It’s safe to say that you’ve heard of the infamous “Karen,” a type of woman who believes that the world revolves around her and her alone.
Interestingly enough, Karens seem to favor particular haircuts, all of which we non-Karens should avoid like the plague.
In this article, we’ll expound a bit on what exactly a Karen is, how the Karen expression came to be, and the 12 hairstyles you should avoid to insulate yourself from becoming the next Karen meme.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s a Karen, Anyway?
- 2 What Is a Karen Haircut?
- 3 Karen Haircuts to Avoid
- 4 The Reverse Mullet: The Most Well-Known Karen Haircut
- 5 Stiff Curls
- 6 Too Much Volume
- 7 Tiger Stripe Hair Color
- 8 Tired Vintage Styles
- 9 Over-layered Cuts
- 10 Brassy Color Jobs
- 11 Pixie with Deep Side Part
- 12 Spikey Cuts
- 13 The Plastic Bob
- 14 Contrasting Textures
- 15 Super Flipped Ends
- 16 Don’t Be a Karen
- 16.1 Related Articles
What’s a Karen, Anyway?
The term “Karen” generally refers to a middle-aged Caucasian woman who goes out of her way to exercise her white privilege. She isn’t happy with good service at restaurants – she demands tremendous service and will do anything to get it.
She breaks the rules when she feels inconvenienced and targets non-White racial groups without reason. She doesn’t hold the safety and well-being of others in high regard because it’s all about her.
There is no single instance of disrespect or degradation that jumpstarted Karen awareness. But some of the most viral Karen memes feature a white woman demanding to speak to the manager for an obscene reason.
What Is a Karen Haircut?
Karens are not only characterized by their actions but by their hairstyle. Most often, Karens wear very peculiar hairstyles that are not only unattractive and outdated but attract negative attention from onlookers.
Karen Haircuts to Avoid
Now that you know what a Karen is, we’ll bet you don’t want to look like one. That’s why we’d like to share with you several hairstyles that you should avoid.
That way, you won’t be falsely categorized as a Karen due to wearing a classic Karen cut.
The Reverse Mullet: The Most Well-Known Karen Haircut
Introducing the reverse mullet – the quintessential Karen haircut that no one in the world looks good in. The style features super long side-swept bangs and short piecey layers in the back.
Some wear their reverse mullet with chunky blonde highlights or mix-matched colors (blonde in the front and brunette in the back).
The style got the attention of bloggers and everyday folk when Kate Plus 8 star, Kate Gosselin, donned the style in the early 2000s. To watchers of the show, her demanding and demeaning personality fit the Karen profile to the T.
We think we can all agree that there’s something about the style that just does not work.
Perhaps it’s the 90s-esque spikiness that’s long been out of style, or maybe it’s the bangs that have way too much volume and not enough shape. Whatever it is, it makes everyone who wears it look worse.
If there’s any single haircut we recommend avoiding, it’s this one. It practically screams, “can I speak to the manager.”
Try this instead: A great alternative to the reverse mullet is a pixie cut or a short bob. You can’t go wrong with either of these cuts, as both of them are fashion-forward, require very little maintenance, and look fabulous on most people.
Give these styles a try if you’ve got a heart, square, or oval-shaped face. And if you’ve got to have the bangs, keep them short to stay out of “Karen hair” territory.
Another style that Karens everywhere wear is super-defined, stiff curls. To get curls to look “Karenified,” they curl thick sections of hair with a curling iron and then spray them to death with oil sheen and spritz so they’ll be unmoveable.
Try this instead: Curls look best when they have movement and a natural shine. To prevent the dreaded stiff curls, use a curling wand to curl medium sections of hair.
After you’ve curled all the hair, run your fingers through the curls to break them up and give them some body. If you want your curls to stay all day, you can spray them with a bit of holding spray, but do your best not to go overboard.
Too Much Volume
An all too familiar characteristic of Karen haircuts is too much volume in the crown. There’s a very fine line between voluminous and too voluminous.
Some spend an ungodly amount of time teasing, lifting, and blow-drying their hair to get it to stand on end – that’s a no-no if you don’t want to look like a Karen. Even long hairstyles that have too much volume in the crown evoke a Karen-like vibe.
Try this instead: If your haircut adds more than 2 inches to your height, you’ve got a Karen cut on your hands. So if you like styles with volume, opt for tousled waves or a curly bob with choppy bangs. Stay away from Bumpits! For naturally textured ladies, try a twist out or braid out.
Tiger Stripe Hair Color
Tiger Strip hair color is another style that Karens have claimed for themselves. It features dark to medium brown hair with obnoxious harsh highlights (in blonde or red).
The dark and light hair colors compete with each other and give the effect of tiger stripes. The style ends up making you stand out from the crowd in the worst way.
This is not to say that you have to avoid bold highlights, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do them.
Try this instead: Some people walk into the salon asking for balayage and walk out with tiger stripes. If you want to try highlights without looking like a Karen, make sure that your stylist understands that you want your highlights to be done with a soft gradient or ombre feel.
Here are some things that you should check before you leave the salon:
- Make sure that the color is dark at the roots and gradually gets lighter toward the ends.
- Always choose a highlight color that complements your skin tone. If you have dark skin, you should opt for highlights in the warm family. If you have olive tone toned skin, stay far away from cool-toned hair colors. For anyone with light skin and cool undertones, go for ash tones or platinum blonde highlights. If you have fair skin with warm undertones, bring them out with warm highlights.
- You should make sure that your highlights don’t look too light against the rest of your hair.
- Keep the highlights relatively thin – thick highlights will transport you straight to Karen land.
Tired Vintage Styles
Many vintage hairstyles have been resurrected lately, but some of these styles need to stay in the past. Here are a couple of Karen favorites: the bumper bangs from the 1940s, Farrah Fawcett curls from the 70s, and the pageboy haircut of the 1950s.
Not only do these hairstyles signal the presence of a Karen, but they look super dated.
Try this instead: Contrary to the styles mentioned above, here are some vintage styles that are making a huge comeback right now:
- The short bob – Short bobs have a quirky vibe that’ll elevate your style to an entirely new level.
- Curtain bangs – Curtain bangs ooze sexiness and are super trendy on social media.
- Mullet – Miley Cyrus brought this style back from the dead in 2020, and the trend is still going strong.
Karens seem to have a thing for layers…all the layers. Layers look good in moderation, but once you go overboard, you’ll start looking like a Karen.
Once you add too many layers, your haircut will start to round out at the top and get way too voluminous and feather-like. This instantly ages you and gives you a dated aura. Many Karens make these cuts worse by over-styling them with pin curls, spikes, etc.
Try this instead: Over-layered cuts look old-fashioned. So, instead of opting for a cut like that, go for subtle layers that aren’t too choppy or chunky, especially if your hair is short. Soft layers always look flattering. Lastly, make sure that your layers don’t start too high.
Brassy Color Jobs
Brassy hair never looks good – can someone tell the Karens? Hair brassiness occurs when you do your hair color yourself and aren’t quite sure what you’re doing, or you neglect to tone your hair after bleaching.
Other times, brassy tones can creep up after a hair-lightening session when the toner has worn off.Brassy hair is just too harsh to look good on any skin tone, no matter the undertone. So, we advise you to avoid brassy color at every turn.
Try this instead: When lightening the hair, brass is unavoidable in most cases. That’s because brass appears as a result of lifting your natural hair pigment. The best thing you can do when you notice brassy tones in your hair is to tone it.
You can use blue toner to get rid of orange tones or a purple toner to get rid of yellow and golden tones. It’s essential to choose the right toner for your hair, so be sure to read the toner packaging. Hint: Some toners are ineffective on brown hair.
To keep brass away after getting your hair professionally done, there are several things that you can do. First, stay away from the sun’s rays, chlorine pools, and hot water.
All three of these tend to make your hair color fade, revealing the brassy tones underneath. Second, wash your hair as little as possible – this does not mean that you should go around with dirty, oily hair.
Just wash your hair only when it’s dirty. Washing your hair too often will fade your hair color and toner, revealing the brassiness underneath. Lastly, use heat tools sparingly, as the heat can blast open and damage your hair cuticle, speeding up toner fade.
Pixie with Deep Side Part
Not all pixie cuts are considered Karen haircuts, but one type has serious Karen vibes: the deep side part pixie. The deep side part pixie is self-explanatory for the most part.
It’s a pixie featuring a part near your ear. On some people, the style looks great, but it can look quite tacky on others. Either way, we recommend staying far away from this style if you don’t want to look like a self-righteous, inflated Karen.
Try this instead: The Karens have not claimed all of the pixies. If you want a close-cropped look, try a pixie with short bangs or an undercut pixie. Just make sure that it doesn’t feature too many layers and isn’t overstyled, as doing so can bring you right up Karen Alley.
Spikes and Karens go hand in hand. Karens love their hair gel and hold spray and will go to town creating those horrendous spikes. Spikes are a surefire way to age yourself and stick out like a sore thumb. So, separate yourself from Karen-kind and steer clear of spikes.
Try this instead: When spikey cuts were in, around the year 2000, they were seen as edgy and fashionable. If that’s your thing, consider some other styles that evoke edginess without spikes.
Try a super high bun with laid edges, a faux hawk, an undercut bob, or some braids. All of these styles radiate sass and will turn heads.
The Plastic Bob
One of the most common Karen hairstyles we’ve seen is the plastic bob. It’s sleek beyond all reason and has not a strand out of place.
It’s unnaturally shiny, has super sharp layers, and is as stiff as a board. To get this look, Karens have to straighten their hair at a very high temperature, bump it too much at the ends, slather on oils, and then finish it off with a can of holding spray.
When the style is done, they’re ready to recite their favorite lines in the mirror: “Go get your manager,” “How inconvenient,” or “I will sue your pants off.”
Try this instead: Instead of going for a plastic bob, opt instead for a bob with movement, subtle layers, and body. Take it easy on the oil and, please, don’t use too much hairspray.
Styles with contrasting textures are a big hit in Karen Land. They feature curls in the front with straight hair in the back, waves in the front with spikes in the back, or teased layers in the crown with straight bangs. These types of styles not only make you look like a Karen, but they also make you look confused.
Try this instead: We understand if you like curly hair and straight hair, or teased hair and sleek hair. But we advise you to try your best to choose one texture at a time. It’ll not only look better, but you won’t give off Karen vibes.
Super Flipped Ends
Flipped ends are making a comeback. Unfortunately, they look particularly Karen-y, and we’re not living for it. No matter what style you’re wearing, if you flip the ends, you look no different than a Karen.
Try this instead: Flipped ends should be off the hair menu if you don’t want to look like a Karen. But they look the least pretentious when they’re at the end of a very long ponytail.
Perhaps, this is because they don’t look as clean and rigid that way. Also, you should comb through the flipped portion to make it look messier. The more coiffed it is, the more your Karen will be showing.
Don’t Be a Karen
Your hairstyle has much less bearing on your Karen status than your behavior. And, believe it or not, we all may have some Karen-ish tendencies that come out from time to time.
To keep from turning into a full-blown Karen, read the following tips. You won’t regret it!
- Mind your temper. Once you feel your anger welling up inside, take deep breaths or walk away from the situation. It’s much better than releasing your angst on innocent folk.
- Remember that the world doesn’t exist to serve you. Once you begin thinking that you’re God’s gift to the Earth, you’ll tend to act like you own others.
- Mind your own business. Karens LOVE jumping into situations that have nothing to do with them. So, do yourself and others a favor and tend to your own issues, and let others sort theirs out.
- Relinquish control. Controlling everything is tiresome and can quickly drive you, and everyone else, crazy.
- Respect authority. Without authority, the world would be a literal circus. Know that the rules apply to you just as much as they do to others.
- Use kind words. This one is very hard for Karens who don’t get their way. Hold your tongue if you don’t have anything nice to say.
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Now you know several hairstyles to avoid, what hairstyles to try instead, and how not to be a Karen. The disdain for Karens is widespread, and we don’t think it’ll die down anytime soon.
The truth is that there’s no room for Karens in a civilized world, so let’s do everything we can to avoid looking and acting like them.
If you want to further educate yourself on Karen hairstyles and mannerisms, you can find tons of Karen memes on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. That way, you can take note of how you shouldn’t look and act. We hope this article was helpful to you and wish you the best!
Kenneth Byrd( Co-founder and Owner )
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a serial hair blogger that has been writing about hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.