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We’ll just come right out and say it: the thought of getting a haircut can be terrifying sometimes. It takes a lot to be able to commit to a completely new style that requires you to sacrifice your length because, if the cut somehow goes wrong, it may take a while to grow your hair back out. The good news is that, if you’re currently debating whether or not you should get a short cut, there’s a way that you can experiment without fully taking the plunge with what is called a “butterfly” haircut.

Originally coined by hairstylist and Biolage ambassador Sunnie Brook, the butterfly haircut leaves shorter, face-framing layers around the top of the head to give the illusion of shorter hair – without lobbing it all off. That makes it a perfect style for people who aren’t ready to fully commit to the big chop. So, what exactly does the cut entail? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Butterfly Haircut?

“This is a very layered haircut on hair below the shoulders that’s cut in a way that the top layer can be separated from the bottom and easily pinned under to look like a short haircut,” Brook tells POPSUGAR. “The shortest top layer falls about two to three inches below your chin.”

The finished result is a lot like the recent Farrah Fawcett-inspired look, which is all about shaggy texture and face-framing layers. The only difference, according to Brook, is that this haircut is ideal for people who want to play with short hair without actually cutting it off.

“Shorter pieces toward the front of the face give you the face-framing effect that a shorter cut does, but with length so you can continue to style it your usual way if you’re used to having long hair,” says Lynne Soares, hairstylist at Taylor Taylor London. “If you’ve already got a fringe, mention you’d like to grow it out for more of a feathered effect.”

Butterfly Haircut Inspiration Photos

If this sounds like a trend you’d like to try, join the club. Even Hailee Steinfeld is a huge fan of the look, recently debuting the cut in October 2023. To see for yourself, keep reading. We rounded up some examples of layered haircuts that can give you the illusion of short hair, plus a few tips on how to style the look at home.