Byrdie August 15, 2023



The U-Shape Haircut Is the Secret to Salon-Worthy Volume and Bounce


With thick, bouncy hair making a comeback on TikTok (hello, hot rollers), it's no surprise that haircuts to achieve more body, shape, and volume are a constant request at salons. One such cut that's gaining popularity is the U-shape.

Why does this cut work so well for extra thickness? According to hairstylist Evalyn Lopez Benoit, "By creating face-framing layers for this cut, your stylist has instantly given your hair movement and a beautiful contour to highlight any face shape." Rather than having hair fall at just one length, the angled U-cut will give you maximum bounce and movement."

It's pretty much the cut that keeps on giving because it works just as well on thick hair as it does on finer hair. Hairstylist, Raven Hurtado, explains that the U-shape cut "removes weight and bulk and gives lift towards the front [to look] less boxy on thick hair," but on finer hair, it adds more body so that hair appears thicker.


Raven Hurtado is a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.
Evalyn Lopez Benoit is a stylist and owner of Bonita Salon in Marina Del Ray, CA.


Keep reading for everything you need to know about the U-shape haircut—including how to ask for it at the salon.

What Is a U-Shape Haircut?

The U-shape haircut looks pretty much exactly how you'd expect—just perhaps subtler. With this look, the back and middle of the hair are kept the longest, while the sides are gradually cut shorter, giving your hair a rounded look. A bit of face-framing, with the shortest pieces ending around the chin, makes the style come together.

"The U-shape haircut is similar to a V-shape haircut," Hurtado explains. "The difference with a U-shape is the sides are rounded, giving it a curved look, while the V-shape haircut is more pointed towards the middle."

Both styles can give your hair more dimension, but the U-shape is a less harsh look. "The U-shape haircut is softer with light long layers that are rounded and blended while keeping the perimeter the same length," Hurtado explains. The result? A haircut that leaves hair looking lush and full of dimension.

Does It Work on Any Length and Texture?

Depending on how short the client wants the face-framing, a U-shaped haircut can work great on any length. "The shorter the client's perimeter length is, the shorter the face-framing will need to be," says Lopez Benoit. "I think to keep this haircut looking soft and subtle, [it] would best suit a length that is, at minimum, past the shoulders." By removing added weight from the corners of the perimeter and adding a long layer, this cut becomes ideal for someone with "thick, shapeless hair, who feels like their hair is just dragging them down," she says. As for types of hair, the U-shape cut is versatile and can work on anyone, from those with fine, straight hair to coarser, curlier textures.

How to Ask for a U-Shaped Haircut

If you want to request this cut at the salon, try asking for it by name– it's pretty universally known. "To see if this cut would be right for you, consult with your stylist and bring in plenty of inspo photos to show them," says Lopez Benoit. "After deciding if their overall length is ideal for this cut, I would then focus on how they would like their face contoured with the framing layers we'll be adding in the front. The real beauty of the U-shaped haircut is the versatility that can be played with when it comes to face framing and the client's face shape."

Hurtado adds that you should mention that you want to "keep the length and add light face-framing—just enough to give fullness and to remove some of the weight." 

How Do You Maintain a U-Shaped Haircut?

Once you have a U-shape haircut, maintaining it is pretty easy. Your hair should keep its shape as it grows out, but regular trims (around every six to eight weeks) will keep it fresh. If you go too long between trims, the "U" will start to lose its shape, though, so if you want to maintain clean ends and the rounded curve, it would be smart to set a standing appointment with your stylist.

How to Style a U-Shape Haircut

The great thing about this haircut (besides the instant volume) is that it is extremely low maintenance. Though unstyled hair might not look quite as lush as a fresh blowout, the layers and shape should still work to make your hair look full.

Lopez Benoit tells us that one of the greatest benefits of this style is that it can be worn straight, curly, or blow-dried into a roller set, and you "will always see that visual of the U-shaped ends." Hurtado adds: "Because of the settled layers, this cut will give automatic bounce if air-dried or blown out," she says.

Both pros prefer styling the cut with a curling iron (Hurtado likes a 1.25-inch size iron while Lopez Benoit favors a larger iron) to define the layers. "Take a large section of hair (roughly four fingers width) and, starting at the tip of the hair, roll the iron toward the base. Release the section and spray with Kérastase Laque Couture Medium Hold Hair Spray," says Lopez Benoit. "Repeat on every section, alternating the direction of the iron. Once complete, flip the hair upside down, shake it out, and your mega bombshell transformation is complete."