Okay- I’ve had enough- I want a pixie haircut now. So do it. Thank you.
May 7, 2019 2:35 PM   Subscribe

On Friday, for like, the 8000th time in the last 5 years I went in for a haircut and described what I wanted and walked out with something I didn’t want. This time, I showed her a few pictures of some short cuts I liked (all veering towards pixie) and I walked out with a bob. Like the girl in “Amelie”... on Friday I am going back again. How do i get what I want?

Seriously, i have had enough now. I am wondering if I am capable of communicating with hairdressers at all- except for about 5 years (before the last 5 years) I was really happy with my haircuts.

In 2008 I got a pixie cut and loved it- in 2013 I started to grow it out and really enjoyed the hair during that time. I met a hairdresser when my hair was long enough to style and she just said “what is your imagination?” And I told her this and that and she just made it happen. I loved it. My hair is thick and wavy, especially on one side, and she cut it and thinned it out with shears and it was amazing.

I kept going to her and was so happy. I guess she was giving me a cut that would turn into a shag?

Then I had to move, I had children, I kept trying to get a good haircut. I’ve been to like 10 hairdressers and nothing has worked. They don’t get what I want. I even had one stylist give my hair a separation and an undercut which took ages to grow out and I definitely cried a few times. Mostly it looks okay when I’m there but then I struggle with it at home. Recently I had a hairdresser that did an okay job but then I moved again and last week I had my first haircut in maybe 6 months... i had decided to go proper short. I’m tired of hair now. Short worked for me. I showed her pictures of me with a growing out pixie (so quite short) and..... I walked out with a bob.

It’s a great cut. I got compliments. But it doesn’t work for me- a lot of the reason is because I don’t like a-line or inverted ( it even a little) and because it falls forward in my face and covers my ear.

The sensation of that is VERY uncomfortable to me. The amazing stylist seemed to be able to cut my hair in a way where it framed but moved back away from my face... Also i like how very short hair can fall into your face but because it’s so short it’s not making a nuisance of itself.

I end up twisting that part up into a clip which is not much different from pulling everything into a ponytail- which I don’t like either.

On Friday I will go back and I think I want a very long pixie so that the name of the neck hair can go a while before trimming... is that possible?

Or I do I just want a proper pixie cut- in which case- do I just show her the picture and say: do this! Now?

I feel bad because she did a great cut- but I’ve had it now. I want a long pixie or a short pixie. How do I make this happen?
posted by catspajammies to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, just in case it matters, my hair had grown to past my shoulders before the current Amelie cut.
posted by catspajammies at 2:41 PM on May 7, 2019

I have had some success - back when I got salon rather than barbershop cuts - with being meta about it, like "a lot of times, stylists leave my hair too long, or assume that I don't really want a pixie cut, so I want to check in with you and confirm that I want a very short haircut like the one in the photo". I too had a lot of trouble getting the short cuts that I actually wanted - I think a lot of stylists either fear that you'll feel "unfeminine" and get mad or think that actually no woman (or AFAB person) really truly wants a short cut unless they're like a punk college student.
posted by Frowner at 2:47 PM on May 7, 2019 [26 favorites]

I’d say look at the instagrams / portfolios of stylists that you are considering. See if they have a history of giving women the edgy short neato chic haircuts of their dreams! Check out the stylists “vibe” in general. When I wanted a shag haircut I scoured my town until I found a stylist who demonstrated that they inherently understood the relaxed rock and roll hair I wanted.
posted by elke_wood at 2:55 PM on May 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

Oh, I also used to print out and bring in bad examples with "NO" written in large letters on them. I'd have, like, four pictures of versions of the cut I wanted and two pictures of what stylists sometimes defaulted to, and point out the specific things I didn't like. It made me feel like a shouts-at-clouds client, but I try to tip well.
posted by Frowner at 2:58 PM on May 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

Oh, this is so frustrating! I have had the opposite problem frequently - I want a plain, blunt bob and hairdressers are always trying to thin my hair, "work" with my natural wave (that I always iron straight, so...), etc. They are always getting too ambitious, and I usually wind up with a short shag, which does not suit me at all.

You've gotten some really good advice so far (I think I'm going to take Frowner's advice about the "NO" examples). Talk with the hairdresser about your previous bad experiences before they start. They may be secretly thinking they need to adjust for your hair texture/thickness and not telling you, and you need to be really clear to them that yes, it can be done and has been done before. Good luck!
posted by queensissy at 3:44 PM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah I have had the same experience of stylists being super afraid of cutting too much. I actually just have long hair now because I hate dealing with stylists and constantly being disappointed.

What I did have success with in the past was:
1. Found a stylist who did their hair the way I wanted mine to look
2. Made more of an effort to be friendly than I usually do so they feel safe with me and can trust me - I'm your friend, you understand me, I'm not going to flip out on you for cutting my hair. Went more often so they remembered me
3. Be agonizingly clear (not saying you haven't done this but in general there's always room for an additional layer of dumbing-down)
4. Not getting up from the chair if it's not what I asked for and I can point to exactly why. This one is critical. If you asked for a pixie and you got a bob then the job isn't done yet.
posted by bleep at 3:51 PM on May 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Longer term: ask folks with cute short haircuts like you want where they get theirs done and/or if you can take a picture. I found my okay to good hairdressers this way. Getting recommendations from friends is not useful if they have a pretty different style than you do.
posted by momus_window at 4:09 PM on May 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think a lot of stylists either fear that you'll feel "unfeminine" and get mad or think that actually no woman (or AFAB person) really truly wants a short cut unless they're like a punk college student.


I could never figure out why my haircuts, while nice, always looked so square in comparison to the photos I'd bring in as reference, and then at some point in my 20s I realized it's because of this. The presumably straight (appearing) femme hairstylists I had been going to were all trying to femme up my desired lewk.

And then I googled queer friendly salons and started getting my hair done exclusively by women with both visible tattoos and visible girlfriends and suddenly I always loved my hair.

The only time in a nearly a decade that I haven't loved my haircut is when I tried to get that mohawk thing Evan Rachel Wood used to have but my regular stylist was off finding herself in Thailand and I had to get it cut by a very femme blonde lady with no visible tattoos. Never again.
posted by phunniemee at 4:23 PM on May 7, 2019 [21 favorites]

Adding on to the comment about being a bit "meta" with the stylist, when you tell her that you really DO want the style you've described (and showed her pictures of), also tell her that you understand that sometimes stylists can be nervous about going too short, so she should cut it a little longer than the length you want, then PAUSE the session to take out the hand mirror and let you inspect it from all angles, incorporating your feedback, before she proceeds to the final cut. If the cut isn't what you want, tell her to change it right then and there.
posted by the thought-fox at 4:34 PM on May 7, 2019

Yes to queer friendly salons. I never got the haircut I wanted until I went to a queer-owned salon said explicitly “I want to look like a combination of David Beckham and Rachel Maddow”
posted by coppermoss at 4:54 PM on May 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

I'm a guy, but when I've had a similar problem*, I have on occasion cut my own hair to the desired length and then gone to a barber to "fix" it. It becomes impossible for the stylist to leave your hair longer than you want. If you don't want to chop it all off yourself, just cut a lock at the back that you can cover up.

*I have a cowlick at the corner of my forehead that pushes forward, straight down onto my eyebrow. I ask for it to be cut the same length as my sides (a #3 clipper), but people always seem to want to leave it longer like the top so that, as it grows out, I have an inch-wide section of emo kid bangs while the rest of my hair is side-parted.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:57 PM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I started mentioning new stylists that I’ve had a buzz cut, and that was practical but too short, as a way of contextualizing that I definitely would not freak out at a short queerish reading pixie cut. Before that I definitely did get a few shaped bob things I didn’t like as much.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:58 PM on May 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Came here to say queer-friendly salons. A lot of stylists I've had are confused at the very notion of an AFAB person cutting their hair very short (because no one knows who Mia Farrow is anymore I guess?) or, in a couple cases, really have no idea how to cut the layers needed for a good pixie cut. I did get very lucky with a stylist at a non-queer salon once, but that's an outlier in my experience. I came armed with a ton of photos showing what I wanted, so definitely that. I've also mentioned before, a lot, that I'm used to short hair, have in fact buzzed all my hair off, etc. and that may help as well.
posted by kalimac at 6:00 PM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ask for an original Vidal Sassoon 5-point cut.
posted by tizzie at 6:02 PM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I recently moved from the city to the suburbs, and spent a long time looking at stylists’ instagrams to find someone with a good amount of pixie representation (rather than endless balayage after balayage after balayage). The stylist I selected a) works in a salon that has the most queer vibe, b) has lots of pictures of short hair on her page, and c) has a pixie cut herself. She gave me exactly the cut i wanted. So those are the some steps I’d recommend taking.
posted by tan_coul at 6:07 PM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

In addition to pics demonstrate with your hands on your hair/head. When they start cutting keep an eye on the mirror and and if you see they're not taking off enough, say something. "Oh hey, I really do want it shorter - like this" (demonstrate again, pulling out a lock of hair to show the correct length). They should stop and maybe ask a couple of questions and make sure they understand before resuming.

And if they get it wrong, go back and ask them to fix it. I am too wussy to tell them they screwed up so I'll say "gosh, I guess I didn't explain it very well, my bad." I know this is not supposed to be what we do but whatever, it works for me and my crippling fear of conflict and of pissing off the person who is wielding sharp instruments and chemicals around my head.

And if you have a picture of *yourself* with a pixie, maybe use that for your reference. To demonstrate "yes it really was exactly this haircut and yes, I have had it and liked it."
posted by bunderful at 6:11 PM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Great advice above, I'll just add that a basic you can check before you go is how they charge a pixie cut. The ones that charge a "woman's cut" price have nearly always been terrible haircuts, in addition to the overcharge. Places with experience cutting pixies typically will list cost for all genders according to length. At minimum, I've found the good ones default to charging a men's price for a haircut that length.
posted by veery at 6:52 PM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Came in here to say look for the queer friendly place in town. If you comment back with a location then a MeFite in your area can possibly help you out with a referral.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:38 PM on May 7, 2019

went in for a haircut and described what I wanted and walked out with something I didn’t want

This is why I started primarily cutting my own hair. Sure, the first few cuts were not amazing but hey, no loss on that front!

Almost 20 years later, no regrets. I also often cut my spouse’s hair. Several of my friends also cut their own hair, and I have provided haircuts for several friends as well.

TLDR: why pay for a cut you don’t like when you can do that yourself for free. Unlike random stylists, you are the world expert on your own hair. After a few learning experiences you can cut your own hair better than anyone else can.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:42 PM on May 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is there an all-gender barbershop near you? They tend to be queer-friendly and thus used to women and AFAB people getting short, tight cuts. Plus their looks tend to be cleaner and neater.

I'm very happy with the cut I got at a barbershop like that recently, after four months of trying to grow out a bad cut and growing increasingly frustrated and depressed at the prospect of finding a newer new stylist (since it was a new stylist who messed up the previous cut). This is the best first cut I've had, and I look forward to future cuts with the same barber as we refine the look.
posted by Lexica at 8:04 PM on May 7, 2019

the only way i was ever able to get a cut like that outside of salons with gay lady stylists was to cut it very badly myself such that the only possible cut anyone could do to "fix" it was precisely what i wanted in the first place.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:06 PM on May 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

4. Not getting up from the chair if it's not what I asked for and I can point to exactly why. This one is critical. If you asked for a pixie and you got a bob then the job isn't done yet.

Exactly this. I'm paying a LOT of money for my haircut so it better be exactly how I want it to be.

It's like coffee. If I am paying £1 for coffee, I'm not going to ask for much. If I'm paying £3 at Starbucks, it better be the double-shot skinny flat white that I have asked for. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want and point out when they are doing it wrong.
posted by moiraine at 1:28 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you get the haircut you want, have pictures taken, asap.

If you get a haircut you don't want, have pictures taken and bring them in the next time, and tell the stylist that the picture shows too long hair, or badly shaped hair and how and why. You might even get the pictures taken shortly after you leave the stylist, before you wash, sleep on or blow dry your hair, so that if it looks okay, and then turns into too much fluff you can show your stylist the picture of the day of and the day after and explain what looks wrong when it is just you, your mirror, and frustrated swearing. "It looked much thicker at the back the next day. I couldn't get it to follow the lines of my scalp at all."
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:02 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

nth-ing that you need to find a queer-friendly salon. Sadly, sadly, this is the reason I am now growing out my short hair after many happy pixie-cut years. I have spent the last two years in small-midwestern-town trying to find someone who can cut my hair, and it looks like it's just not going to happen. (Barbara & Barbara I miss you sooo much! <3).
posted by EllaEm at 7:58 AM on May 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

My partner goes towards the short to quite short end of the haircut spectrum and she has ended up going to barbershops or places that present more towards a male crowd. She wasn't having success in salons, similarly to you they weren't listening that no she wants it short. Maybe find a good barber shop?
posted by Carillon at 8:50 AM on May 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you happen to see someone whose haircut you like, ask them who their stylist is. I've done this a few times, and each person was flattered and helpful.
posted by wryly at 10:48 AM on May 8, 2019

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I will go back on friday and hopefully have this rectified (please wish me luck on this, I have very little opportunity to deal with this since I only have a babysitter 3 hours one morning a week and my husband on the weekends and then a trip coming up so friday is really my last chance until the end of may) I have the contact for someone who does great pixies now and hopefully I will get to them next time.

I am feeling pretty angry in the grand scheme of things, especially about one point. I TELL them I don't like A-line, and then they do an A-line. Only one hairdresser in the last 4 years has actually respected that... why is that? Do they just assume that all women desire an A-line?

Anyway, wish me luck!
posted by catspajammies at 11:20 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ask for "lots of texture." Ask about "product" you can apply to your hair to enhance the texture.
posted by porpoise at 12:10 PM on May 8, 2019

I once found an unexpected very-short-woman-haircut ally in a guy who had a chair at an African American barbershop, whose portfolio was mainly artistic fades, some with designs shaved in. I wanted a pixie variant with more length on top that got gradually shorter until it was buzzed super short at the bottom, and he gave me a beautifully smooth gradient!

So yeah, maybe look for people who specialize in either men's haircuts or queer women's haircuts (or gender-neutral "edgy" haircuts) to avoid the default femme-it-up thing.
posted by oblique red at 12:18 PM on May 8, 2019

I've weirdly had the best luck with a stylist who I've gotten to know. The important part was at the end, when she showed me the cut and asked how I liked it. When I said it was too feminine and I wanted my hair masculine, she kind of paused, and went, "Oh." She then fixed it so it looked right. And the next time I came in, she knew what I was asking for from the start.

So finding someone kind who is willing to listen and fix things, that can also work. And once they get it, you can go to them forever (or until you move again).
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:20 PM on May 15, 2019

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