Find Your Best Short Haircut

Hollywood has embraced the short-cut trend, with celebs such as Robin Wright, Jennifer Hudson, Reese Witherspoon and even Beyoncé rocking above-the-shoulder styles. Is the look right for you? We asked three real women to lop off their locks. The results will show you which way to go

by Rachel Hayes
Photograph: Ari Michelson

BANG-UP JOB
Jennifer Saviano (top row), 37, wife of Nunzio Saviano, a celebrity stylist, a New York City salon owner and the man behind all the cuts in this article, said her hair did not bounce back as quickly as her body did after the birth of their third child four years ago. “My natural waves are no longer as bouncy, my hair seems thinner, and it’s definitely drier,” says Jennifer. “I’ve been wanting to cut it off and start over for a while.”

The Cut
Nunzio sliced seven inches off Jennifer’s hair and chiseled it into a choppy bob with heavy fringe. The subtle layers were a must, because a very blunt bob can be “too severe and aging,” says Nunzio. On the other hand, he warns, if you add too many layers, the cut will look very round, in that stiff, soccer mom way. To avoid this, Nunzio used a technique he calls undercutting: He removed puffiness by cutting into the hair’s underlayers while leaving the outer layers nearly one length. The finishing touch? Eyebrow-skimming bangs for sex appeal.

Who Can Sport This Style?
Virtually anyone can rock a bob, says Nunzio. But hair type and face shape dictate length. Those with curly-to-wavy hair and a round, square or wide face will find a shoulder-skimming length most flattering. If you have a long face and straight hair, you have more leeway to go chin length.

Best Styling Strategy
To wear this cut straight, Nunzio suggests applying a lightweight styling cream (preferably with heat-protectant ingredients) to damp hair. Try Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Smoothing Milk ($4; drugstores). Blow-dry hair until it’s about 80 percent there, then use a paddle brush to pull strands taut and smooth. If it looks too round when you’re finished (think 1995 news-anchor hair), run a flatiron over just the ends. To wear the style wavy, apply the same styling cream, then let your hair dry naturally or blow-dry with a diffuser. Once the hair is dry, enhance its natural texture by twirling sections around a one-inch curling iron.

Color Cues
To play up the simple elegance of the bob’s shape, John Whelan, a colorist at Nunzio’s eponymous Manhattan salon, used a rich brown color all over, followed by a clear glaze to bump up the shine. He also wove in a few subtle caramel highlights to add softness and dimension.

CURLY GIRL
Weez Tomlinson (middle row), 52, an educational consultant and actor, had been relaxing her midback-length hair every six weeks for 15 years. “It’s very time consuming—and damaging. I wanted to grow in my naturally curly texture, but I knew it would require a transition strategy, and I just didn’t know where to begin,” says Weez. Enter Nunzio.

The Cut
After snipping five inches off the bottom of Weez’s hair, Nunzio added layers all over; the shortest are four inches long. Heavy layering will allow the curly new growth to spring into shape (longer hair weighs down spirals). “I think of this style as a very curly version of a shag, where there are short layers all over. And with hair like Weez’s, this cut prevents the hair from looking bushy,” explains Nunzio.

Who Can Sport This Style?
“Weez has a long neck and lovely, defined shoulders. The second I pulled her hair back and exposed that area, she looked 10 years younger, something I think many women would discover if they lost some length,” says Nunzio. This cut is ideal for coarse, naturally curly and wavy hair. You can still go for it if you have straight or fine hair, but the result will not be as full as Weez’s.

Best Styling Strategy
To create this look, Nunzio says to first apply shine serum all over damp hair; this seals your strands’ cuticles and allows them to form perfect spirals. The serum he used on Weez: Kerastase Cristal Sculpt ($42; kerastase-usa.com). Next, dry your hair with a diffuser or allow it to air-dry. If your hair is naturally very curly, you need only apply a curl-enhancing balm, twirl sections around your finger to create defined curls, then let air-dry. If your curl patternis uneven or if, like Weez, you have ends that have been chemically relaxed, Nunzio says to feign flawless curls by wrapping one-inch sections of hair around a small, half-inch curling iron. Repeat wherever curls need a boost. Finish by finger tousling and misting with a shine spray such as John Frieda Frizz-Ease 100% Shine Glossing Mist ($6; drugstores).

Color Cues
To make Weez’s silver strands sparkle, John used a strong clarifying shampoo to remove both dulling product buildup and a blue tint caused by overuse of purple shampoo.He finished with a clear semipermanent glaze that boosted shine. When adding highlights, John says to consider the shape of your curls. “If you have a thick curl, go for a chunkier highlight so it shows up,” he advises. “Fine highlights can easily disappear in curly hair.”

SHORT & SWEET
Hilary Hayes (bottom row), 45, cofounder of interior design company Hayes & Howells, contemplated going short for a year, tacking pictures of cropped cuts on her Pinterest board as inspiration. So she was game when Nunzio pulled out his shears. “I was noticing all of these middle- aged women walking around with long, stringy ponytails,” says Hilary, “and suddenly realized I was one of them! I was keeping my hair long to look younger, but it was doing me no favors.”

The Cut
With inspiration from Twiggy circa 1966, Nunzio cut six inches off Hilary’s hair, shaping it into a pixie-bob hybrid: short on the sides, with long layers on top and in front. The length on top adds versatility, allowing Hilary to wear her hair sleek and tucked behind the ears or tousled and spiky.

Who Can Sport This Style?
If you often scrape your hair back into a tight ponytail or chignon, you’re already comfortable exposing your face and neck, says Nunzio, so the transition to a short cut ought to be a cinch. Should anyone avoid it? “If you have curly hair, you will have to go very short to cut off all those spirals. Plus, it will be a challenge to keep curls from becoming puffy in humidity,” he warns.

Best Styling Strategy
To wear this cut smooth, Nunzio suggests spritzing a volumizing spray, like Kerastase Lift Vertige Root Uplifting Hair Gel ($36; kerastase-usa.com), onto damp hair, then using a medium round brush as you blow-dry. To wear it tousled and textured, apply the same volumizer but use your fingers or a small round brush to lift the hair at the roots off the scalp; then twirl small sections to create definition as you blow-dry. For a tousled finish, pinch ends with a pomade such as Bumble and Bumble Semisumo ($28; bumbleandbumble.com).

Color Cues
John used an all-over buttery-blonde shade, then wove in platinum highlights. Contrast is crucial, says John, because it plays up the lines of this cut. Skip this tip, and an all-one-color short style may look like a hat. 

Related: Celebs Who've Made the Cut
Next: Get Your Best Hair at 30, 40, 50, 60

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First Published Wed, 2014-05-14 12:53

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