To say we're spoilt for choice when it comes to cool haircut trends would be an understatement. In the past few months, we've seen everything from the 'wolf cut' to 'bottleneck bangs', not to mention the 'octopus' haircut and invisible layers. But for all the buzzy coiffures out there, nothing endures like the bob haircut.
At the beginning of the year everyone was obsessed with the 'carved bob' — the ends not bluntly sliced but intricately carved so that the cut boasts weighty volume. Then we couldn't get enough of the 'boy bob', which is super short with a focus on undone texture. Right now, however, it's all about the 'Italian bob', a style that has taken both Instagram and TikTok by storm.
Incredible hairstylists Sean Paul Nother and Nick Latham — aka The Hair Bros — are arguably the biggest champions of the chunky-ended, neck-grazing style, having broken down the trend in an Instagram post recently. Best worn in your hair's natural wave, with a little bit of humid frizz and flipped to one side, the European style is pretty short (typically just under the chin) with lots of volume best brought out by air-drying.
The Hair Bros recently went TikTok-viral for their video on the versatile cut, which is short enough to make an impact yet long enough to tie up should you want to get your hair off your face. But it looks like the hashtag #italianbob began bubbling on Instagram a few years ago. Considering its chicness, not to mention versatility, it's no wonder the Italian bob has been Google's most requested haircut this past week, with searches up by a huge 300%.
If you're an R29 regular, you'll know that I love me a bob. I've tried the straight-across, '90s version and the recently trending 'bottleneck bob'. But my hair grows like a garden weed and it's already past my shoulders so I couldn't resist giving this European style a whirl next. I was booked for a quick trim but when I realised that my chosen hairstylist, Neale Rodger, is basically the bob whisperer, I asked for a take on the Instagram-worthy haircut.
I have a lot of hair and an oval face shape so we came to the conclusion that going a tad shorter than is traditional for the Italian cut would be best. Otherwise, said Neale, the back section could bulge in an unsightly way when my hair eventually grows. What makes this style typically European isn't just its accidentally perfect, undone texture but the technique used to cut it in. On wet hair, Neale took a hair-cutting razor — a tool which is popular in salons in both Italy and France — to slice my hair into a blunt bob before using a pair of thinning scissors to take out some of the weight. This makes styling much less of a chore and helps the chunky ends to sit in a more flattering way rather than appearing bulky or triangular on shoulders.
I'm growing out bottleneck bangs, essentially a cross between a curtain fringe and a fuller fringe. We decided to leave the fringe entirely as it would make for a cute addition when wearing my hair flicked to the side, providing a little more volume and shape. A quick once-over using a pair of haircutting scissors at an angle broke up the chunky ends slightly, giving my hair more natural movement.
So how do you style a European-esque bob like this one? Neale blow-dried my hair sleek as it tends to get very frizzy but we both realised that, actually, it looked so much better on the verge of air-drying. I tipped my head forwards and we used a spray bottle to dampen my lengths again, then applied a dollop of product to smooth flyaways, impart shine and bring out my natural waves.
The key, said Neale, is not to scrunch but to leave your hair well alone when air-drying to avoid frizz. If you want to set your style in place, invest in a hairdryer with a large diffuser. Whack it on high heat and simply hold the dryer a few centimetres away from your hair to let the heat lock in your waves. The cut is also great for breathing life back into curly hair, as it's all about the volume. After applying a curl cream or mousse, you can place your curls into the diffuser for a few seconds to set them in shape.
I wanted to see if I could style it alone so a few days after my appointment I washed my hair and let it air-dry, enlisting some styling cream and a spritz of texturising spray. I didn't even need the diffuser. I tucked both sides of hair behind my ears, and when all was bone dry, I threw my lengths over to one side and I was good to go.
I walked into the salon thinking that I'd probably lose around two inches of hair but I ended up shedding four and a half — and feeling like a different person. Happily, my hair feels springy and healthy, and the shorter cut means I no longer have to spend hours painstakingly styling with heated tools. Did I nail the European brief, though? Well, Neale did say that I now look uncannily like an Italian client of his, who likes her hair super short and full.
When I went out on the weekend, I can safely say that I have never received so many compliments on a haircut — and if you know me, you know I've tried many styles (and colours). The flattering shape and seriously easy styling makes this a surefire winner in my book and now I know exactly why people can't get enough. I'm a bit of a hair chameleon but this style? It's sticking around for a while.