To Crop or Not: How to Make Short Hair Work for You

Anja Rubik

Anja Rubik in 2007 with her short hair; Image: Getty

Cutting your hair short is ultimately a most freeing experience, but there are caveats. I’ve gone from long to super-short three times in my life simply because I like a change. My most recent foray was inspired by Michelle Williams circa her Louis Vuitton ads. It was choppy, messy, a little misshapen and I loved it. Two cuts in, I went much shorter, Claire Underwood-style, and this is where I’ve stayed.

The first thing anyone says to you when you cut your hair super short is, “It must be so easy!” And it is, once you get the hang of it.

The second thing that happens is that your hair IQ is put to the test. Less length and volume should mean less styling time. However, less hair means there’s nothing to weigh your hair down. If you have cowlicks, waviness or the tendency to get spiky, that’s what you’ll see.

This is where the all-important product comes in, to add weight, volume, smooth out the texture and make it shape-able. “I regularly use Crew molding wax for motion and textural vibe,” says Kirna Zabete co-owner Sarah Easley, an 11-year veteran of short hair. “I have to use wax or my hair is a sad helmet,” she says, adding that she sometimes throws in some Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula oil.

Her partner, Beth Buccini, has worn super-short hair since 1997 and swears by Onesta Play Paste. “The molding mud gives texture, but it’s not too heavy.” I’m currently working three products: whatever mousse I can get my hands on to weigh down my wave and cowlicks, Sally Hershberger 24K Think Big Dry Shampoo and Finishing Hair Spray for volume and paste for texture. Then there’s the true secret to good short hair — the cut and the frequency.

“When you have long hair, I feel like you can go to anybody,” says Easley. “You can pull it into a sleek ponytail or up in a bun, but for short hair, it’s a whole different thing,” she adds, admitting she will only go to Louis Angelo at the Julien Farel Salon in New York.

Buccini is religious about her every-six-week cuts with Angelo or “it mushrooms out.” I also subscribe to a cut every six weeks, which seems to be the norm. I have, however, come across those on the extremes like my cousin Cindy who cuts every three weeks and Easley, who likes an evolving haircut, only cuts three-to-four times a year.

During a recent interview with model Anja Rubik, she looked longingly at my hair, remembering her super-short hair. “It was too short for extensions, so I made deals with the hair people when I was doing shows,” she says. “I could arrive last because all they did was slick it back.”


Thinking of going short? Check out the arsenal of products that can help you add volume, shape and style to your new ‘do in the slideshow below.