The Dos and Don’ts of the Chop

Taking inspiration from the clean lines of the ’60s and the mixed textures of the ’90s, today’s fashion is all about modern structure with edgy details. Think black leather hot pants with a red, plaid flannel tied around the waist. Picture a fitted, long sleeved crop top paired with a matching high-waisted skirt in a bright hue. So chic, so glamorous. And there’s nothing that screams high fashion more than a freshly cut shoulder-grazing bob or a cropped pixie to finish the look.

Out with the long, uniformly curled waves and in with sleek, straight tresses. Out with long bangs perfectly curled out and around the face and in with an eyebrow-gazing blunt fringe. Out with the trying-way-too-hard extensions that hang to the hips and in with embracing what you were born with. For those of you taking cues from ladies like Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé by trading in your signature look, get ready for a lot of preparation and planning.

Making a transition as big as cutting your hair off is one that requires a lot of thought and research beforehand, no matter how excited you may be. From my experience behind the chair, the women who end up the happiest with their new look are the ladies who’ve taken the time to figure out exactly what they want and can talk openly with their hairdresser about it. So to help you ask the right questions before you update your look, making sure you feel gorgeous both before and after, I’m giving you my total list of what to do and what not to do when making the cut.

Do: Create a Pinterest Board

We all know the magic of Pinterest and I’m sure we’ve all used it to pore through photos. But I’m still surprised when someone comes in for a big change and they don’t have any photos to truly show me what they want, so I had to add this! Because there are so many ways to cut your hair short (blunt bob, piece-y pixie, longer in the front, layers), it’s important to know exactly what you want. Do you like hair left longer around your ears because you hate how they stick out? Or are you self conscious about your forehead and need to keep some length in the fringe area? It’s certainly okay to not know everything when you take a seat in your hairdresser’s chair. After all, that’s why you have a professional to consult! But poring over photos and taking notes on what you like and don’t like will make for a very successful chat with your hairdresser when deciding how to wear your hair short. And it will ensure that you end up with a haircut that you absolutely love and feel totally comfortable in.

Don’t: Place Boundaries On Your Search

I hear certain phrases from clients that I just hate. “I have a round face so I know I can’t go short” and “My hair is too fine, so I can’t have layers” are common statements in my salon. But what I hate more than these phrases is that because of false information, these women are wearing hairstyles they don’t love just because someone once told them they didn’t have options. And it’s simply not true!

If you don’t believe me, look at Ginnifer Goodwin, who has rocked a pixie and a bob with confidence for years, regardless of having a more round face. And Cameron Diaz, who has some of the finest hair in Hollywood but can still rock a longer, layered cut. If your hairdresser is a pro, she’ll know exactly what to do in working with your hair type. And if the answer truly is that you can’t do a certain style with your hair, she’ll tell you. But most likely, there is a way to make it work! The problem only comes if you never bring it to her because then you might not know. So be prepared with any ideas that you just love (regardless of what you’ve thought in the past) and let your hairdresser help you find the best solution!

Do: Learn Your Hair Type and Texture

You can narrow down your search, however, by knowing exactly what your hair type and texture is. Do you have coarse strands with a medium density? Or fine strands that are quite sparse? Do you have natural ringlet curls or just a loose wave? While you should still bring all of your ideas to your hairstylist, considering these things with a little common sense can give you an appropriate idea of what to expect. If you have natural curl and all of the photos you are drawn to are short pixies, worn longer through the front and mostly straight, then you know you’ll have to spend a bit of extra time styling. Or you’ll want to ask your hairdresser if it’s possible to wear it curly and have her show you how to style it. If you have really thick, coarse hair and want to go into a bob, you’ll want to talk with your hairdresser about how she could remove some of the bulk, leaving you with less of a helmet around your head and more of a sleek, tailored look.

Don’t: Completely Listen To The Advice Of Friends

My theory on this is that opinions are wonderful. I certainly ask my fiance what he prefers for my color and haircut and knowing his take on it helps me to narrow down ideas. And of course, girlfriends and sisters all have ideas about what to do as well. But it’s so important that the ultimate decision on what you want comes down to only you. I believe that your hair is your best accessory and only when you love the look you have are you able to sufficiently wear your hair. I’m talking confidence. I’m talking walking tall with pride. At the end of the day, if you love how you look you will ooze confidence. And I know that my guy is attracted to that more than the color of my highlights. So ask around and get advice, but be able to make your own decision when the time comes.

Do: Consider Your Lifestyle & Budget

Doing the chop takes way more maintenance than anyone tells you. In fact, they tell you the opposite. And yes, in the sense that everyone assumes, short hair is way easier: no more hour-long blowouts, less product and less time washing in the shower. But what you will need is a completely different product, to style every single day because if you don’t, it will show and you’ll need a trim every 4-6 weeks. And if you are like most of my clients who are debating going short, I can imagine you are used to being able to throw your locks up into a ponytail on lazy days and to wait anywhere from 6-12 weeks in between trims. But no more of that if you decide to go for the short cut! An overgrown pixie is pretty unflattering and trying to style your hair with the same products you have been using in your longer style won’t give it the texture or look you’re going for. Don’t let this discourage you from actually deciding to go for it, but I’d caution you to be realistic with your decision and know what you’ll need to commit to!

Don’t: Make a Hasty Decision

I have never told a client I won’t cut her hair short. Even when I had a woman in my chair the day after her father passed away asking me to cut off over a foot of hair, the same hair her father absolutely adored on her. I asked a lot of questions and after a long consultation, I went for it. And she loved it so much, she’s kept her hair short since. So I’m definitely not afraid of helping you make a big change, but I do want to make sure you are comfortable with your decision. If you are someone who views hair as “just hair” that grows back, you probably need less time to consider such a change. But if you have never had short hair and are unsure about it, then I would advise you to take some time and become sure before you do it. The amount of that time is completely up to you, though, so if you are ready to commit to the chop, then just say the word confidently.

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