Forget about the Karlie kut. This past month, celebrities having been saying “f*ck it,” and committing to full-on, short, above-the-ears haircuts. Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Lawrence, and even that poster girl of bombshell hair, Pamela Anderson, all chopped off their hair. And who can forget that incredible five minutes when Beyoncé had a pixie cut? Not me!
There’s something about short hair that makes everyone want to weigh in. I’ve had really short hair for a while now, and what I hear over and over again — and have seen repeated in comment sections all over the web — is: “It’s so cute on you/Anne Hathaway but I could never pull off hair that short!”
Celebrity hair stylist Sascha Breuer, aka the guy who styled Anne Hathaway’s hair at the Met Gala, is calling BS on you. You definitely can go short, but you need to do some research and planning beforehand.
“My rule of thumb is if you can scrape your hair back into a tight ponytail, you can consider anything, even very, very short,” Breuer said. “If you look better with wisps around the face and a softer ponytail, then you have to tailor the haircut perfectly to your face shape.”
Face shape matters when it comes to short hair; one cut definitely doesn’t fit all. According to Breuer, if you have a heart-shaped face, you can do pretty much anything. If you have a long face or a bigger forehead, you need something with less volume–it should be softer and more swept over the face (see J.Law’s hair here). If you have a round face, then it’s better to have more volume on top with a slightly longer length. (Here’s an incredibly helpful face shape guide in case you don’t know how to classify your own mug.)
Arguably, though, communication with your hair stylist is the most important factor. Breuer has some tips on how to proceed before you commit to the shears:
• Don’t walk in and say, “I want a pixie cut.” In general, pixie refers to the shortest, tightest cut, even though we use it to refer to any short haircut these days. It’s always best to bring in lots of pictures so your hair stylist can see exactly what you think you want.
• Make a separate appointment for a consultation, which should be free of charge, before you make the final appointment.
• Consider going for a second opinion. A new stylist can possibly open your eyes to an alternative that you never thought about. Breuer said that if you’re craving a new texture or length, sometimes highlights or a different color can give you the illusion of texture without having to cut your hair too short.
• Don’t schedule the cut on a Friday evening or Saturday, which tend to be a salon’s busiest times. You don’t want your stylist to be rushed.
• Don’t do it after you break up with a boyfriend. According to Breuer, this still happens a lot. “Get a glass of champagne and do some damage on your credit card, which you then can return,” he said. “If I cut your hair off, I’m not sure how you’re going to feel on Monday.”
• And my favorite tip: “Don’t do it when you’re hammered,” Breuer said. “I’d treat it with the same respect as a tattoo.” After all, it will take you 18 to 20 months to grow it back out to a shoulder length bob. Not exactly permanent, but it is a commitment.
If you decide to chop, be ready to throw away all your favorite products and start fresh. According to Breuer, you’ll be saying goodbye to dry shampoos, serums (unless you bleach or have dry hair), volumizing mousse and beach spray. Your new go-tos should include a good clay-based texturizer and hair spray.
Think you might be ready to go short? Breuer also suggests having your stylist give you a temporary faux short style (see: Claire Danes here) so you can get a sense of how it will look. Or there are always those virtual makeover apps, which allow you to “try-on” celebrity hair styles. InStyle has a great one, though there aren’t a ton of short styles to choose from.
Just for fun I went to ModiFace, which is the company that supplies the technology a lot of virtual makeover sites use, to see how some famously long-tressed celebs would look with short hair. Obviously there are limitations to the technology so the results are, um, a little less than optimal. But just for fun, click through to see how Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Kardashian and more might look with other celebs’ short hair styles. If they do ever choose to go short, here’s hoping they follow the above rules first.