The Timeless Allure of Jennifer Aniston's "The Rachel" Haircut

And how to style it at home.

Jennifer Anniston with "The Rachel" haircut.

Getty Images

When you hear the name Jennifer Aniston, what comes to mind? Sure, there’s a chance you're seeing scenes from Just Go With It, The Break-Up, or Along Came Polly, but most likely, images of Rachel Green rise to the surface. Even if you’re unfamiliar with Friends and Rachel’s quirky-cute personality on the sitcom, you’re almost definitely aware of The Rachel, the women’s haircut inspired by Aniston's character that single-handedly defined the ‘90s.

It’s been a while since "The Rachel" dominated the fashion and salon scenes, but now, nearly 30 years later — yes, really: Friends premiered in September 1994 — the iconic haircut is making a comeback. Influencers like Matilda Djerf, Kaitlin Davis, and Shay Sullivan have rocked modern takes on The Rachel. Even Aniston herself wore an updated version of the 2024 Golden Globes. So, if you’ve been on the hunt for a new ‘do, take a beat to read up on why The Rachel might just be the perfect cut for you.  

What Is "The Rachel" Haircut?

"The Rachel" is an iconic 1990s haircut characterized by voluminous, shoulder-grazing strands with lots of layers. “The reason this haircut keeps coming back is because it’s a classic,” says celebrity stylist and R+Co co-founder Garren. 

The Rachel falls right between a bob and a lob in terms of length, but it’s the unique layering that makes it really stand out. “You can cut the layers anywhere from the cheekbone to the jawline to frame the face, leaving fewer layers in the back so that you still have volume and movement,” Garren says. “This works really great for thin/fine hair because it gives the look that you have more layers in your hair, without making it look too thin.” 

It’s because of this that Garren says "The Rachel" looked so alluring on Aniston. “The reason this haircut worked so well for Jennifer Aniston (back then and today) is because it’s the perfect haircut for the texture of her hair,” he explains. “That’s the most important part of asking for this haircut.” Speaking of…

Jennifer Aniston in 1997

Getty Images

Asking Your Stylist for "The Rachel"

As with any haircut, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Still, it helps to be able to articulate what you want in language that a stylist will understand. Given The Rachel is so iconic, Arcadia Salon hairstylist and colorist Theo Pettway says that simply asking for “The Rachel” or “‘90s layers” should be telling enough. If you want to offer more in-depth instructions, Pettway says to request “short cascading face-framing layers accompanied by shorter round layering throughout the hair.”

If you decide to simply fall back on the photo method, IGK Hair Care co-founder Aaron Grenia says to bring a few pics if possible. “When getting a haircut, be sure to bring inspiration photos as there are many lengths and techniques for this style,” he explains. “You’ll want to decide on your desired length around the face, as those layers will determine the foundation for this cut.”

Another thing you’ll want to ask your stylist? How to style your cut. They can tell you which products and tools they’re using the day of your visit so you can buy them yourself if you love the result.

How to Style "The Rachel" at Home

The short, round layers of The Rachel can look beautifully bouncy, but you have to know how to style them for that renowned result. 

“Use a medium-to-large round brush,” says Pettway, who is also a Davines regional master trainer. “Roll the front of your hair towards your face and roll the top part away from your face. You can choose to flip out the bottom or style it under.”

No time to fumble with a round brush and dryer? Celebrity hairstylist Anastasia Stylianou says to streamline the process with a Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler ($599). “You need to aim for loads of volume and lift at the roots,” she explains. “Blast your hair until it’s around 98 percent dry and then use a Dyson Airwrap with the [barrel attachment], then shake it out.” While you may be used to drying your hair back away from your face, Stylianou says that, with The Rachel, transitioning inward works best. 

That said, if you want to rock The Rachel in a more modern way, Garren says you can take a butterfly cut approach. “Set your hair with large electric rollers, that would flick away hair from your face,” he says. (If you’re concerned about heat damage, velcro rollers are a popular pick, too.)

Picking the Right Products

Knowing how to style The Rachel is definitely helpful, but without volumizing products to enhance hold on the fine or thin hair types the cut works best on, the va-va-voom will quickly fall flat. With that in mind, Grenia says to invest in high-quality volumizing products designed to maximize lift and bounce, like the ones below.

How to Maintain "The Rachel"

Ultra-layered haircuts have to be regularly trimmed to maintain their look. “I think for this hairstyle, you want to get cut at least every eight weeks, just to refresh the layers so it keeps its shape,” Stylianou says.

Jennifer Anniston in 1995

Getty Images

The Takeaway

"The Rachel" is on the rebound, this time appearing with an even bigger, bouncier volume than it did in the ‘90s. It’s a cut that works best on fine, straight hair, as the layering technique creates the illusion of major volume. That said, almost all hair types can test out this trend. “I wouldn’t cut this style on someone who has really, really curly hair,” Garren admits, noting that all the layers can create an unexpected, unintended shape.

At the end of the day, Garren says to be clear on your vision. “I recommend bringing photos of the exact style that you want to achieve so your stylist has a visual guide,” he reminds us.

And remember: This is a cut that can be tailored and modernized. For example, if you want a shaggier iteration, Grenia says you can opt for the Satchel Haircut — a mashup of The Rachel and the shag. “This shaggy, heavily layered style is a departure from the beachy waves and straight styles that have been dominant the past couple of years,” he says. “This is a statement-worthy hairstyle that also offers wearable versatility. You aren’t stuck with one way to wear it.”

Related Articles