The faux bob is the low-commitment way to see if you’d suit shorter hair

Thinking about going for the chop? The faux bob lets you try shorter hair on for size without going anywhere near the scissors

celebrity images showing stars with a faux bob
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Flirting with the idea of going for the big chop? Our advice is to give the faux bob a go first. 

We’ve all been tempted to do something dramatic (and potentially ill-advised) with our hair at one point or another. Whether it’s a bold shade change inspired by an actress with completely different colouring to us, a post-break-up fringe (never a good idea) or a significantly shorter cut. For me, it was the latter, and the lure of the bob hairstyle first came, as I suspect it did for a lot of us, from Posh Spice’s asymmetric, angular and (eventually) iconic jaw-skimming trim of the mid-2000s. I dipped my toe in with slightly graduated ends, but am still grateful to my Mum for putting me off going the full ‘Pob’ – it would have been an undisputable disaster on my thick, naturally curly hair. 

If you’ve ever had a bob before, you’ll know It takes a certain kind of person to get up from the salon chair and walk out of the hairdresser without at least an inkling of regret for the lengths left behind. And, if you’ve learnt from previous experience that the initial remorse will be too much for you to bear, then I’d like to steer you first in the direction of the faux bob – a style which legendary hairstylist Sam McKnight told me is set to be a big hit for autumn/winter 2023. “It’s a great way to try something different without the commitment,” he explains. “Plus, once you’ve nailed the technique it can become a quick, go-to style you can create in minutes.” So, scissors down and hair grips at the ready, here’s everything you need to know to master your very own faux bob… 

Sam McKnight MBE
Sam McKnight

Sam McKnight MBE is a legendary hairstylist who has worked with the likes of Princess Diana and Kate Moss. He is also the founder of his eponymous styling line, Hair by Sam McKnight. 

The faux bob: Absolutely everything you need to know about this easy-to-achieve trend 

What is the faux bob?

Unlike the inverted teacup bob and the bubble bob which require a bit more information to get your head around, the faux bob is pretty self-explanatory. “It’s a style that appears to be a bob, but your actual haircut is anything but,” says McKnight. It’s a smoke and mirrors hairstyle that involves using styling tricks to create the illusion of a short bobbed haircut without having to go anywhere near the scissors. If it wasn’t already clear, this is a look that's only really possible if your hair is longer than bob length to begin with. 

The faux bob could be a style that you try before getting an actual bob to make sure you’re happy with the length and that it’ll suit you, but equally, it’s also a nice way to mix things up. If you’ve always had a long hairstyle then you’ll know it’s quite easy to get stuck in a style rut of wearing it in exactly the same way, whether that’s super sleek or with a bouncy blow-dry, rather than venturing outside of your comfort zone. A faux bob lets you try a different style out for size, safe in the knowledge that you can go back to your lengths at any time. 

Who does the faux bob suit?

The beauty of a faux bob is that it doesn’t matter a jot whether you think it suits you or not because all you need to do is unclip the grips and you’re right back to where you started. No tears, no tantrums and no desperate Googling of things like ‘how many inches does hair grow in a month?’ needed. 

Obviously, it’s not possible to get the full effect of all bob hairstyles by simply pinning your hair up. A faux bob won’t allow you to fake the blunt ends of an Italian bob, mimic the choppiness of a shaggy bob or get a proper sense of whether you have the bone structure for the chic short fringe that comes with the French bob. Everyone will suit a short hairstyle of some description, but two of the most common bob mistakes are not considering the right hairstyle for your face shape or taking your hair texture into account. For example, rectangular-shaped faces are best suited to shoulder-length bobs, while those with a diamond-shaped face can pull off something as cropped as a pixie haircut. There are guidelines for hair type and texture too. If your strands are naturally very fine then you’ll struggle to get the bulk and volume required for a maxi bob. You can fake it with the best hair-thickening products and the help of your best hair dryer brush, but you won’t be able to wash and go as those with thicker hair will. The best way to decipher which type of bob will suit you is with the help of your hairdresser who will be able to chat you through the potential pros and cons. 

How to style a faux bob

Styling a faux bob is relatively straightforward. It’s not particularly fiddly, and it doesn’t require any tricky techniques. All you have to do is follow McKnight’s simple step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Start with the texture you want, whether that’s wavy and tousled or smooth and polished. 

Step 2: Once you have the texture you’re after, mist a texturising spray through the mid-lengths and ends to provide grip. 

Step 3: Gather your hair into a low ponytail at the back. 

Step 4: Secure the ponytail with a narrow hairband close to the ends (rather than close to the scalp like normal) and roll this under until you reach the nape of the neck. 

Step 5: Use hair grips to secure the roll you have created to the hair at the nape. 

Step 6: Gently pull the hair forward towards the face until you’ve reached classic bob length. From here, you can play with different textures and finishes. 

9 faux bob hairstyles we love 

1. The asymmetric faux bob

Michelle Yeoh

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Clever clips in Michelle Yeoh’s super-long locks create the illusion of a fashion-forward asymmetric bob. The addition of gentle waves stops the finished effect from looking too severe.

2. The sleek and straight faux bob

Andie MacDowell

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’re obsessed with Andie MacDowell’s grey curls, but are willing to make a straight-hair exception for this simple and sophisticated faux bob. 

3. The choppy faux bob

Margot Robbie

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Margot Robbie’s blunt fringe and shaggy face-framing layers allow her to fake a chopped bob with minimal effort.

4. The high-impact faux bob

Tracee Ellis Ross

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The thicker your hair is naturally, the heavier your faux bob will look. We love the amount of volume in Tracee Ellis Ross’ finished style. 

5. The long faux bob

Jerry Hall

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Grazing her collarbone, it almost feels a stretch to call Jerry Hall’s faux bob a bob at all. A good starting point if you’re nervous about wearing your hair in a shorter style. 

6. The retro faux bob

Sandra Oh

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Proving that the faux bob works just as well for curly hair as it does for straight and wavy, Sandra Oh’s Hollywood hairstyle is a great way to show off an interesting neckline. 

7. The ultra-short faux bob

Keira Knightley

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pinned as close to the nape of the neck as possible, Keira Knightley’s faux bob is bordering on a faux pixie cut. Try it for yourself, but we can’t promise your cheekbones will look quite so good. 

8. The softly tousled faux bob

Emma Stone

(Image credit: Getty Images)

We love how Emma Stone has pulled forward a few different lengths of her layered hair, as opposed to making her faux bob all one length. 

9. The high-volume faux bob

Claire Danes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A glamorous red carpet look that’s definitely more occasion-appropriate than an everyday choice, Claire Danes teams rolled-up lengths with a statement side sweep. 

Turns out the faux bob is nowhere near as scary as its other cropped cousins, letting you try a shorter style without any need to actually visit the salon. Give it a go for yourself, you never know, it might encourage you to go for that big chop after all...

Jess Beech

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.