Is it a Bob, Lob, or Shag? A Guide to Haircuts for Women
From the towering hair sculptures festooned with live birds in 1700s Europe to the bobs that symbolized rebellion and independence in 1920s America, hair has always been an extension of a woman’s personality. It quickly expresses to the world who she is—or who she wants to be—whether that’s a boho beauty with long mermaid locks or an edgy rocker with a piecey pixie haircut.
But it’s easy to fall into a hair rut, to stick to the same style you’ve worn for years despite the fact that you have grown as a person. That’s why we created a guide to modern haircuts for women. It’s a great jumping-off point if you’re looking to change things up and need some ideas to bring to your stylist.
Types of Haircuts for Women
The elfin pixie, one of the most iconic short haircuts for women, keeps hair on the back and sides trimmed to a couple inches and leaves the hair on top slightly longer. Styles vary, but the longest pixie generally doesn’t extend much past the earlobes.
- As seen on: Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow, Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong'o
- Get this style if you: want a daring change and don’t mind attention (there’s no hair to hide behind)
- Avoid this style if you: want a wash-and-go cut (it takes some effort in the morning) or don’t want to go to the salon every 4–6 weeks for a trim
Bobs typically refer to hair that falls straight around the head, though some graduate from shorter length in the back to longer in the front. Bobs usually hit somewhere between the jawline and an inch above the collarbone. They may be blunt or full of layers.
- As seen on: Clara Bow, Anna Wintour, Jennifer Lawrence, Hillary Clinton
- Get this style if you: want to show off your bone structure and want a little bit of length that still feels light and effortless
- Avoid this style if you: don’t want to go to the salon often for trims and love pulling your hair back into different styles
The lob has been one of the trendiest haircuts for women for years now because it works on pretty much everybody as it’s neither too long, nor too short. It is considered a shoulder-length hairstyle in its longest form, though it often lies right at the collarbone.
- As seen on: nearly every celebrity in recent years, from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Kerry Washington
- Get this style if you: want to go longer between visits to the salon and want some length so you can pull your hair into a ponytail or topknot
- Avoid this style if you: have extremely thick hair or hair so fine it’s almost see-through
Lobs are long enough for braids. Check out our braiding videos to learn how to create three plaits.
Shags are characterized by their copious amounts of choppy layers. Shags come in all lengths, though most modern iterations are mid-length with heavy eye-grazing bangs and messy texture.
- As seen on: Stevie Nicks, Farrah Fawcett, Alexa Chung, Taylor Swift
- Get this style if you: want a wash-and-go cut (depends on your texture) and cool-girl disheveled waves
- Avoid this style if you: have stick-straight hair and don’t feel like curling it (it can look at little dated)
This traditionally masculine style gets a feminine update by pairing a buzzed nape of the neck or temple area with longer hair. The buzzed area might or might not have a design shaved into it. To ease into the style, try an undercut on the nape of the neck, where it will likely be seen only when the hair is pulled up into a ponytail or topknot.
- As seen on: Scarlett Johansson, Miley Cyrus, Tilda Swinton, Jada Pinkett Smith
- Get this style if you: want to be a little more edgy or want to be a little more edgy while still being presentable for a traditional workplace
- Avoid this style if you: fear a tricky grow-out phase
As the name implies, an asymmetric cut is uneven, with the hair on one side of the head longer than the other. The more subtle examples are slightly higher on one side than the other, whereas the more noticeable cuts mix really short hair with really long hair.
- As seen on: Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Marion Cotillard, Rosamund Pike
- Get this style if you: want to make a statement with your hair
- Avoid this style if you: fear a tricky grow-out phase and don’t want to go back to the salon for frequent cuts to maintain the bold shape
Need some helping styling an asymmetric cut, undercut, or lob? Here’s how to create everyday and party hairstyles on these cuts.
Yes, this is a hairstyle more than a haircut, but long haircuts don’t have specific names (we should probably sign a petition asking Anna Wintour to come up with something). However, really long hair does have this nickname, which refers to manes that cascade past a bra band. The best haircuts for long hair like this add long layers to remove bulkiness and add movement.
- As seen on: Cher, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez
- Get this style if you: love attention-grabbing hair and romance
- Avoid this style if you: overheat easily and don’t want to spend all your free time washing and drying your locks
Whatever type of cut you’re looking for, stylists recommend that you bring in a picture of the exact haircut you want. See what else hairstylists want you to know.
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.