How We Became Obsessed With the Haircut Transformation Video

Dramatic haircuts are having a moment, partly fuelled by post-Covid fatigue, with long hair seeming like too much of a time commitment. Partly, though, the rise in shorter styles is down to a proliferation of hair transformation videos flooding social media. Hershesons has been posting time-lapse videos of haircuts on its account since 2019; unsurprisingly, “engagement on videos is over 10 times the amount of that of stills,” says Luke. Over on TikTok, meanwhile, #hairtransformation boasts 17.9 billion views, while the more neutral #haircut has amassed an extraordinary 42.7 billion views.

What’s so compelling about a haircut? “I think we are always drawn to a change and a surprise, and we have a unique relationship with our hair—it’s different to doing makeup, as you can’t just wipe it off. There’s a sense of danger associated with a big chop,” says Hersheson. Capture that dangerous process on film, and the result is clients who feel braver, as the idea of change is made more accessible. “We’re in an age of ‘try-before-you-buy’ where we research everything from restaurants to hotel rooms. These videos give people confidence in seeing what they are getting before they commit,” says Luke. “In the old days, people used to bring in photographs from magazines; now they come in and show our stylists the videos they themselves have posted, and say, ‘I want that.’”

Chops-on-film have also helped to dispel the notion that certain haircuts only suit certain types of hair and particular face shapes. “There is a confidence now that didn’t exist two decades ago. You hear a lot less disaster hair stories these days, because there is so much more control in the run up. We’re in a time where everything is possible,” Hersheson adds. Hyped styles online have led to more experimentation. As Martha Gill, who looks after beauty accounts at TikTok points out: “What makes the HairTok community on TikTok so unique is that it isn’t just people passively watching hair content, they are actively participating by hyping their favorite hair products, sharing hacks and DIY remedies, and even showing off their latest cuts and colors to the community.”

That said, hair disaster videos have unique cache on TikTok. Step forward Brad Mondo, a 27-year-old, New York-based hairstylist with over eight million followers on the platform. Mondo’s ‘Hairdresser Reacts’ series—which sees him laugh, wince, and gasp his way through fellow users’ home haircut horrors and botched dye jobs—has garnered over 1.3 billion views. Some kids are even staging hair transformation videos purely to get a reaction out of Mondo. Now trending: #SorryBradMondo, where teens destroy their hair (cut their bangs into V-shapes, dye random patches purple) in the hopes that the stylist will notice them. With 100 million views and counting, it’s obvious why the tagline for his Xmondo line of haircare products reads “Bold Looks. Zero F*cks.”