Even the most talented hairdresser is not a magician. Hair grows slowly, on average something like half an inch a month, so as a general rule, anytime a person goes for a change in style involving cutting or chemically altering the structure of (permanently coloring, perming or chemically straightening) the hair, he or she will have to live with that change as long as it takes for the hair to grow out. True, some procedures may be "reversible" (for example, a change in hair color), but this can involve spending time and money on further chemical treatments that can damage the hair, especially if not done by a skilled professional or if the hair has been chemically treated multiple times, and it may be difficult to get the result to look exactly as before. The only way for a hairdresser to "restore" length is to add hair extensions, which involves attaching a foreign object to one's own hair and brings with it problems of its own. Even a completely reversible new hairstyle, such as an elaborate updo, will likely involve a significant amount of styling and product; consequently, undoing it — and perhaps subsequently trying out a different one — may also take a bit of work.
But for some reason, this rule does not seem to apply to our character's visit to the hairdresser's. In a rapid sequence and likely through what seems suspiciously like sleight-of-hand, a series of hairstyles will emerge on his or her head that seem to alternate between longer and shorter lengths and will certainly show changes that in the real world cannot be achieved through simple use of a comb. No magic will be involvednote ; the various styles will all be achieved through the hairdresser's art, as if the hair itself were made of Plasticine. In the end, the character may even end up with the same style as he or she started with, because Status Quo Is God.
This trope is generally played for laughs and tends to be confined to animation or other non-live-action media. Typically, it will be a gag that gives viewers the chance to see how a main character would look with a series of different hairstyles. Compare Costume-Test Montage, Magic Plastic Surgery, Makeover Montage, and Rapid Hair Growth. May overlap with any number of the following: Anime Hair, Hair Reboot, or Improbable Hairstyle.
- In this early 1990s McDonald's commercial, Ronald McDonald sees a hair salon and gets the idea that perhaps he could use a new hairstyle. Inside, Birdie tries out a variety of disparate looks on him: a ducktail with big sideburns, a Mohawk, an afro, a pageboy, and a box cut, before returning him to his regular style. Justified in that this is, well, clown hair, although at the end we see that Grimace, the Hamburglar, and the rest of the gang have gotten the same style!
- This commercial from the 1990s for the Braun Style 'N Go styling tool takes this trope Up to Eleven.
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World: When Ms. Jenkins helps Pocahontas prepare for the ball, she tries multiple, radically different hairstyles for the Native-American girl.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: During the song "This Is Our Big Night", Pinkie Pie tries out a few improbable hairstyles in front of the mirror, including one shaped like a swan and another sporting a miniature ship on top. Flattening her hairdo, however, just result in it poofing back to its usual curls.
- The Princess Diaries 2 includes a scene where Paolo, the royal hairdresser, is tasked with doing Mia's hair for her wedding. The looks he tries out on her can be seen here. We never find out what was, or was not, meant by the last look he tries out on her (for which the bald Paolo used his own portrait as a model), for before it is revealed, the movie cuts to the next scene. At any rate, Mia comes to her wedding with a normal-looking hairstyle.
- A throwaway example occurs in the 1984 British picture book Sammy Streetsinger, written and illustrated by Charles Keeping, about a one-man band busker who is prompted to leave his humble station in life and seek fame and fortune. At the beginning, he is shown with unkempt, almost-shoulder-length hair. On becoming a rock star, which is stated to be soon after leaving the circus, he is shown for the first time performing "with his hair ironed and frizzed up"; in the illustration he has typical long 80s rocker hair that it is difficult to imagine him growing in time for his first gig. However, ensuing pictures show Sammy with a more believable spiky shag. By the end of the book, when he returns to being a humble busker, his hair looks the same as at the beginning. It seems that the author wanted to enforce an Expository Hairstyle Change through an acceptable break from reality.
- Nickelodeon Clickamajigs: In "Bad Haircut", a boy goes to the barber and gets a series of these improbable haircuts with each click, including a rainbow clown Afro, a Mohawk, and one that is literally just a bunch of hair patches and cuts. Quitting the game ends the sequence with the boy finally getting a haircut he likes... until he walks out, and we see the back of his head reads "Kick Me".
- Grand Theft Auto V: A new feature compared to previous games is that the 3 protagonists can visit barber shops to get a new haircut. It doesn't matter what previous hair style they have; everything is possible. Even going from being practically bald to having a full head of hair.
- Looney Tunes: In the short "Rabbit of Seville", the gags performed by Bugs Bunny on Elmer Fudd in an on-stage barbershop during what should have been a performance of the opera "The Barber of Seville" include making a salad on his head and later putting "Hair Restorer" on his face, causing a beard to grow which Bugs immediately shaves off. Then Bugs puts "Hair Tonic" and "Figaro Fertilizer" on Elmer's bald head. Something immediately starts growing, but it turns out to be flowers instead of hair.
- Rocko's Modern Life: In "Hair Licked", Heffer tries to give Rocko a haircut, and fails miserably. He then takes Rocko to Chuck and Leon Chameleon's hair salon; through an intense wash, dry and brush-off, they manage to repair the damage. Then, solely through the use of combs, they try out hairstyles on Rocko as disparate as a beehive, a box cut, and a "flip", finally settling on a hairstyle oddly resembling Heffer's. Remember that Rocko is a wallaby, who should have short fur all over his head and body. On the other hand, stranger things have happened on this intensely gag-based cartoon.
- The Simpsons: In "Lisa the Beauty Queen", Lisa gets a makeover on entering a beauty pageant. The beautician (whose implements include such things as a welding torch) tries out a variety of completely unrelated styles on her (see the image above); ultimately, Lisa leaves the salon with a wavier version of her regular style.
- The Smurfs: In "Smurfette's Golden Tresses", Smurfette comes into Barber Smurf's shop asking for a new hairdo. Barber tries out a series of largely anachronistic improbable hairstyles on her ( big 80s hair, two very thick braids, multiple spiky tails, and cornrows), but Smurfette doesn't like any of them and leaves with her hair loose as usual. At the beginning of the sequence, Barber was vaguely shown cutting a layer or bangs into her hair but this is not visible afterward.
- The Devil and Daniel Mouse: In this short Halloween-horror-themed film, Jan, the girl mouse who signs her soul over to the devil in exchange for becoming a successful pop star, is a redhead with a typical late 1970s-style curly hairdo. At one point during her period of peak fame, she is shown giving an interview sporting an altogether different look, platinum blonde and heavily styled. In the very next scene, however, her hair looks exactly as before (while another character holds a magazine with her picture from the interview on the cover). It's possible that she was wearing a wig or that, this being a cartoon with a metaphysical theme, magical shapeshifting was involved, but this is never explained.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot: In one episode, Jenny is trying to make herself look nice so she can befriend the resident Alpha Bitches. She gets a Makeover Montage, where she can adjust where her parts go to make them seem more fashionable. In one part, she practices adjusting her hair to magazine pictures that Tucker is showing her and he accidentally shows her a picture of an upside-down high heel, which she hesitantly morphs her hair into. Tucker is embarrassed when he realizes his mistake.
- The Jetsons, Jane wants a new look in one episode. Because this is the Jetsons, a machine comes down over her head and gives her several different hairstyles in a matter of seconds. Because Status Quo Is God, she chooses the exact same hairstyle she usually has.