The Benefits of Super-Short Hair

  • Dana Blair

    Dana is an on-air host and correspondent and the founder of I Have Never Been That Girl. She lives in Brooklyn.

    1. How long have you had short hair and what made you take the plunge?

    I did a "big chop" in college, but my hair was about three inches long and I immediately put in braid extensions. I never really lived in my super short/bald crop until February of 2012. I was in Bahia (Brazil) for Carnival, coming out of a bad break up -- typical, I know -- when I woke up one morning, looked at my close gal pal who was with me and told her that my hair needed to GO! At the time it was relaxed and styled in a Meg Ryan-esque pixie. My friend, who speaks Portuguese fluently, helped me tell a barber what I wanted. It kind of freaked him out because Brazilian women do not typically come into a barbershop and ask to have all of their hair cut off.

    2. Before you did it, were there any emotional hurdles you had to jump?

    I must say, I did not REALLY think the decision through. I just went for it. Once I get an idea in my head, it eats at me until I do it! The next morning was really hard. I was used to waking up and recognizing who I saw in the mirror. But this time I saw someone else looking at me. I did not know her. I started to cry. I hated the way I looked. I quickly got myself together because I did not want my friend to know how upset I was.

    When I got back stateside, I went to a barber who cut the rest of the chemicals and straight ends off. That is when I went SUPER short. Once back at my apartment, I cried again. I hated the way I looked and I hated looking at my features -- my eyes, my nose -- everything was horrible. But I forced myself to deal with it. It took some time, but now I can't picture myself any other way.
  • 3. How do you feel about it today?

    I LOVE my look. Every now and then I want to change it up, but I find the product aisle and hair gizmos overwhelming. I used to have every appliance, attachment and tool known to man in my bathroom. If there was a hair product out, I had tried it. Now the only thing I have is a brush that I bought out of a bin at the drugstore. No hot tools here. I've never had more bathroom storage space.

    4. What's your hair's type and texture? How much time did you put into it before it was short?

    My hair is very thick and it grows super fast. I have tight curls that are looser near my hairline. I used to spend hours at the salon. Hair maintenance was my religion. Color, cut, what to do with it at night, vacation care, etc. It was a serious relationship!
  • 5. Tell me everything about your current care and styling routine.

    I cut my hair once a week. About three months ago, I started doing it myself with Wahl hair clippers. Every now and again I put a hair design or part on my buzz cut. I will go to a barber for that. It costs about $5 vs. the $75+ that I would spend every two to three weeks pre-chop. From time to time I play with hair color as well. This usually involves me going to the drugstore and grabbing a box of Feria. If the color does not come out the way I like, I wait a day or so and then just buzz it off. No commitment!

    I also make sure to take extra special care of my scalp and the peach fuzz that I have up there. I use a clarifying shampoo and condition about three times a week. It feels amazing and keeps my pores clear. I am not too picky about products. I use anything that smells amazing and will allow me to imagine that I'm at an exotic spa. I often just use samples or products given to me in gift bags from events.

    In the winter, it's important to keep my scalp moisturized. The weather is so drying. Plus, winter hats can be rough on hair. I use coconut oil to keep my scalp well moisturized. In the summer, sunscreen is a MUST!
  • Shriya Samavai

    Shriya is a Merchandiser at Supreme and a freelance photographer living in Manhattan.

    1. How long have you had short hair and what made you take the plunge?

    I've had hair this short for a little over a year now. I used to have hair down to my waist and it required a lot of maintenance. My hairspiration folder was filled with shorter cuts. I figured it was time to chop my hair off! My style is pretty tomboyish too, so I wanted to try out a more masculine haircut.

    2. Before you did it, were there any emotional hurdles you had to jump?

    Definitely. When you have long hair it can be really hard to part with. I was attached to it and I hid behind it a little too much. I ended up donating it which felt really nice. There were a few days in the beginning when I missed it. I felt so bare! But now I love having short hair. I like how it makes my neck and my face look. And it's less work in the morning, which means I can sleep more.
  • 3. How do you feel about it today?

    If anything, I want it even shorter than it currently is! I'd eventually like to buzz it. Right now I see myself keeping it short for awhile. Each time I get my hair cut, it ends up a little bit shorter than the last and I like how that feels. I know it'll come back if I want it to.

    4. What's your hair's type and texture? How much time did you put into it before it was short?

    It's pretty thick and straight. I have it thinned out when I get it cut. When it was long I was spending probably 15 to 20 minutes every morning trying to figure out what to do with it. It would get frizzy and wavy so I'd either have to put in a lot of product or I would straighten it. During the day it always felt like it was in the way; I never wanted it down but I didn't like how it looked when it was up.

    When I cut it off I felt so much lighter! Now I spend five or so minutes in the morning styling it. The only thing is I have to get it cut more regularly. I go every six weeks or so. Before I probably went three or four years without going to a hair salon.
  • 5. Tell me everything about your current care and styling routine.

    I wash my hair about every other day. Sometimes I can go three or four days before it really needs a wash. I use Aveeno shampoo and Dove conditioner but I'm hoping to move to all-natural products soon. Some mornings I just get it wet and don't put any shampoo or conditioner in it. My hair tends to poof out when it dries, so in order to keep it down, I use three main products: Garnier Fructise Pixie Play Crafting Cream, Tresemmé Extra Hold Hair Gel and Tresemmé Extra Hold HairSpray. A combo of the three keeps everything somewhat together but still looking a little messy.
  • Catherine Young

    Catherine is a Social Media Manager at Cushnie et Ochs living in Manhattan.

    1. How long have you had short hair and what made you take the plunge?

    Since June of last year! It not-so-accidentally coincided with Ruby Rose joining the cast of OITNB. I’d always hated having longer hair and fought for my super fine and wispy strands to have any semblance of texture or body. One night my friend and I tried pinning it all up to make sure I wouldn’t be mistaken for a little boy (which happened the last time I had a pixie cut) and the next day I got the chop! It ended up being a huge relief. For the first time ever, I had no post-haircut meltdown! Since then I’ve tried every variation, from pixie to shaved at the sides to long on top, and am now working towards a super short bob so I have something to play with.

    2. Before you did it, were there any emotional hurdles you had to jump?

    Not really, which was surprising. I had a gut feeling that it was the right move and was so tired of always wanting it to look like something it never would! I had a little anxiety when I sat down in the chair, so I brought my best friend with me. But once my hairdresser started snipping there was no going back.
  • 3. How do you feel about it today? 

    I still love it! The best thing about it is having one hairstyle and not having to make any decisions about it before work. Now that I’ve bleached it, the texture is so much better and I only need to wash it once or twice a week. The only downside is that beanies are no longer an option unless I want to immediately look like my dad.

    4. What's your hair's type and texture? How much time did you put into it before it was short?

    Before bleaching it, my hair was very fine and soft but there was a lot of it. It’s always been pretty straight. It was almost impossible to curl and volume was always a challenge. I tried everything from hot rollers to curling it while it air dried in bizarre little ropes a la Little House on the Prairie. But now I just have to spend a little more time on it twice a week and then I’m set for days!
  • 5. Tell me everything about your current care and styling routine.

    I went from being a dark brunette hair-dye virgin to white blonde, so my routine evolved from simple to the most complex very quickly!

    Right now, I wash my hair twice a week at most with Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo or Khiel's Damage Repairing Shampoo. Since there’s a good chunk of time between washes and bleached hair is really delicate, I make sure to gently but thoroughly get rid of all the hairspray and dry shampoo before starting fresh.

    Purple conditioner is the holy grail for any shade of pale hair, since it counteracts any yellow or brassy tones that tap water likes to drop in. I like Goldwell since the purple isn’t so intense that it’ll dye your hair or dry it out (ahem, Shimmer Lights). It’s best used as a mask (I apply it heavily to dry hair, throw on a shower cap and chill for a few hours) rather than a traditional conditioner. I also use It's a 10 Miracle Hair Mask in place of conditioner in the shower and as a mask on its own so my hair doesn’t dry out and break.

    For styling, I use a golfball-sized amount of Nexxus mousse and let my hair air dry almost completely before blowing it out with a round brush for volume at the root. I’m still trying to find a hairspray I can’t live without, since most are too stiff and my hair does not detangle easily anymore! I love the smell of this Moroccanoil hairspray, but the hold is a little intense for my taste. For dry shampoo I use Clean Freak a day or two after washing or whenever I want a little more volume.

    On an average Sunday afternoon when I do the whole process, I'll wash it well, wait for it to air dry, apply the purple mask, watch a couple movies, wash it again, deep condition, rinse, air dry again, then blow-dry it till I look like Einstein. Other than that I just leave it be, luckily it holds its shape no matter how I sleep on it!
  • Christine Alcalay

    Christine is a Brooklyn-based designer of her namesake line and the owner of Kiwi, a women's boutique and Fig, a men's boutique in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

    1. How long have you had short hair and what made you take the plunge?

    I cut my hair off my junior year of college. I was studying in Paris when, over Christmas break while everyone else was traveling, I hopped into a salon and asked them to chop it. There is something truly life-changing about living in a country where you have no money and don't speak the language. It gave me the opportunity to look at myself in a way that was stripped of all expectations and stereotypes and made me feel like I had nothing to lose. I no longer wanted to hide.

    2. Before you did it, were there any emotional hurdles you had to jump?

    I've done many things with my hair including bleaching, highlighting, dying and perming. All of these processes resulted in a look that really had nothing to do with who I was. I always felt as though I was was trying to be someone else. My hair has always felt like an adornment of sorts and the more I had, the more I felt as if it was weighing me down. It wasn't hard for me to cut my hair, I had no emotional attachment to it because it always grows back. After I cut my hair, the comments from people I knew and strangers were the most astonishing. They varied from "You look great" to "Don't worry, it'll grow back." Mind you, I never asked for anyone's opinion.

    The main adjustment for me was how much more maintenance short hair was. With my longer hair, I just pulled it back and swept my bangs to the side. With short hair, if I slept the wrong way, it would stick up and make my mornings challenging. It also took me some time to get used to the way my head felt when I ran my hands through my hair, but that lasted for about 48 hours.
  • 3. How do you feel about it today?

    I'm always changing so my hair tends to follow that same trend. I go through cycles and have grown my hair through all of the phases between a pixie and longer bob. It's really exciting to create different looks when you are able to find the right people to cut your hair. I've had so many different versions of super short to longer cuts. I'm not sure what the future holds for my hair, but it'll be inspired by my life and what's happening in my design process because I'm a designer. It will just evolve with me.

    4. What's your hair's type and texture? How much time did you put into it before it was short?

    I have very thick, coarse Asian hair. I've never spent much time on it. When I had longer hair I would experiment with different styles, but it was pretty minimal for the most part.
  • 5. Tell me everything about your current care and styling routine.

    I don't blow dry my hair because it creates too much volume and I don't use product daily because it weighs my already heavy hair down. So I'm pretty low-maintenance in terms of hair products and day-to-day styling. My actual cuts are higher maintenance. I have two amazing hairstylists that I work with: Thea from Janet Waddell and Kelsey from Spoke and Weal. I rely on a great cut with no product. If I can't wash and let it dry naturally, then the haircut needs to be tweaked.

    That said, I will occasionally play with Bumble & Bumble's Surf Spray or Coltrane Clay from Triumph & Disaster for added texture and soft hold. As my hair gets longer -- if I don't have time for a cut -- I'll sometimes wear a beanie to flatten it out before adding product for texture. When this technique doesn't work, it's time for a haircut. I typically cut my hair every 10 to 14 weeks depending on which stage of short hair I'm in.
Haley Nahman | December 19, 2016

It might make you want to take the plunge…

Not to generalize women but (here I go) I think all of us secretly want to chop our hair off. Maybe forever, maybe for a day, but certainly long enough to know and appreciate the ease of a quick shower. I’m consistently frustrated by the amount of hair on my head and resent that the only utility it provides is one better served by a scarf. And yet I never just cut it the fuck off. My irrational fear of going short is the very fuel that powers my obsession with women who do it.

Like, for instance, the four women above. I talked to them to find out how and why they decided to do it. What it’s like? Do they love it? What products do they use? How long does it take to style?! So many Qs, so many As. Click through above to read them all!

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.
  • Amazing post!!
    I love short hair. Since I was 12, I came through cycles: grow my hair long, chop it into a pixie (something like Christine’s in this slideshow), then let it grow again for 2-3 years (like to a bra-strap length) until I’m tired of it.

    But I think that I’m done with that, I came to the point when I can admire beautiful short-haired ladies without wanting to chop my hair myself. My hair has MAJOR cowlicks, AND it grows coarser and coarser with the years. Thus, for me, long hair is LESS work every morning than short hair (it’s kinda between straight and wavy so it has a nice fluffy natural volume when it’s long, but when it’s short it just goes in random directions in a NON-harmonious and NOT-cute fashion).

    I’m just sharing my experience: short hair may be HARDER to style if you have big cowlicks and don’t like how they look, and if your hair is of rather anarchist obedience.
    So, as much as I love short hair, I don’t think I’m chopping mine again any soon 🙂

    • Mika M R

      I feel you. I have the very same story.

    • I always had short hair when I was a kid and it was naturally pin straight. I literally looked like Dora the Explorer. Then it started waving when I was 12 and kind of got a mind of its own. So I either need a buzz cut or long hair so it has length to calm itself down (aka not turn into a pyramid). I don’t like my face enough to get a buzz cut, but I admire women that do.

  • I’ve wanted to cut my hair like Frankie from The Saturdays for the longest time but have never had the guts. Maybe now I will go for it! Inspiring women x

    http://www.wonkylauren.com

  • Abby

    I’ve had short hair almost my entire life and I mean SHORT, not just chin length. I buzz it myself once a month and otherwise leave it alone. I love it.

  • Hilary

    YAAAY! So happy to see this & read these stories! I feel like I rarely see short haircuts in fashion overall lately – long hair seems so very much IN – so it’s fantastic to see this article. 🙂

    I’ve been a short hair woman for a pretty long time now. I tried to grow it out for the past year, until finally coming to the realization that I just didn’t feel like *me* with longer hair. So without hesitation I chopped it all off again two weeks ago. I breathed a sigh of relief. I’m myself again.

    • Charlotte

      Exactly – short hair is not really considered in fashion. When I see it in a magazine, it almost always comes with a ‘borrowed from the boys’ or ‘androgynous’ line. I think a lot of women would feel a lot more comfortable if we would try to not define short hair cuts as masculine.

      I also have a very similar experience. I had a pixie cut similar to Shriya and while I loved it on myself (and made me feel more myself) I felt like I had to defend my choice to other people. I tried to grow it long (not because of others, because it just grew like crazy and going to the hair dresser every 3 weeks became to expensive as a student), but it just doesn’t feel like ‘me’! – just like you say!

      I now ended up with a bob. But I am looking forward to that feeling you describe: the sigh of relief! Happy to hear you chopped it again!

      • Charlotte

        * too

  • Fran

    I wore my hair in a cut like Shriya’s through most of the 1990s. It started while I was in the hospital on bedrest while pregnant and couldn’t wash my hair. My hairstylist came in and chopped it off for me and I loved it. It was easy to wash, air-dry and go every morning while raising my special needs son on my own. While he was in elementary and middle school, he wore his long (he was the only boy in middle school with a braid — his is too puffy to wear in a ponytail), and I wore mine short. It looked great on me, and was super-practical, but there was no variety there.

    Then there were illnesses and lifestyle changes, my hair stopped being so oily that I had to wash it daily and it developed a bit of texture/waviness instead of being stick-straight, and I tried growing it out. Chopped it again to go through breast cancer treatment, then grew it out again, currently keeping it tailbone length, silver streaks and all. I have various braids, buns and ponytails that I can style in five minutes in the morning. Wash + deep condition once a week, refresh with a cleansing conditioner halfway through the week; either blow-dry with one set of products for straight + silky, or air-dry with another set for a messy waves look. It’s kind of become my signature look, but, when I get about half gray, I told my hairdresser we should go for an edgy silver pixie. It can be too much work to keep the gray hairs from going all frizzy. My main problem is that I like it either super-long (past my waist) or super-short, so the growing-out phase lasts several years.

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I’ve had short hair most of my life. I think because of that reason I’ve never been over attached to my hair. I am currently in the process of growing it out. I could have grown it our years ago and but I kept chopping it off whenever I would get to that awkward grow out phase.

  • Riley W

    I’ve been super interested in cutting all my butt-lengthed hair off for a while. But I am SO scared. My face is round and I’m worried I’ll come out of it looking eh

  • cicillionaire

    I love this. I have super short hair, maybe a quarter of an inch at the longest? It looks like it is all one length but it’s not. I cut it every 2 weeks and I do it myself. I was going to the salon but that’s ridiculous. It takes 20 minutes and you can learn how to do it with the clippers on YouTube. I had long hair before and Dana Blair is right, especially for black women, hair maintenance is a religion. Moisturizing, maintaining, color, straighten, deep condition, edges, wrapping at night, taking a break with protective styles… the list goes on and on. I had bleached/lightened my hair myself and was growing it out and it was great, but I just had to keep doing more and more to get it to look how I wanted. I wanted to start over. I finally cut it and I was very mellow about it for some reason. My stylist was like, “Um, don’t you realize that this is a big deal?” But here’s the thing, it’s not. It’s hair. It’s a big deal because WE MAKE IT a big deal. If it’s not a big deal to me, it’s not a big deal. The only big deal was how much my time I had now that I wasn’t doing HAIR all of the time. It’s amazing. My life is so easy. The other thing I’ve realized is that men fall into very distinct categories. They either love it/don’t really care either way OR they hate it. But whatever, I love it and that’s what matters. And I get way more love than hate, people cross the room to tell me how much they love my almost non-existent hair. I laugh at hair products now. I use this curling cream that cost $4 at Target and whatever shampoo is around and smells good. I condition in the winter but only when I feel like it. I will say this, I am more conscious of my look now. My clothing speaks a lot louder now that it doesn’t compete with hair.

  • Ashley Flores

    The thought of cutting off my hair more than a trim gives me anxiety. I have tried shorter looks before and get frustrated trying to style it or put it in a ponytail without 5 million clips. These women are inspiring and all look so beautiful with their short hair.

  • PlaidandPrejudice

    Love this! This is the second year in a row that I shaved my head for my Halloween costume, and I love it! I have never had so many compliments on my hair until I shaved it off. I save so much time and money too.

  • navneet dudhagara
  • Lisa

    i’ve had short hair since high school–over thirty years now–it is super short–buzzed on the sides and just a smidge of hair on top. i get it cut at great clips every three weeks–the money saved! i’ve grown my hair out only twice since chopping it off–once we went on a family vacation and my daughters forgot a hair brush and asked me for one–haha–nope. short hair is my best defining personality trait as well–once, my sister’s friend asked me why i had such short hair and i told her–because being a woman and choosing to have hair that is not considered ‘feminine’ is a big fuck you to the world. that i can and will do what makes me happy, and not be defined by what the world or men think a woman should be or look like.

  • LadyLeo

    Love!!

  • Shevaun

    I shaved my head all the way down to a #1 (I think that’s a 1/4 inch?) and it was amazing. I had been wanting to do it for a year, but put it off because of where I was living/working (conservative towns/conservative jobs). Last summer I was still a grad student, so about 10 months away from graduation, and it is so humid in Toronto (I’m from BC; not accustomed to the heat here), and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. So I bought some clippers off amazon, and shaved it all off.

    It was amazing. It made me appreciate my facial features more. It made me feel like a different person. I didn’t have bad hair days! I’m growing it out now, and really am looking forward to having hair again, but it was so cool to shave it. I recommend.