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Home: The Toast

You might as well get one, as there are very few other options.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 8.59.04 AMSeven years ago, after losing a job in a spectacularly messy way, I walked into a salon and asked for a punk, French, pixie haircut, dyed both black and the most shocking pink possible.

When the stylist was finished, I looked in the mirror and recognized myself for the first time.  It was, singularly, the best thing I ever did for the way I feel about my reflection on a daily basis.

This many years in, I can’t even tell you how many comments I get about how “brave” I am to have very short hair in a very bright color; how other women would love to cut their hair that way, but they just couldn’t pull it off, or their face is the “wrong” shape for short hair.

Those comments make me sad, because here’s the thing: You don’t have to look like anyone else to pull off short hair. You just have to be you, be okay with scissors, and enjoy the glorious sensation of a bare neck.

I went from having ass-length brown hair to that pixie cut. I understand the fear and consternation that goes into a big chop, as it were.  It’s normal to be scared of making a big change—but for those of us who desperately want to cut their hairs, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1) It’s easiest to start with the non-committal nature of wigs. Try on a couple in the length you are interested in. Try on at least one that is actually pixie length, just to see how it looks. Take a picture of yourself, sleep on it.

2) It may be wise to avoid talking about your decision on social media—you will inevitably get someone who doesn’t understand the concept of bodily autonomy, and will try to make you feel bad for daring to cut your hair. Surround yourself instead with pictures of beautiful, sassy, short hair. Fantasize about taking two minutes to wash it. Dream of the day when you will no longer get your hair caught on earrings. Bliss.

3) Go to a good salon (Yelp is very helpful for this). You will probably not get happy results from Supercuts—you want a salon where your stylist will be able to take time and give you useful recommendations, in addition to listening to what you want and what you are afraid of. For those of us who are financially strapped, give a beauty school a try—they are a very good and often overlooked resource, and you’ll be giving valuable training to someone who needs it for school.

My preference at this point is to get my hair cut by a stylist who *also* has or has had very short hair. They won’t talk me out of shaving the nape of my neck, and will cut my hair as short as I want, and do a very, very good job with it.  Also, bring in reference photos. My current stylist has given me six cuts at this point, and I still bring in photos for her sake and mine.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.00.42 AM4) Expect a couple of shitty haircuts. Short hair emphasizes the quality of the cut you received…good and bad. Prepare for said shitty haircuts with a few headbands and scarves on hand.

(Oh, God—I haaaaated this haircut (I think it was pretty! – Ed.) And naturally, it happened right before my ten year class reunion. It was just so…limp. Ick.)

5) Depending on your growth cycle, you will find that your hair looks quite different from week to week. Mine is two weeks of AWESOME! and one to two weeks of Oh, That’s a Thing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.01.42 AM6) Product is your friend. I use a spray wax by KMS, which gives incredible texture, dry shampoo, and a hair powder by Got2Be which, frankly, is my most favorite thing ever for my hair—it provides volume and hold without ever looking or feeling crunchy (My hair in this photo hung out all day just like that because of the hair powder. It’s like having a perpetual party on your head).

7) Fiddle with the styling. I often don’t like the styling I initially get in the salon, but after mucking about with it at home, I’m quite happy with the results. Try parting it further up the crown, or back towards your neck. How does the look change with your cowlicks and your hair’s natural tendencies? Part it on the left or right. Which looks better? Which stays in place throughout the day?

I usually start off with my hair parting forwards from quite far on the back of my crown. As it grows, that part scooches up to the middle, leaving me with nice volume in the back of my hair, instead of WTF happening up front. It also allows my bangs to maintain their shape without being burdened by that extra weight.

My current cut process goes as follows:

1) I get my hair cut about four times a year (for reasons of economics and hair health, since everything pink is bleached, and that way, the bleach only goes on new growth). I touch up the pink on my hair myself about once a month.

2) The first six weeks after the initial cut just involve parting my hair differently as it grows, everything else stays the same.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.02.15 AM3) Eight weeks in, the hair on the nape of my neck is usually long enough to start bugging me. I begin twisting that hair up into bobby pins. I will also pull pieces of my bangs back in bobby pins at this point, and pouf them into flattering configurations.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.02.57 AM4) Three months after the cut, I start using a curling iron to give volume to my hair, since its length is now weighing it down. I will often employ small rubber bands to create the tiniest set of pigtails ever.

5) I blissfully chop it all off again.

Take a deep breath. You are brave enough, and your face is the perfect shape for whatever it is you want to do with your hair. If you don’t like it, it is OKAY. Your hair will grow again, and who knows—maybe in the process, you’ll find a length and style that you absolutely adore.

Go on, girl. Give that cut you’ve been dying to try a chance.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.03.48 AM

(The author apologizes for the number of selfies that appear in this article.)


Picture credits: 

(1) Stacy Joy Photography

(2) Author

(3) Author

(4) Author

(5) Author

(6) Higher Vision Photography

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R. Rea is a mostly-employed MFA seeker, who lives in Los Angeles for the love of it. She has a husband, a corgi, and has read all of the books.

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