Thinking of going shorter? Check out everything on the bob.
What you’ll need
Bob haircuts have quite an interesting hair history. What once was a sign of transgression back in the day—it was considered a bold sign of independence and modernity in the 1910s and 20s—that has evolved from being an act of rebellion to being one of the most popular haircuts in the world. From Flappers to Hollywood stars to cultural icons, and presidential candidates, the bob cut hairstyle has been the go-to look for independent, outspoken, forward-thinking women who had better things to do than let their hairstyle dictate their sexuality or femininity.
These days, even after cementing its place as a classic, season-proof hairstyle for women, bob cuts still retain a certain audacity and self-assurance, and lends this trait to the women who wear it. To inspire you to try out bob hair, we are sharing an evolution of the bob cut, some of our favorite bob hairstyles and maintenance tips.
Evolution of the Bob Cut
1. 1920s: The Flapper Cut
The bob cut, an act of defiance for previously set norms, had already been popularized a few years earlier in 1915. Cut to the glamorous Roaring Twenties, when America enjoyed a sexual (and industrial) revolution, particularly in mores and gender roles. We took quite fondly to the “Flapper” hairstyle, which featured a below-the-ear bob cut styled with waxy finger waves held in place by bobby pins (hence the name, btw) and Rococo accessories. Feathers, fascinators and silk headbands displayed the opulence of the times.
2. 1960s: The Mod Cut
After taking a dip during the Golden Years of Hollywood (1930s~1950s),the bob haircut once again regained the throne as one of the most requested looks in the biz during the go-go years of the Swinging Sixties. Famous hairdressers were styling their actress-muses in voluminous, graphic stacked bobs which had to pop on black-and-white TV as well as technicolor catalogs, runways and magazines alike. The gorgeous look quickly trickled down into the who’s who of celebrity and society. A high-budget film about the Egyptian queen Cleopatra also helped cement the bob aesthetic into pop culture.
3. 1980s: The Shaggy Bob Cut
Music, which had always played a big role in the female sexual revolution, again proved to be a big impetus for hairstyles in the 1980s. Punk rock frontwomen and powerful musical icons sported a unisex version of the haircut bob—a shaggy mop that somewhat toyed with gender fluidity which, once again, flipped what was considered “feminine” on its head. This rough-around-the-edges haircut was surprisingly versatile and easy to maintain, leading to a mainstream following (the vestiges of which can still be seen today, via the mullet).
4. 1990s: The Blunt Bob
What do the success-fueled yuppies of Wall Street and anti-establishment ’90s indie kids have in common? Nearly nothing, save for their affinity for the blunt bob cut, which again strove to redefine how women were viewed, this time in the workplace. “Take me seriously,” the look screamed, which, apart from a few wispy remnants from the crazy 1980s, were all about a short, blocky vibe to match the year’s power shoulders and collective angst. An antithesis to what was considered traditionally feminine (read: soft), it was all about grungy blunt bangs, one-length cuts and all vampy everything.
5. 2000s: The Stacked Bob
The Noughties saw us taking stock of what worked for the past two decades and mashing them up into a happy, sitcom-friendly medium—in this case, the subtly layered inverted bob. This fun compromise featured a chin-length cut with choppy layers that stacked the hair inwards, resulting in a flattering silhouette that gave the look a fresh, wearable sex appeal. Diffused/zigzag parts and customizable layers of this bob cut all spoke to the decade’s thrust of versatility and cost-per-wear.
6. 2010s: The Celebrity Bob
Sleek, razor-sharp and ironed to perfection, the immaculate long bob of 2010 was almost made for the glare of the camera flash. This shiny, paparazzi-friendly iteration featured a bob cut that was tapered longer in front, which, when paired with a certain front-row frigidity (and bug-eyed sunnies), gave an instant VIP feel. The texture was pin-straight and immaculately ironed, and was usually styled with a super precise part—or blunt bangs, if you were fashion royalty—to further showcase expensive details, like precision layers or a seamless color job.
7. Today: The Wavy Lob
The world peace of bobs! We’ve stretched, straightened, cut and pin-curled it into all directions, and the most recent version of the bob cut (the longer bob, or “lob”), possibly drives the point home: That, like its empowered wearer, it can be highly aspirational and stylish, yet practical and economical all at once. The wavy long bob is an extremely customizable haircut, and speaks to our desire to being valued as individuals, ultimately each with our own hair textures, needs and tastes, society be damned.
33 Bob Hairstyles We Love
1. Twisted Bob
Mistake numero uno when styling bob cuts? Following a formula. Although that conservative routine of blowdrying a bob straight with a slight undercurl is tried and tested, it can look boring and even be a source of frustration at times, particularly when flyaways get the best of you. During those dreaded days, a small side braid or twist can give a quick style upgrade, and can work around any stubborn cowlicks too. Prime freshly washed hair with a thermal protector and rough-dry with a blowdryer till completely dry. Next, create a side part, and take your fringe area and begin a three-strand braid or French-braid twist (as above) till your ear. Secure with some hair pins.
2. Beachy Bob
Your hair straightener has already become a trusty sidekick during your bob haircut and short hair days and it’ll keep helping you out here. Learning to create waves with your straightener is a skill that will work for every stage of this journey and keep those awkward in-between lengths, well, a little less awkward. Apply a dollop of some of the Nexxus Styling Mousse Plus onto your damp hair before you create this style will help maintain those waves and leave you worry-free.
3. Curly Bob
Keep in mind that the hair you’re working with now will soon become the ends of your longer strands. Keeping it healthy should be top priority. Using a leave-in conditioner will reinforce your hair’s strength and help you avoid split ends and the need for super regular trims.
4. Texturized Bob
Bob cuts got a strange rap in the ’80s and ’90s, when they all somehow became the default, no-nonsense (and somewhat frumpy) look of the suburban housewife. Move past any “mom bob” references by playing with a blunt cut with some unique texture—it’s a surefire way to add personality to any short cut, and usually doesn’t require more than 10 minutes of your day. To recreate on straight, wavy or curly strands, spread a ping-pong ball-sized amount of curling mousse evenly onto your hair and blow-dry with a diffuser, drying from the ends upwards. Refine some sections by giving them a lazy twirl around a curling iron.
5. Bob and Bangs
And by cute, we don’t mean wispy, which can instantly date your look especially when blown out. Try a blunt yet soft fringe cut right at the brow, which can bring a regular bob into ingénue territories. If you’re on the fence, ask your stylist for a length that barely hits the cheekbone —it’s a versatile look that can be styled any myriad of ways, including swept to one side, curtained or even mussed up for a truly gamine feel. And since bangs spend nearly 24/7 on your forehead, they’re prone to sop up sebum quicker. A dry shampoo can instantly revitalize bob cuts and give bangs renewed bounce.
6. Wavy Bob with Color
Women with wavy to curly strands can also have fun with bob haircuts for thin hair, provided they don’t go overboard with layering—you’ll only get more pouf than you bargained for. Your natural texture is enough to give your hairstyle the dimension and fullness it warrants, so instead, go in for a blunt, chin-length bob with little to no fringe, and style it with a side part and not much else. The effect is one part French ingénue and one part cherubic Model Off-Duty. Not a bad place to be!
7. Blunt Bob
Blunt bob cuts are having a moment. To hop on this ‘90s-inspired (but so totally re-trending) look, ask your stylist for razored ends that can be styled either pin-straight with a flat iron (prep hair with a straightening agent, or blow your hair under on days you don’t really want to put in the effort for a lewk. What it has in maintenance it makes up for in style: Nothing says power more than an immaculately cut bob that leaves no room for error.
8. Fringed and Concave
A lot of Asians have thin, wispy strands that might seem tricky to style. However, if you fall under this specific hair category, then consider getting a concave bob haircut for thin hair and pair it with some wispy, finger-light bangs. This look has blown up over the last two seasons—again, riding on the 1990s normcore wave—and is also pretty flattering and youth-enhancing, especially on rounder faces.
9. Cheekbone-Length Bob
If you’re blessed with killer bone structure, show it off with a super-abbreviated bob that cuts right below your cheekbones. Bob hairstyles for fine hair (usually stacked at the back-unless you’re going for an undercut, in which case, yaaas kween!) and worn with a ramrod-straight finish. The result is very cutting edge and probably isn’t for those not comfortable with blowing their hair out every day, but the sharp edges do wonders in giving fine hair some structure.
10. Soft and Stacked
A crowd-pleaser, softly layered bob haircuts for thin hair with rounded edges (mostly razored for precision) flatter almost all face shapes. The underside is usually cut to slope downwards the neckline, which results in a graceful, almost sexy silhouette from the side and back. Fine hair gets a well-deserved push when molded in this cut, as the layers underneath help fatten up the overall look and give that coveted rounder shape.
11. Blunt Bangs
Thin hair stays in shape better than thicker, more unruly hair, so a precision haircut such as a Cleopatra bob with bangs will be surprisingly easy to manage. Ask your stylist for bangs that end just at your browbone (higher, if you’re into the hot micro fringe trend), and lengths that lie just a bit past your lips. Upkeep is a cinch with some serum and a blowdryer, and don’t stress about having “helmet head:” the rounded, high-maintenance look is exactly why this looks fierce.
12. Bob with Long Bangs
A bob with bangs will also suit most face shapes, especially for all those with oval and heart-shaped faces. Just make sure to visit your stylist to ensure the bangs suit perfectly. To determine this, just remember: If the forehead is bigger, a fuller bang that hits just at the brow is super flattering. If the face is square-shaped, soften any harsh angles by tapering the bangs at the sides as in a razored fringe. Smaller foreheads should try having a asymmetrical fringe teamed with a side parting.
13. Graduated Bob
These work well for square faces, as they’ll really show off a strong bone structure but also work to soften the features at the same time. This bob haircut style is shorter at the back and longer at the front, with the length at the front hitting the jawline making it just the right cut for those with stronger chins, such as square and triangle-shaped faces.
14. Ombre Bob
Give your bob a ‘pop’ of a color by adding in some ombre. We love how adding color complements a wide array of features as the lighter tones frame your face.
15. Chin-Length Bob with Middle Part
These work best for round faces, especially if the sections at the front are longer than the back. The length in chin-length bob haircuts helps elongate the face, making it appear thinner. A blow-dry lotion that works to give some body, such as TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Hair Maximizer, is a good volumizing product to apply before styling.
16. Volumized Bob
For oval and longer faces, volume is your best friend. A little bit of lift amps up regular bob haircuts and will add more of a balance to the shape of the face, widening it slightly. Try creating big, bouncy curls for this one. Add a curling mousse to your damp hair and let it naturally curl, or use a curling wand or iron for a bit of help.
17. Posh Bob
A sophisticated style, posh bob haircuts works best with longer or more oval-shaped faces. It is subtly layered, rounding out any harsh angles on the face and is slightly tapered into a flattering chin length or just slightly past it. Its layers show off strong facial features, whether those be a strong jawline or killer cheekbones. For those with larger foreheads, some side-swept layered bangs that kiss the cheekbones can definitely amp up this look further.
18. Bob Shag
If you like wearing your bob smooth and straight, adding in some bangs to create choppy bob hairstyles can help your look easily stand out. Whether you wear a full layered bang, tough baby bangs or a feathered bang off to the side, the right fringe can help accentuate both your cut and face shape easily. However, maintaining and styling your bangs can be a bit tricky, so you’ll want to invest in a good product that nips frizz and flyaways before they wreak havoc on your tresses. To keep your bangs in place, use some serum after you heat style to keep your bangs sleek and frizz-free.
19. Tight Curls
If waves aren’t your thing, creating smaller, tighter curls always makes for a glamorous look. While you can use heatless rollers to curl your hair, using a curling iron is probably your best bet, as it helps create tight curls that won’t budge. To create truly alluring curls, use a one-inch curling iron to create tight ringlet curls all around the head. Once your hair is cool, smooth out your curls with some dry oil, and finish with some hairspray to lock in your style.
20. Crimped Bob
Even if you don’t want to change up your style too much, experimenting with fun hair color allows you to update your look easily. Whether you want bold pastel tresses or electric platinum locks, there are so many color options that will easily style bob haircuts. But, if you want color that is striking yet natural, then ombré, sombré and balayage highlights can always take your bob to the next level.
21. Mini Ponytail
Sleek ponytails are on the up and up this year. We’re pretty stoked that this little fact because a super chic style can be done in five minutes flat. For a shiny mini ponytail, spritz your hair with the Catwalk by TIGI Camera Ready Shine Spray, then just pull it into a low ponytail.
22. The Hair Flip
We love the hair flip look because you get a stylish hairstyle in minutes, and it’s so easy! Start off by straightening your hair for that perfectly pin straight look. Then, create a side part that’s a full inch further than you would normally place a side part. You’ll get this chic look in a matter of minutes.
23. Quick and Easy Updo
Creating updos on bob hair isn’t always easy. With less than long hair, you don’t have a ton to work with in creating intricate styles. So, instead of trying to make one elaborate chignon, make three tiny buns instead. Placing three mini buns side by side at the nape of your neck is a quick way to get a pretty updo. Just twist and secure with a hair tie. Then, make sure you you set your style with the Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray to keep your hair in place.
24. Face-Framing Layers
The ’90s are back and we think this sleek, angled bob is going to become super popular this year. Face-framing layers are super flattering and add definition and depth to every face shape.
25. Gentle Curled Under Bob
We are loving the curled under bob, a chic take on the French bob haircut. These bobs are extra pretty and show off your pretty cheekbones. P.S. you can even do this style on long hair! For a chop free way to wear a bob, follow this tutorial for a faux bob on long hair.
26. Wavy Messy Lob
Don’t worry, your messy lob is here to stay. In 2017 we’re expecting to see a slightly more angled look, similar to the stacked bob, just grown out a few inches. Get these glossy waves by working in some gel onto your wet hair, air-dry and you’re good to go!
27. Rounded Bangs
Bangs can easily pump up any short look, as they help frame the face and give your style some major personality. But while a cute side bang looks fresh and polished, adding in a dramatic full bang (that falls below the brow) gives your style some sexy attitude.
28. Center Part
If you are all for minimal styling, rocking a center part gives your bob some undeniable edge without any additional styling time. To give your look some sheen in seconds, simply apply a high-shine styling dry oil on your locks and part for a gorgeous glossy effect.
29. Bob with Gel
Using some styling gel can give your bob a sleek, edgy effect easily. To get the look, start by applying Nexxus New York Salon Care Exxtra Hold Sculpting Gel onto your clean, damp hair. Then, use a good comb to create a center part, brushing the hair behind the ear, in order to get that formal and sexy finish.
30. Rainbow Bob
A straight and sleek bob also looks stunning with the right color. And, while you could go for a rich and solid color, treating your bangs to some colorful highlights can surely turn heads.
31. Flat Bob
But no matter how you wear your bob style, using a flat iron is always recommended. To get that flawlessly straight look, be sure to select an iron with one to two inch-sized plates. And try to never go in without a heat protectant! This helps shield hair from heat damage and hot spots when styling.
32. Classic Bob
This style is super sleek and is really flattering for those with narrow and triangle-shaped faces, as its ends fall right by your cheek, giving some width. This style is characterized by its center part and also its one-length style that requires upkeep and regular trims to maintain its sophisticated look.
33. Scarf Bob
Upgrade your bob undo with some simple accessories like a scarf. We love how this style gets your hair off your neck as you showcase a modern look.
Hair Bobs: What You Need to Know
1. Timing is everything.
We’ve all heard of the heartbreak haircut. Occasionally, it works out (there’s something to be said about experiencing a certain sense of newfound freedom when you opt for a total hairstyle refresh post breakup), but the general rule is you shouldn’t commit to such a dramatic hair change during a particularly emotional time or just before an important event like a wedding or a big interview. For anyone who feels attached to their long hair, getting a bob is a huge decision, and one which should only be made when you’re 100% ready.
2. Know your hair texture.
Knowing your face shape – and the lengths that work with it – is an obvious one, but so often we forget to think about texture when getting our haircut. Not only will it make a difference in how short you want to go, but how the stylist will actually cut your hair and how he/she will work texture into the layers to best suit you.
3. And be aware that it might change.
It sounds like a contradiction to the last statement, but even when you do know your hair inside out, beware that cutting it all off might well reveal some unfamiliar characteristics, like a cowlick or a strange flick at the ends that can come as a surprise. But don’t worry: there are plenty of styling tricks to help you achieve the desired results.
4. For best results, go into the salon ‘au naturel.’
Avoid styling your hair or even blowdrying it on salon visit day if possible. This will give your stylist a better idea of the directions (yes, there can be more than one!) your hair is growing in, and therefore, how he/she can best tailor the haircut to suit you.
5. Be realistic about styling.
News flash: bob hairstyles require more care and attention to get it looking presentable than long hair. So be realistic about how much time you have to style your tresses in the morning. Remember: there’ll be no hiding behind a ponytail or a messy top knot on bad hair days. When scheduling a hair appointment, it’s worth asking the stylist if he/she can spare an extra 10-15 minutes to show you how to style your new bob and recommend any products or tools you might need to get the look.
6. Beware of the costs.
Good haircuts don’t come cheap, but in the case of going short, the long-term spend may be more than you imagined. Bob haircuts call for a little more TLC, which means you’ll need to get it trimmed more regularly. Ideally, you should plan to visit the salon every four to six weeks to properly maintain your bob hairstyle, so it’s worth calculating the costs before going for the chop.
7. It will grow back!
In the worst-case scenario, remember that a bob won’t last forever: it will grow back! So don’t be afraid to experiment. Be brave and take the plunge – and know that you’ll soon be able to enjoy the equally fashionable lob (long bob) in no time.
The Short Circuit: How to Maintain Bob Hairstyles
1. Maintain your length with trims.
So here’s the rub: Going for a shorter cut like a bob haircut means you’re going to need to become good friends with your stylist. Hair grows about 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month. To make sure your hair length stays cute (and not awkward) you’ll need regular trims. We suggest every six weeks or so for gals with cute bobs.
2. Opt for a “dusting” instead.
If you need regular color touch-ups, or are transitioning your bob style to a lob, get a dusting instead of a trim. Hair dusting is basically just a very light trim, where hair is twirled into a rope. You could, of course dust your hair at home. But, with short cuts it can get a little dicey and it’s hard to perfectly see the back of your head. Dusting makes sure you snip off dead ends, but doesn’t cut so much that you lose length.
3. Pick up a clarifying duo.
When it comes to hair bob styles, we love to play with hair products. Volumizing powders, dry shampoos, hairspray, mousse—the whole lot of it. But with shorter hair, you can accidentally overdose on products in a pinch. This is why we always like to keep a clarifying shampoo on hand. We recommend using a shampoo for your hair type all week, and a clarifying shampoo on the weekends. That way your hair is cleansed, nourished and de-gunked.
4. Master correct hair product application for bobs.
Whenever you’re applying product to shorter hair, you need to keep that much more abbreviated length in mind. This is a no-brainer if you’ve had short hair for a long time. But if you’re new to a short ‘do, it’s totally critical to take a step back and reassess how you apply your products. Let’s take a serum: Serums, like Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Encapsulate Serum, are great for adding shine, smoothing and de-frizzing hair. This serum in particular is a good choice for short hair since it’s water-based and not silicone-based, which have the potential to leave hair stringy and limp.
This can happen with any product on short hair, and not just serum. We recommend you start with a pea-size amount, and then go from there if your hair needs more product.
5. Bob care no-nos.
Just as it is with overdosing on heavy hair styling products, you also want to avoid heavy hydrators. You may just find that after cutting off long hair that you don’t struggle with as much “weight” and damage. The ends of long hair are much older than short hair, which might have required more TLC and deep conditioning. This isn’t usually the case for short hair, which has healthier-feeling ends that may not be as damaged. We recommend only masking every other week, and switching to a lighter-formulated version at that. We recommend Bed Head By TIGI Reenergize Treatment Mask that adds shine and hydration to hair without weighing it down.
Want more length? Check out the Lob
1. Figure out the length of your lob.
While the lob haircut is signified for its mid-length, you’ll have to figure out if you want it right at your shoulders or shorter where you’ll have it chopped right above (or at) your collarbone. You can also get an angled version of the lob where your hair starts out shorter in the back and then progressively gets longer. We’ve also seen the reverse of this where the hair starts out longer in the front and goes shorter in the back. Whatever iteration you’re feeling, you’ll need to do your homework. Check out as many pictures as you can, scoping out other inspirational lob cuts to get an idea of exactly what you want. Our hair gallery is a great place to start where you’ll discover current trendy and cuts, including tons of varieties on the lob haircut.
2. Figure out the shade of brown you want.
If brown hair isn’t your natural color, you’ll also have to assess the shade of brunette that you want. Consider your skin tone, and of course realistically how often you can maintain your color. If you already have brown hair, opt for a shade lighter or try some summer highlights to compliment your new brunette lob. Be sure to also use a color-safe shampoo or conditioner like the Suave Keratin Infusion Color Care Shampoo and the Suave Keratin Infusion Color Care Conditioner.
3. Talk it out.
After you book your appointment with your hairdresser, make sure that you talk out exactly what you want. Be sure to also bring in pictures so that you can make sure that you get exactly what you want. You should also discuss how to maintain your lob and how often you’ll have to get regular trims to keep up with the look.
4. Use the right products.
Post-cut your lob will look awesome (don’t all haircuts look amazing after a trip to the salon!). Keep the style going be using the right hair care products. If you have straight hair, use some mousse to help give your lob haircut some lift while also making your hair shiny and smooth. Those with a curly lob can use some serum, which can help smooth any frizz, leaving your hair shine and manageable.
5. Don’t forget about your trims.
As we mentioned, this look is all about its signature mid-length. If you want to keep it going, you’ll have to get regular trims. If you’re not feeling this look any longer, you’ll equally love how easy it is to grow it out. It’s really a win-win for you either way!
Need more information on bobs hairstyles? Check out these short cut maintenance tips.