5 Things To Know Before Getting A Dramatic Haircut

by Stephanie Montes

Working up the courage to get that short haircut you’ve been pondering can be difficult. While we always support a fresh, new ’do, there are a few things you should know before committing. To answer all your burning questions (will it fit my face shape? will I be able to style it?), we tapped celebrity hairstylist Paul Norton for some sheerly genius advice. Now you can make the chop (or not) with complete confidence.

Shortcuts To A Short Cut

Photos: Vanessa Jackman

#1: Take Texture Into Consideration

Always think about the texture of your hair when going in for a cut: "Coarse or curly hair can be difficult to style at a short length. Once length and weight are removed, the hair may frizz and look even shorter," says Paul. "When it comes to straight, fine hair, layers are key so it doesn't look flat and limp."

#2: Think About Your Face Shape

The shape of a cut can (positively or negatively) alter the look of your face–so it's best to tread lightly. "When cutting layers around the face, start a little longer for safety then slowly trim off more once you see how the hair is reacting," says Paul. Here are his tips for the cut that works best for various face shapes: Round: "To elongate your face, opt for long layers or try a lob that hits at the shoulders. Short, blunt cuts can shorten and widen the face." Square: "Try a mid-length haircut and soften the angles of your face with long, side-swept bangs." Oval: "The most versatile of all, oval faces can pull off anything from the classic pixie to long hair. Feel free to experiment with all lengths of layers and bangs."

#3: Take A Short 'Do For A Test-Drive

Experimenting with faux bobs, layers or bangs can be the perfect way to feel out a shorter style. To get faux bangs, Paul advises to “pull hair into a high ponytail and secure with an elastic. Split the base in half to get a top and bottom. Pull the top half toward the forehead to create the look of bangs and pin in place at the crown. Tease the base of the ponytail and wrap into a topknot. Pin in place.” Voila. Take your new 'do for a spin to figure out if you really like it.

#4: Know Your (Time) Limits

Always look for styles that work with your natural texture. "If you're an active person that requires hair to be out of your face, you should consider longer hair that is more conducive to ponytails and topknots," says Paul. As for styling short hair, his favorite trick is to spend extra time blow-drying hair around the face. "The rest can be undone, but the important parts will be perfectly styled."

#5: Modify Your Favorite Styles To Work For You

Don't be discouraged if your favorite celebrity hairstyle doesn't work with your hair texture or face shape. "Any length can work for a person with minor adjustments in layering and shape," explains Paul. "Just be willing to work with your stylist to create something that is flattering on you."