Just when we thought last year couldn’t hold any more surprises, we have a new hair trend on our hands and it’s the last one we’d ever expect: the mullet. Yes, you read that right—the iconic “business in front, party in back” hairstyle has surged back into the mainstream. Were we ready for it? No. Did we expect it? Not at all. Are we mad at it? Funnily enough, not really.
Truthfully, the mullet hairstyle started inching is way back into trendiness a few years ago, according to Magda Ryczko, hairstylist and owner of Hairrari in New York City, who has been cutting mullets for her trendy Brooklyn-based clientele for years now. She credits the fact that it’s a “gender-neutral” haircut that looks good on both men and women, and a resurgence of ’80s and ’90s style. But the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing quarantines created a mullet-friendly environment that no one could see coming. “It’s the perfect haircut for a Zoom meeting,” Ryczko says. “It’s business in the front and party in the back. Or these days, it’s business in the front and a small gathering of six or less in the back.”
Celebrities played a role in the current mullet renaissance as well. Both during and post-quarantine, celebs of all genders adopted versions of the mullet, from Blake Shelton and Miley Cyrus,to Troye Sivan and Rhianna, and most recently, Zac Efron. But they’re just recent additions to the long list of celebrities who have rocked a mullet at some point. “If you look back at the 80’s and early 90’s, anyone who was anyone had a mullet—all the top celebrities, musicians, athletes, they all had one,” says Pennsylvania-based hairstylist Mikey Henger. And even since then, the list is long: David Beckham, Kanye West, the entire cast of Stranger Things just to name a few. “It’s a hairstyle that has never really left,” says Henger, who himself rocks a glorious mullet.
What Is A Mullet?
When you hear the word “mullet” a specific cut may come to mind: Joe Dirt, Billy Ray Cyrus, or Lionel Richie, for instance. But in reality a mullet is an entire category of hair style, all of which have one thing in common: shorter hair in the front, longer hair in the back. Within that umbrella, there are almost infinite variations. “There are so many different kinds,” says Henger. His mullet, for instance, is “an old school rocker mullet” that was inspired by vintage professional wrestling and The Lost Boys, and is slightly longer and layered on the sides. There are also short mullets, mullet fades, and messy shag mullets.
But Are Mullets Really Cool Again?
“75% of the haircuts I do are mullets,” says Henger, who has also seen a drastic uptick since lockdowns began. “People would never let their hair get to the point where you could actually have a cool mullet,” he says, but thanks to barbershop closures for part of the year, growing hair was easier than ever before. And with that extra length, experimentation can really begin.
Henger says the classic mullet—super close sides, messy top, long back—is the most shocking because it’s the most obvious. It also happens to be the version that’s easiest to cut yourself in the mirror. But the “modern mullet” is a little more subtle. The sides are kept a little longer and the graduation from short to long hair is a little smoother. “I wouldn’t call it a conservative mullet, but it’s like ‘does he have a mullet or doesn’t he’? It’s a very safe mullet,” he says. This style relies a bit more on styling to really make it look like a mullet—slick back the sides and it’s obvious, but mess it up and it looks a bit more just like long hair.
How To Get A Mullet
So if you’ve ever been mullet-curious or are just aching to do something new, there is no better time to experiment with a mullet than now. After all, isn’t that what lockdown hair is all about? As Ryczko points out: “Life is short. Everybody should experience a mullet in their life.” Here’s what to know if you want to rock a mullet yourself.
1. You Need Long(ish) Hair To Start
In order to optimize your mullet capabilities, “you have to at least grow it to a decent length,” says Henger. Getting a true mullet isn’t as simple as just shaving your sides and not touching the back. You have to start with longer hair the whole way around in order to shape it, he advises.
2. Decide What Kind of Mullet Style You Want
If you’re going for shock value, a traditional mullet that’s closely-cropped or shaved on the sides and long and flowing in the back is probably what you want. But that’s the least versatile mullet out there. Have an idea of how long you want the back to be and how drastic you want the sides to look in comparison.
3. Make An Appointment With A Professional
If you’re going for a drastic mullet, you can likely DIY that in the mirror if you’re brave (just shave down the sides and top till you reach your desired length). But if you want any other mullet style, like a rocker mullet or a shorter subtle mullet, that’s best left to the professionals. “A rocker mullet is all scissors and a lot of texture,” says Henger, which is nearly impossible to do on yourself unless you are actually a hairstylist (and even then, requires extreme dexterity). When in doubt, book an appointment (bonus points if it’s with someone who specializes in mullets, like Henger and Ryczko.)
4. Style Your Mullet Properly
Unlike a lot of other hairstyles for men, a mullet is mostly about the cut, meaning you don’t need to rely on styling products to shape it. To make your mullet really shine, however, Henger advises using a salt spray or texturizing spray to create waves. “The best mullet is a wavy mullet,” he says and to create texture, spray some salt spray on damp hair and as it’s air drying mess it up a little with your fingers. Henger also advises against washing your hair too often. “The dirtier the better,” he says, so only wash your hair every few days (depending on how oily it gets,) and use dry shampoo between washes to soak up excess oil.
Products You Need to Style a Mullet:
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