12 Before & After Photos That Show How Important Your Hair Part Is

Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
This story was originally published August 21, 2016.
As Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, and Solange have demonstrated, a new hair part can instantly transform your look. But let's be real: Celebrities have whole entourages of makeup artists, hairstylists, and colorists to perfect each and every style they try, and a part is just a part, right? Can a hair part really change the game for us non-celebs?
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To find out, we enlisted hairstylist Paul Warren to assist six Refinery29 staffers in finding new hair parts — and new looks. The first step included a bit of homework for the subjects: Find out what your hair does normally. "Comb back your wet hair with your fingers, and then push forward with your palm at the crown of your head," Warren instructs. "Your hair will split where it naturally falls."
This may be the easiest style for you to maintain on a daily basis, but keep in mind that you can train your hair to fall into a side-, middle-, or even deep side-part. The second step to this challenge? Have some fun — which means no more highly limiting face-shape guides. "I don't think face shapes really matter anymore," Warren says. "The [face-shape guide] was a nice rubric, but when you take that away you just get so much more room to play. It's just what looks good on you, whatever you're comfortable with, and whatever you can rock."
Ready to see hair parts work their magic? Click ahead for six incredible transformations.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
Julianne Baker, Growth Strategist

Before: A '70s-inspired middle-part

Julianne's long locks are often pulled back into a bun for work, but she let her hair down for our shoot to show off the free-flowing, off-duty look she sports on the weekends. "I normally wear my hair right down the middle, maybe for the last five years or so," she says. "One of my best friends in college parted her hair down the middle, and I think I was with her when I first tried it."

For this project, we decided to change up her hippie-chic look in favor of something a little more glam...
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
After: A romantic, red carpet-ready side-part

"Julianne looks young, so the middle-part makes her look younger," Warren says. "With her hair being so long, and just one length, I decided it would be fun to play up the drama."

That drama took form in a deep side-part and Old Hollywood waves. The secret? Create your sharp side-part just above the arch of your eyebrow — then add some waves.

To get a natural-looking wave, aim for sections that are about five inches wide, from your hairline to the back of your head, but only a half-inch deep, Warren says. "Then, wrap it around a big barrel and let it twist." Shake out the curls with your fingers, et voilà! A sophisticated, effortless style.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
Ly Ngo, Editorial Design Director

Before: Sleek, side-swept bangs

Ly has been wearing her bangs-and-eyeliner look for 13 straight years. "I've been wearing this ever since I moved to New York," she says. "I used to have crazy colors like orange, red, and pink, but being 20 years old and really poor in New York, I just started to do this myself." Ly once alternated her part, but seven years ago she chose to stick to her current section, above her right brow. "It has to do with my cowlick, truthfully," she says.

For this project, however, she decided to forgo her signature look for something a little more throwback...
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
After: Modern-day Brigitte Bardot

"Middle-parts get a rap for looking young because, usually, you see middle-parts on young girls," Warren says. "You don’t see a side-part on young girls."

But there is a way to make middle-parts sophisticated. Proof? Ly's updated look, with sleek bangs that frame her face instead of hiding it, and teased hair to even out her cowlick. "The bangs make it so she can go as heavy a side-part as she wants, but they also give her coverage, cutting across her forehead," Warren says. "The middle-part forces her to open up; it takes away that place to hide."

So, would Ly consider changing up her look every day? Probably not. "This would take me so long to do," she says. "I've got my routine down to 45 minutes; this would be much more maintenance."

Even if time weren't an issue, however, she still wouldn't switch her part. "I think there’s a way that frames my face that makes me feel less sophisticated," Ly says. "It is a really sophisticated look, but it's not mine."
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
Lauren Newton, Talent Recruiter

Before: A sophisticated side-part

Lauren had a few rules when it came to her naturally curly hair. "I normally wear my hair over to the side when it's curly," Lauren says, "and straight down the center when it's wavy."

Her biggest fear about the middle-part? "I'm always scared of it looking like a triangle head or something like that," she says. Ahead, Warren proves that she's got nothing to worry about.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
After: A modern middle-part

Warren diffused Lauren's curls and gave her a straight center-part. "When her hair is to the side, one cheekbone becomes more prominent," he says. "The side-part also keeps the width of her hair from going too wide, and it gives her more mystery." When it's split down the middle, however, "her hair goes more wild," he says.

The end result? A party look that feels new and fresh for Lauren — but doesn't require more work. "I was definitely nervous about what shape my hair would be, but it doesn't look as crazy as I thought it would look," Lauren says. "I feel like it could have the potential to look very Solange, especially if I'm going to a party with a bold lip."
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
Elyssa Starkman, Executive Director, Branded Video

Before: A wash-and-go middle-part

Elyssa is not one to shy away from playing around with her locks — she first started at Refinery29 with pale-pink hair and loves to change it up. But her part, it turns out, has stayed put since childhood. "I've always parted my hair straight down the middle," she says. "There have been a few times I've tried to change it up, but I think this is just how my hair naturally goes." She's even tried bangs to embrace something new, but ended up thinking they were too high-maintenance.

Still, you can fake a new hairstyle — and even side-swept bangs. Click ahead to see how.
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
After: A side-swept and perfectly punk deep side-part

Thanks to Elyssa's slept-on, short chop, Warren sectioned her hair into a super-deep part, curved slightly to make it look just-out-of-bed unstyled — and it stayed like magic. "This works best on textured, short hair, after several days of not washing it," Warren says. "When it's dirtier, it's easier to manipulate."

This new part quickly changed the shape of her cut completely — giving a fun, asymmetrical look. "This definitely has more of my personality," Elyssa says. "I haven't done a deep side-part since I cut my hair this short, and this is a totally different look. It's made me want to shave the side of my head!"
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
Ally Hickson, Associate Editor, Digital Innovation

Before: Natural curls with a sharp center-part

Ally is quite adventurous with her hairstyles, but she also has a few rules that she lives by: "When I wear my hair curly, I always part it in the center," she says, "and when I wear it straight, I always part it on the side. I don't know why; I always think that the volume is overwhelming if it's not centered."

Warren, however, decided to tackle Ally's fear head-on...
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
After: A soft side-part with tons of volume

"With Ally's hair being so curly, and her cut, the middle-part emphasized the roundness of her face," Warren says. The opposite of that? This chic, '80s-inspired 'do.

To get the look, Warren used his fingers to bring Ally's curls to the side, keeping the part imprecise and natural. Yes, there was more volume — but it wasn't as overwhelming as Ally had expected. "The side-part is sexy," Warren says. "It just adds a little more pop, and it gives her more angles to her face. It's almost like a contour."

What did Ally think about the change? "I felt really self-conscious at one of my meetings, because I kept thinking, Oh my god, my hair is really big on one side," she says. "But everyone has been giving me compliments, and they really seem to like it. I'm used to the volume now; I feel like if you're a curly girl and you can't handle volume, then you're never going to wear your natural hair. That's just life."
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
Anna Maltby, Deputy Editor, Health & Wellness

Before: A sweet side-part

Anna is known to switch up her hair, but her flexibility is a recent development. "I parted it [to the side] for about 10 years until a couple of months ago, and then I started playing around with it," Anna says. "Mostly I just flip it around throughout the day, and sometimes it looks good and sometimes I see myself in the mirror and have to fix my hair."

She has, however, mostly avoided the middle-part. "I don't have a super-symmetrical face, so it doesn't always work out for the best when I part it down the middle," she says. "I think it highlights that my face isn't symmetrical." Click ahead to find out the easy fix...
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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
After: The not-so-perfect part

"Anna's hair grows a specific way, so it naturally falls on the side of her face," Warren says. "[Changing it] might be difficult, but anything is changeable."

To give Anna a relaxed middle-part, but allow for some asymmetry, Warren simply moved her hair over a few inches to just slightly off-center. This gave her a sleek, straight look without the severeness — but with an extra boost of volume on the left side.

"I think this one feels slightly more natural and relaxed," Anna says. "It looks a little less put-together, but in a good way!"

Read This Next:

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Photographed by Erin Yamagata; Hair by Paul Warren for Amika
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