You’re probably familiar with the time-honored tradition of TikTok beauty, in which nostalgic trends are ‘discovered’ and introduced to Gen Z like they were created just yesterday. It’s the very definition of multi-generational entertainment — the kids get to experiment with something new every day, and it’s fun for the olds to see a fresh iteration of their old looks. And for better or worse, there can also be quite a bit of schadenfreude when watching a new generation repeat some of our beauty mistakes, including overdrawn lips and razor-edge brows.
One TikTok trend, however, is tripping me up. It seems familiar yet super fresh all at once, and I just can’t put a finger on its provenance. The medium wolf cut is an update to 2021’s nostalgic trend, and as the name suggests, is executed on medium-length hair. It’s giving Stevie Nicks circa 1970, with some early ‘90s Jon Bon Jovi energy thrown in. Before ending up on TikTok, it’s been on tour with Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, and Taylor Swift. It has such varied influences that experts are needed to properly ID it.
What is the “medium wolf cut”?
Hair legend Sally Hershberger set the record straight. “The medium wolf cut is a hybrid cut, combining the choppy layers of a shag with the length and texture of a mullet on medium length hair,” she says. This hybrid nature is why it looks to an untrained eye like the similar cuts from which it is derived, but Hershberger says, “it’s absolutely a different look and style.” The wolf cut is it’s own beast, if you will.
Interestingly, hairstylists see a lot of different eras in this cut. For hairstylist Adam Federico, R+Co‘s vice president of technical development, education, this cut’s shag-based look has a distinctly ‘70s vibe. Franck Izquierdo, cofounder of IGK Hair Care, says the extra layered, edgy pieces are very reminiscent of the grunge scene of the ’90s, while Miami-based hairstylist Michelle O’Connor, who is Matrix’s global artistic director, is getting whiffs of the 2000s emo scene.