Think There’s Only One Way To Style Your Pixie Cut? Think Again
Chic & versatile times 10.
Short hair communicates a certain kind of confidence. While face-framing lobs and mermaid manes offer a softening distraction (as well as a curtain to literally hide behind), abbreviated cuts put the face on full display, centering complexion, posture, and a general “Here I am, take it or leave it,” vibe. But with very little hair to work with, the pixie cut in particular can feel intimidating — until you know how to style it.
Of all the shorn styles — buzz cuts and bobs, shags and modern mullets — the pixie skews the most romantic, tending toward pretty and polished, even when punk depending on the shape. Blame it on the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Mia Farrow, who championed the cut in the 1950s and ‘60s with all of their doe-eyed waifishness. “Mia farrow’s Vidal Sassoon cut in Rosemary’s Baby is my all-time favorite pixie. It’s absolutely perfect,” says Lauren Bailey-Chaidez, owner of Feverfew in Los Angeles. “The soft textured neckline makes it so sweet and demure when juxtaposed with the short ‘masculine’ silhouette.”
These days, though, the pixie comes with some edge, personalized to match the attitude, hair texture, and overall aesthetic of the wearer. It also functions as a single step in a larger grow-out, a natural pause between buzz cut and bob that wearers have opted to embrace rather than rush through to obtain length. Forget the manic: pixie dream girls are a far more enduring trope.
Here, ten ways to style the pixie cut, along with expert tips to get the most out of your super-short style.
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“Anyone with any kind of hair can pull off a pixie cut,” says hairstylist Thanh Vo. That said, there’s something about the classically elvish interpretation that captures the aspirational appeal of the style. To bring the would-be retro take into the present tense, Vo suggests reaching for wet-look gels to achieve a modern, slicked and sleek variation.
Super Cropped Pixie
“It’s such a bold, chic haircut,” says Vo of the super-short pixie. “It just gives bad bitch energy (e.g. Zoë Kravitz).” Cropped a bit further than the classic variation, this pixie leans extra gamine — and, though super-short, requires an equal amount of effort. “I would recommend styling pomade or styling cream, which will help provide that texture and hold while taming any unruly strands,” says Vo. “Warm the product in your hands first, and work it into your hair using your fingers, molding where you want your hair to go.”
Bailey-Chaidez likens this iteration of the pixie to a ‘60s-era Edie Sedgwick or a ‘90s Winona Ryder — in short, the shaggy pixie is incredibly iconic. “I love this cut for all hair textures,” says the stylist, who suggests using a great leave-in conditioner like Reverie Milk followed by a wealth of sea spray. “It’s definitely a less-is-more style.” To avoid a mushroom grow-out, Bailey-Chaidez suggests removing lots of weight during the initial cut.
One of 2022’s most popular crops, the bixie is born of a pixie grown to irreverent, near-shag length — and those with finer hair would do well to embrace this in between style. “The layers will help give that illusion of thickness,” says Vo, who recommends finishing with a sea salt spray for extra texture. For extra oomph (and a silky finish), opt for Moroccanoil’s Beach Wave Mousse.
Pixie With Bangs
“A great choice for someone who is ready to commit to the short crop without losing softness around the face,” says Bailey-Chaidez of this bangin’ pixie. “It’s super flattering.” After applying a lightweight balm or styling cream, spritz the fringe with ample dry shampoo to absorb excess oil while boosting volume.
Cropped and curly pixies center on shape: From cut to styling, it’s about focusing on a cloud of curls that best accents your face. Depending on your curl type, the addition of layers can create a insouciant, slightly rumpled effect similar to the shag pixie. Shape with a favored styling cream for hold and shine, and finish with an ample spritz of volumizing spray. “Powders add a bit more grit to the hair, which gives you more control,” says Vo.
“This one can be tricky!” says Bailey-Chaidez, who focused on soft texture all around the perimeter and lots of texture on top to avoid eliciting comparisons to The Karen. “Style with lots of texture spray at the root, and finish with a light cream to define the ends and piece out texture,” she adds, citing Hairstory Undressed and Cult + King Balm as her asymmetrical product heroes.
Pixie With Undercut
If you’re a fan of devil-may-care aesthetics, the ‘80s revival, or both, a pixie with an undercut may be for you. A fantastic option for those wishing to transmute their buzz cut grow out into a full-on journey of looks, this cut is androgynous and edgy — but certainly requires some styling and forethought. “I’d use lots of texture and weight removal on top and keep the sides clean and tight,” says Bailey-Chaidez, adding that she loves the contrast between soft and hard. To maintain this pixie’s punk, finding the perfect hair wax or paste is a must.
For a unique look that is adaptable to many mane textures while veering into ‘70s disco territory, opt for the fluffy pixie. “This cut is great for wavy or curly hair,” says Bailey-Chaidez. “Keep extra length around the ears to help create more volume, and comb out the curls to create fluff. Bigger is better.” To achieve great heights, invest in texturizing and volumizing products and help create body without weighing lengths down.
A full-on look that can lead into any of the aforemention pixies, if you so choose. This cut makes a strong statement all on it own, calling for equally strong accessorizing (think: a bold lip color). Bailey-Chaidez recommends buzzing the sides a little shorter than the top to keep the shape round while avoiding any odd proportions throughout the grow-out. And for barely-there hair? All you need is a touch of balm to smooth down frizz and flyaways.