Hair has long been the topic of the breakup-sanctioned makeover, a worm-to-butterfly process that often entails a drastic dye job, such as Kris Jenner’s white blonde lengths, or a transforming bold cut—replete with bangs, a la Jonathan Siennicki. Cinematically, there is Gwyneth Paltrow who famously opted for a blonde pixie in Sliding Doors (1998) after she discovered her on-screen boyfriend was cheating on her. Who could forget Kerry Russell’s apres breakup look in Felicity, a close-to-the-skull coif that proved as life-changing on-screen as it did off-screen. Even the sexual anthropologist Carrie Bradshaw opted for a wavy bob after splitting from her ex-fiance Aidan in the fourth season of Sex and the City (2002); the episode was aptly entitled “A Vogue Idea.”
And while women have no doubt dominated all arenas of post-split transformations, men are somewhat unsung heroes of heartbreak hair. After all, their ever-changing styles are telling of a relationship status, too. A zoomed-in look will find cases such as Justin Bieber, his new, unruly strands nodding to a sign of romantic sorrow. The entertainer has recently opted for a case of teenage boy, overgrown hockey hair after his break from on-and-off again girlfriend Selena Gomez. Pre-dating Beiber, in the sphere of flurried hair, is Ben Affleck. After his divorce with Jennifer Garner, the actor grew a bushy beard, which at times he accessorized with even more telling decor: a vape pen. Of course, for a red hot throwback moment, there is Johnny Depp in the early ‘90s, when he grew a lustrous unkempt mane towards the end of his relationship with Winona Ryder.
On the other, more manicured end of the hirsute spectrum, neatly coifed might signify a clean break. Zayn Malik just underwent a follicular metamorphosis after announcing his split from girlfriend Gigi Hadid. “We still love and respect each other,” read his social media, a controlled message that was furthered by the brunette’s switch up to a bleach blonde take on Billy Idol. Malik even took the extra effort to dye his grown-out, wolf-like mustache and beard the same peroxide hue. The shocking shade is reminiscent of Brad Pitt, who in the mid-2000s, after his split with former wife Jennifer Aniston, hacked off his brown ‘70s shell-like coif and sported a neat and cropped blanched ‘do instead.
A change in hair might signify a want of change in a relationship, too. Just look to The Weeknd who chopped his larger-than-life dreadlocks back in September 2016. Fast forward to two months later, he and longtime girlfriend Bella Hadid officially (and publicly) called it quits. And while change can be tough, it can also be great, too. A prime example is a noughties Justin Timberlake. After he and Britney Spears said “bye, bye, bye” in 2002, he traded in his now meme-fied Ramen noodle hair for a very grown-up buzz cut, chronicled for your enjoyment in his no-apologies single, “Cry Me a River.” Here, a look back at all the guys who made the case for breakup hair.