Many of the most eye-catching contemporary haircuts rely on layers and movement to make a statement—and the curve cut is no exception. One of the more recent additions to the ever-expanding collection of face-framing styles, the curve cut, relies on strategic snips rather than laborious daily styling for its flattering shape.
Although the trend has gained major traction this year (with the help of TikTok, of course) the cut’s origins serve as proof of its major staying power. “While playing around with layers as a style has been a constant in the industry, the curve cut really made its claim to fame in the ‘90s with ‘The Rachel’ haircut,” says hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor.
Meet Our Expert
Dimitris Giannetos is a celebrity hairstylist to stars like Amal Clooney and Gigi Hadid.
What Is the Curve Cut?
Consider the curve cut this year’s need-to-know style—the perfect blend of referential and modern. “The curve cut, also known as the C-cut, is a layered haircut where the shortest layers frame the face, and the remaining layers become longer as they reach the back of the hair, which, in turn, creates a curve that resembles a C-shape,” explains Taylor. Hairstylist Dimitris Giannetos notes that the fluffy and volumizing style frames the face by curving inward, effortlessly and effectively highlighting one’s bone structure.
At its core, “The Rachel” is all about flippy sections styled round, the better to calm would-be severe layers for a soft and approachable look. The contemporary curve cut (which is typically a touch longer than the prototype) has found fans in tastemakers like Hailey Bieber, Laura Harrier, and Lucy Hale, each leveraging its complementary shape, along with its ability to thicken lengths while providing the bounce of a ‘90s blowout. The style is often carried off with straight strands, but its appeal extends to other textures, too. “The cut is so flattering because it can work on so many hair types and can really frame the face to accentuate your facial features,” says Taylor.
Though layering is the crux of the style, a curve cut’s tiers are trimmed in a cascade soft enough to act as an antidote to the choppy, jagged layers loved as of late. Plus, should you find yourself in the midst of a growout, the curve cut’s descending, blended layers can actually create the illusion of length, satiating your appetite for an interminable mane and offering a stylish solution while you practice patience.
Curve Cut vs. S-Curve, V-Cut, and U-Cut
The curve cut is among a collective of alphabet-inspired layering methods named for their arching shapes. While the curve is all about face-cupping segments, the S-curve is really just another name for a gentle shag that results in an around-the-face wave. Conversely, a V-cut creates sharper, angled layers for a style reminiscent of the early aughts. And as for the U-cut? It shares the majority of the curve’s primary goals, namely the pursuit of soft, round, face-framing layers.
How to Style a Curve Cut
In terms of shaping, the curve cut is all about pulling focus toward the face. “You can ask your stylist to focus on cutting shorter pieces around the face and then longer pieces around the rest of the hair,” says Giannetos. “You want the stylist to almost make a C shape in the hair so that all attention is on framing your face.” The cut can be executed to accentuate the various parts of the face, from cheeks to jawline, depending on your preferred length and placement.
To style, start by parting your hair down the middle, as this will allow your cut’s layering to border the face (whether your mane is snipped to frame the cheek, jaw, or collarbone) symmetrically. Embrace the inward-turning nature of your new layers by urging them toward the face, creating C-shaped sections and definition throughout. This can be carried off with a blowdryer and round brush, by winding around rollers or a curling iron, or via investment in the beloved Dyson Airwrap, which promises to deliver extra stylized bounce. Alternatively, an air-dry is a worthy option for a damage-free, low-maintenance look that celebrates your organic texture.
Practice less-is-more styling at the back—the focus should be on framing your complexion. Spritz a reliable hairspray like L'Oréal’s Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray or Living Proof’s Flex Hairspray to facilitate hold while still encouraging movement, an essential hallmark of the style.
As with all new ‘dos, preparation is key to the final result of your C-centric daydreams. “Always consult with your stylist beforehand to see what length will work best for your hair and curl type,” advises Taylor. “Show them inspirational photos of exactly what you want to ensure you’re on the right track, and ask for post-wash instructions if you’re unsure of how to style your new cut at home.”
Ultimately, remember that none of these cuts should be too complicated—that's pretty much the point. "It's so cool because it can be a fun change to the hair with no damage at all," effuses Giannetos. Opt for the cut that best suits your mane, face, and routine, and watch how easy (and striking) your daily styling can become.
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