How my bad coronavirus haircut became the perfect choppy bob

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·6-min read

I’ve always had a thing about layers – I don’t like them.

It all began in 2010 when I let a friend give me a ‘layered chop’, all the rage at the time.

The resulting mess is hard to describe, but it took around 3 years to properly grow out, given my hesitation to chop the hair up to above my ears where the first layer began, and I vowed never again to let the ‘L’ word into my hair care vocabulary.

My major hair trauma made me notorious among friends for keeping it very simple, very boring and very safe.

Image of bad haircut before
Two months into lockdown i threw my hair rules out the window, to disasterous effect. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

Imagine their surprise when about three months into lockdown I walked into my sharehouse sporting a thick, blunt fringe, two-layered Karen Brady haircut and a mad glint in my eye.

In a fit of lockdown cabin fever, I had gone absolutely rogue at the hairdressers throwing years of prudent trimming out the window in a bid to ‘try something new’.

What I ended up with, as one more honest friend pointed out, was more bad 80’s than chic 2020, with my unruly curly hair forced into unnatural angles by a layer that sat miles above my ear, and the world’s thickest, deepest fringe laying over half my face with about as much vivaciousness as a wet mop head.

A thick and badly cut set of layers left me looking a little worse for wear. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia
A thick and badly cut set of layers left me looking a little worse for wear. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

After about a week during which, in some kind of fever dream, I convinced myself I looked Chic with a capital ‘S’, I came to the crushing realisation that I looked absolutely ridiculous.

Desperate to avoid the three-year growing period that had accompanied my last venture into ‘layer’ territory I reached out to the professionals for some much-needed help.

How I transformed my hair from ‘sheesh’ to ‘chic!’

Left bad hair cut Penny Burfitt right Penny Burfitt happy good haircut
Anthony managed to take my crummy cut and turn it into a fresh new look. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

Anthony Nader is an award-winning celebrity hair stylist and owns and operates RAW Anthony Nader, his salon in Sydney’s Surry Hills. He generously agreed to take a look at the situation and see if he could salvage it.

According to Anthony there were three major hair transgressions going on on my head.

First up, the ‘layer’ I had opted for was a one-step layer, meaning it took all the volume and texture from the ends of my hair and sliced it into two parts, giving me that Karen Brady effect that nobody wants.

Image of bad haircut layers on journalist
My 'layers' were really two straight cuts giving me a dreaded 80's 'flick' effect. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

Secondly, my curtain fringe had been cut straight across.

Anthony says the secret to a good curtain fringe is the ‘Hollywood sweep’ – a gradual decline on either side that gives your hair a mobile, draping effect.

My blunt cut was contributing to the mushroom quality of my fringe, with the extended sides dragging the fringe way too far across my face.


Finally, don’t do what I did and start your fringe from halfway back on your head.

If you have fine hair, a deep fringe is a great way to give your fringe more body, but if you’re like me and have thick hair it’s a one-way ticket to mushroom town.

Now, Anthony is at the top of his game and his haircuts don’t come cheap. I was a guest of RAW but one of his chops will set most customers back $350.

Anthony Nader cuts hair
Anthony's meticulous recovery cut proved to me that splashing out on a haircut is sometimes a worthy investment. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

Despite his credentials, I was unconvinced – how could any stylist, no matter how good, fix this without giving me an above-ear bob which I didn’t want, and could it really be worth more than $300?

To say he proved me wrong is something of an understatement. Anthony managed to give me a chic, choppy bob and the sweeping Normal People fringe of my dreams, and proved that a good haircut is truly an art form worth paying for.

Here’s what he did:

(left) long hair cut layers (right) chich bob
By finding my hairs flow, rather than hacking layers, my bad dead weight became a bouncy voluminous cut. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

First up he chopped off the dead weight and brought my lower layer closer to the top layer, giving it a ‘boxy’ and ‘blunt’ effect around the base.

Then, he set to work on it’s internal texture (the texture above the hair’s baseline).

This is where I learnt the difference between ‘layers’ an ‘texture’.

Meticulously following my hair’s natural direction, he cut in different lengths and angles piece by piece, bringing out my hairs natural movement rather than chopping it off.

He explained that it’s all about finding your hair’s flow and following it, no matter how long that takes.

Image of girl wearing mask with fringe haircut
A very gradual decline in the fringe gave it a fresh, Hollywood 'sweep'. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

When it came to the fringe it was all about getting that sweeping effect.

To do it, he took the middle of the fringe up ever so slightly, and worked down to the length of the sides.

The effect? It really – ahem – swept away that nasty mushroom effect.

I finally got the dramatic new look I had envisioned, and it wasn’t until I saw my hair looking good for the first time in months that I realised how bad my bad haircut had made me feel.

Image of new haircut Anthony Nader Raw
Fixing my hair gave me a boost I didn't know I needed. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle Australia

Of course it’s a minor, almost trivial blip in a world rumbling with change and disaster at the moment, but it’s the little things that can make a big difference sometimes.

We can’t all splash out on a pricey haircut of course, but what I learnt is sometimes a little bit of investment in you can make the world of difference.

And, as Fleabag said, ‘hair is everything’.

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

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