WITH the sweltering heat of summer upon us, it is all change on the hair front. Long hair may help to keep you warm in winter but short back and sides is standard issue for summer. Untamed and unstructured locks are hitting salon floors as feathered cuts and close crops emerge. Most popular is the short feathered cut. The gamine cut is subtle with plenty of wisps, dressed up with fake eyelashes. Mousse is used to lift the hair from the crown and the look requires light make-up, rosy cheeks and pale skin. Styles not only celebrate comfort and practicality but also youth. The managing director of Il Colpo in the Grand Hyatt, Sam Liu, ''In the past there has always been a tradition that people cut their hair very, very short in the summer months in Hongkong. ''If customers want their hair cut for the summer we will give them a street fashion style, which looks like something out of the 1970s. ''We leave it a bit longer but give it a soft curl. Before we may have permed it, but people in the 1990s take greater care over the texture of their hair. ''At the moment we are not really perming hair, we are doing this modern 1970s cut,'' Mr Liu said. ''There is no more gel or hairspray being used on short hair. It looks natural. The difference is that Oriental people are putting colour into the hair for the first time. ''We are using a light brown tint and some mahogany as well as red. ''In Hongkong most people cut their hair once a month but in the summer they tend to go that bit shorter. Hair is much easier to handle if it is short in this sort of weather.'' Greg Conrad from the artistic team at Le Salon Orient said this summer was proving a bumper year for the short crop. ''Fashion has returned to the shortish, gamine styles,'' he said. ''It's a reflection of the 1970s, but it is also to get rid of all this hair. ''I would say 90 per cent of my clients are cutting their hair off, they are just sick of it. It is no longer 'let's take one inch off, or two inches' or 'let's have a bob'. They want it more simple, more textured, moving and a lot softer than those heavy, classic shapes. ''The 1970s revival will last until the end of summer and it is nice to get away from all that stiffness. It is sexy to have short hair, it can still be soft and feminine and impish looking,'' Mr Conrad said. ''The Chinese are probably doing it more than Westerners, they like to have a soft body wave along with it, to make the hair move so that it is not straight and spiky. ''The cut has soft edges, it is not boyish, it is not hard, it is still cut to the shape of the face. It has a short wispy fringe.'' He said the cut did not involve shaving up the back of the neck or creating sideburns but added there were many versions of the style, even longer ones. ''It is good for hairdressers because we haven't had much chance to be very creative recently,'' he said. ''We now have the chance to make the client look a little more interesting over the seasons.'' It's a close call for men's styles as well with a few daring to go as far as the ''two and one''. Short back and sides styles are numbered zero to four and reflect the heads put on to the barber's electric shavers. Number one is the shortest at one eighth of an inch and number four is approximately half an inch. A combination of numbers for front and sides is the norm. ''At this time of the year men generally have their hair cut shorter than normal. It is very much a tradition in Hongkong,'' said Lynne Chapman, manager of the Mandarin Barber Shop. ''A two and one is a very short cut, a crew cut even, and you won't see many people walking around the streets with a cut like that except the squaddies in Stanley. What we see in the barber's shop is that men have it cut short on the top because it is more comfortable in the summer,'' she said.