6 important things you need to know before getting a bob cut in, according to pros

Toying with the idea of getting a bob haircut? These are the things you *must* consider first

Collage of image showing Aimee Song wears a bangle, a beige embroidered cape dress with transparent inlays outside Valentino , during the Womenswear Fall/Winter 2024/2025 as part of Paris Fashion Week on March 03, 2024 in Paris, France on a pink watercolour background
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There probably aren’t many – if any – haircuts that have seen quite as many different iterations as the bob. Though different versions have been the style of the moment over the years, it’s a look that transcends decades and remains hugely popular among women of all ages. 

From the iconic French bob to newer emerging styles like the cowgirl bob, the past few years has seen a lot of different styles. Bobs can also range from ultra sharp and one-length to seriously layered and choppy.

But regardless of the overall style, if you’re debating going for the chop, there are some key need-to-knows about maintaining and styling bob hairstyles. Ahead are the six things you need to do before getting a bob cut in, according to three industry experts. 

What to know before getting a bob, according to top hairdressers

1. They need frequent maintenance cuts

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that a bob is characterised by a shorter length—anywhere from the cheekbones to just above the shoulders (AKA “the lob”). If you want a razor-sharp jaw-length bob, for example, it will need frequent cuts to keep it around that length.

“With time, the ends of your hair lose that blunt thickness that you get with a freshly-cut bob,” says Zoë Irwin, creative director at John Frieda salons and editorial, colour and trend ambassador for Matrix. “A bob is more high maintenance than you [initially] think it is.”

To keep your bob looking sharp, regular trims are essential,” Claire Martin-Kennedy, Redken advocate and stylist & colourist at Salon64, agrees, “especially with curly hair, which tends to have more noticeable split ends.”

Irwin stresses that the way to healthy hair is continuous, frequent trims. As for how often you should get it cut? “If you want it to look amazing, six weeks,” she says. “Some people would have it done more often, but I would say definitely six weeks, maximum eight – even if you’re wearing it tousled [when it’s] cut. The hair changes a lot in a couple of months.”

2. You may need to factor in shrinkage

If you have any type of curly hair, you’ll know that it appears shorter when it isn’t stretched out due to the amount of visible length lost when it curls up. The tighter the pattern, the greater the amount of shrinkage. 

“Be aware if there are areas where your curls jump up more than others [as] you might need to adapt the cut based on this,” says Martin-Kennedy. “For example, curls around the back of the head and or crown tend to jump up more and curls around the front tend to not spring up as much if the hair is constantly being pulled back.”

To that end, discuss cutting your bob a bit longer if you’re going to wear it curly most often so that it sits at your desired length when worn this way. “When getting a bob haircut ensure that you consider the length of shrinkage your hair incurs and decide your length based on this,” Martin-Kennedy continues. “It’s not always best to cut your hair immediately to your desired length; I’d always factor in the amount of shrinkage your hair will have and cut at a longer length to allow for this. Curls can appear looser when the hair is longer and once cut, may reveal a tighter curl pattern. Your stylist may cut to a middle length first, diffuse dry and then assess if there is a difference in curl pattern and change the length based on this.” 

3. Your wardrobe plays a massive role

Something you may not have considered is the relationship between your wardrobe and your hair. But not only does your haircut play a big part in your overall style, your outfits can affect how your hair sits – which is something to be mindful of before choosing a bob hairstyle. 

“I have clients who are like my ‘Isabel Marant women’; they have that kind of vibe,” says Irwin. (Think puffy sleeves and “lifted” Victoriana-style collars.) “When you have a lifted collar – those fashion ones that sit on the skin – it really matters where your bob sits as anything that’s an obstruction [will impact this].” Another example Irwin gives is “strong-shouldered blazers”, which create a square appearance and therefore work well with a softer bob. 

This is where a consultation comes in; by giving your hairdresser more of an idea about your go-to outfits, they can tailor the bob so that it sits above any collars or high-neck jumpers you may be a fan of. "The week before they come in, I get people to photograph their outfits [daily], show me what they wore in a week and I design around that,” Irwin explains.”

4. It can accentuate or complement your face shape

At woman&home, we’re all for getting whatever haircut you like, but many of us will agree that we want it to really suit us. “A bob haircut can accentuate certain facial features,” says Martin-Kennedy, “so it’s important to choose a haircut that compliments your face shape. If in doubt, your stylist will be able to advise what will suit you best!”

To that end, chat to your hairdresser about ensuring your bob complements your face shape (and tweaking it to do so, if necessary). “How a bob shape frames your face will determine the success of how it suits you,” says hairdresser and trend forecaster Tom Smith. “There are many variables, such as central or side partings, face-framing layers or [having your bob] all one length, wearing it tucked behind one or both ears and even various fringe styles and shapes that can offer endless bob customisations.” 

5. You may not be able to wear it up in the same way (or at all)

It might sound like stating the obvious, but having shorter hair will affect your ability to style it into certain updos. Smith recommends asking yourself: “Do you intend to wear your hair up sometimes after having a bob length cut and, if so, in what way? A medium to long bob length will allow you to secure all your hair away at the nape of your neck, but even the longest bob won’t reach up to a high-top knot,” he says. Some bobs, he adds, are so short that it may be difficult to secure the hair up at all, which is important if you like to wear yours up for regular workouts or simply like tying it up, for example.

6. The colour may be affected

If you have longer hair with lightened ends or a balayage throughout, chopping a significant amount of length will impact the overall effect. “What worked for you hair colour-wise on long flowing hair may not immediately translate to your bob shape,” Smith confirms. “While high-contrast balayage or highlights can work well on long hair, softer, more blended and glossier colours tend to suit bob lengths better.” 

Why it's still worth getting a bob

All these considerations aside, a bob haircut is still very worth considering. It’s on trend, has proven enduring popularity and stylish appeal. Not to mention that shorter hair doesn’t take as long to dry or style as longer lengths. “There genuinely is a bob for everyone,” Irwin stresses. 

As well as bearing the above factors in mind, take plenty of picture references with you to your initial appointment. You may even discuss it with your hairdresser during a simple trim appointment, giving you time to be sure you want to go for the chop. “I ask people to make up a little album on their phone,” says Irwin. “What do you want to come across? What is your essence? Take a few things with you [as examples].” Irwin also recommends looking at fashion sites for haircut inspiration, citing Massimo Dutti, Cos and Zara as good examples.

If you do decide to go for it, below are three of our go-to styling products that can work brilliantly for a bob...

Lucy Abbersteen

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for titles including Marie Claire, Glamour and OK!, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare advice to beauty trends and reviews of the latest products. During her career she regularly speaks to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists, has covered backstage at London Fashion Week and interviewed many a celeb about their beauty routine.