Everyone should experience the instant drama of a major haircut at least once in their lives — chopping a bunch of hair may seem inconsequential, but anyone who’s gone for it can testify to just how scary, freeing, and downright exhilarating a big cut can be. Really, the only issue becomes what to actually do with your new hair day-to-day if longer hair is all you’ve ever known. The question of how to style short hair isn’t a cut-and-dry one (pun very intended) but it’s not complicated either.
Short hair is just as versatile as long hair, with endless possibilities on texture, finish, shape, and vibe. Dress your just-chopped hair up with eye-catching accessories, embrace your natural texture, go razor-sharp and sleek, or experiment with accent braids. You’d be surprised at just how many intricate, seriously hairstyles you can do with short hair — just look at how many celebrities and influencers are shearing their own once-long locks to officially join Team Short Hair.
If you’ve just cut your hair and aren’t quite sure where to start, scroll through this quick-start guide with all the best short hair styling tips – including casual and dressed-up options – straight from the industry pros.
The Piece-y Pixie
Add some edge to a fairy-approved cut by tousling a pea-sized amount of texturizer mixed with water and fluffing accordingly. Depending on what sorts of outfits you pair with it, the style can range from Parisienne to punk — and everything in between. “All my short hair friends need a lightweight mousse and a texture paste,” explains pro stylist Kim Pags, owner and creator of Journee Styling Salon in Sola Salons. “Apply the mousse to your hair when it’s damp from roots to ends — this will give your hair body and volume. Style to your preferences and finish the look with a texture paste for added volume and definition.”
There are so many ways you can take a retro flip: sassy Y2K-style, ’60s mod, retro housewife, and totally futuristic. It just depends on what tools you use, an all-important aspect of styling, says Tara Simich, Founder and CEO of Mermade Hair. “Smaller and thinner curling tongs, straighteners and wavers are really important,” she explains. “If you use a large curling tong, you will struggle to get movement, shape, or curl to the hair.”
If you have shorter layers, a complete high-hoisted ponytail might be tricky without tons of hairpins. Outsmart that pitfall by going for the partial pony, an adorable half-up hairstyle that can be adjusted to skew sporty, sweet, and downright sultry.
Pair Of Puffs
Puffs of all sizes number among the cutest hairstyles of all time, but the mini versions yielded by short hair are straight-up swoon-worthy. Keep the rest of your hair slicked down to accentuate the puffs’ texture or leave it lush and natural — no matter how you style them, you’ll score compliments.
The hands-down best part of short hair? The time you save styling, of course. “Short hair is quicker, easier, and usually holds styles far longer, making it the clear MVP of hair lengths,” Simich says. A sultry slicked-back style is super quick to do and can elevate even the simplest outfits.
The J.O.B. (Jaw-Length Bob)
Feel the breeze in an ultra-sharp, extra-chic jaw-length bob. Acting like an arrow pointing out the highest points of your bone structure, it’s a shortcut (see what I did there?) to instant sophistication.
Retro flair has never easier than with some delicate finger waves. A deep side part will only accentuate the style’s intentional asymmetry, adding even more vintage appeal.
Part mullet, part pixie, fully trendy. A mixie cut offers all the hybrid fun of a mullet (famously defined as “business in the front, party in the back”) with the glamour of a pixie. “The best tip I can share for styling short hair is don’t stress on perfection,” Pags urges. “Organic tousled hair is [hot]!”
Classic Beach Waves
Not only are classic beach waves effortlessly glam, they only take a few minutes to style on short hair. Using a 22-inch waver — she recommends Mermade Hair’s The Cutie — Simich says to clamp just once on one-inch sections of hair, starting at eye level. “It's super chic with big undone, effortless energy.”
Why not? It’s chic, it’s fun, and you know the breeze has to feel just incredible. Keep your hair extra-lustrous with plenty of serums, oils, and shine sprays.
Get back to your roots after the big chop with a TWA (teeny-weeny afro). Itself a highly versatile hairstyle, it’s always a great time to let your natural curls have some fun.
’90 Baby Braids
Dress them up with clips and colors or leave them effortlessly undone, but ’90s-era baby braids will always make you look like an extra in 10 Things I Hate About You in the best way.
Think of them like an even-better version of pigtails. Baby buns lend some Y2K energy for a fun, carefree hairstyle that looks more complicated than it actually is to create.
“Don’t be afraid to play with your part,” Simich says. “Flick your hair over to the side when it's feeling dirty, or for a super on-trend look go for wet waves.”
“When I’m looking for a quick casual style, I reach for my hair accessories,” Pags says. “Don’t have time to fully style? Throw on a headband, twist one side and secure it with a trendy clip, or my recent favorite, trendy bandannas. You can wear them in so many ways.” A bright preppy headband, ethereal jeweled barrettes, or soft silk scarf are all hairstyles in their own right with no extra work — perfect for days when you’re limited on time.
Throw it back to the ’90s once again with a wild part that gives way to a spiky updo — just be sure to protect it with a solid heat protectant first. “Heat protection is really important for short hair because unlike long hair where you can chop your split-ends and blend in your breakage, with short hair, you really don’t have much room for breakage,” Simich explains. “You want to regularly drench your hair in a good treatment and ensure good heat protection when styling with hot tools.”