Fall might be back-to-school season for students, but it also offers *all* of us an opportunity to refresh our look after spending the summer soaking up the sun (safely, of course!). While many might focus on updating their wardrobe or their vanities (so many gorgeous makeup shades to choose from!), nothing serves as a more dramatic change than a haircut. And with a number of serious celebrity coif changes this year, there are loads of hair trends to screenshot and save for the salon. We spoke with a slew of celebrity hair stylists to highlight some of the hottest fall haircuts to ensure your cut is star-worthy, no matter the lengths you’re looking to reach.
2017 saw a number of celebs (think: Katy Perry and Cara Delevingne) make the big chop and, while the trend shows no sign of slowing down, this season it’s all about adding a little bit of length to switch up the style. “It seems like the girls who did this big chop are holding strong with their hair,” says the Kardashians’ go-to stylist Andrew Fitzsimons. “I love when this cut is cropped closely on the back and sides with a little length to play with on top.” So in lieu of the badass buzzcuts and close crops we saw last year, the star styles we can look forward to this season feature soft, grown-out length with lots of volume on top and the sides shorn to the scalp to maintain the shape. As trendy as this look is, the experts caution against taking the cut lightly since it requires regular maintenance — that means a trim every four to six weeks.
Another style taking shape comes courtesy of the late ’90s: the bowl cut. Yup, the look that many might remember from films like Reality Bites and Ghost is making a triumphant return as stars like Zendaya, Claire Foy, and Ruby Rose have started sporting it on the red carpet. They’re even borrowing from the boy bands from back in the day by shaving the back and sides. “There’s a little bit of length to it where you can tuck it behind your ear, but at the same time, it’s this layered, malleable texture throughout,” explains hairstylist Chelsey Pickthorn, whose work you might’ve spotted on models like Abbey Lee Kershaw and Julia Cumming. “So you can let it be free and have little pieces that poke out.”
Though some might see the cuts as limiting — after all, there’s only so much of your hair to work with — the experts say that texture is the way to play. For the bowl cuts, Pickthorn suggests following the circumference of your head as you blowdry, going clockwise first and then going counterclockwise, to maintain the style’s shape and smoothness. For pixies, she suggests using a light pomade like Ouidad’s Clear Control Pomade ($26) or hair oil like Ouai’s Hair Oil ($28) to help define and enhance your natural hair texture. Stylist Leon Gorman, who recently touched up the tresses of Michelle Monaghan and Kate Moss, agrees, noting that a touch of color, like balayage, can further enhance the natural texture, making your mane look more rock ‘n’ roll. For Gorman, it’s all about “punk textures,” he says, pointing to models like Edie Campbell, though he suggests using his own eponymous Seaweed Hair Serum ($45) to score the style at home.
Mid-Length Manes: Bobs and Bangs & Asymmetrical Lobs
According to the experts, client requests for bobs and lobs dominate their schedules this time of year. As Fitzsimmons shares, “I actually did Khloe’s cut for her weeks ago!” Stylist Robert Evan Thomas, who sits on Ouidad’s Curl Advisory Board, concurs, saying that both lengths offer a bit of beachy fun that can carry over into the new season. “Short lengths to mid-shoulder haircuts seemingly express new freedom and, after summer, when long hair has been center stage, being able to release your beauty into a great, sophisticated, dynamic movement is a welcomed adventure,” he said.
If you’ve been thinking about getting bangs, pairing them with a bob might be the best way to show it off. Most of the chin-length looks we’ve spotted on the likes of Jourdan Dunn, Saoirse Ronan, Irina Shayk, and, most recently, Amandla Stenberg, feature a bit of fringe that allows you to toy with the texture a little more. Some are even flaring out their ends with a touch of pomade for a more triangular, voluminous shape — much like what we saw at the start of the millennium.
While straighter strands might bolster the bob with blunt bangs, Pickthorn advises curly hair types to taper theirs in order to better blend with your hair as it grows out. “I feel like we’re playing around with the suggestion of a fringe where it’s off of a part where you’re getting some shorter curls that really frame the face but not that insanely structured fringe that cuts straight across,” she says. “You could have a couple of curls falling forward that suggest that fringe, but it’s not a huge chunk of weight in the front.”
On the other hand, the clavicle-grazing cuts for this season eliminate those elements to focus on the strong shape created by the blunted edge. “I think the most modern take on this cut is not including any bangs and tapering the cut to be slightly longer in the front, which is also super practical – you can still tie your hair back for a workout or a hot day,” Fitzsimmons explains. According to Pickthorn, stylists might remove weight and collapse the shape from underneath in order to maintain its shape as it grows out, such as with an undercut.
In terms of styling at home, a bit of salt spray, like Gorman’s go-to Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray ($27), and a few beachy bends created with a curling iron can keep summer going into the early part of the fall for a lob. “At the moment there’s a lot of textured shapes going on, such as the longer bob,” Gorman says. “This is really an update of a classic look, [and] women are really focused on the condition of the hair and being able to manage their hair themselves without too much fuss.” As much as we all love a head of beachy waves, most of the experts agree that sleeker looks will show off the cut’s sharp edges best, so get ready to plug in your flat iron — just not without spritzing a heat protectant like Redken’s Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Primer Spray ($24) before touching up the ends with a hair oil.
Lengthier Looks: Waist-Length Locks & Loads of Layers
The summer saw a slew of stars go to great lengths to make their strands stand out, with Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Jenner, Lady Gaga, and many others opting for elongated extensions. While the warmer months unsurprisingly saw strands grazing their bums and beyond, Beyoncé, Amal Clooney, Serena Williams, Gigi Hadid, SZA, and many more are maintaining waist-length manes as we start to switch seasons. The hairstylists we spoke with say the key to keeping hair healthy when it’s that long is to get regular trims to get rid of split ends and other damage from creeping up the hair’s shaft, which can lead to breakage the longer it lingers.
One way to highlight all that length: a pumped-up ponytail. Thomas points to the plethora of textured ponies that have popped up everywhere lately, including on Ariana Grande (of course), noting that they’re versatile enough to work in any environment, even when the wind starts blowing. “Textured ponytails are a perfect way to showcase individual beauty and get the iconic look,” he says, suggesting adding a hair accessory to the style for a bit of bling. “It’s a perfect resolution [for] that important second day look for the gym, work, or red carpet.”
Another blast from the past that’s making a triumphant return is layers. But these aren’t the super structured snips that many of us sported in the 2000s. Pickthorn says that the look is a bit more shaggy, “playing around with that sexy, Brigitte Bardot framing around the face or the French fringe where it’s softer on the face.” It’s something we started spotting during Haute Couture season when models like Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss started working the more tender take on the trend, with Bebe Rexha hopping onto the bandwagon right before the VMAs. Gorman is happy to see the trend gain strength, explaining, “It’s always better to have some layers in your cut to create movement, whether it’s long or short.”
While air-drying hair that long can take forever when the temperature starts to dip, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent damage from heat tools. Even if you’re using a diffuser for your curls or textured tresses, Pickthorn advises everyone to use a heat-protecting primer, like Davines Hair Assistant Blow Dry Primer ($35) prior to styling. “I’ve been playing around with that on wet hair and then blow drying since it says that you should,” she says, noting that it also works wonders when whipped together with a curl cream. “It has a great anti-humidity [effect] and helps build body, movement, and texture.”
As for cutting the perfect layers, she says that following the shape of your head will give it a nice curvature with the option to flip it out à la Farrah Fawcett, or curl it in for a more piecey and wispy effect. And if you have curls, scrunch those areas with a soft-hold styler like Ouidad’s VitalCurl Define & Shine Styling Gel-Cream ($26). As she says, “Play around with scrunching your hair a little bit, going toward that not crunchy but separated look. And if you want to pick up a curling iron or pick up that flat iron to give it a more finished and polished look, just do that on the top surface layer.”
There you have it: Six looks for one seriously good fall hair transformation. The only question is, which will you choose?
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