How to Tell If You'd Look Good in Short Hair

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Is a Short Haircut Right for You?

Jaimie Alexander. Getty Images: Taylor Hill & Jim Spellman

When you are used to long hair, it can be difficult to go short. If you're thinking of doing a big chop, you're probably wondering if it will look good on you. The great news is that almost every woman can wear short hair. The secret is finding the right cut that fits your face and body shape, hair texture, and personality.

We'll help you figure out the best short hairstyle for you. You'll see pictures of gorgeous short hairstyles on women of all ages, including bobs, edgy cuts, shags, and pixies.

Are Your Ready to Go Short?

Going short is not an easy decision. There are a few things to take into consideration if you're ready thinking about making the switch:

  • Your personality will play a big role in pulling off short hair. Do you love the idea of yourself with short hair? Does it feel "like you" at this point in your life? Go with your gut on this one, not other people's advice. If you end up hating your haircut, it's just hair and it grows back.
  • Short hair can be high maintenance. Unless your hair grows super slow, you will need to keep it up with regular trimming. Typically, short hair should be trimmed every four to six weeks if you want to maintain your style.
  • Your face shape and hair texture matter. Not all face shapes and hair textures work with certain short haircuts.
  • If you are over 55, thinking of a change, and want to go from frumpy to cool, our advice is to head to a trendy salon. Hairstyles have nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. You can wear the same cut as your daughter but you may want to give your outfits, glasses, and even your makeup a makeover as well.
  • Choosing the right hair product is the key to keeping your hairstyle from going frizzy or flat. Mousse builds body while pomades and dry shampoos add texture. To fight the frizz, consider leave-in conditioners and anything containing silicone. If it's beachy waves you're after, there's nothing better than salt spray.

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Consider Your Face Shape

Rose Byrne. Getty: Mireya Acierto and Michael Tran

Unless you have a perfect oval face, some short hairstyles will be more flattering on you than others. The goal is to create the illusion of an oval face and it's possible on any face shape.

For a long face, you want to add width, not height, with your hair. A chin-length bob or a shag cut that hits at the chin or between the chin and shoulders are great options. Wearing this a bit mussy or wavy adds width. You will want to avoid a pompadour or spiky hair, both of which add height. Pixies may not be as flattering as you like, either.

For a round face, short haircuts an inch or two below the chin tend to look best. You want to elongate your face and keeping your hair a bit longer draws the eye downward. You might want to avoid the classic bob, which can be helmet-like on a round face. A better bet is the long bob, which is longer and therefore more flattering.

For a heart-shaped or oval face, the pixie haircuts are a great choice. You can also get away with almost any bob you like.

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Your Hair Texture Matters

Your hair texture is as important as your face shape when it comes to choosing the perfect short haircut. Wavy hair looks great in a bob, for instance, and, if you have long, straight hair right now, a shorter cut can actually add a lot of body.

There are six basic hair textures: fine, straight, wavy, coarse, curly, and frizzy. With each one comes a slew of rules such as "curly hair doesn't look great short" and "fine hair doesn't look great long."

There's no reason you can't break the rules, however. For example, you can wear your curly hair short if you have layers cut in or some of the volume removed. 

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Thick, Wavy Hair Consdierations

Audrey Tautou. Getty Images

Typically, very thick, wavy hair can be challenging when worn short because it can easily turn frizzy or look a bit too big. However, with plenty of layers and texture, along with the help of styling products, this haircut can be absolutely gorgeous.

If you have thick hair, show it off! Consider a longer, face-framing pixie or go with a longer bob and let those waves do their thing.

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Curly Hair Considerations

Julia Garner and MyAnna Buring. Getty Images: Gregg DeGuire and David M. Benett

Curly hair is also tricky at any length shorter than the shoulders because it can pouf up on you. Some stylists swear curly hair should be cut no shorter than two inches below the chin, but there are some gorgeous short styles on curly-haired women.

The secret is to get the right haircut. While it's a myth that you must find a hairstylist that specializes in curly hair, you should seek out a someone who knows how to cut curls.

To reduce the pouf, short, curly hair requires layering. Also, since curly hair shortens drastically when it dries, many stylists prefer to dry cut curly hair so they can see exactly where the curl falls.

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Consider Your Shoulders, Jaw, and Neck

Model Jourdan Dunn. Mike Marsland for Getty

If you're blessed with great shoulders, a nice jawline, and a long neck, a short haircut will be flattering on you. If you have a short neck, a double chin, or wide shoulders, you're better off with a hairstyle that falls at least an inch below your chin. The long bob trend hits right at this point, so it's a perfect choice.

When you get your hair cut, point out your best features to your stylist and don't be afraid to mention the ones you'd like to play down or camouflage. For example, if you believe your forehead is a little large, ask for blunt or side-swept bangs.

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Your Personality Matters

Pink the singer and actress Evan Rachel Wood. Getty Images

Your haircut is a reflection of your personality. A short cut can work on women of all personality types, it's just a matter of finding the right style for you.

If you're sporty and casual, a shag or long bob may be your best bet. Both air-dry well and require less time with a dryer and a brush.

If you're a career woman or hoping to land a new job, an angled bob can be stunning. They're both sophisticated and easy to care for, perfect for a driven woman on the go.

Funky, edgy women can get away with a faux mohawk or another edgy haircut. These are both cool and unique and can take on many variations, from the pompadour and quiff to fun, super modern versions of the pixie with shaved sides and long, sweeping bangs.

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Consider the Maintenance

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Margaux Brooks' Instagram

Short hair tends to be higher maintenance than shoulder-length or long hair because you need to get it cut more frequently. They're actually the hardest cuts to maintain, which is something to consider when planning your next hairstyle.

Short hair requires trims every six weeks or so. Also, you'll likely need to use styling products to keep your style in check and you may have to invest in a flat-iron to keep waves at bay.

Some shorter styles are higher maintenance than others. Anything with bangs is going to require frequent trims. A long bob with no bangs or side-swept bangs will grow out beautifully and won't require a trip to the salon as often. 

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Bangs or No Bangs

Eva Padberg. Getty: Mathis Wienand & Target Presse Agentur

There's a lot to love about bangs. They can really refresh a style, show off your favorite features, or hide those you want to downplay.

Bangs also come in many different styles. A fringe cut can frame your face and give a long bob more dimension. Blunt bangs can look ultra modern and hip, and side-swept bangs can be classy, sexy, and add great volume.

What Bangs Can Do

Consider getting bangs if you are interested in any of these:

  • Hiding a high forehead. Bangs are great for covering up a hairline that starts farther back on the head.
  • Taking a few years off your face. Bangs are youthful and help make you look years younger.
  • Bringing attention to your eyes. Bangs add extra framing to your face and draw people straight to your beautiful eyes.
  • Adding volume. Bangs can help add volume to flat, lifeless hair.
  • Freshening up your look. Bangs are an easy way to change up a haircut that you love but have had for years. You can always grow them out if they don't work out as well as you had hoped.

Maintenance

Keep in mind that bangs require maintenance. They must be trimmed every few weeks, though you can get away with doing it yourself most of the time. You also want to make sure to blow dry them correctly so they look modern and you avoid the "bubble bang" look.

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Preview the Look Before You Cut

Tyra Banks. Left, Getty Images by Michael Buckner; right, Tyra Banks Instagram from The Cut Life Instagram

Do you want a preview of what you would look like with short hair before you head to the salon? There are simple low- and hi-tech ways to see just how short you can go.

The Sharpie Test

Allure's Linda Wells offers a great tip in "Confessions of a Beauty Editor":

  1. Take a picture of yourself in front of a dark or light background, depending on your hair color. If you're blonde, choose a dark background. Brunettes should choose a light background.
  2. Print the photo out. It doesn't have to be high-quality; a quick print on your inkjet will do just fine.
  3. Take a Sharpie (or any marker) and "cut off" your hair to see how you'd look if you went shorter. It's best to start off longer, then gradually go up so you don't waste photo.

There's an App for That

If you want something a little more exact and hi-tech, there are apps available that allow you to play with different haircuts and styles. One of the best is L'Oreal's Style My Hair. It's quite fun and a great way to explore a new look with absolutely no commitment.

In this app, you can upload your own photo or choose a model who shares features similar to yours. From there, you can choose various cuts in different lengths and explore a variety of popular styles. You can even filter it to explore only the cuts recommended for your face shape and experiment with different hair colors.

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The Many Styles of the Pixie

Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johannsen, Anne Hathaway. Getty Images

Pulling off a pixie haircut is an art. You may cut all your hair off and find that you need to change your wardrobe, rethink your makeup, or carry yourself a bit differently. If you don't, you run the risk of looking frumpy or too boyish. Confidence comes with the pixie.

The Pros of the Pixie

The pixie can be edgy or classy, depending on how you wear it. Pixies frame the face beautifully, showing off and highlighting your best features.

You'll be glad to know that, aside from having to get your hair trimmed every four to six weeks, pixies are low-maintenance. You can wash this hairstyle, add some pomade for texture, and go.

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Pixies and Body Shape

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Stella Tennant. Kirstin Sinclair for Getty

Pixie haircuts that hug the skull look great on some women, but they don't look great on everyone. It tends to work best on women with long, elegant necks.

Petite, thin women also look great in this cut and tall, thin women can pull it off as well. If you are tall and have a boyish figure, you could look like a pinhead with a pixie cut.

If you're full-figured and have a small skull, the pixie might not be right for you, either. You'll want more body up top to balance out your body below the neck.

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Pixies and Face Shape

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Charlize Theron. Jason Merritt for Getty

The pixie works best on women with heart-shaped, square, and oval faces. The cut can be short and sleek with a classic pixie or longer with some shagginess for a more modern look.

Pixies are a good cut for women with round faces, too. You may want to keep your bangs long and style them forward or up to create the illusion of length.

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Fine-Haired Pixies

Actress Liza Weil. Getty: Paul Archuleta, John Lamparski, Jim Spellman

Pixies can work with fine, straight hair with the right cut. It can be challenging, though, because the hair falls close to the scalp and can look a bit like a helmet. To avoid that, you will want a haircut that adds volume and need to use products to add body.

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Thick-Haired Pixies

Nicole Ari Parker. Alberto E. Rodriguez

Thick hair does not have to restrict you from a super-short pixie. It's actually a great way to cut back on a lot of the maintenance that comes with the thickness.

Your stylist can take your hair down to just a few inches, cutting in plenty of layers, and even adding some highlights to show off waves. When it comes to styling, a quick touch of your favorite product is really all you need.

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Boy Cut Pixies

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London Fashion Week. Ian Gavan for Getty Images

For the right woman, a pixie that's shaped more in a "boy cut" can be a fabulous choice. It's a look that can make you look young and playful. This cut also works great with thick hair and lots of waves.

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Platinum Pixies

Salmannsa, Amber Rose, Eva Marcille. Getty Images: Leon Bennett, Maury Phillips

It takes guts to get a super-short, edgy haircut, but the results can be very, very cool—and even sophisticated. Sometimes it's also about going with a bold color, like platinum blonde or jet black. Whether you're seeking a cut that's sexy or funky or sweet, there are many cuts available to you.

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Funky Cuts

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Scarlett Johannson. Getty: Jon Kopaloff and Frederick M. Brown

Who can wear this look? Anyone with guts, really. It is more about attitude than your face shape, according to stylist Matt Fugate on the Glo website.

This cut works best on coarse, thick hair. Fine hair will just fall flat without the help of a ton of styling product. Choose a stylist who is adept at funky hairstyles. He should know to follow the shape of your head rather than just your face shape when cutting a short, edgy style.

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Anyone Can Do a Bob

Nieves Alvarez. Pascal Le Segretain for Getty

For short haircuts, there is the pixie and the bob. If you're not sure if you can pull off the pixie, the bob is the way to go. It's a great length and cut that works on any woman, no matter your face or body shape, hair texture or color, age or personality...there's a bob for everyone.

Bobs tend to fall somewhere between the chin and shoulders. It gives you some length to play with, but the maintenance is much lower than long hair and it doesn't require the constant trim of the pixie. It's a perfect balance of everything and can be cut and styled to fit your personality and lifestyle.

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The Classic Bob on Older Women

Linda Fargo bob hairstyle
Linda Fargo bob hairstyle. Cindy Ord for Getty

Contrary to what you may have read or been taught over the years, there is no beauty rule to age and hair length. The minute you turn 40 or 50 or 65, you absolutely do not need to get your hair cut above your chin. You can be 100-years-old and look great with hair below your shoulders, as long as your hair is in good shape.

The Classic Bob

The classic bob is a great look for older women and it can be worn long or at the regular bob length. It screams sophistication, confidence, and is absolutely gorgeous.

This bob does tend to work best on women with naturally straight hair, though wavy hair looks great in a long bob as well. Depending on your hair, you may have to blow dry it straight or use a flat iron. Nonetheless, you will never look unkempt with a sleek bob.

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The Long Bob

Sienna Miller, Brooklyn Decker, Michelle Williams. Getty Images

The choppy long bob (aka the "demi-bob") is a timeless and very popular hairstyle. According to Vogue magazine, the demi-bob cut should fall anywhere between the mid-neck and the shoulders. The best part is that it flatters every face shape and it looks great on women of all ages.

As for hair texture, the long bob is great for women with hair that falls flat when it's grown longer. Flat, lifeless hair is something you might battle as you age, but a bob can counteract that. The secret to voluminous hair lies in a good cut and great styling.

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The Mussy, Shaggy Long Bob

Alexa Chung. Getty

The mussy, shaggy long bob is everywhere and it flatters all face shapes. Unlike the choppy bob, which requires a curling iron and styling sprays, the shaggy bob is all about the air dry. To get that mussy look, you'll want to use a salt spray or texturizing spray and scrunch your hair as it dries.

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The Super Smooth Straight Bob

Eden Sassoon. Allen Berezovsky for Getty

The bob is very versatile and can work with any face shape. It's often best to aim for a haircut that gives you the illusion of having an oval face. If you have a round face, for instance, you'll want to elongate it with something like a smooth, straight bob. 

With a square face, you would want to soften the jawline. For a long face, you would want to make your face appear wider. Both of these can be done with a little wave or curl and plenty of layers in your bob.

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The Curly Bob

Bobs do not have to be straight or shaggy. It looks fabulous with soft curls and waves, which is perfect if either is your natural hair texture. Plus, going with bob-length hair adds a little more weight, so you can avoid the poufiness that often comes with short curls.

A trendy way to wear a bob is to curl it with a large barrel curling iron. Simply wind 2-inch sections of hair around the barrel. Let the curl go without touching it.

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The Lop-Sided Bob

Bobs don't have to be symmetrical, either. If you part your hair off to one side, you can play that up by having your stylist leave one side just a little longer than the other. It's amazing with a side sweep and can really frame your face.

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The Bob With Bangs

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Coco Rocha's sleek sophisticated bob. Getty Images

Adding bangs to your bob is a great option. You can go with sleek, blunt bangs that fall just above your brows or opt for a little longer fringe that has some length on the sides. Bangs work for bobs of all lengths and styles and, if you don't like them, they won't take as long to grow out with a shorter haircut.