Look around the salon, the street, the red carpet, or any corner of the internet, and we guarantee you’ll see it: the wolf cut. This modern take on a shaggy retro look has quickly become the “go-to” haircut for 2023, and we can’t get enough of it. We tapped Sharon Spellman, hairstylist and Matrix brand ambassador, to help you better understand the wolf cut hair trend. She explains where it originated, how to rock it, and tips on the best styling products. But first, watch the stunning wolf cut transformation from Matrix educator Philip Wolff (how fitting!) below before scrolling for all the deets.
What is a wolf cut?
If you search for pictures of wolves, you’re probably not going to see a resemblance between the animal and the style itself. Rather, it’s the earthy and untamed nature of the cut that inspired its name.
“The wolf cut is a mixture between the shag and mullet haircut. You can make it wild or chill it out, keeping the length, volume, and wispy layers on point,” says Spellman. “The versatility of the wolf is endless. It’s an extremely gender-neutral style, therefore all humans can spice up their look and feel their best.”
She adds that there isn’t a specific hair type that should not get a wolf cut. However, if you have straight hair, you’ll probably want to use some hot tools and the right styling products to add texture and volume—two key facets of this trending style.
One more note on the wolf cut. There’s a current TikTok trend where people are DIYing it. Unless you’re a seasoned pro, we recommend saving your hair (and some tears) by scheduling a visit with your stylist.
“Haircuts take a lot of professional training,” says Spellman. “Even if you have the best scissors in the game, you don’t have the experience like the pros.”
Who started the wolf cut hair trend?
Though the wolf haircut is trending right now, it actually first popped up in South Korea in the mid-2000s. Several well-known K-Pop singers rocked the iconic shag-meets-mullet ‘do, creating a micro-surge in popularity. Just like the BB cream took about a decade to make its way West, so did the wolf cut.
That said, if we want to get really technical, then inspiration for the wolf cut can be linked back to hairstylist Paul McGregor, who created that iconic shag on a certain award-winning actress. Partial credit also goes to the OG mullet, which surprisingly dates way back to ancient Greece. (However, a certain ‘80s band officially coined the term in one of their famous songs).
Is a wolf cut the same as a mullet?
While the wolf cut definitely has similar features to a mullet, the two aren’t quite the same.
“The difference between the wolf and the mullet is the softness of the look,” Spellman explains. “Mullets tend to be much tighter and more cropped at the top, while the wolf cut layers blend more seamlessly. Think of it as a party all over versus just in the front.”
How to Style a Wolf Cut
Styling the wolf cut means leaning into texture, not shying away from volume, and embracing that carefree essence. In addition to texturizing and volumizing hairspray, you should also have products in your routine that can tackle frizz.
“[At the salon], my top tip would be to make sure you’re prepared on how exactly you want your haircut done and specify whether you want more or less layers and volume,” says Spellman. She adds, “My favorite product to tame any frizz at home is the Matrix Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Treatment.”
For adding volume and texture, we recommend Matrix Miss Mess Dry Finishing Spray. This multi-benefit formula completes any style with light hold, texture, and lasting volume.
Looking for a little inspo to style your existing (or future!) wolf haircut? We’ve got you. Keep scrolling for seven of our favorite wolf cut inspiration photos—plus a few tips on achieving these looks for yourself.
Wolf Cut Hair Inspiration
Classic Wavy Wolf Cut
This is the quintessential wolf cut ‘do: full bangs, extra texture, and endless movement. A beachy, tousled wave adds to the voluminous effect, but you don’t need a seaside escape to achieve it. Instead, top your look off with Redken’s Beach Spray, and you’re good to go.
Fluffy Wolf Cut
One of the best things about a wolf cut is its ability to add the illusion of fullness to finer hair. A volume-boosting shampoo and conditioner system like Pureology Volume Shampoo and Conditioner Duo can give your style even more staying power.
Wolf Cut With Wispy Bangs
Thick fringe is a natural choice for a wolf cut, but you can opt for wispy bangs, too. To boost volume, reach for Matrix’s Styling Setter Mousse. You can use it on dry hair to add light, textured volume or apply it directly to your roots while you blow-dry.
Long Wolf Cut
No need to crop too much off to participate in the wolf cut hair trend. You can still embrace your long locks while creating layers at the top of your head and around your face. If you’re in the process of growing out your hair, we recommend a strengthening hair care system, such as Biolage Professional’s Strength Recovery Shampoo and Conditioning Cream.
Cropped Wolf Cut
Yep, you can have your short hair and wolf cut, too. The piece-y bangs and feather texture really bring this style home. For more texture, spritz Redken Dry Texture Spray onto dry hair and tousle it up.
Curly Wolf Cut
All textures can rock the wolf cut, including those with super curly tendrils. To better define your curl, apply a dollop of Mizani True Textures Curl Enhancing Lotion to wet hair, use your finger to shape them, and then diffuse or air dry them.
Colorful Wolf Cut
Infuse a little drama into your wolf haircut via some color. The turquoise tone pictured here works brilliantly, but any shade will do. Don’t forget to use products that help preserve your color, such as Biolage Professional’s Color Last Shampoo and Color Last Conditioner.