A beautiful short hairstyle can say a million different things — it can say confident and sexy, or smart and chic, or laid back and playful. No matter what it is you’re going for, a short hairstyle can be seriously stunning if it’s done right. Which is why I spoke with four stylists on how to find the best short style for you and what you need to know. See what they have to say along with a little celebrity style inspiration along the way.
“This cut works for a wide rage of face shapes,” explains Zak Mascolo, creative director of TONI&GUY. “It is one of the most versatile cuts with lots of layers to frame and flatter most face shapes.” Nexxus celebrity stylist Lona Vigi also explains that any hair-type can pull off a shag. “It looks great on thick hair and thin, curly hair and straight. It adds volume, and you can decrease where needed.”
However, Devin Toth, celebrity hair stylist with Salon SCK points out that this style completely opens up the face and brings attention to the jaw bone. So if you’re trying to hide or minimize your jaw bone, this isn’t the cut for you. But if you’re ok with this attention, a shag is such a playful, fun style. To get the texture and shine Meg Ryan has in the photo, use a little sea salt spray and rough-up the ends with your fingers.
If you’re looking to achieve a flawless choppy lob, it’s all about communication with the stylist before diving into the cut. “It can be worn by mostly any face shape because you can vary the length of the layers or the bottom length that’s right for each client and still achieve the choppy look,” explains celebrity stylist Vigi. She suggests bringing in a picture and discussing with your stylist based on the texture and face shape you’re working with before fully committing to the cut.
Celebrity stylist Toth explains that choppy lobs are great for women with heart-shaped faces because it can add balance with a pointier chin. It is important to note that this cut can be pretty high maintenance, requiring more salon visits “in order to prevent their cool choppy ends from becoming shapeless split end,” Toth claims. But if that doesn’t bother you, this cut can be a perfect entryway to short hairstyles. “A woman who is flirting with going short but doesn’t want to fully commit — this cut gives you an elegant shape,” explains KMS California Global Style Council member Simon Miller.
Shoulder length and sleek
This super-elegant cut is perfect for women with round faces because the straight, sleekness will help elongate the face. Those who already have long narrow face-shapes should probably steer clear of this one. “It’s a strong chic style that is perfect for women who want to have a more professional persona,” Toth explains. “For example, this cut is perfect for someone got a promotion and wants to show that they are stepping up their game.” Of course, if you want to keep it sleek, you have to maintain its polished finish. And if you don’t have naturally straight hair, this maintenance will take a substantial amount of time.
A textured bob
This casual, carefree look, as Vigi explains it, works best for women with round, oval, square and heart-shaped faces. “The cut typically comes down to about an inch under the chin and is ideal for someone who wants to balance their slightly wide or round face shape,” Toth further explains. Texture-wise, thicker hair is better to work with for this look. The more hair, the more dimension that can be created with the layers. Add a little undone volume, add Nexxus Exxpand Volumizing Whip and run your fingers through.
“The ends of your hair with a sleek bob act as an arrow pointing at the jaw, so this cut works well on a heart shape face,” explains LA stylist Miller. Keeping the length right at your chin requires regular cuts. Similar to the maintenance a sleek lob needs, that is similar to a blunt bob.
Celeb stylist Toth emphasizes that if you’re going blunt bob, commit to it. “Commit to the statement haircut all the way. It should be short and precise,” he claims. “There’s nothing worse than a kind-of-sleek, whatever bob.” If you’re going to sport this haircut, you’re making a statement. So be 100 percent ready to make that commitment. As you can see on Kylie Jenner, not a hair out of place. And it’s stunning.
This fun, abnormal cut is a great option for women with long or oval-shaped faces, but not ideal for round faces. “The shorter side of the bob can sometimes make a round face look even wider.” Explains Toth. This style is perfect for a woman who is looking for a statement cut, but wants to keep a it more playful than a sleek, blunt bob. “I think the asymmetry in a bob provides the same amount of appeal and drama as a deep side part does for a red carpet event and can actually add a very feminine touch to the style,” says celeb stylist Toth. Blowdry the ends curled under just slightly like Rosamund Pike’s to frame the face and emphasis the different lengths on each side.
Do you have the style and personality to rock a pixie a la Michelle Williams? “I think of a confident woman who has an edgy yet touchable hairstyle,” says celeb stylist Toth. And this side-swept style shapes the face beautifully, extending the cheekbones. And an accessory like a headband allows you to pump up strands at the crown, adding some volume while maintaining its chicness. Simply tease with a comb and spray with light-hold hairspray. After all, you want it to maintain its touchability.
Chin-length bob with bangs
“Bangs are a great addition to a bob when you have a long face shape,” explains celeb stylist Toth. “They will literally shorten your face.” stylist Miller notes that if you’ve never had bangs before, it takes some time to for your hair to adjust and get used to the style. So don’t get frustrated if your hair doesn’t immediately look as flawless as Katie Holmes. Also, do not put product in your bangs. “They will absorb the natural oils from your face throughout the day,” explains Miller. So if you need, dry shampoo would be the only product to use on them. Even then, use sparingly.
Lob with side-swept bangs
“If you’re going to do bangs with a lob, side-swept bangs work the best,” explains Miller. He also explains that an oblong face shape is best for this style. When styling this cut yourself, Toth recommends keeping it natural and minimal. This means, stick to rough-drying without a brush and only a little, tiny amount of hairspray if needed to keep them in place.
To really nail this edgy, undercut, razed style, hair color is actually more important that the face shape. “When the color of the pompadour is similar to the color of your skin tone, the hair becomes a visual extension of your face and actually elongates it — which can be very flattering,” stylist Toth explains. “When the color of the pompadour is completely different from the color of your skin tone, the hair style looks like it was just plopped on top of your head and appears kind of silly instead of chic.” Also, the close cut will show any roots that grow out immediately. So you’ll want to stay on top of your color. This cool look also is the hardest to grow out. So if you’re looking to make this dramatic change, just make note of the work that goes in to making it as flawless as Scarlett Johansson’s.
This type of pixie has started to make a comeback since your school pictures from the 90’s. It has an undercut on the sides that’s then overlapped by long hair that then falls into blunt bangs as stylist Toth explains it. “This hairstyle is great for a petit or long face shape and can be styled many different ways,” he continues. “It’s looks most dramatic when it is just smooth and flat ironed.” Exactly like Rihanna’s here. Although this style may not be for everyone, when it works, it works.
“Oval faces with strong features are best suited for a pixie cut,” explains Mascolo, creative director of TONI&GUY — and all the other stylists I spoke to agreed. According to Mascolo, the women who chose to go with this style “are a little more daring with their style.” Multiple stylists also note that just because it’s less hair, doesn’t mean it’s less work. “It may seem more low- maintenance than a long or mid-length hair cut,” says Mascolo. “But it still requires work to make it look exactly the way you want it.” And Toth tells clients “while they might be spending less time styling their hair, they will probably end up spending a smidge more time on their makeup because a pixie brings out all your facial features.” With this type of Kaley Cuoco style, wax and/or pomade are your best friends. Just make sure rub into the palm of your hands to loosen up before styling to avoid crunchy strands.
Choppy, baby bangs
There are all types of bangs you can wear with short hairstyles. A great option is baby bangs. “Baby bangs bring a lot of edge to any style,” Senior Stylist at Antonio Prieto Salon Brenna Fletcher told me. She points out that they work best for those with longer face shapes, especially when you’re looking to highlight your eyes and brows.
Blunt, baby bangs
Once again, baby bangs prove a gorgeous style on short hair. Ones like these worn by Mara Rooney are incredibly easy to style. Fletcher recommends a BB crème such as Pantene Pro-V Ultimate 10 BB Crème Beauty Balm for Hair. “It will give your baby bangs a smooth pliable finish,” she explains. Also, like most bangs, it’s important to keep up with the cut and get them trimmed every week or two to keep them looking fresh and sleek.
This is a great style for almost any face shape or hair type. “Keeping soft and long swoop bangs will flatter rounder or more youthful face shapes,” Fletcher tells me. To keep it playful, she recommends working in a texture spray like IGK Beach Club Texture Spray. Instead of spraying it directly into hair, spray the air above and around the hair and let it fall. Then shake your hands through to give it movement. With such little hair, this will keep product from building up and becoming sticky.
Part buzzed pixie
“This will bring instant edge to any look,” says Fletcher. She further explains that if you’re daring enough, it’s incredibly versatile and easy to style. For a messy look, turn to a texture spray. For a smoother more sleek look, use an oil like the Kerastase Elixie Ultime Nourishing Hair Oil. Although it is easy to style, you do have to keep up regular hair cuts to maintain the clean, desired style.
Speaking of edge, this Rihanna-inspired style is seriously fun look with a bit of business in the front, party in the back. “If you’re looking for a bad ass cut that doesn’t take itself too seriously, a fashion mullet is for you,” says Fletcher. To keep it looking undone and carefree, use a styler like Bhave Flex Styling Paste. Fletcher recommends to simply work it through the mid-length and ends and let it air-dry. This will give it an effortless, lived-in look.
“This works best for someone who is daring and risk-taking,” Toth tells me. “Especially if there is some rainbow color added to them.” However, before you dive in, it’s important to know that it’s an incredibly high- maintenance cut. Toth explains that the lines need to be created at least once a week or else they’ll grow out. “In other words it’s a very dramatic look that will either grow out or need upkeep within a week.”
This extremely bold style isn’t for the meek or hesitant. Cara Delevingne recently completely shaved her head and totally rocked it. “This works best for someone who isn’t afraid, period,” Toth emphasized. “This hairstyle is for someone who doesn’t need hair to feel feminine or confident. For those thrill-seekers who are willing to give this a go, he stresses that it takes a lot of time and effort to do it right. Also, if you’re thinking you’ll grow it out, just know it’ll take time and patience.