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Try the Trend: Emo Is Back—Here’s How To Make the Style Modern

Emo hair is all about texture and volume (plus, a bit of attitude). Here, a pro breaks down how to ask for and style this edgy haircut.

Break out your studded belt, dust off your battered checkerboard slip-ons, and grab your black eyeliner: Emo is back (as we predicted it would be). And if you’re looking to change up your look, now is the perfect time to experiment with emo hair. We know what you’re thinking, but we promise—today’s emo hairstyles are a far cry from the ultra-fluffy, deep-parted ‘dos you may recall from your MySpace days. Instead, we’re seeing a more refined approach to the scene style, making this edgy (and nostalgic!) trend far more wearable than you may expect. If you need proof, keep scrolling.

Ahead, Redken hair artist and educator Sarah Bramham showcases her take on the elevated emo hairstyle and explains what to ask for when getting this unique haircut. Plus, we’ll share some must-try tips for styling this layered cut—whether you’re wearing it to work or hitting the mosh pit.

What Is an Emo Hairstyle?

Emo hairstyles can take many forms, but whether worn short, long, or somewhere in between, the edgy look has a few defining characteristics. For one, Bramham says, “[emo] hair has choppy layers that become very, very thin at the ends.” There’s typically a lot of volume at the crown of the head, and there may be sharply-angled layers placed around the face to add body and texture. Additionally, she says, there’s typically an “asymmetrical bang that goes across one eye” (though you can, of course, opt for classic fringe if you prefer a more modern look).

While anybody can embrace emo hair, this cut is particularly flattering on those with fine, straight hair, as the dramatic layering helps to create the illusion of thicker, fuller strands.

How Do You Ask Your Stylist For an Emo Haircut?

When doing an emo haircut, Bramham likes to use the slide cutting technique. Put simply, this technique involves sliding the cutting shears along the hair to remove bulk and create layers. (Traditional layering, meanwhile, involves cutting or snipping individual sections of hair to remove bulk). When you’re at the salon, Bramham recommends asking your stylist for “lots of choppy layers and short, face-framing angles” along with airy, thinned-out ends. Depending on how thick your mane is, they may use a razor to remove excess weight from your ends. We suggest bringing a few pictures of your desired look for your stylist to reference—in our experience, arming your stylist with inspo pics is a great way to ensure you achieve your desired outcome.

Elevated Emo Hairstyle

How Much Upkeep Does an Emo Haircut Require?

Upkeep for emo hair requires both long-term maintenance and daily styling. Long-term maintenance is usually fairly minimal, as the style is intentionally a bit messy and undone. Depending on how quickly your hair grows, you can expect to visit the salon for a trim every six to eight weeks, give or take.

Daily styling, meanwhile, may require a tiny bit more work. Volume is the key to acing this grungy look, so if your hair isn’t naturally voluminous, you’ll probably be using a few styling products on the daily (more on that shortly). Similarly, as we mentioned, this style is typically worn straight. As such, you may need to blow-dry or flat-iron your hair to achieve pin-straight strands.

3 Tips for Styling an Emo Haircut

When it comes to styling an emo haircut, volume and messy texture are the name of the game. Keep reading for four tips on styling your elevated emo ‘do.

1. Straighten from roots to ends

If your hair is naturally wavy or curly, you’ll want to straighten it for the classic emo girl look. Start by spritzing your roots with Redken Root Lifter Volumizing Spray to help give your roots body and fullness. Then, work a heat protectant like Redken Big Blowout Volumizing Heat Protecting Blowout Jelly throughout your mid-lengths and ends and blow-dry your hair straight. Bramham recommends using a medium round-barrel brush for your blowout, because as she explains, “the bigger the brush, the straighter the hair [will be].” If your hair isn’t as straight as you’d like post-blowout, you can go in with a flat iron, too—just make sure your hair is fully dry before doing so.

2. Emphasize volume

The original emo hairstyle was often teased to within an inch of its life, but today’s iteration is a bit softer. Instead of roughly teasing your hair—which can be damaging, if done improperly—Bramham recommends misting your dry mane with Redken Root Tease Spray. The long-lasting spray adds instant body and lift at the roots and dries down with a matte finish—perfect for ensuring your emo hairstyle looks effortlessly undone.

3. Add unexpected color

Scene hairstyles are meant to be a little unconventional, so it’s the perfect opportunity to play with unexpected hair color. If you’re game to switch up your hue, your options are pretty much limitless. Opt for a pastel fantasy color (pink is always a win in our books), go bold with rainbow hair, or add a pop of pigment with a face-framing money piece highlight. If you do dye your hair, remember to pick up a color-safe shampoo to help keep your hue looking bright between touch-ups.

Next Up: Beauty School: An Androgynous Haircut Is the Versatile Style That Defies Labels

Header photo credits: @sarahthehairnerd

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