When Coco Chanel mused: ‘A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life’, she was definitely on to something. After all, transforming our hair can instantly change the way we feel, giving us a boost in confidence at home, in the office and in our relationships.
Women have known this for centuries. In fact, a recent study commissioned by award-winning hairdresser Andrew Collinge reveals that the average female changes her hair 104 times in her lifetime. ‘Women have always used their hair as a way of altering their appearance as it often has the greatest impact visually,’ he says. ‘My feeling is that they are changing their looks little and often rather than making dramatic changes. For example, you can add modern texture without altering the length – just by adding some layers or by drying and styling differently.’
The study of 3,000 women revealed 44 per cent changed their style or colour simply because they were bored, while 61 per cent admitted they ‘just wanted a change’. The feedback wasn’t always positive, though, with almost three quarters of those surveyed admitting they regretted at least one of their hairstyles in the past.
You don’t, however, need to resort to the chop to make a change. Hair stylists and colourists won’t fight over themselves to tell you this, of course, but dramatically transforming your look can be both inexpensive and quick. And by quick, we are talking as speedy as a matter of seconds in front of your bathroom mirror.
From switching a parting, to clipping hair at the nape of your neck so as to create a temporary faux bob, we’ve rounded up eight easily achievable ways to transform your locks in five minutes or less. Are you ready to try something new? Take your pick…
Change your parting
It doesn’t get much quicker than this – but it can transform your look, bringing out different features in your face. ‘If you part your hair to the left, try a middle part for a whole new look,’ says top US-based stylist Laura Boton. ‘Opt for a middle part for a fresh, girl-next-door look. For a catwalk-worthy look that wins serious style points, switch it to the side.’
Tip Blow-dry the whole centre section of your hair (which frames your forehead) while pulling it up and back. Brush towards your crown without letting it fall into a part. Then blow-dry upward on either side of your head to create volume. Now make the new parting, using either your fingers or a sharp comb.
Learn to braid
Whether you go for a braid across the hairline to frame your face like Sienna Miller or a chunky fishtail to transform your updo like Blake Lively, knowing how to braid hair can help revamp your ’do in a matter of minutes.
Tip Top New York-based stylist Donna Tripodi says: ‘Practise and be patient. It takes time to get your fingers moving correctly, especially if you don’t have the best dexterity. Sitting down in front of a mirror helps. Initially, choose simple, three-strand braids. Once you feel more confident, add new hair to each strand for a type of French braid. Then sky’s the limit – get creative!’
Blow-dry with mousse
Want to see a serious boost in volume when you blow-dry? Mousse is your new best friend. ‘Styling mousse gives the illusion of volume, even for fine hair, by giving it a solid base of fullness and texture,’ says Antonio Corral Calero, artistic director of Moroccanoil.
Tip Place a mandarin-size blob of styling mousse in the palm of your hand. Brush the comb through the mousse and start at the roots. This makes it easier to direct the application and will strikingly boost volume.
Go for a sleek ponytail
Always wear your hair down? Change your look in a matter of seconds by pulling your hair back into a high, sleek ponytail. ‘Pulling hair back opens up the face and can completely change your look,’ says stylist Laura Boton.
Tip For best results, blow-dry or straighten your hair with ceramic stylers until it’s poker straight. ‘The key is to avoid a parted pony,’ adds Laura. ‘Pull hair directly back to completely expose your face.’ And if you want to hide that elastic, simply take a one-centimetre section of hair from the bottom of the ponytail and wrap it around the elastic, securing with a bobby pin underneath.
Embrace your curl
If you are surgically attached to your ceramic straighteners, step away – embracing your natural curls is an easy (and beautiful) way to transform your look. You won’t be the only one, as stars are returning to a natural look in their droves, from Taylor Swift’s sleek waves and Beyoncé’s bounce to Sarah Jessica Parker’s natural, glossy curls. If your curls look dry, they probably just need a shot of moisture – whether that’s with an intensive mask, argan-infused oil, or hydrating serum.
Tip ‘Don’t let your curls air-dry – use a blow-dryer,’ says Wella Pro stylist Sandro Zamparini. ‘Diffusing hair will help get rid of frizz, because it’s a controlled heat.’
Been trying to decide whether to get a fringe cut? Debating whether to grow out your hair, but not quite got the patience? Clip-in hair extensions give you the power to make your hair longer, fuller, layered, highlighted – or even add a fringe. ‘I always do clip-on bangs for my celebrity clients,’ says US-based hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein, who works with celebrities including Mindy Kaling and January Jones. ‘They are photographed constantly on the red carpet, but they can’t commit to a major change.’
Tip Your extensions should match not only the colour, but also the texture of your hair. If you pick clip-ins with a soft wave, use your blow-dryer to create the same look before clipping into your hair – but if they are sleek and straight, you will need to use ceramic stylers on your natural hair first.
Use a texturising spray
A texturising spray can make a surprising difference when styling your hair, creating a matte finish that is soft in texture but with noticeable oomph. In fact, it can remove the need to blow-dry hair altogether if used correctly, which will save you time in the mornings. ‘Texturising sprays work for any hair type,’ says Shu Uemura artist Stephanie Belly. ‘You can spray all over by lifting larger sections and spraying throughout to create that textured, voluminous look, or in concentrated areas for sturdy hold or a more defined look.’
Tip Texturising spray works best on dry hair. Spray it evenly from roots to tips – and then scrunch hair with your hands to add texture.
Create a faux bob
When Gigi Hadid stepped on to the red carpet with a short bob at the American Music Awards in November 2015, everyone assumed she’d gone for the chop – when in fact, she was sporting a faux bob. It set a new trend, with celebs including Emma Watson and Selena Gomez quickly following suit. Creating the style can take just a few minutes – and everyone’s going to think you’ve lost a good few inches from your ’do, so there are few easier, non-committal ways to try a new look.
Tip ‘This look is pulled off best when hair has a little texture in it,’ says stylist Laura Boton. ‘Either let hair dry naturally with a little wave or curl strands with an iron to create a less obvious, blunt-cut look. Then, just tuck sections of hair under, securing at the nape of the neck with a bobby pin. The secret is to keep hair pinned relatively loosely to create the illusion of a shorter haircut.’
Hershesons clip-in fringe, Dh220, Glamazle.com
L’Occitane Repairing Mask (for dry and damaged hair), Dh159, ae.loccitane.com
Philip B Volumizing Mousse, Dh95, basharacare.com
Bobby pins, from Dh5, Life Pharmacy
Styling brush, Dh45, marksandspencerme.com
Joelle Paris Leave-In Cream, Dh100, Wojooh.com
Cloud Nine The Standard Iron, Dh795, basharacare.com
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, Dh185, Harvey Nichols