The term one-size-fits-all rarely applies to clothing, but when it comes to hair, the label fully applies to the lob, or long bob. The collarbone-skimming style is the perfect middle ground between long layers and a traditional bob, and we love how the look works on every texture, flatters just about every face shape, and creates extra volume with its staggered layers. InStyle.com site producer Leah Abrahams had been considering making the change for a while, so when we heard celebrity hairstylist Anh Co Tran was visiting the New York City area, we just had to get an appointment with him at the L’Appartment Privé to make the major change.
“I’m so not the kind of girl who likes to switch up my look, but lately I’ve been craving a change,” Leah says. “Before, I was a little terrified — and honestly afraid I was going to break down in tears — but Anh made me feel right at ease.” Tran, who just opened the Ramirez Tran salon in Beverly Hills with colorist Johnny Ramirez, is the mane man behind Coco Rocha and Ginnifer Goodwin‘s cuts, so Leah was certainly in good hands! After browsing through a few inspiration images and chatting about her usual hair routine, the two decided on a style and Tran began working his magic. “In her situation, it was more about giving her hair more body,” he says. “I like the bob on Leah because it suits her face and hits right at the neck area — we didn’t want to go any shorter than that.”
Instead of lathering up, Tran started with completely dry hair. “This allows me to see cowlicks, and how her hair behaves. I can also see split ends, and if there are any, this allows me to trim them down,” he explains. “Most people wear their hair in its dry state, so I cut it that way.” Nothing says “I just cut my hair” like a straight, harsh line, so to avoid this, Tran cut into the hair to create variation and give the look a lived-in effect. “You know how you get a new pair of jeans and you have to break them in? I’m kind of breaking the hair in for you,” he says. “Instead of getting that new stiff pair, you’re getting worn-in, vintage jeans, and that’s the same philosophy that applies to the haircut. You end up with a style that suits you, and becomes part of you.”
“The lob is definitely having a moment! Jessica Alba and Kate Mara were two of my celebrity inspirations,” adds Leah. In line with her reference images, her color was also updated by Ramirez, who was clad in one of the most-stylish salon getups we’ve seen yet. To complement her new layers and add dimension, he created a subtle ombre effect, then toned the highlights to a soft golden hue to flatter her complexion. “He said that he wanted it to resemble a kid’s hair color — natural, sunkissed, and warm,” says Leah.
After the color had set, it was time to lather up and head back to the salon chair, where Tran and his assistant worked in tandem to blow-dry Leah’s strands. “Rough-dry it until 90% of the water is out, using upward motions to add body, then go back and smooth it out when you’re finished,” Tran advises. “Don’t dry it from the top, because then your style will fall flat.” Once her hair was completely dry, he brushed through it using a Tangle Teezer Comb ($10; target.com), then picked up the curling iron to add a soft wave.
Curling shorter hair can be tricky — wind the ringlet too tight, and you end up with a stuffy, over-styled coif– which is why Tran used his curling iron only on the roots and mid-lengths. “I curl the hair from the roots to mid-shaft, and leave out the ends. It gives the hair more of an edge or attitude, and keeps the look young, fresh, and different,” he says. “The lob is nothing new, and people have done it for years and years. Sarah Jessica Parker did it 20 years ago. The difference between that style and today’s style is that the modern version has more texture and movement on the bottom.” When trying your own hand at the effect, be sure to alternate directions to avoid ending up with a single sausage curl, and direct the area just above your ear forward to frame your face. Once a loose, touchable texture was in place, Tran shook out her curls, and added a blast of Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray ($42; oribe.com) before working the Smooth Style Serum ($49; oribe.com) into her ends.
“I absolutely love it,” Leah says of the final result. “What I’m most worried about is the maintenance of the breezy waves, but Anh made it so simple: Just divide the hair into top and bottom layers, curl the bottom part in a forward motion, and the rest varying between forward and backward motions.”
Does Leah’s change have you wanting to make a similar cut? Click through our gallery to get inspired by the chicest celebrity bobs.