Life Style

TikTok’s Viral Mermaid Haircut Will Bring Your Waves to Life

Simone Ashley with a mermaid haircut

It’s summer. It’s hot, it’s sunny and all you want to do is cool off at the beach or by the pool. You don’t want to fuss with your hair at all, especially on sticky days where you find yourself sweating buckets as you maneuver your curling iron or blowdryer brush to craft those summery beachy waves. TBH, there’s nothing grosser than those beads of sweat trickling down your back in a hot bathroom on a 90-degree day.

What if you could simply cut your hair into the perfect air dry style instead? That’s the theory behind the viral mermaid cut, which surfaced (pun intended) on TikTok as an ingenious cut and style solution for people with wavy hair who want something that dries into those carefree, effortless waves and bends associated with sea sirens. Ahead, we break it down.


What Is the Mermaid Haircut?

Like many trends, it all started with a TIkTok video. Hairstylist Lila Styles shared the technique alongside a tutorial on a mannequin head, explaining exactly why the cut works so beautifully on wavy hair types. And it caught on fast, quickly going viral given our obsession with all things mermaids—hello, live-action Little Mermaid and the mermaid skin trend.

If you’re not a stylist yourself, the TikTok video may feel a bit technical and professional-focused (what is overdirecting?), but if you like what you’re seeing and hearing, here’s what you need to know about the mermaid cut.

Sadie Sink with a mermaid haircut

First and foremost, it’s all in the name. When you hear “mermaid,” you probably think of soft, flowing waves like storybook sirens and famous mermaids a la Daryl Hannah in the ‘80s classic Splash. “The mermaid haircut is a hairstyle that aims to recreate the effortless, tousled waves often associated with mermaids,” explains Pureology artistic director Jamie Wiley. “It typically involves long hair that is styled in loose, cascading waves, reminiscent of the beachy, carefree look.”

The mermaid haircut is the spiritual sister of another trendy salon style. “It’s very similar to the butterfly cut as they both share the elements of face framing and layers, but the mermaid is much softer, keeping longer lengths throughout and fewer layers,” says Adriana Papaleo, master stylist and creative director at Rob Peetoom Salon. “Most of these cuts that are going viral are really a variation on classic cuts.”

How to Get a Mermaid Cut

With so many buzzy trend names floating around, it can be hard to explain exactly what you want and make sure you’re on the same page as your stylist. Wiley recommends bringing photos and examples of what you’re envisioning before the scissors come out. “Discuss length, layers, and recommendations on best ways to style at home,” she says. Ask for a “mermaid cut where everything is pulled forward and cut around the face to create soft tousled layers that replicate waves.”

As mentioned in the viral video, the mermaid cut works especially well for wavy hair types, so if you have a bit of texture, this technique could bring out the best in your hair. “Waves and curls do great with zig-zag or curved partings because it gives variation in the way the texture sits dry,” says Papaleo. “This goes for waves that are natural and air dried as well as waves that are created in styling. Ultimately this cut is going to look like a very soft face frame with long layers moving towards the back.”

Camila Marronne with a mermaid haircut

Papaleo also notes that there are no layers cut in the back and says that the stylist alleviates potential heaviness by texturizing the cut when dry; if you don’t like the “heavy” feeling of one-length hair, you may want to ask your stylist to add subtle layers throughout instead. “This could also be remedied by adding slight layering through the back portions of the cut.”

The magic of the cut is that it makes the most of what you’ve already got, even if it’s just the teeniest bit of wave. “It capitalizes on the natural texture and wave pattern of the hair,” says Wiley. “It also enhances the natural waves of the hair by amplifying the existing curl and wave pattern in the hair, creating a more defined and voluminous look.”

How to Style a Mermaid Cut

As mentioned in the video, the mermaid cut technique means you shouldn’t have to spend hours styling.

For those with natural wave, Papaleo recommends using Davines’ Momo Hair Potion ($30) as a styling cream, then using a Denman brush or wide-tooth comb to define waves before “pushing” in the texture with your hands, then letting hair air dry.

If your hair is more curly than wavy, she likes Davines’ This Is a Curl Building Serum ($32) to define the curl and seal the cuticle. “This could then be air dried for at-home styling or diffused for more volume and curl,” Papaleo explains. “In the salon, I would diffuse the curls and shake them loose to bring out the layers.”

Simone Ashley with a mermaid haircut

Can’t let go of your curling wand, even when it’s hot and sticky? Wiley ​​understands. She recommends prepping with a heat protectant like Pureology Colorfanatic ($34), then taking one section of hair at a time and wrapping it around the iron, holding in place for a few seconds to create a loose curl. “Repeat this process for all sections of your hair, alternating the direction of the curls to achieve a more natural look,” she explains. Once your full head is curled, finger comb for a more natural look and add a spritz of Pureology Soft Finish Hair Spray ($31) before you head to the office… or the ocean.


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