How to Style Short Hair and Elevate Your Look

All Things Hair | 27 March 2017
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Styling short hair can be a challenge, particularly if you’ve got style ADHD. Read on for clever tips and looks to try on your ‘do to keep things interesting.

Don’t get us wrong: We totally adore short hair, but when it comes to styling, it can get rather challenging. When it comes to learning how to style short hair, the process can be harder to commit to, and many women find they run out of styling options quickly. And while many of us feel limited due to the cropped length, there are in fact a myriad of ways to rock short locks—you just have to think a little bit outside the box. (Don’t worry, we’ll show you exactly how.)

“But how will I style it?” You’ve probably asked yourself before styling short hair. Let’s just give you a warning: At least one of these ways to style short hair will inspire your next trip to the salon. Whether you’re side-eyeing the undercut or looking for ways to update a pixie, here’s how to style short hair for women as shown on our favorite looks across the board. Scroll on and feel free to screenshot to your heart’s content:

But First: Inspiration! Short Female Hairstyles We Love

how to style short hair with an undercut
There’s more than one way to sport an edgy undercut! Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

1. Undercut

It seems like you see this look on just about every other street style star you come across these days. You love the look and think it’s super cool, but you’re afraid that this short haircut can only be worn one way. So not true! If you’re considering trying out this undercut on super long hair, opt for a look that allows you do to both—wear your hair up and down. Have your undercut start right at your temples or just at the nape of your head. When you wear your locks down, no one will ever know!

how to style short hair by slicking the sides
Fake an updo with this side-swept look. Photo credit: Suzanne Cohen Photography

2. Ducktailed Crop

If you fancy having your hair fall to the side from time to time, get a length that offers you that option. A curly crop that’s cut near the ear but slightly longer on top can achieve this look. When learning how to do short hair in this style, you can easily switch it up by smoothing your hair down on each side like the popular vintage 1950s ducktail, which seems to be having a moment with the ladies as well. Need help laying down a few cowlicks? Apply some hair gel that will help sculpt your look into place. Our go-to: Nexxus New York Salon Care Exxtra Hold Sculpting Gel

how to style short hair
A wet slick-back hairstyle is all the rage on and off the runway. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

3. Slicked-Back Hair

Want a really firm way to keep your short locks in check? Then you need to try the ultra chic wet-look hair trend, as seen on street style celebrities, designer runways and tons of A-list stars (To get this look at home, check out our step-by-step tutorial). Best achieved on straight/straightened hair in pixie, bob or lob lengths, this look has serious star power and adds instant polish, literally and otherwise, to any outfit.

how to style short hair in a mullet
A chic, modern mullet—who woulda thunk? Photo credit: Dvora

6. Mullet-Inspired Crop

How to do short hairstyles with a strong retro influence (case in point: ’80s hairstyles), and not sure how to gracefully pull them off? Simply ease your way into the look. If you love the mullet, for instance, find the perfect balance. Ask your stylist to cut your hair so you’re able to switch up this style without your longer back section (the tail) becoming too jagged. Keep the layers a bit more subtle as you want everything to blend seamlessly, especially when it’s time to switch things up. Do so by styling your bangs in new ways—slicked-back, swooped to the side or even spiked or slightly curled, as above.

how to style short hair as a lob
A swingy cut leaves you open to many styling options.
how to style short hair with a swingy lob
Parted in the middle, a slightly wavy lob gets a flirty feel. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

7. Versatile Lob

Looking for a short haircut that’s not too short or too long? Don’t bob it, lob it! With certain hairstyles for short hair, the beauty is definitely in the details; most women find more value with a cut that looks great in its own right, but also offers a myriad of styling options should the need arise. If this is your concern, a lob is the perfect look for you. If your lob is just long enough to wear up, you can even pull it up into a bun or ponytail.

how to style short hair with tousled texture
Finger-styling the tops of hair can offer interesting texture. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

8. Tousled Pixie

Messy and undone hair is definitely having a moment, and short hair is no exception to the trend. First ask your stylist for a nape-hugging bob or pixie, with the top lengths long enough to tuck behind your ears, or at least graze your forehead (no short, choppy bangs, please!). Styling is a cinch too: To learn how to do short hairstyles in a sexy, tousled manner, try rubbing a bit of Bed Head by TIGI Stick onto your palms and then raking it through damp hair. Rough-dried with a blowdryer, this wax helps give chunky, texturized movement.

how to style short hair in a short blunt bob
Tuck behind the ears for a cute (and practical) twist. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com
how to style short hair with a side-parted bob
Use your fingers to create a side part for a more relaxed take. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

9. Short Blunt Bob

A blunt bob is another huge microtrend we’ve been seeing on the runways and streets, and the newest way to wear this huge ’90s throwback is super-cropped—we’re talking just-below-the-ear level—and all in one-length. Yep, no bangs, no layers, nada. Most definitely not for the gun-shy, this is a look that’s all about pristine hair texture and a jawline you want to show off. So if you’ve got two out of two, go for it!

how to style short hair in a baby afro
Moisturize with a serum or leave-in conditioner as needed. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

10. TWA

Blessed with natural texture? Then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping it simple via a TWA, or Teeny Weenie Afro. The look gives off effortlessly chic vibes like no other and is also rather easy to maintain. Just make sure to moisturize with a serum for curly hair, like Dove Absolute Curls Supreme Crème Serum, as often as needed, as these hair types tend to be on the drier side. You can also ask your stylist for a baby ‘fro that slightly tapers towards the neckline—which was a popular look on the runways—for a more modern take on short female hairstyles like these.

how to style short hair via a pixie
Slick those front layers back with some hair gel.

11. Slick Pixie

If you’ve got a classic pixie cut, which typically involves shorter hair on the sides and back, then you like a crisp look with a bit of edgy confidence. For a modern, pretty-in-punk variation, go for a slick-back version with the help of some hair gel, like TRESemmé TRES Two Extra Firm Control Gel.

how to style short hair with vintage waves
Evoke some vintagey charm by curling your bob ever so slightly.

 12. Curly Bob

Classically glamorous, this vintage-inspired one-length bob has been very popular on runways and red carpets, and is essentially a look of a blunt cut with a bit of an old-school Hollywood wave thrown in the mid-length. Using a curling wand, first section off your hair down the middle of the parting, and starting at the back, wrap hair around the tong. To open up your features, wrap hair around the curler away from the face. Continue with this method throughout your hair, and lock in that sheen with a shine spray, like Bed Head by TIGI Headrush Shine Hairspray. 

how to style short hair via side shaving
Trim sides regularly to avoid any awkward regrowth.

13. Side-Shave

Definitely not for the faint of heart, the side-shaven undercut is a look that gives a playful (and fierce) peek-a-boo effect. Wear it with the shaved side exposed when you’re feeling daring, and flip the longer lengths over for a more conservative take. Ask your stylist to shave your hair with respect to your natural parting to avoid any stubborn cowlicks. For that extra swag factor, keep strands volumized at the crown with the help of a blowdry spray, such as Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Volumizing Weightless Blow Dry Spray.

how to style short hair in a flippy bob
Use a round brush to help curl those bottom layers upward.

14. Flippy Bob

Another vintage-inspired look that’s all sorts of charming, the flippy bob, or a short haircut with longer bottom layers styled to curl upwards, is also a clever way to showcase a slender jawline and neck area. It’s a subtler take on The Rachel and doesn’t feature as many layers, and can also be worn with or without a piecey fringe.

Next Up: Short Hair Styling Tips

So you finally took the plunge and got that new short haircut you’ve been itching to try. Congratulations! Needless to say, when it comes to styling short hair, there are endless ways to up the ante and get the most out of that fresh, new length. Short hair has the power to instantly change your look, after all.

And although the thought of not looking the way you left the salon on a day-to-day basis can be frightening, it’s time to get acclimated to that new length. Getting adjusted to styling short hair sometimes requires adding more steps to your routine, or you may get lucky and end up omitting a whole bunch of steps altogether, streamlining your process as you go. Whatever the case may be, adjustments will definitely be made for that new hairdo. And whenever the outlook seems bleak or a bad hair day is getting the best of you, just remember: Whether you were looking for a new look or needed a life-changing experience, you took the plunge, chopped your hair off and are now sporting a cool new ‘do. Proud of you!

Read on for some simple ways to style short hair that can help you maintain (and play with!) your new haircut post-chop.

Hair Care Hacks and Routine Tips for Short Female Hairstyles

how to style short hair with a pixie
Get regular trims to maintain the shape of your haircut. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

1. Embrace your natural texture… and pick your products from there.

When it comes to learning how to style short hair, first and foremost is embracing your natural texture. Doing the opposite usually just leads to frustration and in worst cases, may even turn you off that length for good. Working with your natural texture also helps you show off your personal style right off the bat. You can also avoid subjecting your hair to unnecessary heat styling, which is always a good thing. Whether you wear your hair short and sleek or full and voluminous, going with the flow always makes for a self-confident look.

Also get into the habit of using styling products tailored to your hair type. You won’t need as much product anymore, so learn to create an efficient arsenal. If you have a curly texture, that means using products that add definition without the stiffness to natural and curly/kinky strands, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel

By the same token, if you’re into more volumized, blown-out looks, keep an eye out for volumizing products or those that offer bounce, lift and shine, such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Exxpand Plus Volumizing Whip to add a little oomph to a bob.

how to style short hair with volume
A touch of volume gives a short crop a fuller appearance.

2. Pick up a functional, time-saving nightly routine.

Depending on the length of your new haircut, your regular styling process in the mornings could range anywhere from easy-peasy to super-tedious (imagine trying to curl a straight pixie first thing Monday morning—in this case, see #1). Not to say we’re going to fault you for trying though, so if you must go the nine yards, get smart: Take advantage of bedtime downtime. Sleep with comfortable sponge rollers, use Flexi-Rods or pin-curl your hair at night. In the morning, release, tousle your hair and set with some hairspray for long-lasting control. In terms of hair care, you can also treat strands to a weekly mask soak, like Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Replenishing Hair Masqueto ensure hydrated, healthy-looking strands for the coming week.

3. Curate your morning regimen.

That said, it’s also high time to edit your daily glam. When it comes to figuring out how to do short hairstyles quicker in the AM, it’s more a process of unlearning old habits (because no more scraggly, high-maintenance split ends!). Showering with a well-nourishing wash and care system, like Nexxus New York Salon Care Humectress Shampoo and NExxus New York Salon Care Therappe Conditioneris sometimes all we need for the day. In this case, a quick spritz of a heat protectant and a power-dry with a blowdryer is all you need. Sometimes, you might find your hair needs more help, like a leave-in conditioner, serum or a mousse for extra lift—and that’s okay! Just keep in mind your ends are much healthier than they were and might not need all that extra product you used to slather on, so use a lighter touch. Experiment with different combos, and choose an efficient cocktail of products that works best for your day-to-day mornings. Less is more!

4. Get regular trims.

Regular trims are crucial for short hair. Along with making sure your strands are clean, conditioned and moisturized, keeping them freshly groomed is vital to styling short hair. Not only does a hair trim help prevent and get rid of split ends, trims are the best way to keep your cut even and the shape on-point. Opt for getting your trims done by a professional to avoid any mishaps at home. You can ask your stylist to maintain your haircut with a casual dusting of your ends.

how to style short hair with highlights
Get some subtle highlights to give your haircut some dimension.

5. Enhance with color.

Add a twist to short female hairstyles by tweaking your look with a new dye job or subtle highlights. Color can add a layer of dimension to short hair, as well as provide an extra dose of style whenever you’re feeling stuck in a style rut or are suffering from style ADHD. Don’t forget to give your hair the nourishment it needs before and after any color treatments!

6. Play with your part.

Opt for a change in direction. Creating middle, side and deep parts are quick ways to play around with your short ’do, and can change your look entirely without doing all that much. Blow-dry your hair at the roots with a volumizing product and style hair in the direction of your new part.

Switch It Up: How to Do Hairstyles for Short Hair In Different Ways

Styling short hair doesn’t have to be limited, especially when there are tons of styling options. Whether you settle for something straight and spiky, or go with something wavy and romantic, know that there are lots of ways to create your own signature look.

Short hairstyles are all about character, and work well with a bit of personality thrown into the mix. When it comes to different ways to style short hair, consider a side braid or even adding in an extra fringe or set of layers. Read on for a few ways to update your haircut:

Update Your Look in 4 Ways

how to style short hair with layers
Layers bump up the fullness of an ordinary bob.

1. Add layers.

Whether you have a pixie or a lob, adding layers to a short cut can really give it some texture and movement. Getting the look isn’t too difficult, as you can simply ask your stylist to add in long or short layers all throughout. This can give your style some added volume, and can look super chic when worn wavy. To get that windswept wave, use a mousse like Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Curl Defining Soft Touch Curls Mousse for texture before blowdrying and curling. But if you prefer to use a curling iron to get that come-hither wave, use a one-inch sized barrel to carefully create waves all around your head. Finish your look with a hairspray to prevent flyaways.

how to style short hair with bangs
Micro bangs offer a cute and super-trendy upgrade. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

2. Add bangs.

Adding bangs is another ingenious styling option, as the right cut can really help frame your face. Baby bangs, a full fringe and side-swept bangs always make a great look, but it’s always important to ask your stylist which bang suits your face before you actually make the cut. Click on our bang guide for short hair for more inspo.

how to style short hair with a wet look
A little styling gel can help boost up your look! Photo credit: Dvora

3. Wear it wet and sleek.

To help pump up your bobs and undercuts, using a little styling gel can give your hair a runway-ready look in minutes. To achieve, use a gel, like TRESemmé TRES Two Mega Firm Control Gelto help slick your tresses and hold them in place. If you want a look that stands out, work your styling gel into your hair and scrunch together in order to get a polished yet slightly grungy look.

how to style short hair with a braid
A side-twisted braid can help your shorter cut stand out. Photo credit: Dvora

4. Braid it.

When it doubt, add a braid. Braids look darling on shorter lengths, as they can give any cut some romantic edge. A fun option for a really short (read: near-unbraidable) fringe area is a side-twisted braid. Start by parting your hair, and create a small section from the front part of your head, splitting that into two smaller sections. Using a twist action instead of French-braiding, go down your hairline and till you reach your ears, then pin your style into place with some bobby pins. Finish by using Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Anti-Humidity Hairspray to help seal in your look. You can pair your plait with some texturized waves achieved with the help of a salt spray, like Suave Professionals Texturizing Sea Salt Spray. Use your fingers to scrunch the product throughout your hair.

How else are you styling short hair? Read on for more ways to wear that new haircut.

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