The decision to go short can be a tough one when you’re accustomed to long hair and the many styles that come with it. No matter how many bobs or cool bixie cuts you’re seeing, the idea of chopping it all off can be daunting. Enter the return of the medium-length haircut. A happy middle ground between completely ditching your length, medium-length hairstyles offer a range of versatility and adaptability for many face shapes.
Not convinced? Think back to Jennifer Aniston’s wildly popular ‘Rachel’ cut or Lizzo’s recent curly shag. A good medium length haircut still has the power to transform your look, not to mention show off your best facial features. Whether you’re going from long hair to slightly shorter or you’re gradually growing your strands back, a medium-length style is the perfect vehicle to upgrade your current look. Most cuts are simple enough to elevate with a color change, bangs, or layers, but they can also be incredibly low-maintenance if you choose the right style for your specific texture.
For that reason, TZR turned to hair experts and celebrity stylists for insight on finding the perfect medium-length hairstyle. Ahead, they share their thoughts on everything from styling tips, the right looks for each face shape, and more.
The razor sharp aspect of a blunt cut gives a commanding feel to the traditional bob, and the style is only amplified when done on a longer lob length. The strong angle of the cut is best displayed with straight hair and uses the face shape as a guiding point. According to Lilybeth Vargas, NYC-based extension and color specialist and founder of the Dúo Hair blending technique, an oval-shaped face is considered the most symmetrical and best suited for medium-length blunt styles. “When the hair is cut just below the collar bone or above the shoulders it can be very flattering for these face shapes,” she says.
Heart-shaped faces are also good candidates for medium-length styles because the cut can create balance and allow for lots of motion. Celebrity stylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew tells TZR that movement is an important element to any style but especially crucial for medium-length cuts.
“You want the hair to look alive so using the right products to keep hair light is key,” she says. To get that effect, she begins with TSD Provitamin Shampoo from her hair care line to gently clean the hair while maintaining its natural oils and the Flower Extract Conditioner to soften and add shine to the finished style.
The layers are the focus of this cut, but it’s the below-the-chin placement that really makes the style stand out and show off the length. For a look such as this, you’ll want to ensure the hair has a polished finish by incorporating anti-frizz and shine products into your routine. “I like Color Wow’s Dream Coat because it perfectly seals in the shine before styling and creates a smoothed blowdry look,“ Vargas says.
Full Body Lob & Bangs
Along with an it-girl appeal, a shoulder grazing lob can be a suitable option for a range of textures. This full body style with soft layers has a volumizing effect that works well with naturally wavy hair. “I’m really liking a bob with lots of interior movement for fuller textures,” says Shelly Aguirre, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. With the addition of a heavy sweeping bang, the lob takes a sultry voluminous shape.
If you’re not ready for a full-on cut and want to maintain your length, curtain bangs can be a nice addition to medium-length style. “Depending on where you live, the climate can affect how your hair looks and how your style will keep,” Aguirre says. Curtain bangs are a trendy way to frame the face while giving it a chic, simple style.
This stunning cut is a classic way to wear this length, and the wavy texture adds a retro ‘20s twist to the look. The idea for this style is to show off the definition of the curls while maintaining their shape and keeping frizz at bay. Sturdivant-Drew recommends using a lightweight gloss serum, such as Paul Mitchell’s Gloss Drops Shine Serum, to add shine and keep the waves light. “This serum is great for shine, but it’s also so good at fighting humidity and decreasing frizz,” she says.
Long Side-Swept Bangs
The core of this style is the length, which is accentuated by its collar-grazing shape and its deep side-swept bang. “Soft lines and minimal layers can create a smoothing look,” Vargas says. For thicker textures, a cut like this is ideal because it relies more on the hair’s consistency than choppy layers throughout the style to give it body. That said, the upkeep will be low-maintenance. As Vargas notes, “a smooth blow dry” is really all that’s needed to style this length.
Medium-Length Barrel Curls
Barrel curls can be difficult to master, but the learning curve is a little easier with a medium-length style. The key to achieving this look is using a medium-width barrel that will yield a bouncy, flowing curl. To keep curls intact and add definition, Aguirre recommends using a dry texture spray. “I’m a big fan of Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray because it delivers a playful look without adding too much product to the hair,” she says.
An a-line lob is a good option for those who prefer an overall longer look. The style is rooted in an asymmetrical cut that features more length in the front than in the back, and can frame the face in a very different way than bangs.