The Rachel Is (& Always Will Be) Our Favourite Throwback Haircut

By Charlie Colville

5 months ago

Meet the hairstyle that defined a decade

If there’s one woman that defined the trend landscape of the 90s, it had to be Jennifer Aniston – or, more accurately, her Friends character, Rachel Green. The fictional New Yorker was so popular amongst audiences when the show aired that she even launched a new haircut, dubbed ‘The Rachel’. Here’s how the trend came to be, and why it’s making a resurgence today.

What Is The Rachel Haircut?

‘The Rachel haircut – sometimes known as just “The Rachel” – is a shoulder length haircut with lots of layers through the back and around the face,’ explains Skye Edwards and Lee Radley, artistic directors at Gielly Green. ‘The style was made famous by Jennifer Aniston during the 90s, when Friends was new and her character Rachel Green was incredibly popular.

‘Rachel was the fun, gorgeous girl that all the girls wanted to be like, and quite naturally her hair which became the cut that all the girls wanted,’ they continue. ‘It had length, volume and movement. Even though Jen didn’t like how much maintenance the haircut needed on her curly hair, I think this style has remained so popular as it’s pretty easy to maintain on less curly or straighter hair.’

@itshappinez 💇‍♀️💇‍♀️ #hairtransformation #friends #rachelgreen ♬ original sound – 🍒

Famously, as the team at Gielly Green mentioned, Jennifer Aniston didn’t like The Rachel. In interviews, the actor said it took a lot of work to maintain, likening the process to doing surgery. She has also described it as one of the ugliest haircuts she has ever seen, and (according to Comedy Central UK) even once called it cringey.

But fear not, modern fans of The Rachel haircut have simplified the style in recent years, leaving it in a much more manageable state – resulting in a newfound interest on social media platforms like TikTok, where searches for ‘the rachel’ have almost three billion views. ‘The modern Rachel has less layers at the back than in the 90s, but still has layers for face framing – which is the feature everyone seems to want,’ say Skye and Lee.

How Does It Differ From A Modern Lob Or Kitty Cut?

The Rachel is often considered quite a standout haircut, but newer trends are starting to rival the hairstyle using similar techniques. We ask Gielly Green to set the record straight by comparing The Rachel to two trending haircuts: the lob and the kitty cut. ‘Firstly, where The Rachel is a layered cut with lots of face framing, a lob tends to have one symmetrical length,’ they say. ‘The kitty cut, on the other hand, is a little more similar – but it has longer layers than the Rachel and also has long or curtain bangs (The Rachel doesn’t have bangs).’

@badkidhq Rachel Green era #90shaircut #layeredhaircut #extensions ♬ Hell N Back – Bakar

How To Ask For The Rachel In The Salon

As with any new hairdo you undertake, make sure you have plenty of reference pictures that you can show your stylist. In this case, it might be worth checking our your favourite Friends episodes and see which versions of The Rachel haircut take your fancy.

Who Suits This Cut?

Lucky for us, The Rachel can be adapted for all. ‘This haircut will suit most face shapes, as long as your hairdresser allows for your face shape when cutting the face-framing layers,’ say Skye and Lee. They also warn that more maintenance will be needed if you have curlier hair: ‘It will be harder work to look after at home for curly hair that will need more blow drying to smooth.’

Tips For Styling The Rachel At Home

Depending on the era you want to recreate (original or modern Rachel Green), the Gielly Green team have shared their tips for giving your haircut some bounce: ‘If you want to create the volume of the original 90s Rachel, then using Velcro rollers at the top and crown will help,’ they say. ‘If you have the modern version then a large curling iron will help create the look.’

Hair Inspiration


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Featured image: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix