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The Centuries-Old Hime Cut Is Now Trending: Here’s How to Make It Work for You

The ancient Japanese hime cut is going viral on social media. Here’s what to know about the cut’s history, and how to make it work for you.

As with most hair trends circling the internet these days, many of them are, in fact, not new at all. From the Ayurvedic ritual of hair slugging to the resurrection of ’80s claw clips, social media has an unmatched way of bringing old ideas to the forefront of new minds. The Japanese hime cut, a uniquely-shaped hairdo with interesting origins, is no exception.

“I believe the hime cut is trending for the same reason most things trend in today’s world: social media and global celebrities and influencers,” says Matrix global educator Philip Wolff. “Because the world is so connected with pop culture, we constantly look for something new and exciting. When something comes along that we connect with personally, a new trend is set.”

Wolff answered our most burning questions about this storied haircut and offered his advice on deciding whether the bold style is right for you. Keep reading for everything you need to know about giving this ancient ‘do a 21st-century spin.

Why is it called the hime cut?

Before we dive into the characteristics of this distinct style, it’s important to underscore the history of the hime cut. According to Wolff, the hime cut (pronounced hee-meh) is a hairstyle rooted in Japanese tradition and royalty. It’s said to have originated from a coming of age ceremony known as binsogi, where royal women would have their hair cut to their ears at age 20.

“It is believed to be the court style among noble women during the Heian period,” explains the stylist. “The word Hime translates to princess or lady of higher birth.”

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What is the hime cut?

According to Wolff, the style consists of three very distinct levels. It’s worn long in the back, with sharp bob-length layers framing the face and a full set of fringe. When you have a hime cut, you can basically “fake” a bob with bangs whenever you pull the rest of your hair up into a ponytail.

“It’s a way to keep length while adding a very bold yet oddly classic look in the front,” says the stylist. “For those who like the feeling of a new, fresh cut that’s noticeably different, this could be [the cut for] you.”

What face shape is the hime cut good for?

“Although this is a very geometric shape and can be arguably very sharp and harsh, the good news is it can be tweaked to fit the individual’s face shape best,” says Wolff. Of course, a seasoned stylist will be the bread and butter to pull off this look and make it your own.

“Communicate with your stylist, let them know your concerns, and they will give you their opinion and options that best fit you, your facial features, and your lifestyle,” he adds.

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Can anyone have a hime cut?

While the hime cut is typically worn pin-straight to show off the sharp curves of each layer of hair, Wolff says that these days, there are no rules that limit the look to only one hair type. Whether you opt for the classic, traditional sleekness of a hime cut or give it a shaggy edge with your natural curls, he believes each individual should be able to rock the style however they see fit.

In addition, you can also play around with the length of each layer of your hime cut. Microbangs, curtain bangs, cheekbone-skimming sidelocks, a bob or lob, and princess-length strands, among others, are all fair game in helping to customize the style.

“Anyone can and should be able to wear their hair any way they choose, as long as they understand the upkeep, their hair texture in connection with that style, and in some cases, the history and meaning behind certain styles,” says Wolff. “For those who choose to look forward and gain inspiration from one thing and personalize it for themselves confidently—now, that’s style, in my opinion.”


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Is hime hair cut hard to maintain?

You can actually use the distinct and disconnected appearance of the hime cut to your advantage, depending on your styling goals. Love the look of crisp, blunt layers? A hime cut checks the box. Prefer a more effortless, undone look that you can quickly tousle after showering? A hime cut is excellent for that, too.

“If you have a specific aesthetic in mind (especially with the bob-length and fringe around the face), then a frequent stop to your stylist could very well be a thing,” says Wolff. As for touch-ups, pros usually recommend heading to the salon every four to six weeks for trims to keep your sharp new cut as fresh as possible.

On the other hand, Wolff says letting your hair grow into the cut over time is not totally off the table. This option is best for those who aren’t afraid of experimenting with new looks and stepping out of the box (even more so than choosing this unique cut in the first place). If you’re a person on the go and decide to forego the frequent upkeep, we suggest arming yourself with a split-end mending system to prevent unnecessary breakage in-between trims. You can’t go wrong with Matrix’s Total Results Instacure line. Infused with vitamin B5 and liquid proteins, the brand’s Anti-Breakage Porosity Spray nourishes the hair as it fills in over-porous areas, effectively smoothing and rebalancing the cuticle while restoring elasticity and strengthening hair against future breakage.



How do you style a hime cut?

To obtain the hime cut’s more traditional pin-straight strands, Wolff advises against using volumizers. Instead, he says to look out for smoothing and shine-enhancing products like Mega Sleek by Matrix. Ideal for straight, wavy, and frizzy hair, the line’s Shampoo, Conditioner, and Serum help maintain the hime cut’s dramatic sleek and sharp look. Committing to your super-straight locks may also require a fair share of heat styling; if that’s the case, pick up the brand’s Leave-In Spray or Leave-In Cream to smooth strands while offering thermal protection against hot tools.

“Again, with this particular shape being so noticeably disconnected, wearing it curly can be incredible,” says Wolff. He loves enhancing ringlets using the A Curl Can Dream line by Matrix. Formulated with Manuka honey extract, the bundle of products works together to provide moisture and definition to curly hair without flaking or crunchiness.

Now that you’re up to speed on the Japanese hime cut, Wolff has a few parting words to help you determine whether this style could be your next salon request.

“If you are considering this cut for yourself and are ready for something different and bold, I say live life and explore this haircut,” says the Matrix pro. “I think you may be surprised at how livable it can be.”

For more haircut trends and the expert-loved products to help style them, be sure to check out Hair.com.

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