From Jen's bob to Kate's grey strands, the horror of those bad hair days...

Both the Duchess of Cambridge and Jennifer Aniston have received, er, cutting remarks about their hair. Four writers know how they feel

Fringe benefits? Jennifer Aniston with her new bob
Fringe benefits? Jennifer Aniston with her new bob

Millions of women have copied the hairstyles of Duchess of Cambridge and Jennifer Aniston, but even these style icons can have a bad hair day.

Recently both have been the subject of less than flattering comments. Eagle-eyed royal watchers were quick to point out that last week, while carrying out duties on London Poppy Day, Kate was sporting a few silver roots along the parting of her chestnut hair. Cue much debate about whether she was avoiding hair dye while breast feeding and how she could cover-up the greys.

Meanwhile Jennifer's decision to get her luscious long blonde locks chopped into a bob drew a barrage of abuse, even if she posted a selfie looking pleased with her new look.

Still, Kate and Jen are not alone in having a bad hair day. Here, four writers reveal their worst 'do'.

Frances Burscough

I'll never forget my worst haircut. Actually, I wasn't allowed to. My brother Chris took a photograph of it and it was immediately framed by my mum, who put it on the mantelpiece, and there it stayed for painful posterity.

It was September 1980 and I had just started at sixth form college after years of being in a stuffy convent school uniform. Times were changing and so was I. There seemed like no better time to get a makeover to herald my new, liberated and grown-up persona, but the only problem was that I was skint.

Then after school, as I was standing at the bus stop, I noticed a sign in a salon window.

'MODELS WANTED FOR FREE RE-STYLE!' it said in big letters. '... by a trainee,' it said in small letters.

Without so much as a second thought I waltzed in to make an appointment and my living nightmare began.

The stylist – who wasn't much older than me – was clearly delighted to see my long, natural blonde hair cascade around my shoulders as she unfastened my pony tail.

"Oooh, so much potential!" she said, rubbing her hands with glee as her tutor looked on.

Now, as I was there on a freebie, I had absolutely no say in what they did. I wasn't even consulted as they scrutinised my head from every angle, then stood to one side to discuss in hushed tones their plan of attack.

I caught the odd word. Rather worryingly, 'radical' was one. 'Experimental,' 'vivid' and 'asymmetrical' also stood out clearly.

The trainee then proceeded to hack in to my long luscious locks with zeal. I closed my eyes but when I opened them, on one side of my head the hair was short, but the other was shoulder-length.

She then did the colour, literally daubing it on with great big brush strokes. Alarmingly, there were four colours in her palette – brown, orange, red and yellow. The brown went on to one side, then the orange and red, until the short side was finished with a horrible brassy yellow. Which was then tonged to create a 'flick' of tempestuous proportions.

I emerged from the place looking and feeling like a radical reject from Pan's People.

For the next month I wore a headscarf and pretended it was an artistic statement, then eventually the colour faded and I got a remedial short bob cut done to correct the awkward asymmetry.

In those days, if you had a bad haircut, you were stuck with it until nature took its course and the hair re-grew.

At least Jennifer and Kate have instant modern solutions they can rely on to maintain their image. It seems Kate wasted no time in getting her roots done after her follicular faux-pas ... while Jen? Well she could always make a sneaky appointment to get a full head of extensions.

Una Brankin

I fell in to the clichéd trap of chopping off my hair after splitting up with my future husband in my early 20s. Worse, I got it permed into a fuzzy mess – that was mostly my mother's fault. All through my childhood she tried to coax a wave in to my poker-straight tresses, putting rollers in every Saturday night and making me sleep in them.

I escaped this weekly torture in my teens but when I arrived home heartbroken from university for the weekend and said I wanted to get my hair cut, she saw her chance for a curly makeover.

I was so down in the dumps I didn't object when she suggested her own long-time hairdresser. The whole way there she talked-up this new "wee light perm" the hairdresser was doing, which, she said, just gave the hair a bit of body.

The stylist agreed that it would give my listless face a "lovely lift" and frame it beautifully. I was past caring, so I let her get to work. The warning bells should have rung when she snipped at my hair until it was just about shoulder-length, but my lethargy cannot be underestimated.

I sat there glumly, half-reading a magazine, while she put in the dreaded perming curlers, chatting away to my mother and another local lady who'd come in for her weekly blow-dry. I was opening a fourth glossy when even through the fug of my heartbreak I began to think that maybe the foul perming solution had been in my hair too long.

"Um, excuse me, isn't it time," I began. "Oh yes, let's get you rinsed," chirped the stylist, continuing to gossip with the other two. And so it went on, until she started to blow-dry my hair and noticed the creeping horror on my now deathly pale face. The once long silky stands were bouncing up in to uncontrollable kinks just under my jawline, frazzled by the chemicals into a halo of fuzz. I couldn't speak.

Incredibly, mum announced that it was a radical improvement already. The hairdresser heartily agreed but I could see the nerves in her smile as she dragged the brush through the big whin bush she had created on my head and tried in vain to smooth it out a little.

I cried the whole way home.

I got a comb from her handbag and pulled and tugged at the hideous overcooked curls, only to make them bigger and bouncier. Inconsolable, I pulled them back in to a pony tail and got a train back in to Belfast, and went straight to the bakery in Stranmillis to get a cream cake. Comfort food. As I stood miserably in the queue, I felt a hand ruffle the abomination at the back of my head.

"Hi Fuzzy," said my ex's best friend.

Jane Graham

Jennifer Aniston has had her famous shiny tresses cut into a 'chewy bob', provoking fashion/gossip tidal waves. The general opinion seems to be that her new look is somewhere between rain-sozzled bedraggle and hamster-faced schoolgirl. Personally, I rather approve of her low-maintenance modern 'do' but then I've always been drawn to a messy head. As for Aniston herself, she simply said she "felt like a change".

Most women will empathise. When life is dragging us down, even if it's just for one bad day, a hair makeover often seems like the answer.

I can't be the only person who's rushed to make a hair appointment halfway through a particularly disappointing day. I couldn't wait the full 24 – that would be an agony. I found a parlour in the centre of town with a number of immediately free slots. Yes, a little alarm bell rang at the implications of 'no need to book', but I felt compelled to act instantly.

What I had in mind was a chic, cool pixie crop a la Mia Farrow circa 1967. A drastic alteration from my shoulder length swish. I did feel nervous, but came armed with a picture of pixie Mia being gazed at by an adoring Frank Sinatra.

I spent the next hour lurching from blind panic to deep grief as I watched my lovely (so they now seemed in retrospect, as I mourned them) golden locks being hacked away to reveal a late period Gary Numan crew cut.

I couldn't lie to myself; Frank Sinatra would not have gazed adoringly at the horror-struck Eighties throwback staring at me from the mirror. Enraged and bereft, I politely thanked the hairdresser and left. A tough lesson had been learned, and would never be forgotten.

I also clearly remember my first grey hair. I spotted it a week after I had my first child. So when Kate Middleton was criticised for 'revealing' some grey last week, I felt a brief spark of kinship. Perhaps, like me, she regarded it as a little testimony to new motherhood and was in no hurry to disguise it. In which case, bravo.

Kerry McKittrick

I know what Jennifer Aniston feels like right now. I know what it feels like to look in the mirror at a hair salon with the gut-wrenching, stomach-dropping realisation your hair looks awful and the only thing you can do is wait several months until it grows out.

My worst haircut was when I was 18. I was about to head off to university in England and wanted to update my look for my new life.

I found a picture in a magazine of a sleek bob and took it in to my regular hairdresser – a now defunct trendy salon in south Belfast. It was somewhere I had been several times before and I was fully confident in the stylist

Boy was that a mistake. The stylist told me I was brave to attempt such a drastic cut and halfway through I realised why. Instead of a nice, brushed-back bob style (this was the Nineties) I ended up with essentially a short back and sides. He had completely misinterpreted the picture.

It was simply awful. Instead of sporting a trendy look I would be heading off to university with the butchest haircut known to womankind. It added years to me and to make things worse, it was far too short to do anything with. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of short hairstyles that look great on women, but this just wasn't one of them. Any attempts to take anything off it and make it look better would have left me with a skinhead.

I was too young and shy to say anything to the stylist. I left hoping that it really wasn't as bad as I thought. Sadly my dad's reaction to it confirmed my worst fears. It was full-on, hand-over-mouth, oh-dear-God-what-have-you-done? Alas, there was nothing to be done. I left for university a week later looking like a 45-year-old reformed nun. I felt dowdy and frumpy and certainly not like myself for my first term at university.

A few roots showing is something that can be easily fixed. The Duchess of Cambridge was shown sporting a few wisps of grey recently. Happily, as everyone knows, Kate will be able to fix her hair almost instantaneously. It will just take a couple of hours in the stylist's chair. Jennifer's drastic cut, however, will take months to grow out.

I'm all for a new look, a new style or even a reinvention. It might be something you work up to though. I learnt the hard way that jumping in at the deep end can have drastic consequences – since that fateful haircut my hair has never been cut above my ears.

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