Around 2012, a new hairstyle solidified itself as not only supreme but timeless. It was a far cry from the early-aughts experimental hair trends that served looks that were anything but basic; think teased-to-the-gods hair (Pam Anderson, we love you), scene queen hair, straight/curly combo, chunky highlights, ponytail tree braids, curls mixed with crimps, peek-a-boo hair, spiky curls, flipped ends, curly roots with straight ends, choppy bangs, cornrows with curly ends, angled cuts and so much more. Anything went—even those ridiculous pulled-back poufs.
And because the universe requires balance, maybe that’s why the tousled lob—you know the one, straight-up-top, tousled-loose curls-on-bottom, took over the heads of nearly everyone in the last decade, leaving us all with the same haircut.
The Universally Flattering Haircut
If we take “effortless” loose curls and apply them as a lob—we’ve hit the holy trifecta of a universally flattering hairstyle: the tousled lob. It’s safe, reliable, and timeless. It’s perfect for those who don’t want to commit to short or long hair—not to mention very low maintenance. It’s also extremely versatile because it’s long enough to be tied back and short enough to be trendy. And bonus points: it looks great on most, if not all, face shapes. All evidence that it is worthy of its reign. But, here…I’ll go first and say it: I’m bored of it.
Randa Rivera, a Denver-based stylist known for her über cool shags, shullets, curly cuts, and hilarious TikTok videos, weighed in on why the beloved trend has been around this long “I think it’s a style that’s easy to execute on all hair types, but some people have to do more work than others (if they have curly hair). It also translates well on different types of haircuts and is a low commitment, leaving options for wearing it up in a ponytail or a clip.”
Versatile and universal—the tousled lob in a nutshell.
Let’s Consider Variety & Inclusion
The number of times I’ve gone to a stylist who straightened my curly hair just to add curls back in the form of loose tousled waves left me overly confused. I couldn’t tell if I liked my haircut or if it was just styled nicely and acceptably; I felt separate from my hair and not considered at all in the process of my haircut and style.
Rivera noted that this isn’t uncommon and suggested thoroughly looking through a stylist's portfolios beforehand, “Every stylist is different in what they excel and specialize in, so it’s important to know their portfolio before making an appointment.”
While the tousled lob is universally flattering, it wasn’t sustainable or even attainable for my texture without a lot of styling and heat damage in the process—which really just points to the disadvantage that those with curly and kinky hair experience with many of the beauty trends pushed. We’re left out of the conversation and have to trial and error our way to finding solutions and styles that work for us—or force our hair to be something it’s not.
With this in mind, is it really that universal?
Y2K Is Coming Back For Us
The good news is, with the comeback of Y2K, everything, hair is getting experimental again. Underlayer hair, mullets, Gemini hair, buzz cuts, and many iterations of androgynous hairstyles are all turning the block. “Along with haircuts, I see people experimenting with styling their hair up with clips, braids, and all the accessories. I’m here for it!” Rivera shared. Hair accessories are so Y2K.
Personally, I’m noticing early aught trends taking on a more refined look as well, making them both unique and more attainable to the masses—a fine line to walk. With more variety in the mix, I feel inspired to experiment with styles that are more me and less other. And really, that was my beef with the tousled lob in the first place. This universally flattering cut and style isn’t going anywhere, as it shouldn’t because it’s timeless, but I am not the same person I was in 2012, and it’s time my hair reflects that.
Factors To Consider for a Unique Cut and Style
I want to reiterate that there is nothing wrong with the tousled lob—it’s one of the better ‘dos over the many decades of go-to hairstyles. However, if you’re like me and feel disjointed with the beloved trend, let’s focus on how we can feel more aligned in expressing ourselves through hair.
Swipe Your Face Card
What’s fantastic about the tousled lob is it looks great on most, if not all, face shapes. However, I’d like my unique facial characteristics, not just my face shape, to be considered when crafting my new look—emphasizing the traits I like best. For example, I have prominent cheekbones; would cheek-grazing bangs be flattering?
Rivera noted that she always considers her client’s style, personal features, and hair type when crafting a cut; perhaps that’s why people from all over the county travel to her for their haircuts. “I assess their hair, determining their texture, density, and hair health,” she shared before continuing. “Then I ask what their current styling routine is and how much time they want to spend styling their hair. Are they a wash and go air dry girlie, or do they spend 15-30 min using a blow dryer and hot tools? With their inspo pics and all that info, I then create a specific look for them that they will easily be able to recreate at home.”
Work With Your Natural Texture
I want to work with my natural texture, not against it. There’s something liberating about washing your hair and it air-drying into the shape you desire. I’d like my cut to be a foundation I can build off of and not something I have to manipulate off the jump. Rivera recommends that stylists and clients work together by finding inspo pics of similar texture as their clients in addition to finding a stylist that has a portfolio of hair like yours.
“There is a resurgence in the hair world of embracing and enhancing your natural texture and getting a haircut specifically designed to do just that (whether it’s edgy or mainstream)—making styling and wearing your hair so much easier, as well as maintaining optimal hair health because of using less heat and hot tools,” Rivera suggested.
Your Personal Style Matters
It’s okay to ask your stylist to consider your personal style when crafting your cut. For example, I dress a little edgy and feel uncomfortable in anything too feminine. If I wear a dress, I pair it with combat boots to rough it up. I do the same with my hair. If it’s feeling too “put together” or “perfect,” I find a way to mess it up a little—words I’m sure my therapist has said to me before.
Rivera takes her client’s personal style into consideration with each cut, “This is what I specialize in. I consider all these and try to match their aesthetic. But for a stylist who is more universal or whose specialty is something else, it might not be a match.”
Honest, Direct, Respectful Communication
Honest, direct, and respectful communication (as referenced in my go-to reads for communicating better) are three simple ways to communicate what you want effectively. No one wants to tell their hairstylist how to do their job, and sometimes that can make us timid in explaining to them what we want. However, hairstylists are not magicians (well, some are), and they’re not mind readers, so it’s on us to communicate as clearly as we can.
Stylists are creative, though, and how they execute their craft is an art. With that in mind, we probably want the same thing—innovation, individuality, and ingenuity. So many of the amazing cuts and styles we love have been created through collaboration between client and stylist, and I realize at any time I could have initiated this with my stylists over the years.
So, consider this my form of accountability.