There was a time, in the not so distant past, when talking about hair in relation to Final Fantasy was as passé as opening a wrestling review with something about sweaty men in tights. But the great wheel of time ever turns. Now we have TressFX and Aloy's voluminous braids, and Final Fantasy is less about immaculately wafting locks and more about killing Chaos and extreme farming. That's the only excuse needed to go back and look at 10 of the best haircuts in the series. And, for the sake of science and practicality, each 'do has expert analysis from Jamie from Hacketts hairdressers in Bath.
*Reloads hairspray like a shotgun*
Aerith – Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Professional verdict: "Not a modern day hairstyle—I can't imagine anyone would choose to get this. The length would require a lot of maintenance and brushing."
An obvious and necessary first choice, perhaps, but at least we didn't pick Cloud. Aerith's hair is an embarrassment of tumbling plaits, topped off with a cascading fringe that apparently forgot gravity exists. And if our expert Jamie is unimpressed by this, let's just be glad we didn't show him Aerith from the original version of Final Fantasy 7, which is basically the same, but taller and built out of Mega Bloks.
Balthier – Final Fantasy 12
Professional verdict: "The top and sides are definitely something people would have today, but no one would have those sideburns."
Balthier is such a fan favourite that we often forget his aesthetic crimes, such as the open-backed sandals, embroidered vest, and sweet shop jewellery. But something about those sideburns, especially when combined with the beckoning finger, screams, 'Come to my keg party uninvited and I'll give you an atomic wedgie, nerdlinger.' But, as Jamie points out, the top and sides are great: soft, wafting blonde spikes that gradually converge into threatening burnsides, subtly hinting at the conflict and complexity that resides within us all.
Clive Rosfield – Final Fantasy 16
Professional verdict: "A lot of people do like a textured look, but this is an extreme version. Hair that long would never stick out that much, it would just fall flat."
I'm going to come out and say it: nobody called Clive in the history of human civilization has ever had hair this cool. Not least because, as Jamie mentions, the level of texture on display here is an affront to the pomade gods. On the wrong head this could make Clive look more like the proverbial Karen, but the tone and density make it sing. It's like dark matter disguised as a haircut.
Estinien – Final Fantasy 14
Professional verdict: "He's got really thick hair and that's not a natural white colour—most people would have grey tones. That fringe also would be in his eyes while fighting—the ponytail won't help him much."
In the Endwalker expansion for Final Fantasy 14, Estinien ties his hair back as a means to contend with the heat of Thavnair. But let's be real: however much he might wish to control it, the haircut is in charge here. What we have is essentially a fringe with an Elezen attached. But that's what this list is all about. Never mind the blinding impracticality or pointless ponytail. Estinien will kick your ass while looking like someone's glamorous nan, and you'll like it.
Garnet – Final Fantasy 9
Professional verdict: "Her hair would never come out that clean cut from one cut, it'd need to be done in sections to get that layering."
Yes, this haircut looks lovely, but it comes with a dose of crushing realism from our expert. No matter how dramatic or heartfelt the reason for lopping off your hair with a dagger, it's always going to look like you had an accident preparing vegetables. But perhaps this is why Garnet belongs here: she manages to saw off her mop with Zidane's knife and still come out looking like the vivacious romantic lead in a '90s teen comedy. Never mind being a summoner: that's real magic.
Jack Garland – Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
Professional verdict: "This is quite a common male haircut although most men wouldn't be endowed with a head of hair this thick—it's quite long on the sides."
As a man with hair like cobwebs on a boiled egg, I have a special admiration for Jack Garland's hair. On the face of it, it's the antithesis of the classic Final Fantasy 'do: no towering spikes; no challenging pastel shades. But this is precisely why we should celebrate it. It's the tireless Volvo of haircuts. There's no needless swagger or desperate desire to be noticed, just a crew cut with the density of a deep pile carpet you can only afford in the smallest room in your house.
Lightning – Final Fantasy 13
Professional verdict: "This is a really popular colour for girls right now. Though it's unlikely that she'd have straight hair on one side and curls on the other. This one is my favourite."
And there we have it. For perhaps the first time in living memory, Lightning is someone's favourite. This is everything you want from a Final Fantasy haircut. There's enough detail there that you can spend a good few hours staring at the fringe and still not see every strand. And, in a concession to the game's classic tonsorial impracticality, there's a secret second hairdo hiding in there in the shape of those inexplicable curls.
Rikku – Final Fantasy 10
Professional verdict: "That's a mess of different styles. I don't know how you'd even style that, there's no logical way to cut that to make it work."
A brutal takedown of Rikku's hair from Jamie, and not without reason. It's like someone has spent months meticulously styling a haircut that shouts, "I'm honestly not really bothered!" So why does it deserve a place on this list? Because it's a display of follicular generosity that borders on the vulgar. This isn't one haircut: it's at least 50, erupting with wild abandon from the head of a single, slightly-annoying character.
Rydia – Final Fantasy 4
Professional verdict: "Green never lasts very long at all—it's the most short lived colour to achieve. It only really looks good for a day before it fades."
A day. A single day. That's how long Rydia's hair would last before fading. And considering that the shortest playthrough of Final Fantasy IV is likely to last around 22 out-of-game hours, it's a measure of how great her hair is that it manages to remain as vibrant as a 90s Warhammer base for the entire duration of the game.
Sice – Final Fantasy Type-0
Professional verdict: "You'd need a lot of product and spray to get that kind of lift and it wouldn't last the day. You could maybe do it for a photo shoot or a single catwalk, but it wouldn't last any longer than that. That fringe would really get on her nerves in her eyes like that."
This is the most gravity defying haircut on the list, and it still feels moderately sensible compared to the likes of Cloud. As Jamie points out, in real life Sice's striking look probably wouldn't last long enough for you to read this paragraph before it began to droop. But this isn't real life. It's an article about great Final Fantasy hair, and anyone who questions Sice's spikes is getting impaled on them.
Tidus – Final Fantasy 10
Professional verdict: "The choppy texture and highlights are quite '90s which is starting to come back in again. He's got a bit of a short mullet look going on—this style would be pretty achievable."
This isn't just a great haircut: it's a reminder that nothing in the world is new. A reminder that, if you wait long enough, things that once defined you will crawl back to relevance like an injured dog. When they return, however, you'll see they aren't yours anymore. They belong to a different generation, who don't see you as a person but as a concept; a timid echo of times past; the human equivalent of old man smell on a second-hand jacket. And what little relevance you thought you had will pour out of you like juice from a damaged Capri Sun. Lovely sun-kissed highlights, though.