Cute short feminine hairstyles for curly haired trans lady?
June 20, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Hello everyone! I am early in my transition as a trans woman and am working on growing my hair out. In the meantime I am interested in figuring out some way to do my hair that looks cute and feminine and doesn't require a ton of maintenance.

Most of the hairstyles I've come up with on google seem to look great on cis women but on me just look look boyish. Here and here and here (please pardon the trying-too-hard "sexy" faces i'm doing) you can see pictures of my hair in its current (pretty much "trying to forget it's there") state. I wear hats a lot. I have thick brown curly hair that I know is gonna look awesome when it's grown out, but having been raised as a boy, I never really was taught anyway to style it and kind of just always went with the unkempt/hipster/bedhead look. Thoughts?
posted by tinyfolk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (49 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
1. Conditioner. From a salon.
2. I would ditch the hat. I have similar curls, and when it's short, I usually wear a headband, and use gel or a good mousse.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Boost them curls! Here's a good book. Try and find a stylist that specializes in curly hair.

You have a great curl structure, and the right products and styles will only serve to build upon that.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:39 PM on June 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Seconding the headband and mousse suggestion. Even a round one that's essentially a tube.

It can be worn like a headband or like you're wearing your beanie, giving the impression of more hair under there "hidden as a bad hair day".

They can slip back pretty far; keep putting it in place all day or secure in place with a few bobby pins.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2014

I'll make a slightly different suggestion, since I think for that length of hair you sort of just have to wait for it to grow to look more feminine. Consider getting your eyebrows pulcked/shaped. It can make a huge difference in how your face looks, and your current shaggy brows definitely read very masculine. You look super-cute, though! And your curls are adorable.
posted by MsMolly at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2014 [34 favorites]

Fellow curly head here. Hats are out, they squish the curls. Try taking this photo to a really good stylist. Definitely consider tint given your gorgeous blue eyes -- though it is by no means a must for you, as your hair color is nice now. The trick is to get the right cut, and also listen to the stylist about what product to use in your hair. (I really like Lush and products for keeping my hair style curly, not crazy or frizzy.)
posted by bearwife at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

You're lucky; you've got lovely curly hair that will look amazing in most short tousled styles. Curls look best with gentle treatment, a lot of moisture (i.e. good conditioner!), and not much handling. I strongly recommend reading up on the Curly Girl method - I think you'll get very good results.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

My normal advice is to NEVER FIGHT YOUR HAIR TEXTURE. If you're curly, then be curly. In this special instance, I think a blowout might help because it'll add some length. I would have a salon blow it out. If a blowout looks good, then I highly recommend this tool for home styling.

Another salon thing is a eyebrow groom (threading or waxing). Thining and tidying up the brows will make a huge difference.
posted by 26.2 at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with finding a good quality shampoo and conditioner. Curly hair can be very dry, which can lead to frizzies. Encouraging your curls to be sleeker and more defined will be a more feminine look, I think.

I'd also suggest adding a side part, which you can encourage to stay side-parted by gently blow-drying fora few minutes on low heat. To blow-dry curly hair, you want to make sure you aren't tousling it around with with your fingers, or blowing the hair around, but instead using the air to dry everything in place.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:48 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think that wearing hats a lot is going to make more people read you as masculine. If you can, I'd ditch the hats and add some bobby pins or plain clips to style it a little more. One, two, three results for google image search for "short hair with bobby pins"

I think that bobby pins are nice, and to me, plain enough to look adult, day-in, day-out. Bonus - they can target whatever curls aren't cooperating that day.
posted by mercredi at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2014

Response by poster: So one issue I've had when I'm putting in bobby pins or wearing a headband or whatever is that my hair gets SO POOFY that it looks odd where its holding the hair down.

I know the hat is totally an insecurity thing/clinging to something that feels "androgynous" instead of feminine bc I'm self conscious even though I'm wearing a skirt or whatever.

I definitely want to go to a stylist and I definitely want to get some good conditioner and shampoo. Also yes and yes to embracing the curliness. I'm going to check out Curly Girl asap.

Great advice so far! Thanks so much!!
posted by tinyfolk at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2014

I googled short curly hair styles and the first page of images included a lot of looks that would work on you. I think it's a matter of know how. Is there a beauty school near you? Talk with the person who does the scheduling and ask for a queer friendly almost graduate who is good with curls.

I also second brow styling and maintenance. Don't go to the beauty school for brows though. Go to a high end waxing salon or brow place (at least for the first and second times). Also spend 20 bucks (I know) on a pair of tweezer man brand tweezers.

I think you're adorable.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Adding to the idea of a side part. There is reasearch on the hair part theory (I'm on my phone but it's from This basically says that most men part their hair on the left and women part their hair on the right. So try parting your hair on the right.

Also agree to embrace the curl. When my hair was long and I wore it wavy I really liked curl creams. They aren't crunchy like some other products.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:57 PM on June 20, 2014

Besides what everyone else has said, quit shaving the bits in front of your ears. Men's haircuts usually shave that bit off. Short lady haircuts don't. Mine grows there in a kind of downward pointing triangle shape (not blunt like sideburns!)
posted by emilyw at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

nthing the curly girl method--that plus good hair products will make a huge difference! I'm quite partial to the Devacurl line of products, which are pricey, but a little goes a loooong way.

You might want to also look into clipping your curls at the root while you dry your hair to give them extra volume and curl. Here's how.

I'm lazy and can't figure out how to properly use a blow dryer, so I got myself one of these babies. It leaves my hair with much less frizz, and I can literally just sit there and read a book.

I'd also look into softer, scarf-type headbands--they can look really cute with a side part!
posted by inertia at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I hear you on bobby pins seeming too severe. That will reduce a little as your hair gets longer. Maybe look at a couple of the styles where you braid or twist a few small pieces at the front, and then pin those back? you can pin them back sort of under the rest of your hair, so you get some definition without big pinned-flat sections.
posted by mercredi at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm very jealous of your awesome curls!! Just give them time to grow, condition and maintain.... N'thing eyebrow shaping... You are on the right track cute thing!
posted by pearlybob at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2014

If you blowdry your hair, A.) use some sort of heat protectant product (I use Ouidad Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel which also does wonders at fighting the frizziness and poufyness that I'd get without it) and B.)use a diffuser on your blowdryer; it'll keep your curls together and also fight that frizziness.

I also thought bobby pins would be cute. I usually twist my hair up into where the booby pin goes and I think that helps the little shorter hairs stay.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2014

I have straight hair, but I've rocked short haircuts that look both masculine and feminine depending on the day and how I'm presenting, and I'll tell you that ornamentation seems make a huge difference versus just the cut (at least, for me). Pins will help, but go for decoration that is more ornate than just a plain hairband or pins - push the front back with something like this or this, or get something big like this, or heck, even something a little over the top. When you're doing femininity, a little bling goes a long way. :)
posted by joycehealy at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding a diffuser. It helps me give my curls volume and bounce without making them all frizzy.

I agree that accessorizing is the way to go until your hair grows out a little bit. I think a printed scarf or bandana like the first girl on this page would look adorable! It might also be a good baby step away from the hats.
posted by marshmallow peep at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2014

The SO POOFY will go away if you start treating your curls well. Nthing Curly Girl: do not scrub, brush, or rough up your curls, use gentle fingers only, moisture not chemicals, avoid heat if you can, have good nutrition.

And I think that learning to work with your hair texture will be more helpful than the haircut, since a lot of what differentiates feminine vs. masculine hair styles is about styling and products rather than cut. Men very rarely have styled hair, and when they do it's read as "metrosexual," so if you just take a bit more effort it will be read as more feminine regardless.

Growing it out will help a bit too, and expand your cut options. But a good stylist should be able to give some advice on cuts that are flattering to your face--look for one through this directory over at the Naturally Curly site. Oh, and be prepared to get a bit more spendy on your hair than you are used to, the unkempt bedhead hipster boy look is about the lowest cost you can get.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @emilym Re:sides

I'm aware of that, but right now my facial hair grows in SO THICK that it just looks like sideburns no matter what if it's there. I'm currently going through laser hair removal treatment and I've talked to the lady who does it about this and she is working with me to make that part come in a bit thinner without it not existing entirely.

Also to everyone who's said something about eyebrows I have plucked them lightly (you should have seen them before) and I plan to do more when I either a) talk to a friend who has more experience in advising me how to shape them to fit my face or b) have the money to go to a professional.

Money is, of course, a huge limiting factor for me right now but I'm filing away some of these tips for future reference when I've got a bit more.
posted by tinyfolk at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2014

> (please pardon the trying-too-hard "sexy" faces i'm doing)

Nothing to pardon. Girl, take a gander at a handful of women on dating sites; if the picture was taken for their profile (instead of by their Aunt Maggie), their faces look like yours.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

They have pretty great extensions for curly hair these days. I wouldn't go for super long ones as they damage your hair but you could probably easily get a chin length bob that's longer in the front. Which is a super common hairstyle for curly haired women and works better with a square jaw than a pixie style cut.

Eyebrows are like $25 to get waxed by a competent professional. A very worthwhile investment!
posted by fshgrl at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree that your hair is going to be super adorable in a couple of months. Nthing Curly Girl, and for general cut/styling inspiration, there are a couple of Tumblrs focusing on short curly hair styles for women that I follow that you should look at: one two. Some of the looks are more butch or androgynous, but I bet you could style your hair pretty close to, say, this right now (color aside), and it would look really great. It might just take playing around and experimenting with some products, which the Curly Girl site would be great for recommending.

Actually, based on that and my own curly hair gender presentation experiments, I think that loosely parting your hair slightly off-center as opposed to letting it all go upwards will make a big difference in the short term. Also, it looks like the sides/back are shorter now, and I'm wondering if trimming the top a smidge so everything is a more similar length will feminize the style as well.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:33 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have hair a bit like yours and swear by leave-in conditioner. They sell this under different names -- Aussie make a nice one, and my current favourite is Schwarzkopf Gliss Kur spray. (That's the German name. I think this is the American version.) Wash your hair, using conditioner, and rub it sort-of dry with a towel; then spray the conditioner on and comb it through with your fingers. Let your hair dry naturally, and when it's done you can fluff it a bit with your fingers. Don't brush curly hair ever, unless you're about to wash it. (I wish someone had told me that much earlier!)

I agree with the advice above to try a side parting. Using clips to hold the front back and decorate your do takes practice (to avoid that effect you've found, of some bits going flat and others all poofy) but it's definitely possible, even with hair your length, and you will get a lot better over time. One thing I quite like is to take just the upper section of the hair that falls over your forehead, twist it slightly and clip it back, while leaving the lower section free to soften the edge of your forehead a bit. This kind of hair comb slide thing is nice (and of course you can get fancier, prettier ones of the same kind). Here's how to use them. While your hair is short, you only need one, on the opposite side from where it's parted.

Now that my hair is past chin length, I find that if I clip the front part of my hair back while it's drying, it often stays more or less in place without a clip once it's dry.

If you intend to grow your hair fairly long, there will come a time when it starts to look kind of triangular. At this point, you can ask your hairdresser for one or two long layers, to round it off a bit. Do check first whether they have experience with curly hair! If so, they will definitely know how to do this.

Plucking or threading your eyebrows will make a surprising difference to the look of your face and even your expressions. I've never had this done professionally, but I have lived with eyebrows sacrificed to teenage experimentation, and I don't recommend that!

Do take your time to experiment and enjoy figuring out new things to do with your hair. Have fun! :)
posted by daisyk at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's worth finding a good stylist. A friend of mine here in Ann Arbor recommends hers; she also transitioned recently and now has adorable short curly hair. (I also have short hair but not curly-- so the stylist didnt' work so much for me-- you really want to get a stylist who specifically works with curly hair). I'd peruse askme recs for short curly stylists. (Unless you're in A^2, in which case memail me).
posted by nat at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Most of the hairstyles I've come up with on google seem to look great on cis women but on me just look look boyish.

Yeah, there's lots of stuff that looks cute and fun and maybe slightly androgynous on cis ladies — and then when we do it, it makes people ask us "When are you going to stop presenting as male?" It's rough.

I think it's helpful as a trans woman to start looking out for little details that look good on you that are specifically designated as Not For Men. A side part (at least on hair that is longer or more tousled than this) is one example. Barettes and hair clips are another, and they go nicely with a side part on short or medium-length hair, because you can do the thing where you keep the hair from the middle of your forehead twisted up and clipped off to one side. Extra femme bonus points for a barrette or clip that comes across as jewelry and not just a utilitarian thing. There's also things you can do with bleach or hair dye that are gender-coded — for instance, dyed bangs seems to be a specifically femme thing, though it might be a younger look than you really want.

(If you're really just starting to transition, your reaction to some of this Not For Men stuff will probably be "Oh god, I couldn't possibly do that!" Which is sort of the point. If you picked up the lesson when you were presenting as male that a particular style point was Off Limits, then that's a sign that it's precisely the sort of thing that will make people look at you now and go "Huh, this is not someone who is presenting as normatively male, maybe they belong in some other category.")

If you can afford it, you absolutely need to find a stylist who specializes in curly hair. That is so very important, and will help a lot with the poofiness and whatnot — and also be good for a few Femme Points on its own, since men tend not to take such good care of curly hair.

For inspiration as you keep growing your hair out, maybe look for pictures of Merritt Kopas? She's a (admittedly somewhat butch) young trans woman with curly hair that looks to be similar in texture to yours, and she tends to wear it longer than yours, but not by a whole lot.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2014 [10 favorites]

I have curly hair but am seriously jealous of yours - it looks like it's trying to do something, not just be wild and all over the place (like mine).

Nthing the suggestions to get your eyebrows done. It helps a lot.

Strongly disagree with the comment that for that length of hair you sort of just have to wait for it to grow to look more feminine. I see ladies every day sporting hair like yours and they do not look masculine. Rest assured, what you're after is doable!

I swear by Sebastian Potion 9, which I got at my salon but is also available online (that's an Amazon link). I wash my hair (using Lush's Blousey shampoo and Retread conditioner - magic for coarse hair like mine), dry as much as possible with a towel, and work in about one pump of the Potion 9 stuff. I let it air dry a bit longer, then I blow dry with a diffuser attachment. Gives me a very carefree look that I like a lot. (My hair is longer than yours - my face was not made for short hair - but I used the same technique with shorter hair with success.)

Good luck!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2014

Oh, wow, when you deep condition your hair I bet it's ringlets all the way down. So gorg.

So here's what I'd do:


1. Deep condition. Get a good deep conditioner (you could make one using one of the recipes on or buy one). You're gonna shampoo your hair, get out the shower, slather your hair with the conditioner, put on a shower cap (like a cheap disposable one. or a plastic bag from Target if you're like me and fail at buying girl-things consistently), and then wrap your head in a hot hot towel/face cloth. The steam will help the conditioner penetrate your hair, which'll keep it from breaking, which'll help you get length.

1. Condition your hair using a cheapo conditioner, experimenting with what your hair needs. Like, my hair really likes silicones like dimethicone, which pisses me off because I'm snooty about organic hair and skin care products, but there you go. I'm guessing that because you look white, you probably need a more protein-rich than I do. Tresamme has a split ends conditioner that some friends of mine like, because it's got silicones that also help with detangling. The ingredient word you would be looking for would be ones like glycogen or keratin.

2. Only rinse out 90% of the conditioner. Yay! Conditioner! Anyways, use a style cream/lotion, I like Garnier or whatever for this, and scrunch it up and de tangle. You aren't matting your hair up now btw. Like, scrunching is very technical, lol, it's like your making your hands like URGH I'M GONNA CLAW YOUR FACE but then you're gently separating out your ringlets, carefully detangling, and parting your hair a little so that when you put a barrette in or a hairpin in you look like you did it deliberately.

Optional fun fact: you could totes mcgoats put some mousse in your hair and then use blowdryer with a diffuser attached to go big and volumized. It takes 5 seconds and it's some polished looking when you're done.

3. Accessories. Oh, my heart. I love accessories. My favorite are obnoxiously large contour clips because they are ricockulously eighties and if you put them in crooked people think you're making a statement. Ugh, they're amazing. You have really pretty eyes, too, so you can go bold with the colors, like purple or light blue or floral. Your hair is dark enough that you won't look like a goofball if you take color risks with smaller clips and pins, and your brow ridge and nose are elegant enough that you could do something tacky-retro (like a pearl clip with big plastic jewels!!) and it'd get like +10 chic.

4. My secret weapon with curly hair is then curling my eye lashes. It sounds weird but when you've got hair with a big personality you've got to bring your a-game with the rest of your face. This is another 10 seconds.

I conclude by wandering around the house in jeans and a tshirt, but my hair is then so great that people assume it's a hipster statement against consumerism instead of a serious-fail in the fashion department. Thank god for jeggings, oversized tees, and some people's belief that chicks in '80s cartoon shirts are secretly fashion forward. God bless us, every one.
posted by spunweb at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2014 [8 favorites]

You know, another thing is that the answers to this question are going to depend on what your goals are at this point in your transition. There are a lot of things you could do with hair your length that will say loud and clear "this person is not a heterosexual cisgendered man," but will not necessarily look conventionally feminine either. Like, I will bet money that there are exactly zero straight cis men in the world with this hairdo, but on you it would look Queer In Unspecified Ways and not Totally Conventionally Female. And it's really up to you whether that's something that would make you happy or something that would stress you out and make you more uncomfortable.

(The answer doesn't necessarily depend on your gender, which is why I bring it up. Like, there are people I know who identify as 100% straightforwardly female, but who would still be like "Hey, if someone reads me as ambiguous or gender-complicated, that's not perfect, but it's still better than reading me as 100% straightforwardly male." You might or might not feel the same way.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Also, don't think of your hair as short. Think of your hair as the perfect length for showing off your earrings and neck. Accessories are LITERALLY the best thing about having short curly hair. Love it.

And seconding getting your eyebrows done. I've only started doing them this year, and it's... wow. I look way less HERE'S MY JAW BITCHES now that my brows are delciate


I...... might be way more femme than I thought.
posted by spunweb at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

I have curly hair myself, but it's more wavy than yours. I really hate styling my hair, so I wear it pretty long, because it's low-ish maintenance for me that way. However, your hair is lovely and very curly (not wavy!), and would look awesome short with a little bit of work. I also have pretty thick hair myself, and here's what I would recommend for you, at least in the meantime.

Conditioner, conditioner, conditioner. Currently, I'm using a shampoo/conditioner blend and additional an conditioner every other day. Washing my hair every day dries it out too much, and the excess of conditioner helps keep it moist and happy. Sometimes, I'll do a conditioner-only wash on days when I need to style my hair but don't wish to wash it. I'm tempted to go conditioner-only soon. And remember to look for brands that are "moisturizing" and "for dry hair".

Some sort of mousse or anti-frizz cream. I use about a quarter-sized dollop of gel for curly hair, but you probably need something smoother and more gentle. Place your product of choice into damp hair, then comb it through with a nice wide or detangling comb. No brushing. Ever.

Let it air-dry, and try not to sleep with wet hair. Hats, pillowcases, blankets, etc. all smoosh and tousle and make you look windblown and poofy instead of cute. If you absolutely must sleep on wet hair, use nice satin pillowcases or scarves over your curls to keep them nice and happy.

Your hair is awesome, by the way. It just needs a little bit of care! As the only curly-girl in my house, it took me years to figure out how to care for my hair. Also nth-ing whoever's mentioned the Curly Girl method and their book. I don't do everything they recommend, but a few simple changes made my hair so much better. It's incredible!
posted by PearlRose at 2:08 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your hair is the perfect length and structure to show off bigger earrings, if that's something you're comfortable with. I have pretty much the exact same haircut/colour/texture as you do, and delicate drops, or bigger hoops look really pretty.

Changing the style at the back of your head (maybe to a pointier clipped nape rather than the same length all around or graded shaved bits (sorry for the lack of proper hairdressing terminology!)) can look really sexy and feminine without any work on your part after a cut.
posted by pickingupsticks at 2:20 PM on June 20, 2014

Look at other lengths of bobby pins, I like the short ones for not keeping too much hair down. Twist or flip the piece you want to pin and push forward slightly to stop it from being too flat. Take a couple sections of hair close together with separate pins instead of one section. This workes especially well with curls.

Side part and if you want to wear a hat go super slouchy with wider knit, something like this.
posted by Swisstine at 2:25 PM on June 20, 2014

The right haircut for hair like that is the difference between night and day--I've been through it myself. So you need to go to someone who really knows what to do with it, and then once you get a cut you like (I get mine by just waving pictures of BBC Sherlock at my stylist but it doesn't come out looking particularly masculine) then you can ask *them* how to do it again at home. In my case, it doesn't really matter what curl cream or gel I use, the results are a bit different but none of them bad, as long as I'm either air drying or using a diffuser. The diffuser gets it a bit more volume.

I often lament the lack of hats in my life, but I must agree with others, avoid, avoid, avoid.
posted by Sequence at 2:34 PM on June 20, 2014

Oh, and in my observation, white women are seriously phobic of venturing into the ethnic hair care section of the drugstore. WHY? Black women with curly hair are generally CURL EXPERTS and we as a population spend more money on haircare products per capita than other demographics!! Seriously tho: everything you need (deep conditioner, curl cream/lotion/milk, leave-in conditioner, gel, wide toothed combs, pins, etc) is right there, sometimes in sample sized bottles or kits.

Come to our half of the hair care aisle. I absolutely promise we won't bite.
posted by spunweb at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2014 [14 favorites]

I agree that your hair is beautiful! You're getting a lot of great tips above, and I only wanted to add that there are some nice temporary gloss treatments or color treatments that can give your hair that little bit of extra something.

Also, I'm a bit of an eyebrow freak. You're right to be cautious as screwing up the shape of a brow can really be a detriment to a face. Eyebrows are all about geometry that's scaled to your other features (which are also beautiful - you have very pretty bone structure). Here's a great guide that shows you where the brow should start, arch, and end if you want to try to do some of it yourself or have a friend help. Drawing out your guide shape using eyebrow pencil can help a lot as it keeps your plucks out of the area that you want to keep. Thicker brows are very in right now (and always, IMO) so, just a bit of shaping will go a long way. A touch of brow powder or eyebrow pencil will make them appear even and shapely when you're out and about.
posted by quince at 3:33 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice here. You sound like you need the curylyhair subreddit. One of the joys of curly hair is getting to "behave" and they have some great techniques here. I have recently discovered the joys of plopping and squish to condish and my hair is actually looking how I want for the first time in my 45 years. Even if you just lurk, like I do, there is a tonne of great info.
posted by wwax at 3:50 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can't tell you much about the hair because mine's straight, but I agree about a side part. It's going to be SO pretty as it gets longer! And the idea for pretty little bobby pins or a bandanna is nice.

Eyebrows aren't too bad but could definitely use some work.

I have another non-hair suggestion (I hope that's ok!) that I think would really bring out your gorgeous eyes and make you look more feminine. Curl your eyelashes every day (squeeze the curler firmly at the base for 2 seconds, and then again halfway out) and then put on mascara just on the top lashes. I like Cover Girl "Great Lash" - it's in a pink tube with a green top. I know the colorful packaging looks silly compared to all the fancy stuff out there now, but this stuff is a classic that doesn't clump and is easy to put on; it's what many makeup artists swear by. Maybe you already DO wear mascara every day and just aren't in these pictures, though. :) I barely wear any makeup except mascara and subtle lipstick, but I think the curling eyelashes and mascara makes a huge difference.
posted by amaire at 6:11 PM on June 20, 2014

1. While growing your hair out, never underestimate the value of cute hair clips/pins. Just clip the sides above your ears, or give yourself a bit of a pile-on on top of your head.. all sorts of fun options, and you can put 'em anywhere and get them in colors and with cute addons. I don't even DO cute and I still indulge, because awesome. Don't be afraid to ask your stylist for suggestions on how to wear them!
Browse the hair accessories section - there are lots of kinds of things to hold your hair in different ways, some that will work better with hair with more body like yours.

2. John Frieda's Frizz-Ease. Wonderful stuff.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:30 PM on June 20, 2014

I want to chime in about the eyebrows. I'm a cisgendered queer woman, and I rock the wild eyebrows about half the year, but the other half I like to look cute and well-kempt. I hate plucking. So I use these eyebrow razors, which I used to get at the Asian dollar store but now see at Walgreens and the like. They make shaping much nicer and easier, and I do it very incrementally so I don't get carried away [I also give myself bad haircuts and lemme tell you, I have not learned patience and incremental small steps with the hair on my head, no siree], then I trim the length with a pair of small scissors.

While you're at it, rock some dangly earrings which will frame your face in a particularly feminine way (and leave you a ton of room to be refined vs. dramatic, or quiet-femme vs. hella queer, or what have you). Scarves can also frame the face in a really nice (and typically feminine) way.

Also, your hair is so rad.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:30 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

So one issue I've had when I'm putting in bobby pins or wearing a headband or whatever is that my hair gets SO POOFY that it looks odd where its holding the hair down.

Definitely keep experimenting with different ways of putting pins/clips in your hair. When I wear my hair wavy, I sometimes like to do a braid, twist, or poof. The trick is to give that section some looseness and volume. I sometimes cover the spot where it's pinned with my loose hair.

Some examples of the looseness/poofiness I'm talking about here, here (hope it jumps to the right spot on the page for you), here, here. It will get easier as your hair gets longer and more weighed down.

Google image search for "headband curly hair" has some great examples of styles, too. Tight in front of the band and poofy behind is a Thing.
posted by moira at 9:22 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and this helpful video about using bobby pins was linked in another question a day or two ago.
posted by moira at 9:43 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

hey, you have gorgeous curls! They look almost identical to mine, and I had a similar style for a long time. My hair was asymmetrical (longer curl hangin down on one side), and my mom claimed it "maintained my femininity". I can neither confirm nor deny this, but feel free to memail me if you'd like pics.

I agree that length is probably going to be they key to achieving the overall look that you're going for, but I think figuring out how to get more moisture into your curls will also help the process along. It will also significantly speed the growth of your hair. Nettle tea rinses are also supposed to help with hair growth.

Here's my methodology for getting happy moisturized curls, in case it's helpful. It's based on the curlygirl ideology, and way too many hours spent reading "ethnic" hair blogs:

-I wash my hair twice a week. Sometimes less, definitely not more.
-Some sort of "non shampoo curl cleanser" to get the shmutz off the scalp.
-rinse of 1/4 braggs apple cider vinegar, 3/4 water and massage the vinegar into my scalp.
-The thickest salon conditioner I can find, formulated for curly hair, *mixed with a small dollop of the nicest honey I can afford.* Honey is a humectant, so it'll help your hair absorb and retain more moisture. To get the conditioner into my hair, I start from the ends, bend over forwards, and massage the conditioner through my hair, pushing upward through the hair to get it fully dispersed. Then wait at least five minutes before rinsing.
-once out of the shower, I use a t-shirt wrapped around my head (rather than a towel) to absorb excess water, apply some sort of "defining" gel (I like straight aloe vera gel), and a little Trader Joe's vitamin E oil on the tips.

Some other stuff
-the key to bobby pins with curly hair is not trying to get the bobby pin all the way down to the scalp. Rather than pinning all the hair in an area, pin some of the hair to another part of hair, so that you don't lose volume with the dreaded "squish". With hair your length, "mini" bobby pins might work better.
-I've never been able to do headbands because of the squish. Tied bandanas are my alternative --since they're wider and thicker, they match the height of my hair.
-Seconding big earrings, if you're comfortable.
-now that it's summer, a flower tucked behind your ear, or mounted onto a bobby pin or headband could be a nice touch.
posted by femmegrrr at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

No matter what you do, product is your friend. My curly hair is a mess without it. I switch between Brocato Curl Karma (available at Ulta) and Miss Jessie's Quick Curls (possibly available at Walgreens). A bottle of each lasts me a year, which is nice because they aren't cheap. But good product goes a lot further than cheap stuff and works much better. You'll probably have to play with some stuff to see what controls your curl and frizz. Good luck!!
posted by honeybee413 at 12:09 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, products. But also where and how you apply them. What exactly works for you is trial and error. Sample sizes of stuff are good. I have shoulder length hair that is very wavy, so probably less dry than your hair so make of that what you will.

As my hair got longer I found that quality of shampoo is a lot less important than quality of conditioner. I travel a lot for work and I always take my own conditioner and use whatever shampoo the hotel provides.

Also, I have an oily scalp so I only shampoo near my scalp and I condition up to my ears or thereabouts but not nearer my scalp. This is just to say that even though commercials would have you use every hair care product throughout all of your hair you really shouldn't.

I use hair oil on my towel dry hair. In particular a quarter sized amount of Moroccan oil also only throughout the length of my hair. That's key to keeping frizz away and to nice shiny curls and waves. I prefer the feeling of it to a lot of the anti frizz serums for example.

And yes, detangle, scrunch, leave well alone to air dry or dry with a diffuser if you must. If you want nice, smooth, curls as opposed to a frizzy mess you need to leave your hair well alone when it dries.

Also, once your hair is dry, in between washes, don't brush it. Use your fingers to detangle and rearrange. I wash my hair only every 3-4 days because it's too dry throughout the length to wash more frequently.

On day one after washing I just run my fingers through it and 'brush' lightly around my face with a wide toothed comb. What I mean by that is that I start at my scalp but I probably don't pull the comb all the way through. If that causes frizz, which it sometimes does due to prevailing weather and humidity, I use a small amount of hair cream at that point to help redefine a few waves and defrizz. I don't like using oil on dry hair for some reason. You could probably use a small amount of conditioner, leave in or normal, to achieve this but I am talking pea sized amount.

If I end up washing on day 4 not three I also use some dry shampoo through the roots of my hair due to oily scalp. Again there isn't any brushing going on, just detangling and arranging with fingers mainly. If that's not enough to get rid of any visible dry shampoo residue I sometimes just take a towel and gently wipe that over the strand in question, in the direction of hair growth, to get rid of the residue in that section only.

So what I am trying to say is - what works for you will be specific to you. It will depend on the state of your scalp, the climate where you live and the particular season, the amount of money and/or time you're willing to throw at the problem etc.

For example, there are people with my kind of hair who wash their hair daily, blow dry it straight, run straighteners through it and that's that. There are people who will dry it straight and then use a curling iron to get more polished, controlled, curls.

They need very different products to me. They also spend a lot more time on their hair than I am willing to spend. When my hair was shorter and growing out from a short haircut I had it cut every 4 weeks to thin it out for example because I was unwilling to spend time on styling. I now get away with a cut every three months to take care of split ends and all that, because the extra weight of the longer hair helps it lay nicely.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:04 AM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have very short, thick, curly/wavy brown hair, and one thing I do that makes me look more feminine is to straighten just the bangs, then sweep them to the side so they look natural and not hard or plastered down or prom hairish. This worked for me even when I had only a small amount of bangs, and instantly made my hair look less unkempt. Something to try, anyway.
posted by dreamphone at 4:05 AM on June 21, 2014

I think this haircut [other view] would look great on you. If you want to have longer hair, consider one-sided extensions for the front. Asymmetrical cuts are on trend right now.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:55 PM on June 22, 2014

Fellow short-haired curly girl here. Time will help, but until then, definitely get some nice shampoo and conditioner (even the little travel bottles of Fekkai from Wal-Mart make a huge difference in my hair, try it and see if it works for you). Also, seriously, you can get your eyebrows threaded for like $10 or $15 in my city -- it will be so worth it. Definitely find some eyebrows you like and bring the picture with you to the waxer/threader so they can see what you want.

I actually had mega-short hair for a while and it inspired me to start doing something that I still do, even though I keep my hair around chin-length these days. When my hair is wet, like after the shower, I put a little light gel or hair cream in my palms and fingers and distribute it evenly through my hair. Then I take little sections and twist them into pencil-thick tubes and let them go. Then I wait for it to dry. Once it's dry, I fluff it out some so it looks natural. With hair as short as yours you can probably just scrub your fingers through and make it a little wild. Voila, perfectly styled hair. Let me know if you try it!
posted by woodvine at 6:13 AM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

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