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Zendaya may have pioneered the ’90s supermodel and butterfly bob haircut trends, but the Euphoria star is embracing more experimental styles this year. Case in point: the jellyfish haircut, which she debuted at Schiaparelli's spring-summer 2024 show for Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris. Talk about a fashion statement.
Much like its fellow animal-inspired cousins, the wolf and octopus haircuts, the jellyfish cut is yet another take on a heavily layered shag—just a much more dramatic one. “It's a half-short, half-long mullet style,” Raven Hurtado, stylist at Maxine Salon, says of the jellyfish cut, adding that its asymmetrical aesthetic basically makes it two haircuts in one. “The jellyfish cut has disconnected sections, with the top section [having] very short layers while the bottom layer is long and textured.”
The top section is short and rounded, resembling a short bob or a bowl cut or, in Zendaya's case, micro fringe, while the bottom remains long. Translation? The long layers resemble tentacles, hence the “jellyfish” name.
Even before Zendaya debuted her new look, the jellyfish haircut had reached TikTok infamy, having amassed billions of views on the app. Pinterest also predicted a rise in jellyfish cuts this year; searches “jellyfish haircut” are up 615%, according to the site. Obviously, Zendaya is right on trend.
That said, the style isn't actually anything new: It's inspired by the hime (or princess) cut, which originated during Japan's Heian period. Like the newly named jellyfish, the hime is also bilevel, consisting of blunt, bob-length fringe in the front and lengthy tendrils in the back.
That said, don't go calling this a mullet. Dan Williams, stylist and salon owner at Studio Dan Williams, says the style is in a league of its own. “I wouldn’t classify this as just a mullet; it’s definitely more avant-garde, and much less hair left longer,” he tells Glamour, noting that the jellyfish is an ideal choice for someone seeking to experiment with a short blunt moment in the front while maintaining length in the back.
“If you’re thinking of chopping that long hair into a bob, I would try doing the jellyfish haircut,” Williams continues, clarifying that the chop works on all hair types and textures since its so customizable. “But it's definitely for a niche, artsy, and experimental group.”
If TikTok has taught us anything about hair, it's that the more bold and daring, the better. “This look is trending because it’s a gender-neutral style and it’s very edgy, artistic, and creative,” Hurtado tells Glamour. “It’s like having short and long hair at the same time.” Which makes it an option if you’re not ready to chop off your length but want to test out a different look, she adds.
“This cut is also perfect if you want to experiment with color for an extra bold playful style and show off your personality,” she says.
Feeling inspired? To ask for the jellyfish haircut, Hurtado suggests asking your stylist for short, rounded layers on top, while maintaining your length. As always, it's recommended you bring photos for reference.
Once you have your jellyfish cut, maintenance is easy. “The most maintenance for this style is cleaning up the front and sides,” Williams assert. “The back ‘legs’ can grow as long as you’d like!”
Styling is also super simple. Since the cut is so striking on its own, it doesn't require much to make a statement. That said, Williams suggests applying texture paste all over to take it to the next level.
Hurtado echoes this, advising that you scrunch it up with your hands and fingers, then spray texturizing and thickening spray for some extra fluff. If you want your layers to flip out more, however, she suggests using a small round brush, a small curling iron, or a hot brush to make them pop.
Channel your inner jellyfish—and Zendaya—and shop the essentials for styling below.
Ouai Texturizing Hair Spray
Redken Texture Paste
Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray
Trademark Beauty Babe Waves Easy Blo Single Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer
Danielle Sinay is the associate beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @daniellesinay.
Originally Appeared on Glamour