Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

The Short Hair Variety Show


Are you afraid to cut your hair short because you feel it will limit your hair style choices? Or do you currently have short hair and are bored to tears with the same old look?

Relax—you don’t have to give up variety when you have short hair!

A good short haired look depends on many factors, chiefly:

  • Facial shape
  • Hair type
  • Cut
  • Hair products
  • Color
  • Perms
  • Makeup
  • Accessories

Before you make the final cut, so to speak, check over your options. It’s never a great idea to get a haircut on a whim. As with buying something useless, expensive and non-returnable, the saying goes, "Buy in haste. Repent at leisure."

If you’re having a horrible hair day, pick up the phone instead of the scissors. Make an appointment with a stylist you trust, and give yourself at least 24 hours to think about what you want. (Meanwhile, put on a hat and get on with your day.)

Facial Shape

What is your facial shape? A good way to check is to pull your hair back from your face. Is it round? Long? Kind of squared at the chin line? Oval? There are many books out there that can help you with hairdos for your particular facial shape, and you may want to refer to some of them.

Also, many salons offer an imaging service that can show you how you would look in different hair styles. What are your best feature(s)? A good hair style can really play up your eyes or mouth, for example.

Generally speaking, if your face is tends to be heavy at the jaw line, you may not want a style that adds more bulk to that area. If your face is long and thin, a long, straight style may just make your face look longer. If your face is round, then a halo of curls may make your head look too much like a ball.

Just a quick word here on glasses—one of the best things you can do to update your look is to update the style of your glasses. If you are currently wearing 80’s-style big-frame glasses, check out the new smaller styles. More stylish glasses can help your overall look.

Hair Type

What kind of hair do you have? Is it straight and silky? Thin and flyaway? Thick and bushy? Naturally wavy or curly? What does it do right after you wash it, using no products? If you are cutting your hair to make it easier to care for, be sure that you choose a style that doesn’t make you spend more time than you did when it was long!

Again, generally speaking, if your hair tends to be stick-straight and on the thin side, a blunt-cut hair style may suit your hair more. This type of cut often makes the hair appear thicker than it actually is.

If your hair is bushy, you may want to get more of a layered cut to make the hair appear smoother. Be realistic about what your own hair is like. For instance, if you’ve fallen in love with a model’s silky pixie cut and your own hair is thick and coarse, you can bet that the same cut on you is not going to look like hers—the hair is too different.

Again, talk with your stylist (who has probably seen and handled all types of hair) about what will work with your hair.

Short Cut

The cut is THE defining factor of short hair! The cut can make or break a great short hairdo. Be sure that your stylist is trained and experienced in working with short hair. Often a good short hair cut will take much more time than longer hair. The cut has to be precise to make the right haircut. Before you leave the chair, check:

  • Is the cut even?
  • Is the style what you wanted?
  • Do you that feel you can duplicate the style at home?
  • Does the hair frame your face nicely?
  • Are the back and sides the way you want them?

Remember, you are the customer, and you are paying. If something isn’t right, tell the stylist right then and there, and they will fix it. If they don’t, then ask to see the owner and direct your complaints to her/him. If they are reputable, they will make amends.

Do yourself a big favor and spend the money for a really good cut. Believe me, this is not the area to skimp on! There isn’t a whole lot you can do to cover up a bad haircut, except grin and bear it.

Short Hair Products

Now, having sprung for a great haircut, how about shampoo, conditioner, mousse, gel, spray, etc., etc.?

Many salons carry a couple of different lines of products, and of course, that’s what they use and will advocate for your hair.

There are two schools of thought on hair products: one is that they are all about the same, and it’s ridiculous to pay more for salon brands. The other is that "regular" products (non-salon brands) contain harsher ingredients that can harm your hair over the long run.

This is a decision you will have to make for yourself.

Stylists have seen all kinds of hair, every sort of awful hair disaster you can imagine, and have had to correct multitudes of homemade hair mistakes. It’s their job to know the hair products, and to try many others.

After a stylist has worked with your hair, they have a pretty good idea of the texture and condition of your hair.

If you don’t feel comfortable with buying the products the stylist suggests to you, you can always jot down the ingredients and look for a less expensive alternative somewhere else with similar ingredients.

My own opinion is that my hair always shows; it isn’t as if I bought a new outfit I only wear a few times each month. When my hair looks good, I feel good. I love trying new hair products, and don’t mind paying for them (another advantage to short hair—you use less products!). I am the daughter of the original Bargain Queen, and I don’t mind shopping endlessly to save $10 on a blouse. But great hair—that I’ll pay for! Again, this is only my two cents.

A good mousse, gel or styling stick can do wonders for giving you a whole new hairstyle.

I transformed my own straight hair completely when I used the right products to produce a Bed Head hairdo, and I mean completely! People who knew me well had to give me a second look. If you go for the Bed Head, you can go from completely wild and spiky to leaving it straight in the back and sides, and spiking the top and front. Or slick it all down and spike the bangs only. It’s really up to your own imagination (and nerve!).

Color & Short Hair

Color is another one of those personal decisions that cause a lot of soul-searching. Again, as with a haircut, it rarely works out to "impulse color." I’ll bet most hair stylists wish they had a buck for everyone who walked into their salon moaning, "What was I thinking?" Take a long, hard look at your own hair color. How do you like it? Many of us were blondes when we were babies, but not all of us kept that golden hair.

Your skin color has a great deal to do with what your hair color should be. If you’ve ever had your colors done and know whether you are a Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of your skin tone.

In general, most of us can be categorized as Warm (warm skin tones of gold, brown, olive, etc.) or Cool (cooler skin tones of blue-white, rose, etc.). When Warms use the cooler hair colors (black, dark brown, and so on), it sometimes can make the contrast between skin and hair too harsh. Same goes for Cools using warmer hair colors (reds, light browns, and so on). Read on for an example of what can happen.

My Own Hair Color Disaster

Here’s how I found what not to do with my own hair color. I am a Winter. My hair is dark brown, my eyes are hazel, my skin is blue-white, which means that the dramatic colors look best on me: black, white, red, turquoise, purple; you get the picture. It also means that "warm" hair colors do not compliment my skin tone. Years ago, I had my hair colored red, and I loved it. However, it did not love me. I blush easily and often, so with that red hair, I was pretty much a walking beet.

Colors done well can really enhance your look. Remember Princess Diana before she married Prince Charles? Her hair was a blah mousy blonde. But after she had her hair highlighted to a gorgeous, glittery blonde, what a difference it made!

Conversely, the wrong color can ruin your appearance. It used to be that having your hair colored meant that it came out all one color. The new color technology today strives to give your new color the natural look of many hues, as you would find in natural hair color. You can get everything from a totally new color to soft highlights only. maskhair(1).jpg (12148 bytes)

Remember that hair color is a lot like wallpaper—one little swatch can look pretty good. But you have to imagine all your hair (or all your wall) that color. If you are not quite ready to make that leap to new color, try some of the temporary color hair mascaras and paints to give you some fun streaks.

The mascaras look like regular mascara with the same type of wand, and come in colors like gold, silver, iridescent, bronze, red, violet, blue, and more. Use the wand to stroke color into bangs, temples, or anywhere you want some fun color.

The hair paint works the same way, except it comes in little pots. Dip your forefinger and thumb into the color, then stroke the color on different sections of hair. (Our own Karen Shelton striped her blonde bangs with blue once and it looked fantastic!)

You can also use the popular glittery body gels on your hair, too. Again, just dab some on your hair, as much or as little as you like, and get a glamorous glitterhead!

Short Hair & Perms

Although the common misconception is that perms can really change your short hairdo there is a lot of danger to having a perm! If your hair tends to be flat and you want more body, you can get great movement with the right cut and styling products. This will give volume rather than curls to your hair. The perms today are advertised as more gentle but this is just not the case.

Perms still require chemicals which can fry your delicate strands. Avoid perms like the plague and you will preserve your hair. If your stylist advises you to have a perm - run out the door.


When your hair is short, your makeup is doubly important—short hair helps draw attention to your face. Have you decided yet what you consider your best feature? If it is your eyes, then play them up! Here’s a good tip for mascara—before you put on any other makeup, coat your lashes carefully with mascara first. This will be your basecoat, the one you’ll add to later. Complete the rest of your makeup, then go back to your eyelashes. Now your mascara has something to "sit" on, and the next layer will really make your lashes stand out.

Before you put on makeup, always start with a moisturizer and a good sunscreen, and use them all year round. It’s been proven that many types of skin cancer (as well as wrinkles) can easily be avoided by this inexpensive solution. Don’t forget to use some on your face and neck, and your arms and hands.

After you get your hair styled, you might want to treat yourself to a makeup makeover. A good makeup consultant can give you some good tips on how to maximize your new look.


With a short hairdo, you can really play up the accessories to give it panache. I heard this bit of mis-advice a while ago: "short hair/small earrings," and "long hair/big earrings." Not in MY book! I own and wear everything from tiny diamond studs to three-inch diameter mother-of-pearl honkers.

Dangly earrings give interest and allure to short hair, and hoops look great on everyone. Gemstone studs give a nice sparkle to your earlobes, which are right out there on display with short hair. If you don’t usually wear necklaces, you might consider getting a couple of gold or silver chains, with or without pendants to help give nice neck-interest. If you don’t care for chains, try using colorful silk cords to hang a pendant around your neck. And scarves, of course, are always great to try in different ways.

One of the great sad truths is that the older we get, the more we become victims of gravity. If you feel your neck isn’t as firm as it used to be, then let me share my pearl secret with you. Pearls by their very nature reflect light, and when you wear them around your neck, light is reflected up toward your face, therefore casting a very favorable light on your neck and face.

If you feel that short hairs are out of luck in the hair ornaments department, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are lots of cute short hair ornaments out now. Currently popular are the fancy bobby pins for short hair—these have sparkly rhinestones, enamel work, tiny ribbons and so on attached, and they make a neat look. There are also "mini-scrunchies" (you can also use the ones in the baby aisle, too!), colored rubber bands, clips, and small barrettes. I’ve been noticing that many women with short hair are creating some innovative styles using the rubber bands and barrettes: they take a few sections of hair, twist each section and then pin it down. This makes a cute semi-braided look.

Some manufacturers are making "hair jewels" that stick to the hair for a dramatic look. Your imagination is the only limit to what you can do to glitz up your look. One day in the mall I saw a young woman with very short dark hair who had tied a satiny green ribbon, headband-style, around her head with the ends trailing down her back. It was enchanting!

A few words on the sheer femininity of short hair—when your hair is short, other things are noticeable: your neck, ears, and shoulders. Play them up! Have you ever noticed how sexy longhaired women look when their hair is up? This is because the ears and neck are shown off. Try this the next time you go out: if your outfit allows it, apply some body glitter to your neck, upper back, chest, and ear lobes. You’ll be dazzling in any light!


Remember, the "right" hairstyle is what looks right on you. Short hair is every bit as versatile as long hair, and you can have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas. Just because you walk out of a salon looking one way doesn’t mean you have to keep the same look every day.

Celebrate your individuality in every way you can!

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