Before social media was around to catapult musicians into the spotlight, there was a cultural pop movement that needed virtually no introduction: we’re talking ‘90s boy bands. Whether you were jamming to them on your stereo or kissing their posters goodnight, these stars' boyishly good looks and sexy laid-back hair have been emblazoned onto our hearts ever since. So naturally, when Matrix global educator Philip Wolff told us that boy band haircuts were becoming a salon favorite, again, we couldn’t wait to relive the iconic look in fresh new ways.
The pro stylist gave us the rundown on what constitutes a boy band haircut and the best tips and tricks to style it in three different ways. Watch the video transformation for yourself, then keep scrolling for an easy breakdown of each style that’ll make you want to dust the cobwebs off your favorite CD.
What is a boy band haircut?
There was no shortage of pop groups competing for our attention and loyalty in the 90s, so it’s only fitting that a boy band cut would also have many iterations of its own.
“When I think of what a boy band haircut might look like, I can't just choose one,” says Wolff. “I still think of the multi-piece band with different character roles. You've got anything from the boy next door to the bad boy, the young one, or the heartthrob.”
Despite the different variations, Wolff says that one typical style that seems to stand out is the middle-to-near-middle-part bowl cut with enough length on top to hang or flop over on each side.
“This allows the style to be successfully worn anywhere from just at the brow line to about the corner of the lips or even the jawline,” says the Matrix stylist. “Although it can be one length, some slight layering can add volume and movement, so the ends look softer, and the wearer can push it back and allow it to fall naturally over time. This can also be with an undercut, a tapered nape, or even proportional layering everywhere for a short shag look.”
Who is a boy band haircut good for?
Although coined the "boy band haircut," the style is certainly unisex and versatile in its styling options. Not to mention, it works on all hair types and textures.
“If the hair has a wave or curl, no problem! Just make sure your stylist is aware of the amount of spring in your hair so you can have the optimal length around your face, especially if you're coming from a longer cut to begin with,” says Wolff. “Remember the details surrounding the overall look can help personalize this style to the individual.”
Are boy band haircuts high maintenance?
If a short low-effort mane is your hairstyling go-to, you may want to give boy band hair a whirl—especially since it can look even more effortless and lived-in over time.
“I believe one of the best parts of a ‘90s middle-part boy band haircut is there is very little upkeep,” says Wolff. “It goes through stages and arguably gets better as it grows out. It can last months before another cut is needed, and it's generally a free-flowing style, so 'wash and wear' is definitely an option.”
How do you style a boy band haircut?
Wavy, sleek, tousled—there is no right or wrong way to style boy band hair. As Wolff points out: “You can do as much or as little as you like with this cut.”
No matter which styling technique you choose, he recommends priming hair with a multi-tasking leave-in treatment like Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Repairing Nourishing Leave-In Conditioner to achieve your hair goals. Boasting 20 benefits, the spray helps prevent breakage, protects against heat styling, minimizes frizz, adds moisture, and so much more.
If your hair color looks a bit brassy, Wolff suggests adding a liberal spritz of Matrix Total Results All-In-One Toning Leave in Spray in Brass Off (for lightened brunette hair) or So Silver (for blondes and grays). Their blue and purple pigments help neutralize unwanted undertones in your hair color while also nourishing, prepping, and protecting strands for the styling process.
Read on to see how the Matrix pro manipulates one boy band cut into three unique looks.
The perfect balance of movement and height makes this cropped 'do a true stunner.
Work a dollop of Matrix Total Results High Amplify Foam Volumizer Mousse through damp hair, then cue up your dryer nozzle and a round brush. While keeping the hair dryer close to the round brush, blow dry the top sections of hair up and forward, and then roll it towards the back of the head to create volume. Once all sections are complete, gently shake out hair with your fingers and use a texturizing spray like Matrix Vavoom Extra Full Freezing Spray to lock it in place.
If you ask us, a sleek middle part with floppy side pieces was our favorite heartthrob’s quintessential style (they know who they are).
First, use a Denman-style brush to blow dry hair back in different directions. This will help work out all the kinks and cowlicks in hair, creating a sleek, pushed-back look with a smooth finish. Then, hold Matrix’s Miss Mess Dry Finishing Spray an arm’s length away from the hair and spritz it onto strands while simultaneously blasting it with cold air from your dryer to style it.
“[Miss Mess] leaves just enough texture in the hair, giving it a second to third-day hair feeling on day one, resulting in a better hold and finish all around,” says Wolff.
Finally, shake your head all around or use your fingers to comb some of your hair free.
Got waves or curls? Play them up with a little help from Matrix’s A Curl Can Dream Light-Hold Gel For Curly And Coily Hair and your diffuser.
Create tension at the hairline by holding sections of strands taut with your fingers, then use a diffuser attachment to diffuse the hair inward. Wolff cautions against disrupting the hair pattern too much; instead, use your fingers to lightly scrunch when needed, but let the diffuser do most of the drying. Top the look off with some Miss Mess spray while directing cool air onto hair for a tousled, wind-swept look.
Ready to give boy band hair a go? Hair.com has the salon-loved products you need to make your cut come to life.