Make drastic changes to your look by simply shifting the part in your hair

Rachel Bilson gets three distinct looks out of three different parts

Rachel Bilson gets three distinct looks out of three different parts

We really are a bunch of scaredy cats when it comes to mane modifications. Even just a simple swapping of where one parts their hair “can lead to a big change,” says Ruben Colon, senior stylist at Sally Hershberger Downtown in NY and shear genius to Sarah Jessica Parker, Marisa Tomei and Mary Louise Parker. “When someone is used to something, they can fear change. Some of my clients fear this and feel it makes them look very different. If you wear a side part all your life, then change it to the center, [you’ll feel] a difference in the way you look.”

However, when an actual haircut is even more daunting, a part swap can breathe new life into a staid look, since most women stick to the same one for years. “It’s out of the norm for the individual and spices things up. If a woman is feeling confident and looking for a freshened-up look, [playing with her part] can be a great alternative.”

Where a person’s natural part falls—off-center or smack dab in the middle, which is the most youthful part—should definitely be taken into consideration when hair is being cut, but texture is also important in determining the ideal place it should lie. “When it comes to curly or coarser hair, it should always be a slightly off-center part, but not too far over because hair will look and feel heavy,” says Colon. Conversely, straight or fine hair can go to either side or the center easily. If you feel your hair is too thin on one side, switch it up and find a new part. Regardless, “I’d recommend regularly changing up where you wear your part for variety and to freshen up your look,” says the stylist.

Something as simple as the swipe of a comb does make a big difference. Center parts are what Colon says he sees most often, as it’s universally flattering—and youth-enhancing—for any age. “It can be worn wavy or curly and it looks fresh. It’s what people wore back in the day, and I always love a chic, vintage look.” When parting the hair to one side, women with a round face might notice it makes their face appear thinner. (Those with thin faces won’t see as much of a narrowing effect.) To accentuate—or create the appearance of—high cheekbones, try voluminous pulled back hair with no part. And then there’s the deep side split, which works best when paired with a ponytail, updo or hair accessory to provide support and keep hair off the face. Says Colon, “I love a side part as it exudes confidence in a woman. Women who can get away with this part feel really good about themselves.” And who doesn’t crave a hair makeover via a few simple brushstrokes?