Ask any millennial to name the most iconic haircuts of our time and the “Rachel” might just be top of their list. The flicky, feathered and voluminous short haircut worn by Jennifer Aniston in the ’90s, when she was starring as Rachel Green in Friends, made waves when it first hit screens. Everyone wanted it, and as the buzz around Friends: The Reunion lingers, it’s once again very much on our minds.
In fact, according to beauty retailer Just My Look, demand for the Rachel hairstyle has surged by 179 per cent, while the hashtag #RachelGreen has had nearly 600 million views and counting on TikTok, with a number of die-hard fans attempting the look for themselves. Celebrity fans include Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid, both of whom have worn their own take on the look, and salons have also witnessed an uptick in requests for a modern version of the classic style.
“The original Rachel was so iconic because it was the mid ’90s and we’d just come out of this period of grunge; people were getting bored of this no-hair hair and no make-up make-up,” says hairstylist Luke Hersheson. “When Rachel Green appeared she was the opposite to all of that. She had a full on haircut – the kitchen sink of haircuts! – and it was very layered and obviously cut.” It ticked a lot of women’s boxes; it was just long enough not to feel too risqué, and you could have shape and style without chopping all of your hair off. “She wore it with big volume at the crown, a style that was loved at the time,” Hersheson adds.
Though the reunion show has catapulted the hairstyle (and the whole Friends crew) back into the spotlight, Hersheson says he was getting requests for the style even before the nostalgia-fest came about. He puts it down to the fact that Gen Z-ers are “obsessed” with the ’90s, and forgo millennials’ love of looking undone because it’s “too obvious”. “They want more of a statement look; it has to look like it’s been properly cut. Our generation [millennial] is a bit too subtle for them,” he says.
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Along with a very feathered, face-framing front, The O.G. Rachel cut was also styled to flick outwards for movement. The modern version takes inspiration from its predecessor but is less about the big volume and more about the face framing properties of the haircut, which is universally flattering. “The modern Rachel is slightly longer – it originally sat on the shoulder – and a bit softer and less clumpy,” says Hersheson, who adds that hair needs to have some movement to it in order to pull the look off.
“Soft hair doesn’t hold the style and can look a bit like a bad mullet – it works best on hair that’s been coloured (because that causes the strands to swell slightly), or that naturally has movement,” he says. The trick to really making it work is a smooth and (relatively) frizz-free finish to help the cut fall as it should. The TikTok-ers are going hell for leather with heated curling barrels for larger-than-life volume, and Hersheson says that back in the day it was also all about the “big, old-school blowout”, using a round brush and plenty of Elnett hairspray to create lots of volume.
attempted rachel’s 90s hairstyle 💓
Another point to note? The original Rachel also featured some stealthily placed highlights, which added dimension to the look. There were the “money” pieces at the front, which helped frame the face, and then other lighter tones throughout the rest of the cut. “That kind of colour helps create depth to the haircut so the eye can read the volume more,” agrees Hersheson. “On mousy brown hair, a cut like that doesn’t read, so putting in contrasting colours really helps create the perfect Rachel.”
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk