Skip to Content

Have You Seen the 2023 Brittney Griner Haircut?

The recent and unexpected Brittney Griner haircut left fans wondering why she cut her signature long locs in Russia. The real reason behind the cut might surprise you. 

What’s Behind the Brittney Griner Haircut?

Action shot of basketball player Brittney Griner haircut before chopping her long dreads

Brittney Griner center for Phoenix Mercury at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix,AZ May 17, 2017/Keeton Gale/Shutterstock

When Brittney Griner, renowned WNBA star, was imprisoned in Russia back in February 2022 for possessing THC oil, the country was in shock. We all waited and watched for her release, which was finally arranged in December 2022. 

Everyone had questions about what happened to Griner while she was incarcerated in Russia. What were the conditions like? Was she safe, being fed well, and treated ethically?

When she finally returned home and everyone saw the new, short Brittney Griner haircut, suspicions of mistreatment abroad were heightened. 

Her signature long dreadlocks were nowhere to be seen. Instead, she arrived rocking a short undercut similar to a mid fade. 

The new Brittney Griner haircut sparked concerns that the WNBA star had been forced to shear off her long locs. But sources close to her reported that the hairdo change was a personal choice to make her incarceration a little more comfortable. 

What Led to the Brittney Griner Haircut in Russia?

Shot of the basketball star at ESPY Awards for a piece on the recent Brittney Griner haircut

Brittney Griner at The 2013 ESPY Awards, Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, Los Angeles, CA July 17, 2013/s_bukley/Shutterstock

Why did Brittney Griner cut her hair short in Russia? The new, short Brittney Griner haircut was actually the basketball star’s way of coping with extraordinarily cold Russian winters. 

Griner’s attorney, Maria Blagovolina, told ESPN that the haircut was a decision she made to avoid freezing in the cold temperatures after showering. 

Blagovolina relayed that Griner’s long dreads made showering in the Russian prison extremely uncomfortable because “every time she washed her hair she got cold and would get a chill.” 

Griner planned the cut and told her attorneys about it in advance. In fact, she got her dreads cut off just a few weeks prior to her release. 

It makes sense that the long dreads would be very uncomfortable and make Griner more sensitive to the cold temperatures. Dreadlocks, which are shaped masses of matted hair, hold water like a sponge. 

After a cold shower in a chilly place like Yavas, where she was imprisoned, the soaked dreadlocks would’ve remained unbearably cold for hours after washing. They possibly could’ve frozen in chilly enough temperatures. 

It’s the kind of cold that could piece you to your core. In Yavas, Russia, the December highs average around 18 degrees Fahrenheit and lows sink to the single digits. 

What Happened During Brittney Griner’s Incarceration?

Russian penal colony gates at the women's prison in Barnaul, Russia showing a place similar to where Brittney Griner was held when she cut her hair

Barnaul, Russia-October 29, 2017. Prison gate of the women’s penal colony No. 11/Jonas Petrovas/Shutterstock

With the bone-chilling temperatures in the single digits and poor conditions in the “penal colony” where she was held in Yavas, it’s not surprising that Griner took matters into her own hands and decided to part with her locs. 

CBS Sports reported that Griner’s long dreadlocks “kept freezing” after prison showers due to the extremely cold temperatures. It’s unclear whether her locs were actually freezing or just rendering her incredibly cold after each shower. 

We’ve learned a few details about Griner’s incarceration, from her role as an inmate to what she was allowed – and not allowed – to do. 

Griner was held in a penal colony in Yavas, about 300 miles southeast of Moscow. The colony resembles an impoverished village more than a typical prison, according to reports. 

Since Griner was incarcerated in the women’s penal colony, she would’ve been assigned to work on sewing uniforms along with the other female prisoners. 

Her height – at 6 foot 8 inches – posed a problem there. She was too tall to comfortably sit at the worktables and her hands were too large to sew along with her fellow prisoners.

Instead, she was tasked with holding and carrying fabric around to other inmates while they worked on sewing uniforms. Video has been released of Griner struggling to follow instructions given to her in Russian while working. 

She dined in the cafeteria with the other inmates, eating whatever chow was served up in the prison. At night, Griner slept in a metal twin-sized bed. It must’ve been cramped for her tall frame, but she made it work. 

On her flight back to the USA, Griner told reporters, “I’m good” and “I’m happy.”

What Is the New Brittney Griner Haircut Called?

Serious African American woman looks at the camera with a short mid undercut and plaid shirt on a city street for a piece on the new Brittney Griner haircut style


Brittney Griner’s new haircut is considered a short mid undercut. A little length is left on the top and sides, giving the undercut the general shape of a mid fade

But unlike a fade, Griner’s undercut abruptly changes length with no gradual transition from long to short. It gives the cut an edgy, angular vibe that works with her bone structure. 

From the images we’ve seen of the new haircut, it seems easy to style and well-suited for her hair’s coarse, coily texture. It probably feels very lightweight compared to her long dreadlocks! 

We wouldn’t be surprised if Griner decides to add a little more detail and finesse to the new haircut. She might add a fade, hard part, shaved designs, or begin growing it out.

She could even wear faux locs or crochet locs to adopt a look more similar to her past style. 

While Griner might miss her signature long locs, the new cut is pretty flattering on her oblong face shape. It features little volume on top, tight sides, and enough length on the top and sides to add some texture to the cut. 

Will the Brittney Griner Haircut Be Her New Signature Look?

Will Griner stick with her newly short hair long-term, or grow out the undercut and return to the much-loved length and locs? Who knows, but it’s safe to say that either look is a good option for the WNBA center. 

If Brittney Griner decides to return to the long dreadlocks, it’ll take some time to recreate the look. Dreadlocks “shrink” the hair length by anywhere from 10% to 30%, depending on the hair type and texture. 

With the average African hair growth rate of about a third of an inch to half an inch per month, Griner would need at least a few years to reach her previous length.

She could begin creating locs again once her hair reaches 6-10 inches in length.

There are several dreadlock phases to go through to reach the fully mature locs she had before her incarceration – starter, budding, teen, mature, and rooted phases. 

On the flip side, Griner might decide that she loves the way the new, shorter cut looks and works for her. We have to say – it’s really complementary to her face shape and bone structure. 

With Griner finally back home in the USA with all the comforts she missed in Russia, she’s busy celebrating her freedom – and maybe enjoying the lightweight freedom of her new undercut, too.