XL Hair Is Back And (Literally) Bigger Than Ever

By Charlie Colville

3 weeks ago

Long hair, don't care

Fed up of bobs and pixies? You wouldn’t be the only one. Long hair enthusiasts are rallying in the salons, and hair professionals have noticed the steady rise of the XL hair trend. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is XL Hair?

‘XL hair is extra-long hair that is much longer than the average hair length; we would class extra-long hair as 24 inches or longer,’ explains Inanch Emir, Founder and Creative Director of Inanch London. ‘It’s a statement, head-turning cut, and was a popular look during the most recent red carpet season as it can look quite dramatic.’

While this year has been a big one for bobs, pixies and other short hairstyles, the latter half of 2024 is gearing up for the reactionary return of super long, dramatic hairstyles. ‘Long hair has been popular for a long time, but 2024 is all about extremes,’ says Cos Sakkas, two-time British Hairdresser of the Year and TONI&GUY Global Creative Director. ‘While many clients are asking for shorter haircuts, others want super long hair, past their waist and even past their hips.’

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TikTok seems to be in agreement. The platform, which has been hyping up the bob movement for several months now, is just as invested in the long hair trend – with over 215 million posts tagged under #xlhair and a further 287 million under #superlonghair.

And, as both of our professionals have pointed out, the red carpet has become the home of early-onset beauty trends, and all signs also seem to point in the direction of XL hair. ‘Celebrities are chameleons when it comes to their hair – wearing it short one day, and super long the next day,’ says Cos. ‘Rapunzel-length hair was a favourite at the Met Gala; the longer the better. The bum-skimming length was worn by Kendall Jenner, Elizabeth Debicki and Ariana Grande with super-long, feminine hair which was strong and warrior-like.

‘Long wavy hair can look ethereal and angelic with added extra-long clip-in extensions adding to the drama,’ he continues. ‘While pulling it into a smooth, sharp ponytail gives it that lovely long, luxe finish.’

Who Suits This Cut?

While anyone can wear XL hair, it might require a little bit of help from hair extensions – so you’ll need to decide if this is something you’re willing to upkeep and invest in. ‘Not many people can grow their hair this long, especially if it’s naturally curly and wavy,’ says Cos. ‘The XL hair trend calls for hair extensions, which can be applied in various ways, whether it’s non-committal clip-ins, tapes which last for approximately six weeks, or a weave which lasts much longer.’

‘XL hair is for everyone,’ agrees Inanch. ‘It’s just a matter of making sure the texture of extensions matches the client’s own.’

‘Long hair suits most people, especially if it is worn off the face,’ adds Cos. ‘And while it’s great for a special occasion or night out, you also need to think about how you will care for it and wear it every day.’

How To Ask For XL Hair In The Salon (& What To Expect)

Communication and forward planning are key when it comes to planning an XL hair appointment at the salon. ‘Consultation is always advised so both the stylist and client understands what XL is, as everyone has a different interpretation,’ highlights Inanch. ‘We stock up to 20 inch length hair and anything above that usually takes six weeks to arrive from our hair suppliers.’ So you’ll need to book in advance.

As for the consultation itself, Inanch says that your stylist will ‘also use this time to colour match the client’s hair texture and colour and then order the hair. The team can also mix different shades of XL hair to get the ideal colour for clients for a seamless finish.’

It’s also recommended that you make sure your natural hair is in tip-top condition ahead of your appointment. ‘Make sure your home haircare maintenance is on point; the better the condition of the hair the better the finished result will be,’ reminds Cos.

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How To Style XL Hair At Home

Good styling comes when hair is in great condition, so Cos recommends starting with plenty of hydration. ‘Long hair tends to be dry and split ends are a curse, so keep your long hair in good condition with a regular treatment,’ he says. ‘Always brush long hair from the ends to the roots, and never drag a brush through dry hair to avoid split ends and frizz.’

And when it comes to styling, it’s up to personal preferences, but Cos emphasises that, ‘Dofferent products will give your hair a different texture and feel; a dry shampoo will give it a dusty finish, while a shine spray will leave it looking glossy and luxe. Long hair also needs a base, like a volume mousse, and a sea salt spray works well when left to dry naturally.’

How To Maintain Long Hair

This isn’t a hair look for those unwilling to invest time and energy into making it look good, so be prepared for regular maintenance. ‘XL hair is a fun trend for a special occasion, but it is quite difficult to maintain over a long time,’ warns Cos. ‘If you are trying to grow your natural hair long, be careful with your diet. Choose foods that are rich in omega-3 such as fish, flaxseeds, nuts and green vegetables, which are great for your hair. Avoid processed food and anything high in sugar. Book in for regular trims which won’t make your hair grow but will give the effect of fuller, thicker and healthier hair.’

What Next?

This isn’t a trend likely to go anywhere anytime soon. ‘XL hair will always be popular and in demand, especially with many celebrities and catwalk models wearing their hair super long,’ says Inanch. ‘Pulled back into a smooth ponytail, it can look dramatic and domineering; wear it loose and wavy and it gives ethereal, innocent vibes.’

Hair Inspiration


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Featured image: Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23 Streetstyle (c) Christabelle Beaudry