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What Is a Step Haircut?

By Sarah Parrish
Updated May 21, 2024
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A step haircut is a layered hairstyle that doesn't blend the different lengths of hair. A normal layered haircut, by contrast, might have varying lengths of hair, but they're blended, so the different lengths aren't noticeable. In a step haircut, the different lengths are noticeable on purpose. Step haircuts include mullets, jagged cuts, choppy layers and clipped layers.

A short step haircut can be a style that includes obvious layers, versions of bobs and sudden changes of hair length with bangs. Longer step haircuts are less obvious, negating some of the aim in choosing a haircut that is obviously layered. Shoulder-length haircut styles, however, can be stepped by cutting hair at different levels without blending the layers with one another.

Stepped haircuts have the tendency to show off hair textures or color variations more than blended hairstyles because the sudden change of layers can correspond with a sudden change of color. For some people, this is excellent because it allows for chunky color combinations or highlights to be accentuated. For people who have curly or wavy hair, stepped haircuts might be lost in the variation in hair length and texture unless the steps are larger and more obvious than for people who have straight hair.

Haircuts that might have blended layers can also be stepped haircuts in the case of lengthening A-line bangs that swoop down on one side of the face. One can have the bang length blended with the rest of the head, or the style can be a stepped cut if the difference between the bangs and hair behind the ears is a drastic change. When the curve of hair changes direction, a step is often desirable from the perspective of many hairdressers because it takes a natural occurrence and makes the conflicting directions aesthetically pleasing.

In choosing a haircut, one should consider face shape, hair texture and desired length. The amount of maintenance required for that particular haircut style also should be considered. Often, the maintenance requirements of long hair will encourage some people to explore layered cuts such as step haircuts because these styles are considered to be among the lower-maintenance haircuts for longer hair. In general, stepped haircuts are for mid- to shoulder-length hair.

A mullet technically is a step haircut. It has very short hair on the top of the head and very long hair in the back. The mullet, however, takes step haircuts to an extreme and usually is not what people are referring to when they talk about stepped haircuts. A mullet is considered by many people to be in a class all by itself.

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Discussion Comments
By fify — On May 20, 2014

The mullet haircut was very popular in the 90s. Almost everyone sported this hairstyle but it fell out of favor after the 90s. Between 2000 and 2014, I have only seen a few people who still have this haircut. Most people consider it unfashionable nowadays. But like all things, I suspect that this haircut will too become popular once again. Things that were not unfashionable several decades ago are fashionable again now.

I read that in 2010, the government of Iran banned mullet haircuts because they consider it a symbol of the West. I find that interesting because people in the West don't care for the hairstyle right now!

By discographer — On May 19, 2014

@literally45-- There are different types of step haircuts. It's possible to have a straight cut in the back, with layers just on the front sides. Have you thought of getting that type of hair cut? This style looks nice with all hair lengths and it will look particularly good if you have straight hair.

By literally45 — On May 19, 2014

I had a V haircut a few years ago. It looked very nice when I brushed my hair back or wore my hair in a pony tail. But most of the time, half of my hair was in front and the other half in the back. So from the front, it looked like I have short hair whereas from the back, it looked like my hair was long. So it looked a bit weird. It might have been because the front was too short. If my hair had been longer overall, it probably would have looked nice all the time. I do recommend this type of haircut but only to those with fairly long hair.

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