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 more flattering on certain face shapes, if that's what you're looking for. "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
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 piece-y 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 a note 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).
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.
Cara Delevingne has always had an affinity for pixie cuts, but her white-blonde variation has to be one of our favorites. With a contrasting black ribbon and spiked pieces on the top, this look makes a major statement (both on and off the red carpet—we'd wear this style to the office).
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.
With face-framing pieces and wispy side bangs, we vote for Kat Graham to sport this style permanently.
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.
Long Bangs and Volume
Viola Davis proves how glam a pixie haircut can really be. The key is to get long, wispy side bangs and longer pieces on top that you can style and tease to give the illusion of volume (all while keeping it closely cropped in the back).
Volume Up Top
Kerry Washington has kept enough length at the top of her pixie to successfully style it with wispy bangs for a red carpet-worthy look.
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 opportunity 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).
Kate Hudson's pixie cut is pretty much perfect. The bangs frame and flatter her facial feature to a tee—and with a piecey cut like this, you can keep it relatively low-maintenance (except for the occasional trim) depending on your hair texture.
For the ultimate girl-next-door haircut, look no further than Zendaya. To get the look, ask for short side bangs and long sideburn strands you can style however you want.
The pixie inspiration remains in Meagan Good's cut. We love the way her bangs veer into "bowl-cut" territory while still remaining as chic and sleek as ever.
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.
Getting a pixie cut with bangs of varying lengths is the perfect way to leave room for experimenting. Take Janelle Monáe's pixie cut: it's made instantly more red carpet-appropriate with the simple addition of a styled curl in the front.
You might already know this, but here's another public service announcement: Spiked hair isn't just for boy banders. Get Angela Bassett's 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 your 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 them 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 (or, 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.
Short and Layered
No pixie haircut roundup would be complete without the 'do that launched dozens of box-office blockbusters. A good styling gel for your layered pieces will have you feeling like Catwoman yourself.
Long on Top, Cropped on the Sides
"Long on the top and short on the sides" is a good rule of thumb. Charlize Theron's blonde 'do leaves enough long pieces on the top to style for events, while keeping it closely cropped and low-maintenance on the sides. It's the best of both worlds.
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 piece-y 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).
If you have a naturally wavy hair texture, Gladys Knight's 'do is the perfect, low-maintenance style (especially for those who love hopping out of the shower and running out the door). Just make sure you have a good texturizing spray in your back pocket.
No, you don't have to be a supermodel to pull this off. Coco Rocha's cut is something we'll call "mullet-chic"—business in the front but a (refined, grown-up) party in the back.
As far as we're concerned, no one does model-off-duty beauty better than Micah Gianneli. Wispy bangs create an instantly chic, effortless (in appearances, anyway) style.
Sleek and Styled
If you have naturally fine, easy-to-style hair, Robin Wright's effortless pixie is perfect for you. With the right layers and face-framing bangs, ladies with thin hair will have something to celebrate: a low-maintenance style you can simply shake and walk out the door with.
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 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.
Dramatic Side Bangs
For extra-dramatic side bangs, ask for extra-long pieces in the front of your pixie cut and a deep side part. You can experiment and style it a million different ways, like this retro wave à la Mary J Blige.
If you have naturally thick hair that’s relatively easy to work with, you’ll love something low maintenance, like Ciara's shaggy 'do. You can roll out of bed and achieve a wispy, piece-y pixie with a simple texturizing spray.