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What Is a Chelsea Haircut?

Sonal Panse
Sonal Panse

A Chelsea haircut is a popular and extreme punk hairstyle that is mainly worn by women. The basic haircut consists of leaving the hair on the front part of the head long and clipping very short or entirely shaving off the hair on the rest of the skull. The hair in the front is cut into a fringe of about two inches and long sections of hair known as dog ears are left to trail over the ears on either side of the fringe.

There are, of course, various individual variations to this short Chelsea haircut. The hair may be colored and the back portion of the head may be shaved into a design. There is also a long Chelsea haircut where the dog ears may be kept very long, and, in some cases, sections of long hair may be left intact at the nape as well, while shaving off the crown. Two variations of the Chelsea haircut are the Chelsea Hawk haircut and the Chelsea Staub haircut.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The Chelsea Hawk combines the Mohawk haircut with the Chelsea haircut. The hair in the front is spiked and shaped into a Mohawk instead of being cut into a fringe. The spikes are made to stand up in the center of the head, and the rest of the hair is shaved off completely or shaved in design patterns. The dog ears, depending on preference, may be left long or may be cut short so as not to detract from the look of the spikes.

Compared to the the Chelsea haircut and the Chelsea Hawk hairstyle, the Chelsea Staub cut is almost conservative. The hair on the crown is left intact, cut either in a short bob or a long one, and the hair at the nape and over the ears is trimmed short or shaved off or shaved in patterns. Since much of the hair is left intact here, it is usually possible to have more styling options with this haircut.

Before getting a Chelsea haircut, it might be a good idea to consider if choosing a haircut of this kind will suit your face structure. These types of haircuts, like most haircut styles, may not necessarily work well for everyone. That said, this can be a very interesting hairstyle on the right type of face; it can do a nice job of enhancing the facial features and the shape of the neck.

Discussion Comments


I have the traditional punk, Chelsea haircut and am very happy with it. I had previously had a mohawk and decided to shave it off. Who cares if you can't have the option of putting your hair up? It feels great and lots of people love giving head massages. I actually have a job and sure some people look at me differently, but why would I care? I'm going to express myself how I like, whether I am accepted or not.


correction. chelsea is worn mostly by skinheads.


I’m all about individuality and all of that good stuff, and if you want to cut your hair in a Chelsea haircut you should definitely go for it.

But I just have one question. Why?

Why would any woman want to mutilate her hair in this manner? It is impossible to do anything with; it’s not like you look in the mirror and ask yourself if you should wear it up or down today. People will take one look at your haircut and make about a million decisions about who and what you are in about one second.

The only thing I can figure is that it is to fit a specific kind of lifestyle that goes toward extremes in looks. I guess mostly Goth chicks dig this style, and if it works for you – cool. But I got to tell you, there is no way anybody is seeing this head with that do on it.


@shell4life – That is so funny that you mention the extremities hair stylists seem to go to with their hair! We have a local high dollar salon where I absolutely refused to go to for years because of the stylists ‘skunk’ looks, as I called them.

Almost all of these women had naturally dark colored hair, but they all took to putting in extreme high lights. The highlights were so different from their real color that they really achieved that whole skunky mix of light and dark.

And, wouldn’t you know it, at least two of them cut off their long tresses to get this crazy Chelsea style; not the more moderate staub, folks. Nope, these girls went all the way.

The last nail in the high dollar salon coffin was when I discovered they had been required to get boob jobs upon hire. All that crazy hair/body nonsense was just too much for me.


I like the Chelsea Staub haircut because it's not exclusive to females. This hairstyle is my favorite type of men's haircut.

Adam Lambert on American Idol had the Chelsea cut, and as I remember, that is when it started to become popular. Female and male fans went out and cut their long hair off and died it black to achieve his look. The crazy thing is that they both look equally good with it.

Though many businesswomen wear this cut with blond or highlighted hair, the most popular color seems to be black. Often, blue streaks are added for extra interest, particularly in teenagers and those whose jobs allow it.


I didn’t think the Chelsea haircut would work with a wedding hair style, but I was surprised to find that it worked beautifully! I hadn’t expected my boyfriend to propose after only ten months together, but he did, and I had just cut my hair that month. I had always wanted to get married in the fall, and midfall was just two months away. I knew that wouldn’t be enough time to grow my hair out long enough for an elegant updo.

I consulted a professional wedding hairstylist about my situation. Since the back of my head wasn’t shaved or extremely short, she was able to come up with something beautiful. The hair was definitely shorter back there than in front, but it was long enough to hold some attached hairpins in place.

The stylist took the long sections of my hair and braided them, interweaving small white flowers on stems. She attached the ends of the braids to the back of my hair with small hairpins covered with white flowers. When she had finished, she added short pins with tiny jewels on top by sticking them down into the braids to hide the pin part. The result was just as lovely as a long hair style would have been.


@shell4life - I have noticed that, too! My best friend had long naturally curly hair all her life until she started cosmetology school. I think she and the other students experimented on each other’s heads.

Just a few months into her training, my friend cut her hair extremely short in a boyish cut. It was so weird looking at her like that! She grew it out to her chin and got a Chelsea Staub haircut. It looked much better. However, she continued to play with her hair color.

She actually told me that she and the other beauticians at her salon get bored sometimes and do things to each other’s hair. She has had some horrific orange-blond experiences that had to be covered up with a near-black color. Her natural color is brown, so black made her look as strange as blond did.

With her Chelsea cut, she incorporated a few streaks of hot pink to the front pieces. This looked really cool against the black hair. I think if she were to go back to her natural look now, it would be unfamiliar.


Has anyone ever noticed how stylists always seem to end up with extreme haircuts and color? Just about every beauty shop I've ever been to has stylists with either short and colored or wacky hair.

My friend had normal long brown hair before she started her career as a cosmetologist. After a short time working at a salon, she had cut it off shoulder length. After a little while longer, she showed up with a Chelsea cut.

She had the fringe bangs in front with the long pieces beside them. In the back, her hair was cut so short that she used a bit of wax to spike it out in all directions. She had died it all dark brown, and she even added some purple streaks to the mix.


I am not really into the punk version of the Chelsea haircut but the Chelsea Staub cut is really cute. I find that with the Chelsea Staub you can get a bit of an edgy look without sacrificing your ability to style your hair in different ways.

I think that the graduated angled bob looks flattering on a lot of people and it tends to be slimming for those that have a wider face. If you are not sure if it is for you I would try some online software that is available for free so you can see the look on yourself. It's as simple as uploading your photo and positioning an image of the haircut on your own head.


I think if you are serious about landing a good job you will stay away from something as extreme as a traditional Chelsea haircut. I had a friend in college who was going through a punk phase and she decided it would be a good idea to go with a Chelsea cut and shaved quite a bit of her head for the look. While it did look pretty edgy, she had a heck of a time finding a part-time job after her choice of hair cut. Pretty much all she could get were offers from some alternative clothing stores and a record shop a friend owned. While this was great, with her credentials she should have been making a lot more in her field rather than minimum wage selling metal albums.

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