Some trends are too good to pass up. Such is the case with Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel” haircut from Friends. It’s high-maintenance and no one seems to be able to pull it off without 24/7 assistance from a professional hairdresser, but that doesn’t matter. The Rachel hairdo sparked a Hair-volution that’s still going strong nearly 20 years later.
Also known as “The Shag,” The OG Rachel haircut features lots of choppy layers and feathering. It begins somewhere around the cheeks and usually falls to above the shoulder, highlighting face and jaw contours. Add some blonde highlights and you’re totally Rachel.
The UK’s Express reported that 11 million British women had tried out The Rachel by 2010. And stars across the board have tried it out, including Debra Messing of Will & Grace, Hailey Bieber, Chrissy Teigen, Renée Zellweger, Tyra Banks, Cameron Diaz, J-Lo, Rihanna, and Selena Gomez.
The Will & Grace actress’s try at the hairdo didn’t go well, per an interview with Refinery 29.
“Partway through the series, when Friends was also on TV, we were like, ‘Wait a minute, look at Jennifer Aniston’s hair — everyone loves it,'” she told Refinery. “They said, ‘Maybe we should try and make you look like her.’ So, I went to Jennifer’s hairstylist and got the cut. But it was a whole debacle when we tried to do it on the show. They literally tried for three hours to straighten my hair like hers. It was so full and poofy that it looked like a mushroom. The whole thing was just a disaster, so [the producers] decided to just keep it curly. They were like, ‘This is a problem, we need to find someone who can handle her hair!'”
Gomez’s try at the look was actually a mélange of Rachel and Goldie Hawn from First Wives Club. It omitted the blonde highlights, sticking to Gomez’s natural brunette color, while falling below her shoulders.
Bieber’s try at the cut also went with a longer length.
Perhaps the longer version is the way to go, as Aniston herself can attest to the monster that the OG version created.
Aniston has looked back on Rachel’s haircut numerous times, and always with a bit of enmity, it seems. That’s not to say that she didn’t think it was cool. And she obviously loves Chris McMillan, the celebrity hairstylist who created the cut. She’s referred to him as an “undercover healer” who “makes everyone feel better as much as look better.” But she admits that she’d rather shave her head than get the Rachel haircut again.
While on the Kyle and Jackie O Show, Aniston was asked, “Would you rather have the Rachel haircut for the rest of your life or shave your head once?”
“Shave my hair once, definitely,” Aniston responded. “’The Rachel’ for the rest of my life? Shave my head once! Yeah, I’d shave my head once!”
She’s also referred to the haircut as “horrible.” When speaking with Marie Claire, Aniston admitted that the upkeep was a nightmare.
“The Rachel was high maintenance. I’d curse Chris every time I had to blow dry. It took three brushes—it was like doing surgery!” she said.
Aniston once told Allure that she thought the Rachel cut was “ugly.”
“I love Chris [McMillan], and he’s the bane of my existence at the same time because he started that damn Rachel, which was not my best look,” she said. “How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen. What I really want to know is, how did that thing have legs?”
Hilariously, Aniston’s “leg” reference holds more meaning than one. The Rachel became so popular that photographer Robert Trachtenberg and Aniston pulled off a parody photo shoot just for the hair.
Trachtenberg created a mock-up wig shop window featuring a bunch of mannequin heads and wigs. And then there was Aniston, the real Jennifer Aniston, with her head and Rachel hair, in the middle of them all.
“It was just a hairdo, and it became this national phenomenon,” said Trachtenberg. “So, I threw the dice and suggested we kind of mock it and she loved the idea of making fun of it. She was incredibly uncomfortable and had to stick her head through a wooden hole, but she was a real trooper about it.”
“In one photo, you sort of mock it, pay tribute to it and salute it,” he reminisced.