Do you ever look at a hairstyle and think, I will never be able to pull that off? That’s exactly what I did when I set eyes on the octopus haircut. Achingly cool with lots of wispy layers, initially I was turned off. It’s like a shag — no, it is a shag, the ’70s cool girl haircut that has shot back to popularity recently — with a difference.
According to Pinterest, the octopus haircut is going to be one of 2022’s biggest beauty trends. Already huge in Korea, it’s slowly gaining traction in the UK and has apparently doubled in search recently. Contrary to what the name might suggest, it’s actually totally wearable. The cut consists of lots of layers at the base of the neck, which fan out prettily (resembling octopus tentacles). Those layers are a lot longer than the ones you’d see on a shag and are often teamed with a curtain fringe to complete the look. The style has been racking up likes on social media ever since the mullet (love it or loathe it) made its way back into the hair space. The octopus cut is a nod to the look but the longer layers soften the edge and make it a lot more wearable, especially if you aren’t keen on drastic cuts.
Whenever I’ve gone to get a haircut, I’ve always been scared to opt for any kind of layers, worried that they might transport my locks back to retro territory in a non-ironic way. Not to mention the styling — it would be too much upkeep for me. Getting a fringe last year was a huge learning curve and I realised just how long it can take to style hair into shape on a daily basis. I have natural afro hair but I often straighten it and get a silk press for ease so as long as I wear a headscarf at night, I don’t need to style it every day — or even every week. With a fringe, subjecting my hair to heat damage became a daily occurrence. I was worried that the layers in a cut like this would lead to the same conundrum. Then I got a u-part wig. The 22 inches of hair sat neatly on my chest and cascaded down my back but I felt it was obvious where my real hair and fake hair met. Beyond this, it was completely shapeless and heavy. I wanted a style that would breathe life into my lengths and give movement to my new hairdo. I did a double take at the octopus haircut and realised it was the perfect fit.
Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, the octopus can vary in style. On fine, straight hair the ends can look wispier and you can really create texture and volume with the layers that frame the face. On thicker hair like mine, the layers take the weight out of hair to create a lightness in movement. The reference picture I took to Blue Tit’s Portobello Road hair salon in London was close to the length of my wig and thick, too, with shorter layers sitting at the shoulder. The weight removed from the lengths creates the octopus-like tendrils. My stylist, Kamila, was keen to add in a faux curtain fringe to tie the look together. I winced but she promised it wouldn’t add any further upkeep. In fact the entire style can be pretty low maintenance.
“Depending on your hair texture [the octopus haircut] can be very easy to manage,” said Kamila Pruszek, owner of Blue Tit Portobello. “To show off the definition, it looks great blow-dried (which can be extra styling if you have wavy or loosely curled hair) but it can still look great with waves. It becomes a softer style.” As Kamila chopped and feathered away, I could feel the physical weight of the hair lifting away from my head. When each section dropped and the layers cupped my face, I immediately noticed the great shape it lent.
One thing is clear: the octopus is not a cut that suits all hair types and textures. If your hair is naturally coily or you have a tighter curl, the face-framing layers are likely to spring back on themselves rather than hang correctly, so you’ll need to smooth them out. That’s something to bear in mind if you don’t like using too much heat on your hair. Personally, I don’t mind this as I’m always vigilant about heat protection! On the upside, if you keep the faux fringe to an eyelash-skimming length, Kamila says that if you’re diligent about getting quarterly trims as recommended, it won’t require more salon trips. “You should be having your hair trimmed around every 10 to 12 weeks,” she says, “so this schedule is fine for maintaining the definition in the layers.” This is not such a problem for my wig but something to bear in mind for the natural hair at the top.
So how do you style the octopus haircut at home? Kamila recommends keeping products light to ensure the movement and texture remain as fluid as possible. Anything too heavy will make your new layers look clumpy. To get my new look just right, Kamila applied OWAY Next Day Cream, £35, for light hold and OWAY Silk’n Glow Serum, £40, for smoothness. I wear my hair wavy most days so braiding it at night gives it a soft, tousled look that’s so effortless to style.
If you’re looking for a cut that adds movement and texture to hair which is all one length, why not opt for the octopus haircut? I can safely say that I left the salon with a literal weight off my shoulders — and a newfound fondness for layers.
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