Switching up your makeup is easy — and it wipes away in a flash. But most of us approach changing our hair with a little more trepidation. After all, you can’t erase a haircut. And dye — even the semipermanent kind — lasts longer than an evening. Which is why we’re here with the gentle reminder that the simple act of changing your part can be completely transformative. Oh, and it requires zero commitment. Zero.
Countless articles have told us that a good part can make or break a look. Scientists have even developed the Hair Part Theory, which suggests that parts subconsciously highlight our mental attributes. A part on the left might send the message that we’re more left-brained, while a center one might show that we’re balanced or neutral.
Although this theory seems tidy and appealing, choosing the part for you isn’t just about face shape (or whether you consider yourself right- or left-brained). “It all depends on the impact you’re trying to make,” says stylist Matt Fugate from Serge Normant at John Frieda. “Sometimes you want something that is just super-flattering, and sometimes you want something that’s very model-esque and high-fashion.”
In general, a center-part will highlight the angularity of your face, but it will also be less forgiving of any asymmetry — so your cat-eye better be on-point. Side-parts, on the other hand, work to soften your features by adding a bit of asymmetry.
This doesn’t mean you should stick to one part. “Ultimately if you’re going to switch your part, you’re going to accentuate another part of your face by opening it up,” Fugate says. “You might draw attention to your cheekbones by adding your part right where your cheekbones rise.”
So how can you find the part you’ll love? Take a lot of selfies. “Before you change your part, do a fun experiment where you start your part far off to the side, take a picture, and slowly start moving it to the center,” Fugate says. “Then, you can flip through the pictures and see what it does to your face. Pictures are honest, so it’ll be eye-opening for you to see what it does.”
The best part about all this? You can change your part in a snap — and you’re never tied to it for longer than you want to be. Just look to any of the 16 stars ahead, whose looks were transformed with a single flip. Click to see their transformations, with commentary and tips from Fugate.
This story was originally published on November 1, 2016.