It’s been 25 years since ‘The Rachel’ – here’s why this hairstyle is still iconic
There are haircuts, there are classic haircuts and then there’s ‘The Rachel’ – in a league all on its own. If I asked you to name a hairstyle that’s been as iconic as The Rachel, I’d probably have a long wait on my hands.
Jennifer Aniston’s cult 90s hairstyle became iconic in its own right. Those choppy layers, those enviable smooth ends, the gravity-defying bounce and those seriously delicious caramel highlights might have had a *tad* to do with it. The Rachel even picked up a loyal celeb fan following from the likes of Tyra Banks, Christine Aguilera, Meg Ryan, Lily Allen, Rihanna and Jessica Alba to name a few – all showcasing their own rendition of the style.
Ironically, in an interview with Allure, Jennifer confided that she actually wasn’t a big fan of this cut at the time, as she struggled to style it in the same way as her stylist. Thankfully though, since then, advanced styling tools and an abundance of online hair tutorials have paved the way for simple at-home styling that’ll help you maintain your salon look.
25 years on, and countless styles later, Jennifer Aniston’s hair is still sought-after today. Having morphed from short and choppy to long and beautifully layered, there was still an essence of ‘The Rachel’ that lived on throughout each look.
Everyone still uses The Rachel as a reference point when looking for inspiration, whether it’s the cut, length, style or colour. So what makes Jen’s hair so covetable? Our stylists say that for starters, it’s glossy, silky and always perfectly clean. When it comes to signature styling, Jen’s red-carpet looks tend to be ‘pretty and sexy’, thanks to plenty of texture and a relaxed, undone-looking style.
Verdict: The Rachel remains an enduring pop culture reference, iconic hairstyle and a symbol of the 90s. If you know, you know.
Over to you: Which version of The Rachel would you recreate? Check out our favourite styles below and our top tips to get the look.
The Glossy Waves Rachel
If you look at her hair, it looks like it literally grew out of her head like this. In fact, it doesn’t even look like a curling iron came anywhere near it. Insiders say that Jen prefers a more natural, undone look whenever she hits the red-carpet, so stylists always work with her natural hair texture and use round brushes to blow dry into a soft curl.
The Long and Curly Rachel
We all remember this look from those episodes where Rachel decided to date Ross’s girlfriend’s dad – a.k.a Bruce Willis. Aside from her sexy and playful charm being made blatantly obvious in this gorgeous long hairstyle, this look really came to life when Jen decided to add some messy, undone curls. Tying back the front two sections of her hair really added to the look too, romanticising and giving it a beautifully feminine feel.
The Sleek Rachel
Usually, Jen’s one to save the modern sleek look for photo shoots, so finding this little gem from 2003 was a little surprise. She’s really gone in on the straighteners for a super sleek, straight finish. We’d definitely say this isn’t a ‘natural’ look for her – but it’s always good to switch things up and try out new hairstyles. If you’re looking to create your own version of this look, just be sure you have some heat protectant spray handy as you’re going to need it…
The Modern Rachel
Jen looked chic at the 2019 ‘Murder Mystery’ film premiere. We love the soft layers in her hair, face-framing highlights and the angled shape around her face. This is a modern ‘Rachel’ haircut through and through. To get the look make sure you opt for some feathery layers that suit your face shape and draws attention to all the facial features you want to accentuate. Here, we’re immediately drawn to Jennifer’s smile and those beautiful green eyes of hers!
The Swooping Rachel
Sometimes all it takes is a change of parting and a swooping side-bang or fringe to switch up your look. Here, Jen used a side-parting that gradually made its way to the centre of her head. A diagonal parting like this allows you to have a side-part, without committing the weight of all your hair to one side of your head. It’s a clever little way of balancing the way your hair falls without compromising on style!
The Short Rachel
How is it that Jen still manages to pull off The Rachel effect, even when she chops off several inches from her famously long, layered hair? This sleek bob might have had you yelling ‘nooo what have you done?!’ at the time but actually, we dig it. And the same goes for all the copycat, chin-grazing bobs that began to appear as a result of this look back in 2011. Our stylists recommend chopping a good few inches off your hair once a year as a way to ‘MOT’ your locks. By no means is it essential to chop your hair into a short bob (unless your hair really needs it) but chopping off some length can certainly inject a bit of life back into damaged, straggly-ended hair.
The Beach Waves Rachel
We LOVE this look! Those textured waves, her golden balayage – everything seems to be on point for Jen here, including that Emmy of hers for leading actress in 2002! The best way to work up some tousled waves into your hair is to play to your hair’s strengths. If you’re blessed with natural volume, add in some texture with a salt spray and scrunch in a soft curling mousse. If you have thin, naturally straight hair, grab your ghd curling wand or tong, and start curling with the help of ghd’s curl hold spray. Then, tip your head upside down and use a wide tooth comb to brush out those curls and BAM – you’ve got yourself some Rachel Waves! You can thank us later…
Behold the style that characterized The Rachel. By the time Jennifer was breaking hearts on cinema screens as well as TV, her sleek, iconic-hair-defining ‘do was showing off a lot more body and bounce. Her natural curl took centre-stage and sometimes styled to flick outwards. Then, those face-framing highlights happened. Trust us, circa 1996 – this look was HOT.
The Rachel Fringe
The fringe that faced mixed reviews the world-over back in 2004. This addition to The Rachel was met with some bang as some who were used to Jen’s sleek, out-of-the-face styles were a little dubious, but we’re all for it. Jennifer brought back into the spotlight this beautiful yet simple side-swept, peek-a-boo fringe. The yummy, caramel and biscuit-toned tresses captured here are Vintage Aniston. We likey. A lot.
So there you have it. A run through of our favourite and most iconic Rachel hairstyles, courtesy of the beautiful Jennifer Aniston. (Can you believe she’s 50 now?) It may have been 25 years since we were first introduced to The Rachel, but looking back at old photos makes us fall in love with this style all over again! When you think of iconic celebrity hairstyles, The ‘Rachel’ is still one of the most requested cuts we receive in salon and the term ‘Jennifer Aniston hair’ is Googled every 0.62 seconds globally…. we’ll leave you with that thought!
If you’re having some 90s nostalgia after reading this, you’re welcome! What’s more, if you fancy yourself a Rachel inspired haircut, colour or restyle – visit us in salon where one of our talented team members will tend to every 90s throwback style you have in mind. Afterall, we’ll always be there for you.
*cue theme tune*…