30 Chic Ways to Style Short Hair

Short hairstyles: Kristen Stewart's short dark crop
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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. As a result, there were many days when I didn't really feel like I was presenting my best self.

But 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 professional Nate Rosenkranz who shared some of his 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.

Breezy Bob

Kaia Gerber blown-out bob
Peter White / Getty Images

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. 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."

Textured Pixie

Thandie Newton textured pixie
Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images

Is it just us or does this hairstyle on Thandie 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 this low-maintenance look, simply style with either a small amount of molding paste or wax. Oribe Rough Luxury Soft Molding Paste ($39) will do the trick.

Curly Shag

Mica Arganaraz shag
Rosdiana Ciaravolo / Getty Images

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. The layers added into her shaggy mop enhance texture while creating softness and movement. To reduce frizz and allow your curls to live their best selves, blow dry with a diffuser or if you're feeling lazy, air-dry instead.

To keep curls bouncy and healthy, use a detangling conditioner while in the shower. Just apply, comb through, and rinse.

Texturized Bob

Rihanna
James Devaney / Getty Images

Rihanna proves that a textured bob can add volume to thin hair. To add to that wet look, spritz on a gloss spray like Kenra Professional's Shine Spray ($18). 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.

Sleek Chignon

Woman with hair parted in the middle and pulled back
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Those with short hair shouldn't feel limited to always wearing it down. In fact, updos can dress up shorter styles or bring a much-needed change to your everyday look. 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.

While the sleek chignon tends to work best on those with straight hair, a flatiron 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.

Blunt Bob

Jennifer Hudson blunt bob
Taylor Hill / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Although anyone can pull off a bob, Jennifer Hudson does it here with style and grace. Her straight and smooth cut is at once oh-so-chic and dare we say, fierce. 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.

Lived-In Strands

Woman with short wavy hair
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Hair is easier to style when it's a little lived in, so sit back, relax, and let your hair do its thing. (And for what it's worth, switching up your part is a really low-maintenance way to get playful with your look.)

To ensure you make the most of your own 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.

Messy Slick-Back

Rowan Blanchard
Jean Baptiste Lacroix / Getty Images

Slicked-back hair is everywhere these days—and for good reason. Here, Rowan Blanchard shows us how "Creating some tousled volume is a deceptively simple approach with a lot of impact," says Rosenkranz. He adds, "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. 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 ($28), 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

Woman with short curly hair
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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

Saoirse Ronan wet hair
Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic / Getty Images

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. For best results, mix a small amount of gel and cream together and work through the hair. 

Wavy Lob

Gemma Chan
Araya Diaz / Getty Images

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. 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," says Rosenkranz.

Long Pixie

Sonoya Mizuno
Gregg DeGuire / WireImage / Getty Images

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.

Banged Bob

Alanna Arrington
Taylor Hill / Getty Images

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.

Braided Side-Part

Woman with dark short hair braided
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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

Chrissy Teigen beach waves
Steve Granitz / WireImage / Getty Images

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 hair; second, section hair horizontally using clips; third, using a curling iron, alternate the direction in which you curl hair with every other section; fourth, set with hairspray; and fifth, 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 you're hair texture, go for a 1-inch barrel.

Wet Slick-Back

Alicia Keys
John Phillips / Getty Images

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. (It also makes for a head-turning style at the bar, just saying.)

"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. 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," instructs Rosenkranz.

Piecey Pixie

Zoe Kravitz
Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

Zoë Kravitz's piecey pixie is practical, expressive, and lucky for us, easily achievable. Simply work a texturizer like L’Oréal Out of Bed Texturizer ($5) 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 sleek bob with fringe
Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

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

Ciara
Ben Gabbe / Getty Images

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 (Note: This style works best on freshly washed hair). The deep side part, which elongates facial features, especially complements round, square, and heart-shaped faces.

S-Wave Lob

Woman with short hair in S-waves
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For a more classical take on retro hair, try an S-wave. This style evokes Old Hollywood glamour. For this, you'll want to use hot rollers, like T3 Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe ($119).

Accessorized Wavy Bob

Woman with short hair wearing ornate headband
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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

Alexa Chung lob with bangs
Mike Marsland / BFC / Getty Images

When it comes to cool-girl hair, Alexa Chung can do no wrong. Her textured lob is low-key and inherently French—although she's, in fact, British. Her curtain bangs, parted down the middle, frame her face beautifully and add a laidback vibe.

Cornrows

Woman with braided short hair
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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.

Teased Bob

Woman with short blonde hair teased back
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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

Kerry Washington shoulder-length hair
John Shearer / Getty Images

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.

Voluminous Curls

Yara Shahidi
Aaron J. Thornton / FilmMagic / Getty Images

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."

He adds, "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."

Tousled Lob

Halle Berry
Mark Davis / Getty Images

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

Woman with a short blunt bob
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A perfectly straightened blunt bob pushed back and secured in place with a matte pomade is never a mistake. We recommend Byrd Matte Pomade ($10) 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.

Vintage Coif

Teyonah Parris
Unique Nicole / Getty Images​ 

We are obsessed with vintage coifs inspired by men's styles on women with 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 shoulder-length haircut
JB Lacroix / WireImage / Getty Images

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, that is—side-swept bangs are super low-maintenance and they will complement almost any hairstyle and face shape.

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