6 Short Haircut Mistakes to Avoid

Thinking of going shorter? Go for it.

Ashley Riddle Williams
Woman with Short Haircut
Christine Schneider/Getty Images

We recommend taking several key factors into consideration before chopping off your locks. When you catch the bug for a new look, it’s really tempting to immediately decide on this season’s “it” ‘do, and make an appointment with your stylist right away. However, it’s best to resist the urge for instant gratification, because while locks can be chopped in an instant, it can take months—and sometime years—to grow them back. And as much as you might love your favorite celebrity’s Instagram selfies of her chin-length textured style, it’s important to remember that same cut might not flatter your face the way it does hers. Don’t worry! You can achieve something equally sassy—and specifically catered to you. We talked to Issam Bajalla, owner of Salon U in Birmingham, Alabama to give us the tips needed for avoiding any short cut mistakes.

1. Don’t Take Off Too Much, Too Soon. Because hair takes a lot longer to grow out than it does cut, it’s important to take a drastic hair change in baby steps. Going from one extreme to another—say waist-long hair to a pixie—can have you regretting your decision and will leave you with few options to get back a look you're comfortable with. Bajalla explains: “It’ really important not to do something shocking. Your reaction to a new cut can be two-fold—at first people are generally excited and happy with the cut. Then they go have coffee with friends and get feedback that’s not exactly what they hoped to hear. That’s when the shock sets in. But it’s too late to go back.” That’s why we recommend going shorter a little bit at a time. For example, go from shoulders to chin at one appointment, then chin to pixie the next time.

2. Always Consider Your Hair Type. Your hair’s texture will be a big determining factor in how your cut turns out. Every cut isn’t right for every hair type, and it’s hard to know off hand what will be best for yours, so we recommend listening to your stylist. “Stylists have been trained on this stuff, and have years of experience working with different types of hair. They know the outcome; clients don't. Always listen to your stylist. The highest rate of displeasure with any of our work here is when the client tries to micromanage the service,” says Bajalla.

3. Learn How To Style Your New ‘Do. "You need training and education on how to style your hair, so make sure your stylist gives that to you. No matter how you cut hair or what style suits you the finish (or styling) is 50% of achieving the look you want,” says Bajalla.

4. Know What You’re Getting Into. While it may sound counterintuitive, short hairstyles often require more maintenance than longer hair. Bajalla explains: “You have to get your haircut a lot more often when it’s shorter or it loses it’s shape and looks messy. You normally go every 6-8 weeks, and you just can’t wait that long with a short haircut. That’s a common mistake that a lot of women make.”

5. Get The Right Cut For Your Face Shape. "Just like in fashion where you have to dress for your shape, you have to cut your hair to flatter your facial features. So often people come in and know exactly what they want, and it’s usually based on a celebrity cut they’ve seen. However, we have to remind clients that the cut isn’t going to look exactly the same on them because they have a different face. So we spend a lot of time going through the consultation and finding something that’s what they want, but also that we know will look good on their face,” explains Bajalla.

6. Cut Your Hair For The Right Reasons, Not The Wrong Ones. There are all kinds of reasons one can decide on a short cut, but make sure yours are good ones. For instance, just because you’ve hit a certain age doesn’t mean you have to cut your hair a certain way. "For one, we don't subscribe to age dictating your hair. As long as it’s healthy, it’s beautiful,” says Bajalla. You should also not let external factors influence making a dramatic hair change. “Sometimes we have to talk people off a cliff. It’s really common for someone who’s going through something tough like a divorce to want to get a dramatic change and we have to remind them that doing something drastic might be a source of more stress in an already stressful time.”