How to style a bob correctly, according to the experts - with tips on the best tools for every length

We've asked the experts to break down the best ways to style a bob and which tools to use to perfect your chic, cropped look

Thandiwe Newton, Lily Allen and Keira Knightly with bob hairstyles to illustrate how to style a bob/ in a pink template
(Image credit: Getty Images (L to R): Francois G. Durand | Dimitrios Kambouris | Stephane Cardinale - Corbis)

If you've just committed to a dramatic chop, you might now find yourself in dire need of a 'how to style a bob' crash course. So, we've quizzed the experts on everything bob-related - from the best tools and styling products to perfecting your look without heat.

Bob hairstyles are the type of cuts that never really tire, in fact with every season comes a new iteration of the timeless crop. The 2023 winter bob trends alone feature chic updates on the French bob and Box bob, providing all the inspiration for our next salon trip. But of course, with every major hair change we commit to comes the need to refresh our haircare regimes to suit the new look, which can inevitably lead to a few weeks of trial and error.

So, to avoid any haircut regrets and common bob mistakes, we've enlisted the expertise of celebrity hairstylist, Edward James on the many ways to style bob hair, for any length, texture and budget...

Hairstylist Edward James
Edward James

Edward James is a celebrity hairstylist with salons based in Battersea, Putney, Balham and Richmond. James is also the co-founder of the retail platform The Hair Consult and as a hairstylist, has worked with the likes of Cara Delevingne, Joanna Lumley and even a few members of the royal family. Now, James has shared expertise on the many ways to style a bob and the best tools to use for sleek, curly and textured results.

A complete guide on how to style a bob and the best tools to use

Before we dive into all things Bob, we've rounded up a quick list of some of James' recommendations, from the best hair tools to the best heat protection products...

Before deciding on your bob, be sure to consult which hairstyles best suit your face shape, to determine the length and cut that will complement your features. Once you're in the know, styling your fresh trim is next on the agenda.

How to style a bob at home

For those styling a bob at home, there are a few different avenues you can go down, from sleek to wavy...

Add texture

Of course, how you wear your bob comes down to personal preference, but James has shared the easiest methods for a 'lived-in' look. "The easiest way to style a bob really hinges on your desired finish," James explains, "For a textured look, prep the hair with Aveda's Texture Tonic to enhance its natural wave and create a lived-in feel. Work it through damp hair and scrunch as you air-dry or use a diffuser for more definition."

Go super sleek

If a sleek bob is more your style, James says to instead, "apply Oribe's Straight Away Smoothing Blowout Cream to damp hair. It will protect from heat and help achieve that silky, smooth finish as you blow-dry." For a super straight look, you can then go in with one of the best hair straighteners, once your hair is dry.

Add a wave

As for what styles James' has personally seen gaining traction in recent months, it seems effortlessly chic waves are in high demand. "Clients are increasingly opting for loose, textured bends rather than tight curls, aiming for an effortlessly chic look. This can be achieved by using a straightening iron to create subtle bends in the hair, twisting the iron slightly as you work through the sections."

Opt for voluminous curls

Voluminous Hollywood-esque curls are also very in: "As the party season approaches, the demand for Hollywood waves rises. This ultra-glam and timeless style can be created using a larger barrel curling iron or rollers, then brushing out the curls gently to form soft waves. Setting with a light hairspray can help maintain the style throughout events."

How to style a bob at a salon

Add bangs

If you're heading to the salon for a fresh bob cut, consider a fringe or some face-framing curtain bangs. If you already have a short crop, a fringe - whether you go wispy or full - is a great way to change things up and refresh your look. It's also ideal for those who love an updo, as bangs can add interest and dimension to the face - your hair stylist will be able to advise you on the best fringe style to suit your features.

Layers, layers, layers!

Layers are an easy way to add shape to your bob and are ideal if you love a voluminous blowout or adding beachy, bouncy waves to your hair. Layers can also benefit those with really thick hair as they can take some of the weight out, leaving you with a bob full of movement. We would recommend leaving the layers to the experts though, as they will be able to judge what is best for your hair texture. 

Best tools for styling a bob

Whatever your preference, selecting the perfect bob styling tools for your hair's needs and your desired look is key and luckily, hairstylist Edward James has taken some of the guesswork out for us...

How to style a bob without heat

Now, if you're looking for a way to minimize hair damage by avoiding heat tools altogether, James recommends either booking in for a Keratin blowdry - to achieve a lasting, smooth and straight effect - or for curls and waves, either using heatless rollers (like these from Amazon), or a curl enhaching cream. James suggest Aveda's Be Curly™ Curl Enhancer which, "intensifies curls, combats frizz, and boosts shine."

When tackling heatless rollers, James says to start with damp hair and simply, "wrap sections of hair around the rollers, let the hair dry, and remove the rollers to reveal soft waves which can either be brushed out for softer waves or left more defined by running your fingers through the hair."

Naomi Jamieson
Digital Beauty Writer

Naomi is a Digital Beauty Writer from woman&home, where she covers everything from skincare to fragrance but specialises, particularly, in makeup and nail trends. Through her work, Naomi gets to share her trend expertise and share her own shopping recommendations and product reviews. Previously, she worked as a Lifestyle News Writer for My Imperfect Life magazine, where she used her savvy for TikTok to bring readers the latest beauty buzzwords, fashion movements and must-have products. 

Before that, Naomi split her time between both GoodTo and My Imperfect Life, whilst training for her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ, for which she earned a Distinction. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but leapt into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing. Now, when she isn’t reporting on the best perfumes and latest beauty releases, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping...