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How to Tell if You'd Look Good With Short Hair

Face shapes, hair texture, body size, your age & other things to consider

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How to Tell if You'd Look Good With Short Hair
charlize-theron-short-hair.jpg

Charlize Theron with short hair

Jason Merritt for Getty Images
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Almost every woman can wear short hair. The secret is finding the right cut for your face shape and hair texture. Here, I'll help you figure out the best short hairstyle for you.

In the meantime, check out The Year's 6 Hottest Short Hair Trends.

Tip #1: Consider Your Face Shape

Unless you have a perfect oval face, some short hairstyles will be more flattering on you than others.

For example, I have a long face, so I want to create the allusion of width. A chin-length bob or a shag cut that hits at the chin or in that middle place in between the chin and shoulders are great options for me, especially if worn a bit mussy or wavy. The waves add width.

Women with round faces tend to look better with short hair cut an inch or 2 below the chin. You want to elongate your face and keeping hair a bit longer draws the eye downward. Stay away from the classic bob, which can look like a helmet on a round face. A better bet is the long bob, which is longer and therefore more flattering.

Pixie haircuts aren't as flattering on long face shapes. Pixies look best on women with heart-shaped faces or oval faces.

Get the full scoop in The Best Short Haircuts By Face Shape

Tip #2: Do You Have Great Shoulders, a Nice Jaw and a Long Neck?

If you're blessed with great shoulders, a nice jawline and a long neck, a short haircut will be flattering on you. If you have a short neck, a double chin or wide shoulders, you're better off with a hairstyle that falls at least an inch below the chin. The long bob trend is hugely popular now and hits right at this perfect point.

When you get your hair cut, point out your best features to your stylist and don't be afraid to mention the ones you'd like to play down or camouflage. For example, I don't love my big IMAX forehead so I like to get blunt bangs or side-swept bangs when I get my hair cut. I do love my neck, which is long, and my jawline, so a bob works great on me.

Tip #3: Size Matters With the Pixie

Pixie haircuts that hug the skull look great on some women, but not everyone. This cut works best on women with long, elegant necks.

Petite, thin women also look great in this cut (think "Amelie"). Tall, thin women can pull off this cut (think Charlize Theron, Jamie Lee Curtis and Audrey Hepburn, who was surprisingly very tall for her day). If you are tall and have a boyish figure, you could look like a pinhead with a pixie cut. If you're carrying extra weight and have a small skull, the pixie might not be right for you either. You need more body up top to balance out your body below the neck.

See best hairstyles by body type: tall, short, boyish and round

Tip #4: Your Hair Texture Matters

Your hair texture is as important as your face shape when it comes to choosing the perfect short haircut. There are 6 basic hair textures (fine, straight, wavy, coarse, curly and frizzy) and with each one comes a slew of rules such as "curly hair doesn't look great short" and "fine hair doesn't look great long."

I believe in breaking rules, however. And in my article on hair texture, I detail what the rules are and which ones are worth paying attention to and which ones are worth breaking. Check it out: 10 Things Every Woman Should Know About Hair Texture. Curly hair behaves best when it's longer. It needs length to behave properly. The shorter curly hair gets, the better the chances it will pouf up on you.

Tip #5: Curly Hair & Fine Hair Considerations

Some stylists swear curly hair should be cut no shorter than two inches below the chin, but I've seen some gorgeous short styles on curly women. The secret is in the layering. Cutting curly hair is an art, so choose your stylist carefully, lest you leave the salon looking like a poodle.

See my favorite short, curly hairstyles

On the contrary, super fine hair works wonderfully short. If you have fine hair, a short cut will add body, just be careful not to over-layer hair. Keep hair as close to one length as possible. Removing too much bulk is bad for volume, so make sure your stylist doesn't overuse the razor.

Top 12 products for fine hair

Tip #6: The Sharpie Tip

I got this tip from "Confessions of a Beauty Editor," by Allure's Linda Wells. Take a picture of yourself in front of a dark or light background depending on your hair color (if you're blonde, choose dark, brunette, choose light). Take a Sharpie and "cut off" your hair to see how you'd look shorter. We suggest starting longer then gradually going up so you don't waste your picture.

Tip #7: Consider Your Personality

Your haircut is a reflection of your personality. If you're sporty and casual, a shag or long bob may be your best bet. Both air dry well and require less time with a dryer and a brush. If you're a career woman or hoping to land a job and consider yourself a sophisticate, an angled bob can be stunning. Funky, edgy women can get away with a faux mohawk or another edgy haircut.

Tip #8: Consider Your Maintenance

Short hair tends to be higher maintenance than shoulder-length or long hair because you need more frequent cuts. They're actually the hardest cuts to maintain, which is something to consider when planning that next hairstyle. Short hair requires trims every six weeks or so, they usually take styling products to keep them in check and you may have to invest in a flat-iron to keep waves at bay.

Tip #9: Age Does Not Matter

Contrary to what you might have been taught over the years, there is no beauty rule to age and hair length. The minute you turn 40 or 50 or 65, you absolutely do NOT need to get your hair cut above your chin. You can be 100 years old and look great with hair grown below your shoulders, as long as your hair is in good shape.

Bobs are particularly flattering on older women. See photos of my favorite bobs for older women.

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