The Butterfly Haircut Can Totally Work For Short Hair—Here’s How

The Butterfly Haircut Can Totally Work For Short Hair—Here’s How

Close up of Zendaya with a short butterfuly haircut

Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Bulgari

In This Article

The Trend How to Get the Look How to Style

Short hair is having a moment, and our social feeds are flooded with bobs, lobs, and various cuts above the shoulder. Equally trendy is the butterfly cut, a voluminous, layered approach to shaping (typically medium-length or long) strands. So, it only makes sense that people would eventually seek ways to achieve the butterfly cut on shorter hair.

We tapped celebrity hairstylists Alex Brown and Sarah Potempa to give us the scoop on all things butterfly haircuts for short hair, including how to achieve and style the look. Read on for everything you need to know.

Meet the Expert

  • Alex Brown is a celebrity hairstylist and owner of SPACE by Alex Brown, a private hair studio in Chicago.
  • Sarah Potempa is a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of The Beachwaver Co.

The Trend

"Butterfly cuts are all the rage right now on TikTok, and for good reason," says Brown. "This chic style gives the hair a lot of volume at the roots and movement throughout, which makes it really easy to style and maintain." Though the butterfly trend gained traction on longer haircuts, it's starting to transition to shorter styles. "[It's] versatile and adaptable for almost all hair types and lengths," says Potempa, due to the cut's weightlessness, volume, and movement—traits many of us desire, regardless of hair length.

We all know a change of season can be a fun opportunity to switch things up, haircuts included. "With fall right around the corner, a lot of are women cutting off their long, dry summer locks and rocking something short and chic to compliment chunky knits and turtlenecks," Brown points out. "The butterfly cut on shorter hair is super effortless and a perfect way to transition those longer butterfly cuts into the fall months."

close up of selena gomez with a short, wispy, butterfly bob

@selenagomez / Instagram

How to Achieve a Butterfly Cut on Short Hair

While the key to achieving a butterfly haircut on any length is usually lots of face-framing layers, the secret with shorter lengths is thinned-out ends: You want to keep things light and feathery. Thinning the ends of the layers to help remove weight creates that butterfly effect on shorter strands, explains Potempa. “Too many layers on short hair can create the look of thin hair where we want the hair to look full and voluminous,” she tells us. “Taking weight off your [layered ends] will help lift the hair to create fullness.” 

“To do this cut yourself at home, the ponytail method is a great option,” Potempa says. “It allows for clean, easy sectioning that can be easily replicated if you decide to go back in for a more drastic cut.”

close up of jenna ortega with a wispy, butterfly cut lob with curtain bangs

@jennaortega / Instagram

What You'll Need:

  • A comb
  • Two elastics
  • Sharp hair-cutting shears

Potempa's Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Beginning with wet hair, create a line with the comb across the top of the head just behind the ears. This will give you a front and back section.
  • Using the comb to keep the hair smooth, bring the front section to the center of the forehead and secure it with a hair tie. Make sure this ponytail is tight, to begin with—you don’t want to tug at the hair and risk creating unevenness.
  • Use the comb again to smooth the back section up into a high ponytail close to the line created for sectioning. 
  • Holding the front ponytail tight, cut a few inches off. Make sure you are using the natural direction of the ponytail as a guide. The over direction of the hair will help create layering while maintaining more length than you might think.
  • After taking a few inches off the front section, slightly over-direct the back ponytail forward and cut the same amount of hair. 
  • For shorter hair, since the same layering techniques we see done on long hair may end up looking more chunky and less light and blended, I recommend going back through the hair with thinning shears and, about two inches from the ends, thinning the layers out to help achieve the butterfly cut effect. 

Byrdie Tip

Don't lift the hair in your ponytail up or to either side. That will create chunky or uneven layering.

How to Style a Butterfly Cut on Short Hair

To style a butterfly cut on short hair, the goal is to get that desired airiness to start at the mouth and thin out at the ends, creating a tapered look. “This tapering gives that wing-like effect when blow-dried away from the face,” says Brown, who recommends a round brush or hot brush similar to the Dyson Airwrap ($600).

  • Apply a volumizing spray or mousse to the roots of damp hair.
  • Rough dry 50 percent of the moisture out of the hair upside down to lift the roots off the scalp.
  • Use a blow dryer and round brush or blowout brush attachment (like the Beachwaver Blow Brush, $189) to create big, bouncy, blowout waves directed off the scalp and away from the face.
  • Finish with a texturizing spray throughout for volume and hold.
  • For added volume around the face, Brown suggests adding a curtain bang starting around the corner of the eye or cheekbone.

If you have a naturally wavy texture, this cut and length can be styled simply by adding the right product—like Potempa’s favorite Me & My Curls Creamy Curl Mousse ($25)—and air drying to get movement.

Fall 2023’s Biggest Haircut Trends: The '90s Supermodel Cut, Goddess Braids, and More


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply