For the two-plus decades that I sported long hair, I always assumed that length made my mane more versatile. It only took two weeks with a freshly chopped bob to understand that exactly the opposite is true. In addition to having far more styling options than I could have anticipated, the major difference was that it also required so much less effort. Gone were my unwieldy, dry strands, which took such a significant amount of time and effort to tame that I usually just relied on a messy bun or ponytail to get me through the workweek.
Now I know that it really is about quality over quantity. Think about it this way: Even if you have less hair to work with, it's so manageable and healthy that you want to work with it. To prove it, we consulted hair professionals Nate Rosenkranz and Ryan Richman, who shared some of their favorite short haircuts, plus a few expert-approved styling tips.
Ahead, check out 30 of the most gorgeous ways to style short hair.
Meet the Expert
- Nate Rosenkranz is a celebrity hairstylist based in New York City. His clients include Julia Stiles, Hailey Bieber, and Jessica Wynn, among others.
- Ryan Richman is a celebrity hairstylist who works out of Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York City. His clients include Lili Reinhart, Sarah Hyland, and Sadie Sink, among others.
Bobs are classic, but this version worn by Kaia Gerber is also effortlessly cool. Rosenkranz instructs:
- "To get Kaia’s look, start by applying a smoothing serum then blow-dry your hair with a round brush like the Wet Brush Break-Free Volume & Body Round Brush ($15). You want to get your hair smooth, but don’t stress too much on getting it perfectly straight."
- "Once dry, take medium-size sections and use a flat iron or curling iron to create a slight bend at the ends, both towards and away from the face, alternating sections for a natural feel."
- "A great tool option is the new Bio Ionic 3-In-One Styling Iron ($149)—it’s a flat iron, curling iron, and wand in one," recommends Rosenkranz. "Its multi-use features allow you to achieve endless styles."
- "Breaking up your style by using different tools creates a more natural look, rather than a more uniform pattern to the texture."
Is it just us or does this hairstyle on Thandiwe Newton make you want to go scissor happy on your own hair? Pixie cuts are chic by nature, but this textured take adds a breath of fresh edge. To achieve, follow Richman's tips:
- "Use a blow dryer with the concentrator nozzle attached and a flat mixed bristle brush. Direct the hair where you want it to lay with your brush and follow close behind with your blow dryer."
- Next, he recommends finding a great texturizing spray like Monat Studio One Dry Texturizing Spray ($35). "Use your fingertips to create a tousled texture."
- "If your pixie has bangs use a medium-sized round brush on top of the bang section to pull the bangs forward as you dry them while rolling the brush back towards your forehead. Release the hair from the brush by pulling it back towards the crown of the head to create the perfect side-swept bang."
- Finally, style with a small amount of molding paste or wax like Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax ($39) or Monat Restyle Instant Sculpting Taffy ($35).
Prada muse Mica Arganaraz is one of our favorite poster girls of shag. By working with her hair's texture and embracing her curls, she achieves a look that is both casual and cool.
- "Shags are all about volume and texture. If you have a natural wave to your hair use a diffuser nozzle on your blow dryer to dry your hair and embrace your natural texture," says Richman.
- "For straighter hair, rough dry your hair upside down while moving the hair back and forth with your fingertips for maximum volume and texture."
- "If you need to, use a round brush when the hair is mostly dry to smooth the ends."
- "Use a flat iron or curling iron to create your desired wave; make sure to curl in multiple directions for a shaggy, undone style."
To keep curls bouncy and healthy, use a detangling conditioner while in the shower. Just apply, comb through, and rinse.
Rihanna proves that a textured bob can add volume to thin hair. To get that damp look, spritz on a gloss spray like Kenra Professional's Shine Spray ($19). Don't be afraid of giving your fringe short layers—it adds to the cool-girl look and can be played up to the side, parted in the middle, or curtained out like Rihanna.
Those with short hair shouldn't feel limited to always wearing it down. Buns are perhaps one of the most versatile updos, and the chignon is its most sophisticated variation. This chic, low, middle-parted chignon bun is both low-maintenance and lovely. Get the look:
- While the sleek chignon tends to work best on those with straight hair, a flat iron and shine serum can help those with any hair texture achieve this style.
- Once hair is prepped, simply gather into a low pony and separate into two sections.
- Then wrap one section into a bun and the second section around it. Secure with a few bobby pins and you're all set.
Anyone can pull off a bob, as Jennifer Hudson does here with style and grace. Follow Richman's advice for getting the look:
- "Prep towel-dried hair with Monat Studio One Blow Out Cream ($38) to protect against heat and to restore softness and shine."
- "A straight sleek bob is best styled with a blow dryer with the concentrator nozzle attached and a Denman Row Brush ($21) or similar."
- "Grab each section of hair at the root with the edge of your brush and glide the brush down followed closely behind with your dryer."
- "If you need to, use a flat iron on very low heat to smooth out the ends."
- If your strands are natural or curly, you'll want to condition hair on the regular before you pick up the blow-dryer and flat iron.
Hair is easier to style when it's a little lived in, so sit back, relax, and let your hair do its thing. (For what it's worth, switching up your part is a low-maintenance way to get playful with your look).
- To ensure you make the most of your natural texture—sans frizz—use a microfiber towel like Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban ($30)—the fabric is much kinder to your hair cuticle—to soak up excess water post-wash.
- After that, work a leave-in mousse, balm, or cream into your hair with your fingers, and let it air-dry.
Slicked-back hair is everywhere these days—and for good reason. Here, Rowan Blanchard shows us how with advice from Rosenkranz:
- "Creating some tousled volume is a deceptively simple approach with a lot of impact."
- "Start by blow-drying the sides and back of the head close to the root in the direction you want the hair to lay. Then move to the top, creating volume towards the front by over-directing your blow dryer forward with a round brush."
- "Use a cream gel like Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Professional Styling Luxe Crème Gel ($40) throughout the hair to set in place."
- "Try fluffing up your roots with some dry shampoo, like Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam (Note: This product is discontinued, we recommend Ouai Super Dry Shampoo, $24, as an alternative), running your fingers through your hair in a backward motion, and finishing the look off with a good dose of flexible hair spray."
Natural Curly Bob
Embrace your natural texture and let your curly hair run free. All it takes is the right product to achieve this natural curly bob. Liberating and low-maintenance, this look can take you from the office to post-work drinks.
Wet Textured Bob
Wet-look hairstyles have taken the world by storm. Here, Saoirse Ronan nails the look via texturized bob. Rather than pull hair away from her face, her deep side part allows her hair to fall naturally in front.
- "A wet look is best created with an oil-based product," says Richman.
- "Style your hair as you want it to look."
- "To finish, apply Monat Rejuveniqe Oil Intensive ($99) section by section for even distribution. Monat also makes a light version of Rejuveniqe Oil that will add intense shine and a wet look without the hair feeling too greasy."
If a bob sounds too short for your taste, a lob can be just as flattering while allowing you to maintain a bit of length, as seen here on Gemma Chan.
- "Start by applying a mousse like Ouidad VitalCurl + Soft Defining Mousse ($26) from roots to ends and blow-dry with a round brush. I like the Wet Brush Break-Free Volume & Body Round Brush because it’s infused with biotin and keratin to help strengthen the hair as you style," says Rosenkranz.
- "As you are releasing each section, unravel the hair and pull downward on it a bit while it's still warm to elongate the wave; hold for a few seconds as it cools and sets."
Sonoya Mizuno's sleek pixie cut is low-maintenance meets elegance. Whether you're sporting recently cut locks or are growing out your pixie, you can rock this look both day and night. To induce shine, apply a dime-sized amount of hair oil, working through strands with a wide-toothed comb and sweeping to one side for a polished finish.
No matter your hair texture, a short cut can breathe life into thin hair by adding volume and fullness. The key to rocking a curly fringe? Avoid heavy-duty styling products to prevent weighing the hair down.
When in doubt, part your hair to the side, tuck it behind your ears, and create a simple Dutch braid on the opposite side of the part, pinning it behind your ear. Pair with a red lip and no one will know the whole thing only took five minutes.
Beachy waves are the epitome of sexy. Here, Chrissy Teigen gives us dressed-up beach vibes à la red carpet. If you have a curling iron, you can recreate this après beach look in just five simple steps:
- First, air-dry the hair.
- Then, section hair horizontally using clips.
- Using a curling iron, alternate the direction in which you curl hair with every other section.
- Set with hairspray and apply a finishing agent.
Knowing what size barrel to use on your curling iron can be tricky. As a rule of thumb, if you have straight or fine hair, opt for a 0.75-inch barrel; those with curly hair should use a 1.25-inch barrel; and if you're unsure of your hair texture, go for a 1-inch barrel.
Our approach to greasy roots is to disguise them with a conditioning treatment that doubles as a look: Slather on a heavy-duty hair mask or nourishing oil, slick it back, and go.
- "For this great look, start by blow-drying the sides and back of the head close to the root in the direction you want the hair to lay," instructs Rosenkranz.
- "Then move to the top, creating volume towards the front by over-directing your blow dryer forward with a round brush."
- "Use a cream gel like Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Professional Styling Luxe Crème Gel throughout the hair to set in place."
Zoë Kravitz's piece-y pixie is practical, expressive, and lucky for us, easily achievable:
- Simply work a texturizer like Living Proof Dry Volume & Texture Spray ($32) into your strands, styling with your hands to create a mussy and texturized look.
- With closely cut sides and a bit more hair on top, this versatile cut can complement those with round or square faces.
Sleek Bob with Fringe
Zendaya is giving off some serious femme fatale vibes with this blunt bob. Although this is actually a wig, you can also recreate the look using your natural hair. According to Rosenkranz:
- "While [hair is] wet, apply a smoothing balm like Number 4 High Performance Smoothing Balm ($30) from roots to ends and blow-dry with a flat brush in a slight C-shape to get the smooth shape."
- He adds, "This look isn’t about volume, so avoid focusing on creating any lift at the root while blow-drying."
- "To add extra shine and create that glass-like smooth polish, finish the style by brushing the hair from root to ends with a smoothing brush like the Wet Brush Go Green Treatment & Shine Coconut Oil Infused Brush ($16). The brush is infused with natural coconut oil that helps to soften your strands and the IntelliFlex® bristles distribute the natural oils for ultimate smoothness."
Tousled Bob with Deep Side Part
A deep side part paired with loose, fluffy flat-iron waves is très chic. Those with thin strands will benefit from a short 'do, thanks to its volume-boosting capabilities. The deep side part elongates facial features.
Accessorized Wavy Bob
Jeweled metal hair accessories look especially whimsical on short, curly, or wavy hair and would be perfect for a wedding, holiday party, or another formal event. Plus, not only are hair accessories an easy way to dress up your look, but they also serve the practical purpose of masking unwashed hair—just sayin'.
Textured Lob with Curtain Bangs
When it comes to cool-girl hair, Alexa Chung can do no wrong. Her textured lob is low-key and inherently French—although she is, in fact, British. Her curtain bangs, parted down the middle, frame her face beautifully and add a laidback vibe. To style:
- "Section your curtain bangs in a V-shape starting at the high point of the head and take diagonal partings out towards the eyebrows," says Richman.
- "Using a medium-sized round brush, place it on top of the hair and pull the brush forward off of your face."
- "Once the brush reaches the ends of the hair, roll the brush back down to your head where you started following with your dryer until dry. This will give your bangs that perfectly swept shape."
As you run from errands to brunch to errands again, a braided look is an infinitely cool way to keep your strands out of your face. Cornrows are beautiful, and they have the added bonus of protecting natural hair. And because they are so versatile, you'll never tire of wearing this braided style.
Here's a style that works best on second-, third-, or fourth-day hair. Tease the living daylights out of the hair on top of your head and then smooth it back. Because teasing works to add volume, this look works well on thin hair.
Wavy Lob with Middle-Part
So simple, yet so effective, Kerry Washington's wavy lob gives us hair envy. Regardless of your hair type and face shape, this haircut looks flattering on everyone. It's a great option if you're transitioning to a shorter 'do, too.
Yara Shahidi lets her natural curls shine with this look. To replicate her style, Rosenkranz says:
- "Start with a great shampoo and conditioner for extra hydration like Ouidad Curl Quencher® Moisturizing Shampoo ($18) and Conditioner ($20)."
- "Next, apply Ouidad Curl Quencher® Hydrafusion Intense Curl Cream ($26) from roots to ends and separate hair into sections."
- "Starting at the nape of the neck, separate each section into sub-sections and create twists to the hair using your hands."
- "Work in sections moving up the head, repeating the same technique. Make sure to put in the side part as you are working through. Air-dry or use a hood dryer on low airspeed and low heat to speed up drying."
Never has bedhead looked so good. Halle Berry's tousled lengths are visually effortless and a tad playful. Layers work to give this cut added texture and movement while removing any weight that may way down hair.
Pushed Back Blunt Bob
A perfectly straightened blunt bob pushed back and secured in place with a matte pomade is never a mistake. We recommend Byrd Matte Pomade ($20), which offers a medium hold and low sheen. It's ideal for natural and texturized hairstyles, and its water-based formula washes out in one go.
We are obsessed with vintage coifs inspired by men's styles on short hair—like Cary Grant made modern. To style:
- Use a soft wax or a gel to give you hold and shine.
- Apply your product to hair's mid-lengths and ends.
- Then make a side part and sweep hair over, followed up by combing the sides and back to finish.
Wavy Lob with Side-Swept Bangs
Maya Rudolph looks stunning with her wavy lob. A wide-barrel curling iron will give you the same romantic waves. In case you're a commitment-phobe in regards to bangs, side-swept fringe is super low-maintenance and will complement almost any hairstyle and face shape.
What's the best way to curl short hair?
Can you braid short hair?
Short hair can be braided, though it might require some creativity. If your hair is too short to rock a full-on braid, try braiding just a piece at the crown (French-style, allowing you to pull in even shorter hair).
What's the best way to cut your own hair short?
For an at-home haircut, smooth your hair (to ensure it's straight) first, then use a fine-tooth comb to create sections. Use your fingers to grab the hair above where you want to cut and snip — repeating the process on the entire head.