As for the biggest mid-length trends for 2021? “From the conversations I’ve been having with my clients I think we’ll see a move towards a technique known as slicing, which is an alternative to layering the hair where the ends of the hair create a softer appearance,” explains Vernon François, celebrity hairstylist and Global Ambassador for Redken. “This tends to work very well with thicker hair too. It’s also great for those who don’t want to cut their hair too often.”

How to care for medium hairstyles - expert tips & tricks

Condition is important with any hairstyle. But as medium length hair generally requires more intensive heat styling than shorter styles (and the ends will have been with you for far longer)  it's even more crucial to keep it in good nick. Follow ghd ambassador Zoë Irwin's healthy hair commandments to nurture your medium hairstyle...

  • 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.” 

The best medium hairstyles for women

The trick to the perfect medium style for you is ensuring it’s well-kept and suits your face. Long faces can be flattered by face-framing layers and a side-fringe, while oval-shaped faces can take a heavy fringe. Got a rounder face? Opt for long layers and gentle waves, while square faces suit softened, rounded layers around the jawline.

We’ve rounded up the best medium length hairstyle ideas below—remember, the hair type and face shape suggestions are just a guide, and there are no hard or fast rules. A good hairdresser will always be able to tailor a style to suit you.

Medium length hair with layers

Feathering can be extremely flattering lends itself very well to medium length hairstyles. Rounded layers marry well with a square face shape, while round face shapes can carry off blunter layers. Thick hair can pull off lots and lots of choppy layers, while fine hair may need fewer layers so as not to make it look sparse. Jane Fonda's signature style is the perfect example of a layered cut done right. 

Shoulder length style with soft side bangs

Face shape: oval | Hair type: medium to thick

Layered Coily Style

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

Feathered style with side bangs

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

Wavy-curly chin length style

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

Choppy layers

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

Tousled layers with side part

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

Choppy volumized layers

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

Long and thick layers

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

Medium Length Hairstyles for Thick Hair

Thick hair gives you a lot to work with: a super blunt style that keeps it all one length can look seriously chic, but it also works well with tons of layers because of its natural volume. 

Thick and sleek lob

Face shape: oval | Hair type: medium to thick

Thick and coily hair with layers

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

Long and rounded layers

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

Chin length rounded bob

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

Long bob with layered ends

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

Graduated bob

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

Loose waves with side part 

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

Short bob with subtle layering

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

Medium length hairstyles for thin hair

Yes, our hair tends to thin with age, but that doesn't mean you have to compromise on finding a chic medium length style that makes the most of your strands. Volumizing products and heat tools that add texture are your friend here. Editor's tip: dry shampoo also doubles as a root lifting volume spray. For style-spiration look to celebrities like Helen Mirren, whose fine hair looks chic on every occasion.

Mid length shag haircut

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

Shoulder length lob

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

Shoulder length layered styles

Face shape: oval | Hair type: fine to medium

Lob with layered ends

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

Classic shag haircut

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

Asymmetric bob

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

Classic lob with side part

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

Curly medium length hairstyles

One of the best bits about having curly, coily or kinky hair is that it maintains a natural volume many would envy. A dry haircut will enhance your natural curl pattern while keeping the ends fresh. Maintain your hair's health by using regular hair masks and the best hair dryer with a diffuser attachment.

Shoulder length curly lob with side part

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

Natural Afro hairstyle

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

Curly chin length bob with side part

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

Shoulder length twists

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

Lob with voluminous curls

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

Shoulder length loose curls with centre part

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

Naturally coily hair with tapered layers

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

Layered natural curls with centre part

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

Medium length hairstyles with bangs

It's true what they say: there are bangs hairstyles to suit every single face shape and hair type. The key is bearing in mind your natural hair type and how much time you're prepared to put into daily styling to create your desired look. Don't forget that many salons offer free bang trims, which are essential to keep them the perfect length and looking fresh. 

Feathered style with bangs

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

Soft layered style with side bangs

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

Shoulder length style with blunt bangs

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

Bob with curtain bangs

Face shape: square | Hair type: fine to medium

Wavy hair with feathered bangs

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

Classic shag haircut with bangs

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