The Waterfall Cut 101

Published 18th Aug 2023 by Josie Jackson

TikTok is constantly awash with new trends – both original ideas and those inspired by past creations. One such trend is the waterfall cut, and with almost a million searches for the style on TikTok, we’re predicting a wave of requests to start flowing into the salon. But before this happens, we thought it best to establish what exactly this name is referring to… (Hint: it has nothing to do with waterfall braids!)

What is the Waterfall Cut?

Characterised by its long layers, the Waterfall cut, also referred to as waterfall layers, helps to create movement and body in the hair, however it’s the shorter layers on top that help give the style its name, creating a flowing, flicked-out effect towards the ends. 

While also a popular cut which utilises layers, it’s not to be confused with the C Cut, with Angelo Seminara, Goldwell Global Ambassador explaining: “The Waterfall cut has more layers that can start from the mouth or the nose, depending on the face shape. The C cut starts lower than the chin, so it is much heavier and more like ‘C’.

How Do You Cut a Waterfall Haircut?

In addition to the length of its layers, the Waterfall Cut also stands out due to the angle at which the layers are cut. Expanding on this, Cristiano Basciu, Artistic Director at Richard Ward, says: “The Waterfall cut is about bringing hair forward and cutting it to get it to cascade, hence the name. You can take it to varying degrees if you want to keep layers longer or go shorter with a fringe.”

Samuel Ashcroft from Josh Wood Salons also comments on the weight of the cut, sharing: “It’s great for the warmer seasons as it removes any heavy bulk, and it also gives that effortless beachy look when it dries naturally.”

“But I still feel like I’ve seen this cut before…”

The whole nature of trends is that they’re cyclical, meaning they’re repeated or reoccur. As such, it’s entirely possible that you’ve seen this cut before, under a different name. With that in mind, you might be wondering what the point is in referring to it as the Waterfall Cut? “By giving it a new name, you’re able to direct the attention of clients back to the hair style, with a fresh approach,” explains Angelo. “Things that come back always have a little change to them or refresh. I like the like name waterfall because it the hair looks like a waterfall cascading down the back.”

This reinforced sense of imagery is also the driver behind many trends receiving new names, with Christiano noting: “Haircuts can be difficult to explain, so if a new name helps to communicate a style more clearly, why not?”

Meanwhile, Kelly Shone-Adams, OSMO Ambassador, discusses a different perk to embracing new names for trends, explaining: “By accepting these names, you’re demonstrating to your clients that you and your team are aware of the latest trends, and incorporating these into your social media can help boost your reach and engagement.”

Tips to Create the Perfect Waterfall Cut

As always, there will be more than one approach to creating a style, and this can depend on both the client’s hair type and the stylist’s cutting preferences. The Waterfall cut can come in many shapes and styles, with 'Waterfall layers short hair', 'Waterfall layers medium hair', 'Waterfall layers wavy hair' and 'Waterfall layers straight hair' all proving to be popular serch terms online. Kelly’s top tip to perfecting the Waterfall Cut is to turn to point cutting: “This is a fantastic way of ensuring a fluid blend between your layers which will result in softness and seamlessness.”

Samuel shares a different technique, explaining: “Start at the front creating your shortest point and blend your forward graduation into that, keeping it super steep. Then internally use the forwards graduation as your guide to create the internal layers and bring everything forward so you are maintaining the length at the back.”

However, when it comes to nailing the Waterfall Cut, there’s more to consider than technique. “Think about hair’s condition – some long hair can be very spindly on the ends,” says Christiano, “so by incorporating layers in the areas the hair looks fragile, you can help your clients keep their length while also rejuvenating their ends.”

Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 18th Aug 2023

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

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