When the iconic ‘Rachel’ haircut worn by Jennifer Aniston first debuted on Friends in 1994, no one knew what to do with themselves. The choppy, layered ‘do effectively took over the world—at least, the haircare world. Celebs and TV fans all flocked to their hairdressers, looking to achieve the same bouncy, girl-next-door-chic hairstyle.
But Jennifer Aniston? Well, she was far less of a fan. The actress has told numerous news outlets that she found the iconic cut “cringey,” “horrible,” and “high maintenance.” When asked on the Kyle and Jackie O Show if she would rather wear the Rachel for the rest of her life or shave her head once, the star quickly opted for the latter.
And unless you have a hairstylist like Chris McMillan (who Aniston said she needed “attached to the hip” just to achieve the look herself), a high-maintenance cut like the Rachel probably isn’t a feasible option.
Luckily, we can keep the Rachel back in 1994 because its cousin, the” butterfly cut,” is here to stay—and she’s more versatile, wearable, and chic.
Meet The Butterfly Cut
According to L’Oreal’s Hair.com, the butterfly cut was first coined by celebrity stylist Sunnie Brook. The butterfly cut features lots of feathery layers, with the shortest falling about two to three inches below the chin. The longer layers, on the other hand, typically fall just below the shoulder.
Brook told Hair.com that the varied layers allow its wearer to switch between long and short hairstyles. That way, Brook says, you can experiment with shorter styles like bobs and shags without fully committing to chopping all your hair off. These layers typically look best on wavy or curly hair because the hair’s pattern naturally disguises the edges of the layers.
That’s part of what made the Rachel such a headache, explained McMillan to The Telegraph in 2016. “It was an easy cut, but it needed regular trims to keep the layers looking sharp.” With the butterfly cut, the layers have room to grow out without changing the overall look.
Is The Butterfly Cut Right For You?
It’s important to remember that the butterfly cut is low maintenance, not no maintenance. Ideally, the 1970s-esque feathered look would add movement, shape, and body to most hair types. But the look might not translate well with tightly coiled or very fine hair. Cowlicks could also pose a problem with the way the layers settle.
So it’s important to talk to your hairdresser before committing to a chop. If they respond to your request for a butterfly cut with a quizzical expression (not everyone’s on TikTok, okay?), you can also tell them you’d like short, wispy layers at the crown and around your face. A good hairdresser should be able to layer the rest of your locks from there.
And luckily, if your hair turns out to be a good candidate for this type of cut, styling can be as simple as adding texturizing spray (Julia Roberts and lots of Suggest readers love this volumizing spray from Serge Norman), tousling your locks, and voila. You’ll have bouncy, voluminous hair with feathery wisps that almost look like butterfly wings. It’s no Rachel, but after hearing Jen’s take on that, maybe that’s a good thing.