It seems every new season brings with it a new internet-favorite hairdo and ICYMI, the one that has most recently been bubbling up in popularity is the “jellyfish haircut”. Also known as a “step mullet” or “step bangs”, the jellyfish haircut is a hybrid of a long mullet and bowl cut. It features blunt, chin-length fringe around the face and longer hair in the back, which together resemble the distinctive, tapered tiers of a jellyfish. As a trend, the #Jellyfishhaircut has amassed over 10 million views on TikTok alone. Although it’s only just started to rise on our trend radar in the U.S., the look has been a staple in East Asia for years. With its origins being traced back to the Japanese Heian period, the haircut was originally termed the “hime” (or princess) cut for being a style worn predominantly by noblewomen. In the modern era many Japanese and Korean celebrities have donned the blunt cut over the years like Twice’s Momo and BLACKPINK’s Lisa, among many others. More recently, it’s been seen on the catwalk at Prada’s Spring 2021 runway show. Now, just this year alone, stars and influencers have gone for the new cut, including Nicole Kidman who absolutely stunned and shocked in the uncharacteristic style for her recent cover for Perfect magazine.
As someone who lives vicariously through Pinterest, I’ve had my eye on this haircut for a couple of years—before it was even coined the jellyfish haircut—but I was always hesitant to go for it. This year, I finally experimented oh-so-slightly with a shaggy haircut and found it didn’t fulfill my need for a big change. Once my shag grew out, I knew it was time to go for the jellyfish cut. I was especially inspired after seeing creative development editor Mi-Anne Chan rocking her gradient-style step mullet on Instagram.
Still, I had my concerns. Hairstylist Dhiran Mistry, who cut Mi-Anne's hair, told me when it comes to getting the big chop it’s important for you and your stylist to consider both your face shape and hair texture. “Some bangs can widen or narrow your face,” he explains, which is why you might need some advice about whether you want your step layers to fall at your cheek or chin. “The length should also suit your hair texture,” he adds, “texture can add more volume and create a totally different effect”. Something to consider if you want a more subtle look vs the full-on jellyfish bob.
I was initially worried that the cut might not work for me because I have a longer face and a large forehead. I also have naturally curly, 3A hair, so I was concerned this blunt cut wouldn’t suit my natural hair pattern if I wore it that way. (However, I figured for this look, I could be committed to mostly wearing it straight.) So, I entrusted my go-to stylist Lillian at Hairrari in Bushwick to make my vision a reality. I first had my hair washed, then Lillian first trimmed my bangs into a fuller and thicker shape. She then proceeded to cut the “steps”. She cut the thick, face-framing pieces of my hair in small increments to see how I felt, but once we saw how cute it looked, I told her to go shorter for a more drastic change. Though some people get the 360˚ bob cut all around, I opted to stop cutting layers at my ear. She finished by trimming the longer layers of my hair to get rid of split ends and blow-dried my hair straight.
I’ve wanted this haircut for so long and spent years worried that I couldn’t pull it off. Now, I feel extremely empowered to have finally made the cut and it has given me a newfound confidence.
When it comes to maintenance, I knew it’d be a bit more of an effort because of my curls. I will say, when it’s very humid outside, I feel self-conscious about frizz and sweat causing my hair to curl up, so it’s not the best haircut for me to have in the summer—luckily, fall is just around the corner. I do think many hair types can pull off the jellyfish cut, with the understanding more textured hair can disguise its beloved sea creature shape. If I were to wear my hair completely curly, it would probably look like a typical shag, though I can’t confirm since I’ve never styled it that way.
Knowing I would want to wear my hair mainly straight, I prepped my hair before getting the cut with a Gussi at-home keratin treatment kit to help keep my hair silky and frizz-free without damaging my hair and it worked like a charm. The treatment is meant to last six weeks, and I plan to re-apply it as needed. Out of the shower, it takes 30 to 45 minutes to dry and straighten my hair, but only 10 minutes to touch it up on the following days. I set my style with Tresemmé hairspray and use Amika Perk-Up Dry Shampoo when it gets a bit oily.
Inspired by my TikTok feed, I’ve also tried braiding my hair on days when I’m too lazy to flatiron my entire head and even adding ribbons at the ends for a cute contrast. Since getting this haircut, I’ve received so many compliments on the street, it’s been a self-esteem booster. The jellyfish haircut has definitely emboldened me to go for more experimental looks, so since getting the cut I’ve tried bleaching my brows and wearing edgier outfits. I feel like a total badass walking out. I know that when it grows out it’ll still look cute, but I’m keeping the hime hairstyle for a while—which means I’ll be back in the salon chair every few months or so to keep the cut looking fresh.