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'The Rachel' is trending thanks to Zendaya - here's why the iconic haircut has stood the test of time

The Euphoria actress' latest hairstyle is giving major 90s nostalgia

Rachel Green from Friends with her iconic haircut
Orin Carlin
Orin CarlinContent Writer
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When Zendaya switches things up in the beauty department, we sit up and pay attention.

The Challengers actress practically set the internet alight recently when she gave her hair a quick update, documenting her new 'do on her Instagram Stories with the innocuous caption: "Needed a little refresh." Perfect beauty junkie fodder.

Shorter cuts are having a serious moment in the celebrity sphere right now – from Florence Pugh's bold buzzcut and Hailey Bieber's sleek box bob to Jenna Ortega's shaggy wolf, we're totally spoilt for choice where hair inspiration is concerned.

Zendaya showed off her latest hair update © Instagram / @zendaya
Zendaya showed off her latest hair update

 But Zendaya's new, flicky lob – not a million miles away from the shorter, less choppy style that she has sported for much of the year – has cut deep, evoking an unexpected pang of 90s nostalgia.

READ: Anne Hathaway, Zendaya, Priyanka Chopra: The unmissable high jewellery moments from Bulgari's Venice soirée

Rachel Green, is that you? One brief glance at Zendaya's post-chop snap and it doesn't take a genius to work out why everyone is comparing her new 'do to that of A-list legend Jennifer Aniston. 

Rachel Green from Friends with her iconic haircut © Getty
The iconic cut first appeared on our screens in 1995

Not her current look, obvs, but the now-iconic cut worn by her character Rachel in the 90s sitcom Friends. (Ever tuned in? You may not have heard of it, it's almost never on TV. Oh, wait.)  

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READ: Zendaya's stylist Law Roach has retired and the A-list are not ok with it

Moments from the smash-hit series are comfortably embedded in our collective vernacular, but 'The Rachel' is arguably of equal cultural significance to the classic "We were on a break" moot point. 

What is 'The Rachel'?

Rachel Green from Friends with her iconic haircut © Getty
'The Rachel' will go down in hairstory

Created by celebrity hairstylist Chris McMillan, 'The Rachel' is a voluminous, feathered cut that finishes just shy of the collarbone. The look features choppy, face-framing layers, flicky ends and works well with a side-parted fringe. 

Tasked with transforming Jennifer's locks into something shorter and smoother, Chris was actually recommended to the actress by her co-star Courteney Cox.

The inspirations behind the cut come from far and wide, according to Vogue. Manhattan beach surfer dudes played a part, as did model Beri Smithers' chin-skimming lengths and the soft curvature that hairdressing legend Garren was creating for Amber Valletta at around the same time.

 Jennifer debuted the look onscreen in 1995 during a season one episode titled 'The One With the Evil Orthodontist' and the style became her character's signature hairdo.

During the height of the programme's popularity, stylists were inundated with requests for the cut, despite its 'takes-no-prisoners' approach. ('The Rachel' is notoriously difficult to style – even a whiff of a straightener will kill the volume and leave it looking limp.)

Jennifer Aniston smiling © Getty
The star has a complicated relationship with the legendary hairstyle

Even Jen struggled to keep the style looking picture perfect, revealing a few years ago at the InStyle Awards that initially she was in awe of the cut, and then she was left with a "frizzy mop" when her own styling abilities fell short.   

But 'The Rachel' just won't quit, even if Jennifer has her reservations. Hindsight is a beauty, eh? 

The cut is still going strong nearly three decades since it first swished onto our screens. Is it Gen-Z's obsession with the 90s that has prompted a resurgence? Or simply its ultra-wearable, unradical length? What about the fact that it lends itself to both body and bounce? 'The Rachel' is no one-trick pony. 

It's impossible to pinpoint – but now that Zendaya is a convert, we're strongly considering it.  

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