Think of all the time you spend caring for, styling and just generally worrying about your hair. Now imagine if all that effort just went away, as quickly as it would take for your stylist to fire up the electric shears and give you a dramatic, ultra-short hairdo.
The shaved look has been trending as the hairstyle of the new year, as Demi Lovato, Keke Palmer, Indya Moore, Saweetie, Iris Law and other celebrities cut it all off. And many of their fans are following suit.
“Like an item on your bucket list, at some point in their life everyone says, ‘I want to shave off my hair,’” stylist Rod Anker told HuffPost. “Well, now or never! With the world the way it is, more people are doing things that their previous selves would not have dreamt of doing. We’ve seen some of our most conservative clients go from extreme length to a close-cropped shave.”
“Everyone should try it, no matter what head shape, color or facial features you have,” stylist Dominick Pucciarello told HuffPost. “Any lifestyle, and any age, lend themselves to this style. If you’re not afraid of change or letting your vulnerability show, go for it. It’s a sign of release and letting go.”
A buzz cut can even be one very effective way to achieve a “blank slate” that erases some hair choices you might not be enjoying any more. “It can be very liberating, and a great way to sort of ‘start over,’ especially if your hair is damaged from excess heat styling or from poorly done color or extensions,” stylist Dita Durga told HuffPost.
Do you have a weird-shaped head? Probably not, and also, who cares?
Even those who are more than ready for the liberation that Durga described may have some concerns. It turns out that many of us are skeptical about what shape of noggin might be lurking under our follicles, but perhaps without good reason. “Everyone says ‘My head is a weird shape,’ but most people have very similarly shaped heads,” Anker said.
Still, your stylist will be happy to do a bit of hand-holding (and head holding?) before the shearing starts. “A stylist can examine the head shape for balance and suss out unsightly bumps or flat spots,” Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon, told HuffPost. “The occipital bone, which is the rounded part of the head above the nape, is key for a flattering shape. The shaved head looks best with an oval or heart-shaped face, because the jawline tapers in for a more slender effect.”
Accessories can help you pull off the look you’d like, no matter what your face shape. “Someone with a round face, for example, can opt for more square-ish glasses and longer earrings to alter the overall look,” Anker said.
In the end, though, it’s all up to you. “Ultimately, I feel every head shape is beautiful,” Durga said. “Talking about the ‘wrong’ shape is just the patriarchy seeping into our collective psyches.”
Is this a DIY project or stylist-only thing?
Even though it seems like a pretty straightforward job, you might want to book a stylist appointment for your first foray into a close-cropped look. And don’t come to the appointment empty-handed. “Find some inspiration photos you’re drawn to and bring them to your hairstylist,” stylist Michelle Ceglia told HuffPost.
“Having your stylist do the cut, at least the first time, may be the way to go, since there are lots of places you can’t see when you’re doing it yourself,” stylist Tim Foster told HuffPost.
“Have a professional stylist shave your head with the proper equipment to be safe and avoid nicks or cuts,” Abramite advised. “Plus, the ear area will need delicate maneuvering with the clipper.”
There also are complexities to the cut that a good stylist will appreciate. “In my opinion, there still needs to be a level of detail in the cut to complement your head shape and face,” Ceglia said. “It’s not a one-step process for me. I judge which areas should be left a little longer to encourage symmetry that makes up for what may naturally be lacking.”
Maintaining the look
“Your hair grows approximately half an inch per month,” Abramite said, “so you’ll need to trim it once every two to four weeks.”
You might decide to keep it short, or you may want to see what happens when you grow it out. “With a super-short style, you can change your look with almost every cut, making changes and altering the color faster than you could before,” Anker said.
Pucciarello suggested that, if you want to maintain a short style, you might want to invest in a buzzer and ask your stylist for tips on using it. “I’m sure if you have a long enough relationship, they’ll help guide you through it,” he said.
What will you do with all that extra time you used to spend on your hair? Foster has an idea. “Since you don’t need to worry about styling your hair as much, you can put more effort into your makeup, if you’d like,” he said. “A feminine face is a feminine face, with or without hair. I remember when I was a kid, the only makeup my mom wore was lipstick. It always made a difference.”
Products to help
There are some products you might want to use with your new do. “If you have short hair, you have to pay more attention to scalp health,” Durga said, and suggested Najeau, a pre-shampoo scalp oil that nourishes the scalp, boosts shine, prevents breakage and improves blood circulation to stimulate hair growth. Durga also suggested Kevin Murphy’s Free Hold Cream for styling. “Buzzed hair can be so fun to play with, and this cream is super pliable. But if your hair is too short to style, then enjoy breaking the matrix and just focus on that scalp health,” Durga said.
As your hair grows, you may need to pick up another product or two. “Short-cropped hair needs texture, so we like to use a texturizing powder for short styles,” Anker said. “It gives you support, adds texture and doesn’t leave the hair too stiff.”
When you’re ready to grow it out
As for how to grow it out gracefully, Ceglia suggested that you need to consider your goals and how you want your style to look in the future. “In general, after a few months of growth, you should have the ends cut and use some product to achieve a less ‘grown out’ look,” she said.
Made up your mind yet? Consider these parting words from Durga: “While you should understand that it’s a commitment to do this, it could also be the perfect opportunity for you to learn about what makes you feel beautiful. Plus, it’s just hair ― and it grows back.”