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05 December 2016Last updated
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Beauty | Grooming

The bob is back

When the likes of Cara Delevingne, Taylor Swift, and Kelly Rowland cut their hair into bobs, you know it’s a trend – and luckily for us, it’s a chic look that most of us can pull off. Louise Emma Clarke chats style, length and trim tips with those in the know…

Louise Emma Clarke
30 Oct 2016 | 12:41 pm
  • Source:iStock

Thought we had the swinging 1960s to thank for bob hairstyles? Think again – the style goes back as far as Ancient Egyptian times. We just have to glance at wall paintings from that time to see that ladies loved sharp-cut bobs and amazing cat-eye flicks – both trends that wouldn’t be out of place thousands of years later (just think about the look rocked by Alexa Chung and Mila Kunis, and you have the modern-day bob equivalent to our ancient sisters).

The 1920s were another era when bobs were bang on trend, with magazines such as Ladies Home Journal printing stories that asked ‘To Bob or Not to Bob?’. Ladies everywhere went for the chop, with the ultimate style points awarded to those who kept a flick or curl in the style. Flapper dresses, strings of pearls, and oh-so-stylish bobs were the new must-haves.

And then, of course, the 1960s came along and made the hairstyle ever more fashionable, with top-of-his-game hair stylist Vidal Sassoon credited with catapulting the style back to the mainstream. From Jacqueline Kennedy’s sleek flicks to the voluminous bobs of The Supremes and the sharp angles of the styles cut by Sassoon for Mary Quant, Mia Farrow and Twiggy, the bob became more than just a hairstyle. It became an icon of the decade.

And now fast-forwarding to 2016, the bob is back – and a never-ending stream of celebrities are going for the chop to bring the style back to the mainstream. As well as Cara, Taylor, and Kelly Rowland, we’ve seen bobs on the likes of Jennifer Lawrence (with a wearable, longer bob), Miranda Kerr (with a super-glossy brunette style), and Kate Hudson (who is rocking a bob of sun-kissed waves). Barely a day passes when paparazzi don’t catch another celeb swishing a bob and cementing the style as a huge hair trend for 2016.

So what exactly is a bob? Put simply, it’s a hairstyle cut to a length between your shoulder and your ear. Suiting pretty much any face shape or hair type, it’s a trend that most of us can copy with ease.

‘Bobs can be pulled off by all types of people,’ says Julian Kempster, stylist at Pastels Salon Ritz-Carlton (www.pastels-salon.com). ‘It is an elegant shape created with clear precision and angles. The shape can be personalised in many ways to highlight certain features on someone’s face and empower anyone’s image. The length of the bob can enhance facial features such as cheekbones and jawline.’

Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess adds: ‘Bobs used to be considered best for those with a slim neck and strong jaw and perfect hairline because they used to be done in such a severe way. But I think we’ve done away with that now by adding texture and softening the harshness. I’ve cut a bob on every face shape and jawline imaginable at this point and I think that stigma is officially gone.’

So what length of bob will suit us personally – and how can we keep it looking its best at home? We’ve chatted to the experts to find out all the details…

Will it suit me?

‘A hair change is always a good way to revamp your look – and bobs are the season’s favourite, coming in all shapes and sizes,’ says Eideal’s Angel Montague-Sayers. ‘Suitability is the key to nailing the trend so make sure you ask your stylist to recommend a cut that suits your face shape.’

Angel continues: ‘As a rule, longer faces suit rounder, shorter styles with texture, while rounder face shapes suit smoother, longer versions. If you have a smaller head shape, an elfin, cropped-style bob always looks beautiful.’

You also need to pay attention to the thickness of your hair, as Julian Kempster at Pastels Salon explains: ‘Thickness of hair and texture can vary dramatically which length is right for you. For example, if you have thick hair or extremely curly hair and you go too short, you have the danger of looking like you have a helmet on your head – but if the hair is fine and cut short, it will automatically look fuller. Thicker hair will have more control if it is longer as you will have the length to weigh down any puffiness, whereas finer hair can look straggly on the ends if too long.’

How about styling at home?

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First things first; make sure you invest in a good-quality volumising shampoo and conditioner to prep your bob. Sebastian Volupt Volume Boosting Shampoo (Dh52) and Conditioner (Dh60) promise to boost your style without adding extra weight to hair. It also protects colour.

Secondly, step away from the blow-dryer. ‘If you have a bob, it’s ideal to work with your natural texture,’ says celebrity hairdresser Cervando Maldonado, who has worked with a range of top celebrities, including Rachel McAdams. ‘Depending on your hair type, you might want to blow-dry at the top a little bit to smooth it out, but really, air-drying makes it look most modern.’

And what about styling products? ‘The bob is all about looking effortless, so you should invest in a good serum to keep the shape looking sharp,’ advises Julian Kempster at Pastels Salon. ‘This will allow flow in the hair when moving and give an eye-catching, healthy shine.’

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Colour Wow Pop And Lock Crystallite Shellac (Dh112.50, Thebeautyfloor.com) is ideal for styling your bob at home, with clever shellac technology to lock in moisture, seal the cuticle tightly and mend spit ends. Better still, a protective topcoat gives hair an impressively sleek finish.

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But if you prefer a more dishevelled or deconstructed look, opt for a texturising spray. ‘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.’ Oribe Dry Texturising Spray (Dh185, Harvey Nichols) is the ultimate texturiser, with just about every celebrity hairdresser naming the product as one of their all-time favourites. It might be pricey, but a little goes a long way.

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And the next day? For second-day hair that needs an extra boost, Cervando suggests using a flat iron. ‘First, use it as a straightener to smooth the hair. Then, treat it like a curler and wrap the ends of your hair around it.’ Cloud Nine The Standard Iron (Dh795, Basharacare.com) has won awards for its smooth plates and curved body that allow you to straighten, curl, flick or wave with ease.

Finally, have you ever considered what a difference your pillowcase could be making to the condition of your hair? Cat Hawkes, stylist at Marquee (www.marquee.ae), says: ‘Sleeping on a silk pillowcase keeps cuticles flat and minimises breakage and hair loss.’ This means you’ll wake up to perfect style – and when you are rocking a shorter cut, this is much preferable to kinks and frizz.

How often should I head back to the salon?

So you have your new bob and you know how to style it perfectly at home – but with a shorter style, when is it time to return to the salon to keep it in shape? According to haircare experts, this depends on the length of the bob.

‘The shorter the style the more often you’ll need to get a trim,’ says Cat. ‘Some of my clients are back every three weeks to keep the shape perfect, but on average it’s usually between four and six weeks depending on the growth. This is about the best time, as it keeps the shape and allows the hair to stay healthy.

‘If you are growing out the hair I would still advise popping back to the salon between six and eight weeks – however, with some styles, you may need to come back more regularly because you may need to change the angle of the haircut and can do this gradually every few weeks.’

Chat to your stylist and they can recommend the best maintenance plan to keep your bob looking its best.

Louise Emma Clarke

Louise Emma Clarke