This summer, stylists are transforming our overprocessed, overcolored, super-extensioned, shaggy, unruly manes into full, even bobs. With bangs.

Yes, bangs. Bangs remind me of third grade, but stylists promise that this is a mature look with longer sides and a graduated-yet-even back, not Little Dutch Boyish.

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"To make the bob fresh, we are doing disconnected layers," said Alan Gold, a stylist at Bala Cynwyd salon Haig & Co. "And the beauty is, you can wear it wavy, you can wear it blown out. It's feminine and fresh and soft."

Carlos Smith, owner of Everyday People Salon in Center City, agrees.

"The bobs we are seeing now are nice and funky and very grown-up," Smith said.

Victoria "Posh" Spice gets the credit for reintroducing the bob to pop culture post-millennium. Her blond, angular, choppy and slightly stacked coif was hot with this modern wave of ultra-fashionistas. Other celebrities followed: Tom Cruise's pixie of a wife, Katie Holmes, and R&B singer Rihanna.

But this winter, women started growing out the edgier, asymmetrical look. The shorter layers grew into longer layers, and the hair grew to the nape of the neck, creating a softer, even look. This summer, it's an easy complement to the in-trend shifts that feature higher necks, rounder necklines, and skinny belts.

"We started making the look beveled, not graduated," said Kevin Gato, owner of Verde in Collingswood.

But even more important than the silhouette of the cut, says Jill Puri, a stylist at Bernard's Salon & Day Spa in Marlton, is the color. Nowadays, we've moved beyond highlights - both skinny and chunky - and it's all about depth and richness of color.

"No one wants to be a streaked blonde or a plain brunette or redhead anymore," Puri said. "Everyone wants their hair to be shiny with some definition of color that's almost painted in like art. We call the technique 'baliage.' "

Gold added that women were mixing caramel tones with richer blonds for a more warm-toned, instead of ashy, look.

Yes, the bob is hot, said Kim Herkins, manager at Center City's Bubbles Salon. But whether we choose to gather our hair into a tight ponytail or bask in its natural curl pattern, product is key.

"In the summer, we need product to accentuate the texture of our natural hair," Herkins said.

To maintain our stylish summer mane, she said, we should wash our hair and then add a reconstructive conditioner, especially on color-treated hair. If you are trying to accentuate your curls, use some sort of pomade. Herkins recommends Cibu's sticky-rice pomade.

In this way, whether your bob is pin-straight or bouncy, you'll have that just-stepped-out-of-the-salon look, even when you've spent the entire day at the beach.

Contact staff writer
Elizabeth Wellington at ewellington@phillynews.com
or at 215-854-2704.