IF my life were an episode of Friends then this would be The One Where I Cut All My Hair Off.
It's been 27 years since the hit US sitcom first hit screens – meaning a over quarter of a century has passed since women around the world desperately tried to recreate “The Rachel” haircut.
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And tonight, the cast will reunite for the first time in a one-off television special.
Along with her signature brown lipstick and denim miniskirts, Jennifer Aniston’s short, choppy layers sent female fans into a frenzy when the show debuted on TV screens in September 1994.
Nineties fashion is back in vogue in a big way. The high-street is awash with grunge band T-shirts, ripped jeans and crop tops, while wet-look make-up and coloured eye shadows are again all the rage.
So naturally I decided to try out the iconic haircut for myself to see if it's stood the test of time.
While her eponymous haircut helped catapult her to fame, Jennifer admitted last year that it looked more like a "frizzy mop" on days when she wasn't filming and she was forced to style it herself.
Although I was too young to watch Friends while it was still airing, that didn’t stop me from binging reruns of the show on E4 every evening and even renting video cassettes of the earlier seasons when I was still in primary school. Yes, I was that hard-core.
These days, Friends is regularly roasted online for its undeniably dated Fat Monica and Ugly Naked Guy jabs.
But if there’s one thing that’s remained timeless about the series, it’s Rachel’s all-American wardrobe.
Jennifer Aniston admitted her iconic hairstyle looked more like a 'frizzy mop' on days she had to style it herself
For the purposes of this experiment, I decided to recreate four of Rachel's most famous looks – including THAT opening credits shot and her selection of mini skirts which I would still happily wear today.
But first things first, I had to lose roughly four inches of hair to channel my inner Rachel.
I was racked with fear as I headed to the Daniel Galvin Jr salon in Belgravia for the dramatic chop – but let’s face it, even if I’d had Jennifer’s own personal stylist doing my hair I still would have had butterflies.
Although I’ve never been scared to experiment with my hair – and by that I mean accidentally dye it orange as a student and cut a fringe last year – “The Rachel” was way out of my comfort zone.
After all, I’d spent the past five years with some form of long, blonde hair and have been known to go years at a time without getting a cut.
Fortunately, I was in safe hands at the posh London-based salon but that didn’t stop the stylists from questioning why on earth I wanted to effectively butcher my hair.
'Sure you want to do this?' the hairdresser asked me, while grabbing sections of my dense blonde locks
After visiting Daniel Galvin Jr the previous week for my consultation, the hairstylist Joe looked at me with absolute horror when he realised "The Rachel" wasn’t quite the beachy blonde waves Jennifer rocked in the later series but a more defined, dramatic cut all together.
"Sure you want to do this?" he asked while grabbing sections of my dense blonde locks. It’s at this point that I found myself fighting the urge to run out and never return.
At the risk of sounding obnoxious, my extremely thick hair has been something of a blessing and a curse all my life… but for the purposes of this experiment, it came in pretty handy.
Considering how "The Rachel" is a bouncy, almost triangular cut, Joe was happy that my hair would be able to handle it.
As well as swapping my Rapunzel locks for "The Rachel", hair colourist Liv removed roughly 80 per cent of my blonde to achieve Jen’s golden brunette shade.
While I’ve spent the best part of 10 years getting my hair highlighted with bleach, Liv went back in with lowlights to reverse my light, colour back to my natural mousey state.
As the hairdresser sliced awkward, clunky layers into my hair, I fell deathly silent… too upset to even dig into the Penguin bar I’d been given as a snack
She then stained the natural blonde I have round my face with the salon’s organic vegetable gloss to keep it looking shiny and warm-toned… in other words, the absolute opposite of how I’ve ever dyed it myself.
When the day of the big chop rolled around, Joe seemed to sense my nerves and sneakily sliced off a few inches of my locks as I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
Looking at the big clumps of bleached blonde hair littering the floor of the swanky London salon, I fought the urge to panic and tried to tell myself that it was like ripping off a plaster – it could only get easier, right? WRONG.
The thing about this iconic 90s cut is that the short length is just the half of it (literally) – it’s the bonkers layers which are the real defining feature.
As Joe sliced (what looked like) awkward, clunky layers into my hair, I fell deathly silent… too upset to even dig into the Penguin bar I’d been given as a snack.
Picking up on my unease, the photographer – who had been documenting my every grimace and nervous laugh – kept insisting that it was like watching an artist at work.
I still think I look like a shaggy, unkempt dog when my hair is wet
After what felt like a lifetime of watching my hair get butchered in live action, we were finally finished and, much to my surprise, I instantly fell in love with the results.
The golden brown shade is like a nicer version of my natural colour while the chunky layers frame my face more than my dense blonde locks ever did.
Having said that, I still think I look like a shaggy, unkempt dog when my hair is wet.
Before getting the dramatic cut, I’d always taken a pretty relaxed approach to styling my hair. (READ: I let it do whatever the hell it wanted at all times).
However, I’ve now come to realise that a round brush and a bit of sea salt spray are the key to making me look less like a stray dog and more like a glamorous 90s television star.
After watching Joe painstakingly blow dry every layer to perfection, I left the salon feeling like a total Jennifer Aniston doppelganger – and happily channelled my inner influencer as I posed for photos outside the salon.
Jennifer Aniston says The Rachel is “the ugliest haircut she’d ever seen”
As for recreating some of Rachel’s most famous outfits, I’m not ashamed to admit that her wardrobe of mini skirts, denim jackets, knee high socks and roll neck jumpers are not a far cry from my own personal style. Hey, I’m still a 90s kid at heart.
While I’m still getting to grips with styling the haircut without the full assistance of trained professionals, I find myself constantly trying to add volume around the back to avoid my naturally fine hair from looking too flat day-to-day.
Naturally, I spent the weeks leading up to the cut frantically researching the best pictures of "The Rachel" cut and trying to convince myself not to chicken out of the experiment.
But the one thing I’m really glad I didn’t come across online? A 2011 interview Jennifer Aniston gave with Allure where she claimed "The Rachel" was “the ugliest haircut she’d ever seen”. Awks.
Funnily enough, it turns out that hairstylist to the stars Chris McMillan came up with the idea for the cut by accident when he was figuring out how to style Jennifer’s awkwardly-grown out fringe.
I’ve also been stuck in that awkward hair limbo the past 10 months and have been pleased with how well the cut frames my face.
The person I was most nervous to show was my boyfriend of almost six years Jason
Fortunately for me, my friends and family would disagree with Jennifer in her scathing review of her signature look… or at least know me well enough to lie.
After posting an Instagram story moaning about how long it takes me to style this cut – seriously, I spend approximately half an hour everyday going over my handiwork with a round brush – my pals were quick to compliment my new chic look.
Meanwhile, my mum couldn’t help but comment on what a “good imitation” it was while my sister gushed over the bouncy, choppy finish.
Naturally, the person I was most nervous to show was my boyfriend of almost six years Jason.
“I think the haircut looks really good on you,” he said. “And could I BE any happier that my girlfriend looks like Rachel from Friends?”
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