Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Hair, and Some Notes on Growing Out a Pixie Cut

I got a haircut yesterday!


My hair hasn't touched my shoulders since 2007. In the past seven years, I've had long bobs, short bobs, longer-in-front bobs, pixie cuts, and whatever was happening on my head during senior year of college, when I couldn't afford professional haircuts and had to take matters--and scissors--into my own hands.


All this means that I've learned a lot about managing short hair, and I thought I'd discuss some of my recent experiences in this post.

This past January, I got a pixie cut for the first time in almost two years. Enough time had passed since my last one that I'd forgotten something very important: a pixie is not a low-maintenance haircut. If you want to keep that perfect pixie shape, you need to get it touched up every month or two, which I can't afford to do right now. Maintaining a pixie is even harder when you don't have straight hair. My hair is fine and wavy, and on humid days it crosses the border into curly; it's like having a freaking barometer attached to my head. When hair like mine is very short, it doesn't grow straight down. Instead, it grows up and out, forming a forest of little tufts. I can't hop out of bed in the morning with my hair artfully tousled, run a comb through it, and race out the door. I'm more likely to wake up with a fauxhawk that can be conquered only with a full shower. During my pixie months, I gave up on washing my hair at any time of day but the morning, before I left the apartment. The potential for humiliation was just too strong. If I went to the gym in the afternoon and washed my hair afterward, I'd usually have to get it wet again the next morning. It was a monumental pain in the ass.

I got pixied again in March, because I really do love the look, but I decided soon after to grow out my hair into a bob. Here's a timeline from then to now:

Late March: freshly shorn!


By mid-May, it looked like this. Apologies that I have so few photos of my entire head; I wasn't specifically trying to chronicle my hair growth. (This photo was actually intended for my review of theBalm's Nude 'tude palette, though it didn't end up in that post.)


Four months of growth, a few days before my haircut. Yes, I have a depression in the middle of my skull. It's weird. I'd been trimming the back to prevent the encroaching mullet, but had left my hair alone otherwise.


To turn my grown-out pixie into a bob, the stylist cut my hair short in back but left the front and sides relatively untouched (save for a bit of shaping). This forms a bob shape that will become more pronounced as it grows out.


From the front, it looks pretty much the same as before. Alas, I couldn't take a decent head-on photo before the frizz set in. (If anyone knows of an anti-frizz product that won't weigh down fine hair, I'd love to hear about it...)


Finally, a few tips on growing out a pixie cut and maintaining short hair:

1. Go for haircuts as frequently as you normally would--for me, this is every few months. Your hair does need regular trims as it grows out, or it will end up looking shapeless. Maintaining a nice shape is more important than gaining length.

2. If your budget allows, spending a little extra money is worth it. It's a shame how many stylists don't know what to do with short hair, especially short curly hair. Last year, when I still had a longish bob, I went to a place in town for a trim. I asked the woman to take my hair up a little in back, so that it would be longer in front. I showed her pictures. I was very specific. She ignored everything I said and thinned out the back. Instead of making it shorter, she made it flatter. After she was done, she said, "What you were asking me to do was impossible." It was the only haircut that had ever made me cry. These days I go to a place in Brooklyn, recommended by a friend, and spend $70 (plus tip) per haircut. That's more money than I'd like, but I'm always pleased with the result.

3. Without exception, I've had better short cuts from women who have short hair themselves.

4. When my boyfriend still lived in North Carolina, I went to a talented woman at a shockingly affordable (compared to the Northeast) salon in Chapel Hill. After my boyfriend graduated from his program, I went to the salon one last time and asked the stylist how to find a good replacement. She told me to look for someone who could cut hair with a straight razor. Not only does that give a precise cut, it's also a relatively advanced skill that not everyone learns how to do. And lo and behold, my current stylist uses a straight razor, too.

I'll be in and out of airplanes for the next week, but will post when I can. Now to begin the excruciating task of choosing lipsticks for the next month.

9 comments:

  1. The envy: I haz it. I have always wanted a pixie cut, for as long as I can remember. Sadly, I have a long oval face, meaning that a pixie cut would probably look like someone had taken a normal person with a pixie cut and stretched their face down, cartoon style. I am aware that even with my generally straight hair (although the shorter it is the more of a wave it has), maintenance would be far in excess of what I can ever be bothered with, but that doesn't stop me pining for a pixie cut.

    As someone who can officially use her own hair as a scarf, I can say that I have not been to a professional hairdresser (except to have my hair put up for my wedding) in something like 5 years. This has undoubtedly saved me money, but at some point I'm gonna have to do something about the ends...

    Also, it occurs to me that while replying to your comment on my MJ post, I may have been smoking something when I thought that your skin undertone was warmer than mine, because here you have a delightful pink bloom. It just goes to show, I have nearly no idea what I'm talking about :-D

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    1. Pixie cuts are definitely a big commitment! And I can see how, if you'd put all that time into growing your hair, you'd be reluctant to chop it off. I have a friend who'd never had more than a trim until she was 27. Literally no haircuts, ever. Now she can't *quite* sit on her hair anymore, which makes it "short."

      I do find that my face shape is better suited to short hair than it is to long hair. I can't grow my hair much past my shoulders anyway, and long hair just looks sort of...meh on me. I do miss being able to do cool things with my hair, though. No matter how many Pinterest tutorials I see for "braided styles for short hair!!1!," the fact is that you can't do a hell of a lot with short hair. It's the sacrifice you make for shorter showers, I suppose.

      I think part of the skintone confusion is that I don't have a real camera and am totally dependent on the vagaries of natural light, which is warmer or cooler at certain times of day. So far as I can tell, my complexion does lean cool, but I could still be warmer than you! And I think hair color does make a difference. My hair is so much darker than my skin that I feel like I need something equally contrast-y on my face, or else I look a bit washed out.

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  2. I had a cut that wasn't quite a pixie, but close, and like you said, I just couldn't afford to keep it up. The grow out phase was pretty awkward for me. I felt so chic while I had it though!

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    1. The grow-out phase is the worst, and it lasts so long. My hair was a constant nightmare for the last few weeks before my haircut. I *think* I'm over the worst part now, but we shall see...

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  3. Oh noooo, I've been so into my short hair (I cut mine last April, then again a bit shorter earlier this month I think) and I have just been realizing how much maintenance it needs. But I don't mind as much as finding old photos of myself with too-long hair. Ahhh.

    The pixie looks so good on you, though. <3 We should learn how to cut our own hair, probably! I may take a pair of scissors to my locks soon, eep.

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    1. I wish, at the very least, that I had a friend who could cut hair decently! It's so hard to cut your own. It probably doesn't help that I'm using a pair of huge office scissors...

      Your short hair suits you perfectly, but you have great hair in general! It always looks thick and healthy. Mine looks so limp and sad when it gets long.

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    2. True, I would like to make it my mission to look for a friend who can cut hair um, good. Hahaha maybe get smaller scissors, but I get the heebie-jeebies when I think about cutting the back where you can't properly see it! I wish I could fly you here to get a haircut, I whine so much about $20 haircuts because they're really the more expensive prices here. Although I got one for about $7 and it looked atrocious, lol.

      My hair is so thick, it's kind of ridiculous. Every time I go to a salon, they always comment on how thick it is and by the time the cut is done, I'm so surprised at the rug I'm standing on that turns out to be all the hair they've shorn off.

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  4. You have a 'short hair head'! Not a lot of people do. I normally prefer long hair, and I just know that I would never in a million years look good with a short do, but you wear it well. I can see why it's a pain to grow out though. Me trying to grow out my Cleopatra bangs is nothing against growing out a pixie cut, I'm sure.

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    1. Thanks! I do prefer how I look with short hair; it's always felt natural with my face shape and the size and layout of my facial features. I've even had nightmares about my hair growing uncontrollably. I think I'm going to stick with a bob for the foreseeable future, though...

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