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15 Karen Haircut Styles Everyone Should AVOID

aida turner

Published by Aida Turner

Fact checked by Annie

Key takeaways:

  • The Karen haircut was popular in the late 1990s to early 2000s, though Kate Gosselin from Jon & Kate Plus 8 is considered the hairstyle’s poster child.
  • The haircut is usually characterized by an A-line cut with chunky contrasting highlights.
  • The Karen haircut has evolved to include variations to suit other people — such as those with longer hair, short hair, straight hair, or curly hair.
  • There’s no such hairstyle called a “Karen,” so you’ll need to explain to the hairdresser what you want or show them a photo to guide them.

It’s probably safe to say that you’ve heard of customer service horror stories where customers DEMAND that they speak to the manager.

This has evolved into a bunch of memes that have been going around the internet for years.

You might have noticed that these memes usually involve women who share similar hairstyles — which has now been dubbed the Karen haircut.

However, this kind of cut was already popular in the late 1990s to early 2000s (but, of course, it wasn’t called the “Karen hair” yet.)

Comedian Dane Cook is believed to be the first one to use the term back in 2005.

He used it to describe people’s least favorite person in a friendship group. With the context we’re using “Karen” in now, that seems pretty accurate, don’t you think?

As for when people started associating the Karen haircut with people who disrespect customer service employees or are publicly racist, the idea started circulating the internet around 2014 to 2017.

Despite that, the cut has been seen in several celebrities throughout the years too.

People mostly associate the style with Kate Gosselin and her demanding and challenging character in the show Jon & Kate Plus 8 in the early 2000s. This style is a classic Karen cut (which is just an asymmetric blonde bob).

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Olivia Deeble also debuted a feathery haircut that was also Karen-esque (which her family didn’t like at all).

Her family’s main complaint was that it made her look older than her age.

In fact, her sister described her as looking like a 30-year-old store manager. Deeble herself even said someone mistook her for her brother’s mom when she picked him up from school.

Scarlett Johansson also had this short hair, although people seemed to think she pulled it off.

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With so many Karen memes circulating the web, people have been trying to avoid the infamous hairstyle so no one would get a bad first impression of them.

Curious about the Karen haircut now? Read on to learn more about it.

What Is a Karen Haircut?

No, a Karen haircut has nothing to do with a person’s name (although Karen Gillan is one of the few Karens we love, right?)

There are many kinds of Karen haircuts, but the CLASSIC Karen cut is an A-line cut or an inverted bob or lob. They’re also all about the layers — sometimes overly-styled layers.

It’s a style that looks like you spent an ungodly amount of time blow-drying, lifting, hair-spraying, and teasing your hair until it looks too perfect.

A Karen cut looks like an asymmetric pixie cut and is sometimes paired with chunky unblended highlights. It has a long side-swept fringe contrasted with spiky hair at the back.

This creates a sharp angle if you look from the side. Depending on how you style it (or not style), the whole thing can look random, disjointed, and unflattering.

The most classic Karen cut is blonde, but, as with all styles, it has evolved to include other color combinations.

Those who don’t have naturally blonde hair opt to get their hair dyed. Unfortunately, sometimes, the dye faded and turned into a brassy blonde.

Regardless of hair color, bold and chunky highlights seem to be a mainstay of a Karen haircut.

Kate Gosselin is said to be the poster child of this cut way back in the early 2000s. Every other Karen hair could also be said to have sprung from her style.

This haircut reminds you of middle-aged white women who feel entitled to everything because “The customer is always right.”

But the term “Karen” has also been connected to people who are publicly racist.

15 Karen Haircut Ideas

Having a Karen haircut doesn’t NECESSARILY mean you’re a Karen either. It just means you LOOK like someone who would say, “I would like to speak to your manager” — as a Karen would.

Sometimes, you only look like a Karen because you’re not styling your hair well enough.

So whether this style is something you want to challenge or avoid, below are some of the different kinds of Karen haircuts:

Original Karen Haircut

Though the classic Karen haircut started with Kate Gosselin, the original Karen haircut has spikier hair at the back instead of tousled waves. You may also see bold highlights or blonde hair.

Admittedly, it can look quite disjointed and unflattering if you don’t style it nicely. You’ll also end up looking like you’ll threaten to get the hotdog stall workers fired if you found ketchup in your hotdog when you ordered none.

Karen Inverted Bob Haircut

Inverted bobs would be the simplest and possibly most elegant of the Karen cuts — like you’re a regular at a country club.

This style is characterized by shorter hair at the back transitioning to longer hair in the front to form long side-swept bangs that frame the face.

If you style it well enough, it’s possible NOT to look like a Karen!

Short Karen Haircut

Okay, Karen haircuts are NATURALLY short. But sometimes, they can be shorter bobs that still have the many layers they so love.

Sometimes, these cuts can look edgier and more modern thanks to an added zigzag hair partition. This kind of partition also hides any overgrown roots if you’re trying to rock any hair color.

Millennial Karen Haircut

Karens are typically middle-aged women, but even millennials can end up having a Karen haircut.

Karen haircuts also typically involve just blonde or black hair. However, millennials are all about self-expression, so expect multi-colored hair and other more modern variations of the Karen cut.

Middle-Aged Karen Haircut

Sometimes, you see someone and think they’re trying a bit too hard to fit in with the young’uns. If so, there’s a pretty good chance they’re sporting a Karen cut.

One example is “Aunt Karen,” who’s that one aunt during the family reunions with a hairstyle that’s shorter and spikier than your usual Karen cut. They’re that person who’ll say their kid is the best and try to compare the other cousins to that kid.

Expect chunky highlights too. Sometimes, you might even get choppy layers and choppy bangs.

Mom Karen Haircut

Have you seen the moms in movies (or in real life) who look sassy and will probably sue the whole restaurant if there’s a pickle in her son’s burger?

Their hairstyle is similar to a blunt bob that went too far — it typically looks like their head was pinched in a lobster’s claw. They have very shiny and sharp blended layers with a deep side part.

They have very sleek hair, too, with face-framing layers and no strands out of place.

Old Karen Haircut

Of course, if there are younger Karens, someone must have spawned them, right? That means there are also Karen haircuts for older women.

These cuts are typically characterized by side-swept bangs, short hair, and the ever-present layers. They’re generally on gray (or graying) hair too.

Women with this kind of cut look like they’ll just smile sweetly at their noisy grandkids but also chew you out on the smallest mistake.

Male Version Karen Haircut

Women aren’t the only ones who ask to speak to your manager — there are male versions of Karens too! They go by many names, mostly Ken. But they’re sometimes also called Greg or Terry.

Ken haircuts are very easy to spot too. Everything is shaved except the topmost part of their head. Then that part looks like freshly-cut grass.

Kens look like they’ll laze around all day and expect you to do all the housework.

Boy Karen Haircut

For the younger Kens out there, they can get something similar to what Justin Bieber has (no hate for him, though). The front is longer than your typical Karen hair, but you still get a side part.

If you don’t style it well, you’ll look like a vlogger who’ll make fun of and criticize everything they find amusing.

Mega Karen Haircut

Sometimes, you see someone that looks like they have a voluminous wig on — chances are, they really just have a bubble haircut, which is a blown-out hairstyle.

Bubble haircuts are mega Karen haircuts because they’re eye-catching and BIG. There’s too much volume, thanks to a heavily-teased crown and exaggerated layers.

Curly Karen Haircut

Karen cuts aren’t only for those with straight hair. For those with short curly hair, expect a curly lob.

It’s stylish and can make the wearer look younger. If you don’t have naturally curly hair, you can still create it using a curling iron.

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Karen Haircut Brown

There’s much you do with brown hair. One example is to have the typical short length, then level it up by adding some warm highlights.

Karen Haircut on Black Hair

Though a Karen meme usually contains a woman with blonde hair, Karen hair can also be seen in black hair.

It’s possible that you’ll see them with streaky and unblinded highlights — which aren’t the best to see.

Long Karen Haircut

An original Karen haircut is short, but you can identify it on long hair too.

You’ll find shiny and ribbon-like curls that look like they were bathed in hair spray, so they’re unmoveable.

Blonde Karen Haircut

Blonde is the default hair color for a Karen cut.

If you’re just dyeing your hair blonde, DO NOT ask for brassy orange hues since it looks like your hairdresser messed up. Ensure you get good dye too, or it’ll fade into a bad brassy blonde.

How to do a Karen haircut?

If you STILL want a Karen haircut, then we won’t judge.

The original Karen haircut is admittedly an outdated style, but other Karen haircuts can fit in with the times.

There’s a Karen cut for all hair lengths, so you can most probably style it yourself at home.

If you’re going for the original Karen haircut, it’s NOT something that you can do by yourself.

So it’s best to go to the hairdresser for that.

How to fix a Karen haircut?

An A-line cut is quite easy to manage and fix. Below are a few tips:

  1. Apply dry shampoo to add volume if you’re not washing your hair. This is great for those with color-treated hair since warm water can wash your hair color off. Klorane Dry Shampoo has oat milk that’s soothing to the scalp. It soaks up hair grease while giving you great volume too.
  2. Put gel before drying your hair. Comb it through all the hair to prevent flyaways. The Biolage Styling Gelée is excellent since it’s creamy but lightweight. It adds volume and gives you a shiny finish without the crunchiness or stickiness that comes with some gels.
  3. Trim your hair every four to six weeks to keep your hair short and prevent split ends.

How much does a Karen haircut cost at a hairdresser?

Strictly speaking, there’s no haircut that’s called a “Karen.” Because of that, you’ll have to specify at the hair salon what kind of cut you want.

The original Karen haircut is an inverted short bob, which will cost around $50.

If you’re unsure what you call a particular hairstyle, just show them a picture — such as if you want to match the chic cut Jennifer Lawrence managed to pull off.

Or, try to be like Sharon Osbourne, who wore multiple styles that are considered to be in Karen territory. One example is a slightly over-teased crown.

If you want your hair to be colored, too, the hairdresser can help you decide the best color based on your skin tone.

Final Thoughts

Karen haircuts don’t sound too bad, right?

Yes, the Karen haircut can be eye-catching for the wrong reasons — mainly because it looks like you’re about to give customer service employees a run for their money.

It’s a short haircut that’s usually in the form of an inverted bob cut.

A Karen haircut is also typically characterized by the following:

  • Too many layers
  • Long bangs
  • Chunky highlights

However, the Karen haircut has now evolved to include other variations as well.

While Karen haircuts have a lousy reputation, styling them well can make you NOT look like a Karen.

The hairstyle is admittedly not for everyone, so it’s up to you if this cut is something you want to challenge or avoid.

Ultimately, if you do have a Karen haircut, remember that it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of — as long as you’re really not giving customer service employees hell for the smallest mistakes.

aida turner

Aida

Founder & Hair Beauty Specialist

I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty and make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!