12 Pinnable Hair Color Ideas for Short Hair

Bring this guide to your colorist.

girl with short afro hair


As someone with short hair, I know that the color styles that look most flattering on pixies and bobs aren't the same ones that work for long lengths. The day I first cut my hair to my chin, I had a color appointment waiting for me less than a week later. Because when you don't have 12 inches of hair to hide behind, you have to be strategic with your look.

Personally, I always put my blonde in the hands of Matt Rez, an incredibly talented colorist at Meche Salon in Los Angeles. According to Rez, "The general rule of thumb for shorter hair is that the shorter the hair, the less vertical space there is to create a horizontal graduation." In order to create the dimension and movement that makes for a beautiful hair color, Rez relies on "the high and lowlight effect rather than a super-smoked-out root that fades drastically into ultra-light ends." (I'm telling you, Rez is a freaking artist.) So whether you have blonde, brown, red, black, or even pink or blue hair, keep this idea in mind.

Scroll through this roundup of hair colors that look rad on short hair, according to a celebrity colorist.

Low-Contrast Blonde

Low-Contrast Blonde hairstyle

For blondes, Rez says you want to create a subtle shadow at the root but avoid stretching it too far down. (Look to the photo above, one of Rez's creations, to get an idea.) "The traditional ombré is over and done with," he tells us. 

Blonde pixie haircut

Rez recommends keeping your natural base color as a canvas with lowlights and warm pieces placed next to the brightest blonde strands. "That way we won't pull a stripe-y look with too high of a contrast," he says.

Byrdie editor Amanda Montell wearing a Blonde Bob hairstyle
Amanda Montell

Here's the multidimensional "biscotti blond" Rez created on me.

Rusty Brunette

Rusty Brunette hair color
Cherin Choi

Rez's best advice for brunettes? "Stop running away from red undertones. You can fight it until the end of time, but it's essential for creating a pop."

Reddish Brunette hair color on short hair

According to Rez, strategically placed warm lowlights will connect your darkest base to the lightest highlight in a flattering, multidimensional way.

Model with curly hair and soft brown highlights

Warmer browns look particularly pretty on natural curls.

Copper Strawberry

Copper Strawberry color on a pixie cut
The Odyssey Online

With red hair, Rez says to aim for a super-sunny warm color. "I have never been a fan of violet-based reds because they don't look natural," he says.

Short Red Hair

You want to make sure you don't go too light with your color, or it can end up looking like a brassy orange blond. "I don't suggest lighter than a strawberry blond highlight over a copper-based red," Rez says. "Keep the lightest highlight in the golden family."

Short Strawberry Blonde hairstyle

But if you're hellbent on going super light, Rez suggests incorporating bright golden-blond pieces into the color. "Just make sure your (red) base color is no deeper than two levels of the highlight," he says.

2 a.m. Black

Black Natural Hair

Black hair is obviously a more one-dimensional look, but on short lengths, you can totally get away with it.

Black Pixie hairstyle
Ramirez Tran Salon

We are in love with this boyish black pixie. Très Français.

Black Bob hairstyle
Ramirez Tran Salon

Tap into your vintage alter-ego with this updated Velma Kelly–style bob.

Next: Check out five hair colors that take 10 years off your face.

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