Survey reveals best and worst hairstyles ever

photo Mary Hughes gets a long layer "understyle" by Tiffany Gorham, manager at Great Clips in Fort Oglethorpe,Ga. Long and straight hair was named as one of the top three hairstyle of all time for women in an online survey commissioned by Great Clips.
photo Conner Salmon, 11, sports a tamer version of the bed head, the No. 1 best hairstyle for men, according to the Great Clips survey.
photo Faith Reed wears her hair in a long, layered style, named in the survey as one of the top three hairstyles for women.
photo The faux hawk cut, modeled by Parker Salmon, 10, is one of the three all-time worst cuts for males, the survey reports.
photo Darlene Stanton models the asymmetrical hairstyle that was rated one of the three worst hairstyles for women in the survey.

SURVEY SAYSGreatest styles for women1. Medium layers2. Long straight3. BangsGreatest styles for men1. Bed head2. Side part3. Hockey hairWorst styles for women1. Perm2. Feathered3. AsymmetricalWorst styles for men1. Bowl cut2. Caesar3. Faux hawk* More than 1 out of 3 people base their hairstyle on what their significant other finds attractive.* Men and women both overwhelmingly agree they would not break up with someone over a bad haircut.* Both sexes agree they would tell their significant other if he or she would look better with a different cut or style.* Men find women more attractive with long hair.* Women find men more attractive with short hair.Source: Great Clips online survey

Readers remember*Carolyn Rich Rice: "My mom cut my bangs once up to my widow's peak, crookedly. We lived in such a small town in Connecticut they only had a barber shop. The man there gave me a boy's haircut. Next morning when I arrived at junior high school, I found out it was picture day. Fun."*Caroline Chipley Johnson: "I tried to wear my hair really long. Since my hair is very fine and lacks much body, I had it permed and lightened, since color adds fullness. If you get an image of a blonde Roseanne Roseannadanna from "Saturday Night Live," you're dead on. I got the idea that this was probably not my best look when I went to visit my young nephew. As I came around the back of the house to say hello, he screamed and ran to hide behind his mother."*Angie Daly: "When I was in first grade, our housekeeper decided that my long, fine hair was always getting tangled so she decided to cut my hair short. Never having cut hair before and having an unwilling, fidgety first-grader did not mix well at all. My mother came home from work and tried to fix it with a Toni Home Perm. That didn't work either because we didn't set the rollers right and I had hair sticking everywhere for several months. What made matters worse is that this was done the day before school pictures. My daughter still kids me about that picture. Horrible."*Cindy Pinion: "The shag. Oh, my goodness. I was 12 years old and I hated it. It was the worst-looking thing ever. My momma said I looked like her worn out old mop."

Ed Rusk doesn't hesitate when asked about the worst haircut of his life.

The bowl cut.

If you don't know what the bowl cut is, think Moe from The Three Stooges. Rusk talked his mom into giving him the once-trendy style when he was about 9 years old.

"I didn't like it," says Rusk, director of finance and administration/CFO at Chattem Chemicals in Chattanooga. "She made me go to school for a couple days anyway. Then she gave me the good old Navy buzzcut afterwards, which was a bit embarrassing once again. My mom traumatized me.

"I thought it [the bowl cut] would be funny, and the joke was on me."

So he's not surprised that the bowl cut was recently named "The Worst Hairstyle of All Time for Men" in a national survey commissioned by Great Clips salons.

The survey was conducted recently online for people ages 18 and older.

And, yes, Rusk's mom did, in fact, place an upside-down bowl on his head to use as a guideline for cutting his hair evenly all the way around.

According to the survey, the worst looks for men are the bowl cut, followed by the Caesar (all over short with supershort bangs) and the faux hawk (hair on top smooshed up into a triangular peak). The "bed head" cut (think the rustled-up hair on boy bands) tops the men's list with the side part and hockey hair (basically a mid-length mullet made popular by hockey players) in second and third.

The best hairstyle of all time for women is a cut of medium layers, followed by long, straight hair and, in third place, styles with bangs, the survey says. Making the worst list for women is the perm at No. 1, with the feathered cut (Farrah Fawcett in "Charlie's Angels") in second, and the asymmetrical cut in third.

Great Clips local franchisee and stylist Hunter Hughes says that, for the most part, he agrees with the survey results.

"The women's survey is very representative of what we see in the salons," he says. "We cut a number of shorter-length cuts, especially in the hot summer months when people are outside, active and in the water more. As for the men's cuts, we see a ton of military-type high and tights."

In the high and tight, stylists uses clippers to blend the bottom of the hair with the top.

With men's styles, hockey hair (short in the front, longer in the back) is not a term we use a lot in the South (we prefer mullet) and isn't as familiar as the crew cut and high and tights, Hughes says.

Though the survey found the faux hawk to be the third worst hairstyle for men, it's a cut that's still popular in the South, Hughes says.

"We do see a number of mohawks and faux hawks in the summer, especially in boys up through their 20s while they are out of school. It's a playful haircut they enjoy during the hot summer months. It is pretty low maintenance as well," Hughes says.

Edna Douglas, owner of Edna's Beauty Salon in Dayton, Tenn., agrees with the survey's report of the medium-layers cut topping the list for women's best. For men, she says the "high and tight" is historically the No. 1 best look, while the faux hawk for men is "pretty bad."

But she disagrees with the perm being the worst style for women. Instead, it's "women who wear their gray hair long and stringy," she says.

Regardless of the survey results, permed hair will never go away, Hughes says.

"Perms are currently thought of as older women's style," Hughes says. "Curls are not in vogue because that's not what is trendy right now."

But trends change quickly, he says.

"Popular celebrities will come out with curly locks and perms will be back," he says. "As the old saying goes, 'There's nothing new under the sun, just recycled, when it comes to trends and fashion.' Perms will be back."

In fact, some Great Clip salons in the area continue to give perms, he says.

"Wednesdays are Senior Days in those salons. All perms are discounted to $36.99, which includes a haircut and shampoo," he says. "Those salons average doing three to six perms per Wednesday per salon."

Kisha Thompson, a stylist at Creative Image hair salon in LaFayette, Ga., also doesn't agree with the idea that perms are pathetic. She's says it's the long, one-length blunt cut which features bangs cut just above the eyebrows while the sides are arrow-straight. But medium-layer cuts are the best for women, she agrees.

For the men, she believes bed head is best, but the worst is not the faux hawk, she says.

"It's got to be the permed mullet. That was really bad."

Tammy Nienaber, director of communications at Great Clips, says the survey reported more than just the best and worst hairstyles.

"One of the most important things we learned from this survey is that people select their hairstyle based on the shape of their face and maintenance," Nienaber says.

Many people "want to look like themselves, not necessarily what is trendy," she says. "So, even though the survey provides fun insights on the greatest and worst styles, people will still choose what they are most comfortable with."

Hughes says some people are reluctant to change styles through the years because they fear change.

"The older one gets, the more comfortable they are with what they know and what they have always done," he says. "We try to show them new hairstyles that will make them appear younger and more fashionable. Many of the shorter styles for women are easy to achieve and maintain."

Celebrities Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, as well as Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, are the top trendsetters for today's popular hairstyles, Hughes says.

"Hair trends, like most trends, originate in more trendy areas than the South and trickles down," he explains. "We buy hairstyling books in the salons as well as magazines for the customers to look through. Often a customer will come in and think they want one thing, look at books and magazines and decide to go another direction. The stylists also consult with the customer and together decide on an appropriate hairstyle based on their facial features and hair type."

Hughes says many local men and women prefer shorter styles in the summer because of low maintenance, demands on time and outdoor activity.

"Men's trends are short and edgy," he says. "Military-style cuts have been and will continue to be popular with our customers. Women's trends are more towards stacked and shaggy styles. Short is in with women as well as with men."

And a huge trend being set by aging baby boomer women is covering up the gray, Hughes says.

"Highlights are huge right now as well as gray cover up," he says.

So what's in the future for hair trends?

"Most hairstyles come back around, but with a twist that appeals to the next generation," says Nienaber, noting that perms and "big" hair will likely make a comeback albeit with a "twist."

"We all have photos from years ago where we cringe when we see our hairstyles," Nienaber says. "Looking back at our old photos and laughing at our hair and fashion choices is great fun."

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at nazorhill.