A "pixie" cut refers to a style that is short on the sides and back and slightly longer on top—usually with short, wispy bangs styled to the side. Pixie cuts are surprisingly versatile and, unsurprisingly, fairly low maintenance. They also encompass several different looks and have come a long way since the classic, Twiggy-style pixie of the 1960s. "The pixie has evolved over the last few years," says Arizona-based hairstylist Erin Powers. Modern pixie cuts look lovely when styled and slicked back, but celebrities have proven you can also wear the trend messy and undone.
Anyone can wear a pixie cut, especially if you're looking for a timeless style that requires minimal effort for maximum chicness. There are, however, some lengths that look better on certain face shapes. "A great pixie haircut is based on not just face shape but also the shape of the client's head," says Karie Bennett, founder and master artist at Atelier Salon and Studio in California. "Since a short haircut is basically influenced by bone structure, it’s important to consider that before you decide on length and shape."
Meet the Expert
• Erin Powers is a hairdresser with more than 16 years of experience. She is based in Tucson, Arizona.
• Karie Bennett is the founder of Atelier Salon and Studio in San Jose, California. She has more than 30 years of experience in the hair and salon industry.
Ahead, we share 40 celebrity pixie cuts to inspire your next haircut along with styling tips from Powers and Bennett.
If you have naturally curly hair, a pixie cut à la Ruth Negga will be perfect for you. Just make sure you're equipped with a good curl cream to keep those ringlets on lock.
A piecey pixie with micro-bangs isn't for the faint of heart, but the results are major. "I think the key point to identifying a pixie is that it should open the person up," says Powers. Take notes from Rihanna and add face-framing micro-bangs for extra impact—and make sure you have a good molding gel and hair straightener to work with.
If you prefer relatively low-maintenance hairstyles, a close crop like Cynthia Erivo's is probably your best bet, especially if you have a thick, natural texture. (Bonus points if you go white-blonde too.) See more celeb-approved inspo here.
Try something relaxed and retro-feeling if your hair texture allows it. A cut that’s cropped on the sides and longer on the top creates plenty of opportunities for style experimenting—and wispy bangs in front will give people all the cool greaser vibes (in a good way). Leather jacket sold separately.
A pixie cut could be the perfect opportunity for you to experiment with a new, bold hair color you might be nervous to try otherwise—like singer-songwriter Halsey's pastel-hued 'do. If you don’t like it, you know it’ll grow back soon and you can pay your hairstylist another visit—and if you do like it, you’ll join the ranks of some of our favorite hair dye-partial celebrities.
A closely cropped cut like this pairs perfectly with micro-fringe bangs, an equally bold trend worth experimenting with. Pair it with a deep side part and extra-short, trimmed sides, like Andy Allo.
This might technically not be a “pixie cut” under the standard definition, but we love the idea of buzzcuts catching on in the beauty world. Think of the cut as just a bold, riskier step up from a pixie—but obviously, consider how much you’ll miss styling your locks (if you won’t at all, shave away!) and how a buzzcut will complement your face shape before you pull the trigger.
Obviously, one of our favorite beauty inspirations needs no introduction, but her iconic haircut might. "A classic pixie is very short and cropped," notes Powers. A closely cropped pixie cut like this requires relatively frequent trims, but when the end result is as sleek, chic, and face-framing as Zoë Kravitz’s ‘do, it’s definitely worth it.
Long in Front
Take notes from Rinko Kikuchi: You can easily add next-level volume to your pixie cut with long pieces in the front. All you need is a good teasing regimen—our favorite tips, right this way.
Slicked and Parted
Jennifer Hudson gave us major Mia Farrow vibes back when she had a pixie cut. We love the way you can easily style a pixie by simply parting it on the side and slicking it back—you'll look like a movie star, and it'll only take you a few minutes to pull off.
Length and Layers
"Pixie cut" isn't synonymous with "nearly bald." In fact, "as all styles do, the pixie has a lot of personalities now. It can be a little longer, grown-out looking, have a longer fringe, be a little shaggy," says Powers. Hikari Mori demonstrates that you can have plenty of length and layers to work with, even if you make the chop—her low-maintenance style is perfect for people who just want to straighten out some kinks and run out the door.
Like we said, getting a pixie cut is the perfect time to experiment with a hair color you've been too previously nervous to pull the trigger on. Take a page from Ginnifer Goodwin's book and go for a pretty pastel that skews almost gray (the perfect complement to your favorite colorful eyeliner).
Chestnut Hue With Matching Brows
Michelle Williams has sported a pixie cut in nearly every hair color imaginable, but this warm chestnut hue has to be one of our favorites. Remember that your eyebrows may become more of a focus if you chop your hair off—and if you're dyeing your pixie, it's a good idea to match your brows within a shade range or two to your new hair.
You might already know this, but here's another public service announcement: Spiked hair isn't just for boy banders. Get Angela Bassett's favorite look with some good styling mousse—and keep the length long and razored, for more texture, so you can switch it up by day (or whenever you're not in a spiky mood).
"One thing about a pixie is it transcends age groups," says Bennett. While many young celebrities are wearing the look, it looks just as chic on the older set. Here, Jada Pinkett Smith proves how a pixie cut is really done. She's been rocking hers for years—take a page from her book and style a pixie cut slicked back with a deep side part. (And similarly glam, twisted sideburns are easier than they look to achieve when you have a good styling gel.)
If there was a happy medium between a "bob" and a "pixie," this would be it. (But for this article, we'll let it fall under the latter.) To get the look, ask your stylist to keep some longer pieces in front so you can style them and wear behind your ears as you please. A Katie Holmes–approved side part is the perfect finishing touch to this sleek 'do. For shine like Katie, try Aveda Brilliant Spray-On Shine ($31).
Blonde With Roots
If you already have blonde highlights and natural roots or undertones, a side-swept pixie cut could be the perfect way to show off some dimension. Or, if you'd like to dip into both new blonde highlights and a new pixie haircut at the same time—Elsa Pataky's iconic, dirty-blonde 'do might be the perfect place to start.
Looking for an edge? Keep your sides short with your natural (in Katy Perry's case, darker) hair color—and go full-on with bleach-blonde highlights on the top for a cool, unexpected (and Katy Perry-approved) contrast.
French actress Audrey Tatou has been known for her iconic cropped cut for most of her career—and we can see why she's stuck with it for so long. If you have thick, coarse hair, a piecey pixie could work perfectly for your texture and face shape. For this look, "you’ll need a good texturizer with medium hold, most likely," says Powers, who adds that her personal favorite is R+Co Sand Castle Dry Texture Créme ($29).
Straight Across Fringe
Face-framing, straight-across fringe will make a statement—and give you ample extra hair to work with to change up your style. And when you have a short cut, you won’t stress about the commitment of “straight-across bangs” as much (since, you know, they’ll even out faster than if you had longer tresses).
Maybe it's bedhead, maybe it's movie-star magic. In any case, Natalie Portman's messy-yet-styled pixie cut is like if no-makeup makeup was a hairstyle. Two words: effortlessly chic. To style the look, Bennett advises "rough-drying the hair completely and then using either a light pomade or a styling cream. Something that picks up the texture but rides on the outside of the haircut, so you maintain the volume at the root." Try Ouai Matte Pomade ($24) for a similar result.