How do I hair?
May 27, 2014 4:34 AM   Subscribe

I've been cutting my own hair for a couple of years - I have no hair cutting skills, I hack at it with a pair of scissors until it doesn't flop into my eyes anymore. During that time I've been a student, and now I've just finished uni, and started thinking that maybe before I start volunteering/going to job interviews where I'll need to make a good impression, I should get a professional to have a go at it.

As it sits now, it's fairly short (long enough that it forms a fringe that covers most of my forehead, short enough that I'm semi-regularly mistaken for a 15-year-old boy), and a bit uneven/scruffy. If I mention in conversation that I cut it myself, people seem surprised, so either it looks ok, or people are polite enough to pretend it does. I don't mind it like this, I don't really think about it much, but I'm worried about approaching potential employers etc. looking like I just got dragged through a hedge.

I haven't touched it for a few weeks to let it grow out a bit, so that when I shuffle into a hairdressers and ask them to fix it they'll have more to work with. My problem is that I don't want a particularly "girly" hairstyle, and whenever I went to a hairdresser as a teenager I was disappointed with the outcome. I don't really know what kind of style I want. I guess I wouldn't mind just going to a barbers and getting some sort of men's cut, but I'm worried about the impression a men's haircut on a woman would make.

What do I do with my hair? Am I worrying too much?
posted by AllShoesNoSocks to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Go to the barber and get a men's haircut, it will be fine. Lots of women rock a pixie cut even in a professional setting.
posted by Andrhia at 4:40 AM on May 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

You could go for an androgynous style like this one, where the fringe is longer but the back is quite short. It's not girly but it's not a man's haircut as such. I'd suggest going to a hairdressers with a list of requirements for your cut, so: not too girly, tidy, low maintenance, etc. and ask them to suggest some styles. You could also consider approaching a hairdresser and asking if you can pay for a lesson in cutting/styling so you can continue cutting it yourself but with a better technique.
posted by billiebee at 4:48 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Look for a stylist who is a bit nontraditional-looking and younger, and you'll probably be fine. I got fed up with longer hair and walked into my stylist one day and started waving around my phone with a bunch of pictures of certain guy with the hair I wanted because it was exactly right for how my hair is, and she just said sure and did it and it looks excellent. It's not pixie-short, but I think if you've never seen anyone before, there's nothing wrong with calling places up and telling them you want a butch haircut and seeing what they say. Ideally, ask friends with hair you like, but I never had much luck with that, ymmv. I ended up with the chick whose hair is never the same shade of pink twice, and it turned out to be a good fit.

Nothing wrong with the barber thing, either--kind of a trade off of cheaper versus a stylist doing more, well, styling, which is even a thing with short hair.
posted by Sequence at 4:50 AM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have a friend who is a similar type of feminine to you but is perhaps more elaborate in her grooming? Basically, ask said friend where they get their hair done, and make an appointment with their stylist. If you have no such friend, go by neighborhood. If you're in a reasonably sized city, chances are high you will have a younger/creative/queer part of town. Pick a mid-price salon there, because they will give you the least flack for avoiding pretty/girly.

Before you go, think about things like:
-If there are any celebrities whose hair you would like to have (it is okay to bring pictures of guys!)
-The amount of product you are willing to put into your hair to make it look the way you want it to be (it is okay to say "no product at all")
-If you are going to be blowing your hair dry or letting it air dry
-If you are interested in letting it grow longer or keeping it quite short all the time (a good stylist will give you a cut that doesn't grow out too awkwardly if you're aiming for a longer length)

Then go to your appointment and stress your desire to not look "girly", and show them pictures of people with hair you like. A good stylist will have a little consultation with a new client - they'll probably sit you down and start pawing through your hair to get a feel for its texture while talking to you, but if this makes you uncomfortable you can ask them to stop, although they'll eventually need to do that anyway. It's during that consultation that you tell them all that information.

After any haircut, give it a good wash & dry a while after you get it done, and a week if not two for it to settle and grow on you, if you're having misgivings. If you decide you love it, take lots and lots of pictures of your own head. Then you can bring those pictures to anybody (like, a lower priced salon) and have them duplicate it. Many places will do bang trims for free or very cheap, so ask about that.
posted by Mizu at 5:02 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since your current haircut seems like it isn't too far off what you want (though maybe shaggier) it would probably be very helpful to see a photo of your hair.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:25 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I go to the Aveda Institute in my city. I pay $13 for a designer hair cut. The place is a school, that's why the prices are so cheap, but I get the expertise of the educators. What they teach is not just how to cut hair, but how to take face shape, body type and the actual person into account when they do your hair cut.

So Aveda, Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell are all nationally know brands that will have these schools all over. Find one, make an appointment and go in for a consultation. Explain what you will and won't do style wise, and ask them to help with ideas.

It will help them if you go in with pictures of hair cuts that you like, but honestly, this is the best way to get a cut that you love, that suits you and that will only require the upkeep you want to put into it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:37 AM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

This seems to be for longer styles, but if you want to continue cutting it yourself I have multiple friends who do versions of the ponytail bob described here.
posted by korej at 5:54 AM on May 27, 2014

Find pictures of what you like and bring those with you to a good hairdresser (who hopefully you can get recommendations on from your friends). Describing without visuals can be tough, especially on a first visit. Also, going to someone who you have to pay a bit more means that you can take some time during the cut to check on progress and recalibrate as you go along.
posted by xingcat at 6:08 AM on May 27, 2014

Hi, I'm a ladyperson with a boyish but not men's haircut. I'm a big fan of the not-terribly-severe undercut, as seen worn by Jenna Elfman here or in my profile pic.

I get compliments on my hair all the time from everyone, from artsy college-age cool kids to elderly women.

It's a really nice blend of dead easy to work with, not girly, and intentional-looking. Looking like your hair is on purpose is a big part of looking put together, and spending 0 seconds on my hair every morning and looking not-girly is a big part of my happiness.

NB: I think you will be happiest going to a stylist-stylist at a place where the stylists all have tattoos and unnatural hair colors. Those folks "get" this kind of look and will give you the androgynous hair you want while also making you look good.
posted by phunniemee at 6:42 AM on May 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I've never noticed any problems or weirdness about getting a men's haircut as a woman. It will not look like a men's haircut on you; it will look like your haircut.

I go to a place that caters to any gender, and show them a picture from a book of men's haircuts that they have, and it always comes out fine.

If you can't find any pictures before you go, that's not a problem because you'll probably find such a book in the salon.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:44 AM on May 27, 2014

I am a girl with a very short pixie cut in a professional setting and there have been zero problems. Honestly, it's not that uncommon to see women with short hair anymore, and people don't tend to make a big deal out of it. I made a pinterest board of hairstyles I liked, and showed them to my cool young hairdresser who knew how to incorporate what I like with what I have on my head.

Biggest tip I would give you is that if you haven't had pretty short hair before, it takes a week or two to get used to, so don't panic if you don't love it the second you walk out of the salon. I ended up going back in two weeks after my cut to get it touched up to look more the way I wanted, and ended up having an awesome haircut that I love and I feel suits my personality the best. And no one I work with cares in the least.
posted by alona at 8:51 AM on May 27, 2014

Do you use a lot of products in your hair? If not, be careful going to a salon. Even if you tell them you don't use product and that they should gear the cut toward something that looks good air dried and with no spritz, they might still convince you to leave with spritz or to get a haircut that only looks good with it -- because that's what they know how to do best, style hair. If you're as no nonsense about styling as you are cuts, go to a barber rather than a salon for a pixie cut.
posted by theraflu at 9:33 AM on May 27, 2014

For the longest time in the late 80s I had my hair cut at various traditional barbers and it was always perfect. They use the electric trimmer and you're quickly in and out. It's cheap, no nonsense, they won't try to sell you stuff, and usually you can just walk in without an appointment. The style was a lot like the one billiebee linked to above.
posted by Dragonness at 9:41 AM on May 27, 2014

Barber. Definitely. I was having a Really Bad Hair Week and decided to whack all mine off...when I was out of town. I went to a trendy salon in Chicago and got stuck with the juniormost stylist, who proceeded to completely wreck my hair. When I got back home and talked to my stylist friends, they were horrified, because a pixie cut (what I wanted) is one of the most bog standard haircuts ever. Any old school barber could have done it beautifully, with no problem. So agreeing with everyone above -- barbers are cheaper, faster and better at this sort of thing.
posted by at 10:42 AM on May 27, 2014

I think you need to get a little clearer about what you want other than "not too girly," learn some of the lingo, and then go to a barber or unisex stylist, as you see fit. I have done plenty of both and sometimes barbers are just fine and sometimes they are not. It just depends on the individual -- like with any other stylist -- but the barber is usually at least a cheap mistake, thus relatively painless in the financial department, at least.

For several years, my cut was "2 (or 3) guard around the back and sides, shave off the sideburns, trim the top and leave me a little more in front for bangs." How good this looked varied, depending upon who did it. When I have had good rapport with a stylist, I have encouraged them to "play with it and have fun -- you can't mess this up!" (you can mess it up -- I have had it messed up -- but it's hard, in part because it was not a style choice, it was a health choice). Sometimes, encouraging someone to play with it and have fun got me something really wonderful. Most stylists don't get to do that too often and sometimes give you extra time and attention just because they get to have fun for once.

So a) you need some verbiage for communicating what you want. Then b) try a few barbers/stylists until you find one you like, with whom you get along.

(FWIW: When I was a homemaker, I also used to trim my own hair. It helps if you have professional grade scissors, which I had for a time. My mom bought them for me through a barber friend.)
posted by Michele in California at 3:05 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I were going to get a short haircut that was no fuss (meaning rub some gel in it and go) I would sit down in the chair and say "Ellen DeGeneres" and I would look AWESOME and you will too if you decide to do that!
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 9:40 PM on May 29, 2014

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