What is a Karen Haircut and How to Avoid It!

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You’ve seen the memes, been warned by your adolescent that she will disown you if you return home from the salon with one, and the chances are pretty high that you have been witness to the out-of-line outbursts and irrational tactics of a Karen and her infamous haircut. If your Karen radar is defective, then there is one sure way to spot a Karen in a crowd, and that is by her hairstyle.

What is a Karen Haircut?

This hairdo earned its name from a Karen reference made in the 90’s movie Mean Girls and was made famous by the popular reality TV star of Jon and Kate Plus 8, Kate Gosselin.  Karen loves a bit of drama. She is usually the big blonde-haired, entitled-looking female who will be guaranteed to call the manager for a petty dispute or call out the coach at her son’s football game for not placing him as a cornerback.

So, what are the qualities that make a Karen haircut something you should avoid like a public sneeze in 2020?

  • A Karen haircut is usually longer in the front and shorter in the back, creating an angle as dramatic as her attitude.
  • It loves volume and it will never look flat, usually stiff with hairspray.
  • A Karen hairdo is usually blonde or has bold blonde streaks

We explored the web and found numerous hairstyles you should avoid if you want to keep your friends and save you from being mistaken as a Karen. Here they are!

1. The epitome of a Karen Haircut

Also well known as the ‘I’d like to speak to the manager’ haircut. This original Karen haircut is characterized by its dramatic angle from back to front, the height begins at the top center part of the head, and overall, looks like a haircut that should have never found its way out of the ’90s.


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A post shared by Marcus & Jenny (@marcusjennyrover)

2. Extreme Angled Bob

The degree of this angle will have passers-by tilting their heads! The talent and artistry behind this haircut can be appreciated but an angle this severe, with a dash too much volume will most definitely earn you association with the Karens of the world.


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A post shared by Beatriz Ramirez (@simplybea.yourself)

3. Chunky Teased Layers

Chunky teased layers and a dramatic angle scream Karen’s name! The layers paired with rough teasing, create a more stacked look in the back, making the angle appear longer. It is somewhat disconnected and honestly doesn’t present itself as a well-groomed head of hair. Avoid pairing all these things to avoid it seeming like a Karen haircut.


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A post shared by Faces by Bravo (@facesbybravo)

4. Dramatic Wedge

When the crown and nape are so highly contrasted, your Karen detector should ring loud and fast! A dramatic wedge is characterized by disconnected stacked layers in the back with almost no blend, from thick and bulky to a very sudden taper in the neck. this is a clear Karen haircut and should honestly be avoided altogether.


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A post shared by Karen (@dontbelikekarencampaign)

5. Overteased Temples

If the height in the crown is not Karen enough, over teased temples should do the trick. When the volume goes width ways and creates an illusion of your hair floating just above your scalp, then the tease is too much! take it down a notch and calm the amount of tease to calm the amount of Karen.


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A post shared by @unique_daily_sights

6. Short Teased Crown

When the crown is much shorter than the rest of the hair, teased harshly and sprayed with half a can of hairspray, this is another unfortunate and clear example of how a Karen may wear her hair. Try keeping the layers more blended and maintain some length in the crown area.

7. Too close to Perfect

An angled bob that is too close to perfect can be deceiving. Although this is a highly popular and gorgeous haircut, it’s sometimes the undercover Karens that rock this hairstyle. This haircut is a perfect example of how a personality can give a good haircut a bad taste.


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A post shared by 3BRIN_Salon (@3brinsalon)

8. Extremely Sharp Points

A strongly cut angle is one of the more obvious elements of a Karen haircut, but when the tip of the angle is as sharp as a pin then the Karen association can not be avoided. It can be very harsh and really highlights the annoyance portrayed in the facial features, like a frown or a pout that elongates your chin.


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A post shared by Brick Junny (@brickjunny)

9. Long Pixie Karen Cut

Long in the front, short in the back means attitude. A deep side parting with a heavy bang usually hanging across the eye and short tapered layers from the crown to the nape. Very wispy and textured and coated with both hairspray and wax, this haircut will make you feel the urge to call the manager!


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A post shared by Maiv Tsu Thoj (@maivtsuthoj)

10. Subdued Karen

Another perfectly great haircut that has been owned by Karens. I call this the subdued Karen because this cut is a classic, beautifully shaped bob, but paired with a bit too much volume and an aggravating situation, your inner Karen can be awakened. Keep this shape more A-lined with less layering and a more polished finish.

11. Volume Overkill

This hairdo will hands down gift you with a Karen title, volume this high is hair raising! This may be considered subtle if you live in Mississippi or in the ’50s, but other than that, this is a clear Karen hairstyle.


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A post shared by Ryan Anderson (@ryanandersonradio)

12. Ultra Karen

Basically, all the elements that make up a Karen haircut on steroids, and you have an ultra Karen. Short, spiky layers in the crown, teased and sprayed to the max, heavy bangs, and wispy long points in the front. A hairstyle that is double the size of the face can never look good. This hairstyle reeks of entitlement and is the queen of all Karens.


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A post shared by Sheryl Miller (@thehippiehavenmaven)

13. Angled Bob with Waves

Pursue this hairstyle with slight caution. These subtle beachy waves are gorgeous, but worn on a bob with a severe angle can cross over to the Karen side. Subtle is the keyword here, avoid more tousled and teased and opt for more of a slight angle or one-length bob.


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A post shared by Katlyn Pendleton (@h_e_y_itskate)

14. Bubble Bob

This outdated haircut gives the impression that your hair is in fact a wig and unnatural, hence it earns its name the bubble bob. Too much volume on a short straight bob is a trademark Karen quality. Wear it slightly longer and add some soft layers to break up the floating bubble look.


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A post shared by Professional Crackhead (@_gabe.itch_)

15. Short Spiky Layers

Short spiky layers, over teased and accompanied by a heavy hand of hairspray could have you resembling the tail of your beloved Chow Chow. Think back to Sharon Osbourne owning her voluminous, spiky red hair, she would be a solid Karen if she rocked that hairstyle in 2020. Enjoy Karen free, short layers by allowing them to blend, you can still enjoy the volume by leaving out the tease and putting down the hairspray.

16. Heavy Contrast in Textures

Karens love a slick, flat accent piece in the front, and a highly textured, teased, bed head look in the back. This creates a heavy contrast in textures with a disconnected finish. Ladies with fine hair often choose this particular haircut so they can add more height and tease in the back, the problem with this hairstyle is that it creates gaps making the hair appear patchy and exposes the scalp making it seem as though there is less hair than there really is.


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A post shared by Jesse Jean (@jessejeanhairstylist)

17. Deep Side Path with a High Crown

A deep side path is a typical attribute to a Karen hairstyle, especially when paired with a high crown. If you choose to wear your hair in a side parting, add some softness around the face with some shorter face-framing layers, or opt for a shorter, more wispy bang. Avoid wearing your hair high at the crown and let it naturally flow in the direction it grows. Keep it soft with movement so that it doesn’t appear stiff and over-styled.


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A post shared by Chucky B (@sillydad.gramisforkids)

18. Overdirected Wispy Sideburns

Very wispy, piecy, but heavy sideburns over directed onto the face is another cringy Karen feature. Texture is great, but stay away from bulky and long, especially around the face. Keep the sideburns shorter or keep them tucked behind the ear. These sideburns have a similar effect as the sharp angle that a Karen bob has, and that’s what you want to avoid.

19. Chunky Brassy Highlights

Very rarely does a person ask for a brassy hue in their hair, so when you see this, it is either a botched job by the hairstylist, or it is a home job gone wrong. A Karen would usually believe that she can do a better job than her supposedly overpriced hairstylist, and therefore could be seen sporting these brassy tiger stripes in her hair. Don’t ever attempt your own color if you don’t want to end up with some Karen tones.


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A post shared by Andrea (@holysnip95)

20. Chunky Blondes

Bold, chunky color is another Karen favorite! It has that overly confident, diva feel about it. Although this color technique can be done tastefully, it usually ends up accompanying the haircut of a Karen. Avoid big chunky color placement and go for a more natural, blended set of foils. You can still enjoy the contrast of highlights and lowlights, but placement and technique are key in achieving a tasteful result.

Final Thoughts

The Karen haircut has become infamous in a short amount of time and there are very few people left in this world who are not familiar with it and who it belongs to, in fact, it is one of the most avoided haircuts in the world. The thing is, there are many wonderful women out there rocking the same hairdos and getting praise for it. What makes a Karen a Karen, is mostly characterized by her personality, by the way she chooses to respond to certain situations, and is usually someone who doesn’t have a healthy respect for the boundaries of others. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are highly influenced by the opinions of others, and so if a certain haircut puts you into the category of being a Karen, then we would choose to rather avoid it, and that’s ok! That is why we have compiled this list of hair do’s and don’ts to help you avoid making a wrong decision.

The main things to avoid if you wish to not end up with an “Id like to speak to the manager ” haircut are simple.

  • Tone down the volume. Volume is great on flat and lifeless hair, just be mindful to not cross the line and end up looking like a Karen.
  • Take it easy with the hairspray. If your hair doesn’t move with your head then you have used a Karen dose of hairspray.
  • There is a very fine line when it comes to teasing. If you are able to, just avoid it altogether.
  • Avoid brassy tones and very contrasting color placement.
  • Choose a cut with graceful graduation, opposed to a dramatic angle, which is a signature element to a Karen haircut.

I’m confident these tips and advice will Karen proof your next hair cut but remember to just be kind, be tolerant, patient, and compassionate with others. and rock your hairstyle the way you love it!



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Author - Lauren Holland

Lauren always knew she needed to work in an industry that would nurture her creative and eccentric personality. She has run her own business for 7 years. After 2 years attending college, Lauren found herself an apprenticeship with one of the top salons in her province. This salon was popular for their more alternative and creative hairstyle ideas, taking part in many international competitions, photoshoots and shows where bright colors and Avant Garde styling were always the theme. She fine-tuned her skills throughout her 5 years there, achieving many awards including national finalist of the Goldwell Color Zoom competition. After qualifying, Lauren stayed on and grew in leaps and bounds in her art, training new apprentices and meeting some local fame and influencers. She got to experience various facets of the industry and built up a strong clientele. Lauren eventually found her way to owning her own salon and, in this time, she specialized in bridal and formal hair. Living in the Midlands meant she was in the hub of the wedding industry and was involved with collaborative shoots and bridal shows.