The Real Reason People Love Changing Up Their Look Post-Breakup

Breakups can be devastating, but they can also be a time of immense personal growth. Parting ways can usher in a new era of freedom and treating the world as your oyster (a concept aptly nicknamed "oystering"). Going through a breakup can also be the perfect time to overhaul old lifestyle habits, establish new relationship deal breakers, and return all those sweatshirts you borrowed (or, let's be honest, low-key stole) from your ex.


Research by OnePoll suggests that it takes over six months to heal from a breakup on average (via SWNSdigital). One way that many people try to speed up the recovery process is by changing their appearance. Even celebrities like Selena Gomez and Britney Spears have been known to update their hairstyle following a split (via Cosmopolitan). Chopping off long hair or getting a new dye job seems like the universal way of getting over the post-breakup blues. But why?

Here's why so many head to the salon after a breakup

Hair has been a marker of personal identity for centuries. According to Time, hair quality and length have long been linked to status and health, especially for women, who have traditionally had longer hair than men in nearly every culture studied. But many people prefer to cut their locks short or make other drastic hairstyle changes after a breakup to freshen up their image and identity. Psychology professor Renee Engeln told i-D, "Changing one's hair to mark an important life event is, in part, a signal of how much we look to women's appearance to determine who they are or what's going on [in] their lives. ... Making a radical change to your appearance can be a way of sending the message that you're also making a radical change to your life — or that you'd like to."


So rather than telling people that you're moving on from your ex, you can express the same message through a haircut. But these changes can also be a way to reclaim power and independence. Psychotherapist Heather Garbutt told Stylist that cutting hair short after a breakup is like taking on an empowered "hunter" role in society. Snipping and dyeing our tresses instantly reminds us of how much agency we have in our lives, even after experiencing the rollercoaster ride of ending a relationship.

More ways to transform your look after a breakup

Embracing a new hairstyle is one of the quickest and easiest ways to symbolically take back ownership of your life after a breakup, but there are other ways to change up your look too. A wardrobe refresh is another way to make a statement, whether it be with a few new outfits or a totally different aesthetic. In fact, many celebrities, from Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez to Jennifer Aniston and Bella Hadid, have publicly rocked "revenge looks" immediately after break-ups (via Marie Claire). Dressing in daring ways can offer a much-needed confidence boost when mending a broken heart.


Experimenting with new makeup can also be a way to update your appearance (and if "breakup makeup" isn't already a term, we're coining it now). Now's your chance to try a bold winged eyeliner or learn how to contour with concealer. Other breakup beauty upgrades to consider include an eye-catching nail design, eyelash extensions, or a brow perm — the options are practically endless.