When Gen Z and the internet at large gets inspiration from edgy styles of years past, a new hair trend is born. Case in point: The wolf cut. Named for its resemblance to the pattern of a wolf’s mane, the fierce and wild look is currently a buzzing concept, but whispers of its genesis are visible upon closer inspection. “It basically blends two iconic, defining periods in music, style, and pop culture—the ‘70s and ‘80s—and gets morphed into a more modern-day look,” says pro hairstylist Philip B. “The wolf cut is a hybrid of the shag and soft mullet, creating a current take on the look of rock stars like Rod Stewart, Patti Smith, Mick, Kiss, and Joan Jett.” According to Philip, the style is defined by wispy pieces around the crown, balanced by tapered, tousled layers cascading downwards.
But don’t make the assumption that the effect won’t work on curly hair—celebrity hairstylist Bennett Grey tells us that this couldn’t be further from the truth. “Curly hair thrives with this cut,” he says. “The shaggy, heavily layered style removes weight and bulk near the crown of the head, giving curls that would normally be weighed down some extra bounce and volume.” Better yet, it doesn’t require a ton of maintenance, Grey says, as curly and wavy strands won’t experience much bulkiness as the style grows out.
MEET THE EXPERT
- Philip B is a celebrity hairstylist and hair specialist. He is the founder and creator of Philip B Haircare, a luxury line of pure botanical hair, body, and skincare treatments.
- Bennett Grey is a celebrity, editorial, and print hairstylist based in New York City. He has collaborated with iconic brands like Chanel, David Yurman, and Opening Ceremony among many others, and his work has appeared in national print, film, and fashion campaigns.
Because the cut is so varied, Grey recommends bringing your stylist a photo to reference, and being as specific as possible with your wants and needs. “Physically show the stylist where you want your bangs and the layers to start and where you want the length to hit,” he says. “The biggest challenge is making sure the haircut flows from the bangs to the face frame and isn’t over-layered—you want to make sure you’re leaving enough weight through the bottom so the hair doesn’t start looking stringy.”
That said, Philip notes that the style works on most curl and wave types and plays best with a lived-in texture with lots of movement. “It’s not quite as simple as ‘wash and go,’ but it can definitely be as simple as a ‘scrunch and go’ look,” he says. Some pro tips: He recommends using a microfiber towel or cotton to absorb excess water, closing your cuticles with a pH spray, and keeping your favorite curl-enhancing leave-in conditioner or styling cream handy. “Most people will not need to use any hair tools and very little heat since air-drying is often the easiest and best option, but you can also use a diffuser if needed,” he adds.
Ready to channel your inner ’70s rock goddess? Keep scrolling to get all the wolf cut hair inspiration to bring to your stylist, stat.
Want a soft, subtle finish like this one on Indya Moore? Philip recommends opting for longer layers. “Fewer, longer layers with a longer wispy or curtain bang will blend more and will be softer,” he says.
Cropped Wolf Cut
A short, cropped version of the wolf cut, like Alia Shawkat’s, is a more dramatic, true-to-the-era take on the look. “Short, choppy layers and a more blunt cut to the bang will be more intense with more volume,” Philip says.
According to Grey, a longer version of the wolf cut like Sandra Oh’s gives the look more versatility, allowing you to pull your strands back into different styles as you see fit.
While the featherweight effect seen on model Micah Barnes can usually go up to eight weeks between maintenance trims, Philip notes that the style often looks even better as it grows out, allowing you to buy even more time between salon visits. “Wolf cuts can get shaggy and can take on a longer life of their own, while looking good with pretty low maintenance,” he says.
Toeing the line between a wolf cut and a bob, Juliette Lewis’s look is a great option if you want to embark into the wolf cut territory, but at a gradual pace.
Bottleneck Bangs and Waves
Bottleneck bangs, or bangs that can be split in the center, work well with wolf cut styles and can be worn in their natural state or blown out, depending on the look you want to achieve.
“Consider your lifestyle and how much time you want to spend on your hair daily,” Grey says. “While it doesn’t particularly require a lot more daily maintenance, it’s important to know this style includes bangs, which typically will require more upkeep than the rest of the haircut.” If you typically wear your bangs smooth, a style like Stephanie Beatriz’s is a good option for mixing textures.
Longer curtain bangs work to frame the face and are easy to blend with the rest of your curly wolf cut, Philip says.
Long-Layered Wolf Cut
A wolf cut like Natasha Lyonne’s can be worn both curly and blown out, which is something to consider when going for a similar look. “If you are looking to switch back and forth between a sleek, straight blowout and your natural curls, a traditional wolf cut may not translate,” Philip says. “You need to address that with your stylist for an adapted version of layers in the cut that can work for both types of styles.”
Joan Jett Vibes
Sophie Thatcher’s short wolf cut gives off Joan Jett realness with the short layers concentrated around the crown. “Focus on the crown height and designing the face framing, and you can play up the layers however you want,” Philip says.
The ombré highlights on this style work to enhance the overall cut, playing up the face-framing effect.
The lash-grazing curly bangs and soft layers in Naomi Campbell’s haircut emanate some serious disco-era energy.
Strawberry Blonde Ringlets
If you regularly wear your strands in their curly state, Grey notes that maintenance shouldn’t be too different from what you’re already used to doing. ‘If your locks get a little disheveled between washings, just go with it—texture is the name of the game,” he says. “A curl-refreshing spray and dry shampoo will also help in a pinch.”
Voluminous Wolf Crop
A mixed, layered cut like the style seen here on Lena Situations is a great option for decreasing the bulk on thick, curly hair, Philip says.
Shorter, choppy layers around the crown give these lush curls some extra volume, throwing serious ’80s rocker vibes.