From the 'bottleneck bob' to the 'butterfly' haircut, countless effortless yet Instagram-worthy hairstyles are making their way into London salons this spring. And as the weather warms up, one trend in particular is going to dominate social media feeds everywhere — though you might not notice it at first.
From Fitzrovia to Brixton, a handful of the city's most innovative salons are practising the 'invisible haircut'. Ordinarily, when you book in for a switch-up, you can expect your stylist to snip off any dead ends and maybe factor in a couple of layers. The invisible haircut is a lot more subtle and focuses on the underside of your hair, making any style you choose (whether a bob, a lob or something longer) easier to style day to day.
If you're an R29 regular, you'll know I'm a sucker for a jaw-grazing haircut. But my thick lengths mean it often dries in an odd triangle shape. Earlier this month I booked into Hershesons, where hairstylist Grace used a pair of thinning scissors underneath the majority of my hair. Thinning scissors aren't a new tool but seeing as we're all after more modern, softer hair trends right now (think: the European bob, '70s drapes and mid-length styles), they're the key to a style that sits perfectly without undergoing a drastic change — hence the 'invisible'.
I'm not the only one to be obsessed with this virtually undetectable yet game-changing haircut. When Refinery29's health and living editor, Sadhbh O'Sullivan, visited Myla & Davis in south London recently, her stylist didn't touch the ends of her hair. Instead, they enlisted a pair of thinning scissors to take away the majority of the heaviness in her hair, which enhanced her natural wave and took the chore out of styling.
What is the invisible haircut?
"Thinning scissors remove weight from the hair without losing the shape or cut," says Chie Sato, head of education at Taylor Taylor London. "Usually used at the end of your haircut when your hair is dry, this is a great technique if you have thick hair that is straight or wavy. That's because it helps the hair to go in a downwards motion, rather than heading into a triangular shape."
Luke Hersheson, CEO of Hershesons, says that when used properly by a qualified hairstylist, there are many benefits of thinning scissors for an invisible cut. "Traditionally, when hairdressers think of making your hair lighter or less heavy, they tend to put layers in it," says Luke. "But then you end up with a layered haircut and most of the time it's not what you want." Luke says that it's possible to remove a lot of that weight invisibly from the underneath of your hair. This way it doesn't feel as though there are steps in the hair, which happens with typical layers. "This haircut leaves the top section of the hair as it is," says Luke. Take a cue from Monika Young on Instagram.
Who is a good candidate for the invisible haircut?
Chie explains that cutting thick hair slightly shorter underneath can help it fall in a more flattering shape that frames your face. It can also make hair more manageable, especially if you like a messy bun, claw clip or ponytail but hate that it falls out so quickly. "Hair also settles more easily thanks to the weight that has been taken away," says Chie, "so it can even save you time when styling." The method is especially useful if you want to go short, like Amrita Palahey.
Luke agrees. "For people that have got a lot of hair, being able to wear it up and keep it up without falling down is a benefit," he says. "Sometimes hair can be so heavy that if you tong it or try and get any movement in it, it automatically drops out." With an invisible haircut, hair is more likely to keep its shape, not to mention bring out more of its natural wave and movement, says Luke.
In other words, the invisible haircut is great for those who consider themselves to be relatively lazy when it comes to doing anything with their hair — and it's even better if you air-dry it in summer. It pays to get your products right, though. Try JVN Hair Complete Air Dry Cream, £21, which gives hair hold and protects against frizz in all hair types, or Hairstory Undressed Texturising Spray, £42, a salty wave-enhancer used in salon by London stylists The Hair Bros.
So what should you ask for in the salon chair? Simply tell your stylist that you want to get rid of some of the heaviness from your hair and they'll do the rest. Thick hair that is wavy or straight will benefit the most from an invisible haircut, whereas you might want to opt for a handful of traditional layers if your hair is curly or coily, says Chie. "Typical layers is your best bet to achieve this look rather than thinning the hair out, as cutting into curls can affect the curl pattern. This might cause them to spring out and look frizzy." Take inspiration from curl pro Emily Kingston at Blue Tit in Clapton, who created the above textured shag.
Lastly, regardless of whether you've become a dab hand with the scissors or clippers over the past few years, take it from the experts and don't attempt the invisible haircut at home. It's nothing like snipping off dead ends or trimming your fringe. In unqualified hands, a lot could go wrong. "You should never use thinning scissors near the root as this could create hairs that are too short and stick up," says Chie. Luke also hits home the importance of leaving the invisible haircut to the professionals: "This technique is only as good as the person doing it."
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