Introducing the '90s heartthrob haircut, a nostalgic hairstyle that's set to be everywhere this spring.
Every year, spring invites you to meditate on a new beginning. And since hair is a vehicle for self-expression (one that constantly grows and changes), a fresh haircut for the New Year can be particularly inspiring. With that in mind, a recent post uploaded to Instagram by hairstylist Mara Roszak stopped me in my scrolling activity.
"The '90s heartthrob haircut" read the caption on Mara Roszak's snap, which features LA artist Mariah Krey. The 25-year-old's blonde hair was cut by the stylist into a layered bob that's short at the nape of the neck and longer strands at the front that skim the cheekbones: "I love the way the hair falls – it feels alive.", says Mariah Krey, "I wanted this lightness."
Also in keeping with Mara Roszak's nostalgic signature were the Mariah Krey references she brought to the hair appointment: Leonardo DiCaprio in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary, and Gwyneth Paltrow in She Loves Him - she doesn't love him". "It took me back to my teenage years," says Mara Roszak of the process of figuring out which version of the cut would best suit Mariah Krey's natural texture. “A lot of guys had this cut in the 90s – my first crush definitely had it,” says Mara Roszak. For Mariah, the haircut even breaks down cultural constructs: "With this cut, I feel free," she says, "free from expectations, free from perceptions, and free from conventional beauty standards. I can be confident about myself without much thought or myself to make an effort."
As someone with 3B curls who now feel the urge to shave off a few inches of my own, I wondered how such a cut would go with more textured hair. The answer came to me when I saw Zazie Beetz's latest look: "The beauty of hair is that you can play with it and we wanted to see it differently than we've ever seen it before," explains her hairstylist, Lacy Redway, who made a curly bob wig for a shoot at the request of stylist Jessica Willis. "We wanted to keep the neckline really clean and the sharp line of the bob should reflect her jawline and accentuate the shape of her face," explains Lacy Redway, who later styled the look on the red carpet with a crop top, body chains, and a choker. Necklace styled to match 90's hairstyle.
"For anyone who has textured hair, I recommend playing with the shape before committing," says Lacy Redway. According to the pro, that could mean testing out a wig à la Zazie Beetz or pinning down the bottom strands of the hair to simulate a bob. If you like what you see, work with a hairstylist to achieve your vision.
As the work of the two pros shows, a '90s-style bob is versatile. For a natural, air-dried look, Mara Roszak uses a styling oil that adds shine and definition. For a more wet look, as seen on Zazie Beetz, Lacy Redway preps the hair with a texturizing spray and gives a shiny effect with a leave-in conditioner or hair mask.
If there was ever a time for a cut, then it's this spring: "When the weather changes, people long for a new beginning," emphasizes Mara Roszak. And Lacy Redway agrees: "You shed the winter layers," she says. "It's nice to pull your hair off your shoulders and start over." If all goes according to plan in terms of cut and styling, expect the new look to be met with enthusiasm. "It was the only haircut I've had that I've been stopped by and complimented by strangers on the street," says Mariah Krey.
You'll find that an androgynous '90s bob is transformative not only above the nape but below as well. For Mariah Krey, her casual, no-frills cut is also inextricably linked to the development of her personal style: "It gave me permission to play with the duality of the sexes and to explore both my feminine and my masculine side," she says. Before she started modeling, she opted for baggy, shapeless silhouettes, but then she found herself drawn to her own femininity: "It took me a moment to figure out what that looks like since I can't rely on it anymore my hair is a signal to me," she says. "But now I find that I'm drawn to slimmer silhouettes, sheer fabrics, and more delicate lace. But even if I'm just wearing jeans and a white tank, it feels different," she says. Lucy Redway also appreciates the contrast that this type of cut represents: "I love seeing how gender fluidity flows into the hair section and how people can express themselves more freely," she says.
Though nostalgia is a big factor in the current '90s hype, Mariah Krey finds the greatest appeal in this hairstyle's simple authenticity. "The '90s look is so successful because it's so effortless and laissez-faire," she says. "People weren't really trying to be cool — they just were."