How to Style a Pixie Cut for Any Chic Short Hair Aesthetic
Short hair communicates a certain type of confidence. While face-framing lobs and mermaid manes offer a softening distraction (as well as a curtain to literally hide behind), cropped cuts put the face on full display, centering skin tone, posture and an overall “Me here’s, take it or leave it,” vibe. But with very little hair to work with, the pixie cut in particular can look daunting — until you know how to style it.
Of all the shorn styles – trendy cuts and modern bobs, shags and mullets – the pixie is the most romantic, tending towards beauty and polish, even when punk depends on the shape. Blame it on the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Mia Farrow, who championed the cut in the 1950s and 1960s with all their doe-eyed momentum. Mia Farrow’s Vidal Sassoon Cut Rosemary’s baby is my favorite pixie of all time. It’s absolutely perfect,” says Lauren Bailey-Chaidez, owner of Feverfew in Los Angeles. “The soft textured neckline makes it so soft and demure when juxtaposed against the ‘masculine’ cropped silhouette.”
These days, however, the pixie has a certain edge, customized to match the attitude, hair texture, and overall aesthetic of the wearer. It also functions as a single step in broader growth, a natural break between the trendy cut and the bob that wearers have chosen to embrace rather than rush for length. Forget the maniacal: pixie dream girls are a much more enduring trope.
Here, ten ways to style the pixie cut, plus expert tips for getting the most out of your super short style.
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“Anyone with any hair type can pull off a pixie cut,” says hairstylist Thanh Vo. That said, there’s something about the classic Elven rendition that captures the style’s ambitious appeal. To bring the potential retro take to the present, Vo suggests using wet-look gels for a modern variation that’s smooth and sleek.
Super Cropped Pixie
“It’s such a daring and chic haircut,” Vo says of the super short pixie. “It just gives energy to bad bitches (eg Zoë Kravitz).” Cropped a bit further than the classic variant, this pixie leans in for the extra glam – and, while very short, requires equal effort. “I would recommend a styling pomade or styling cream, which will help provide that texture and hold while taming unruly locks,” Vo says. “First warm the product in your hands and work it through your hair with your fingers, molding where you want your hair to go.”
Bailey-Chaidez compares this iteration of the pixie to a ’60s Edie Sedgwick or a ’90s Winona Ryder — in short, the hairy 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 loads of sea spray. “It’s definitely a less is more style.” To avoid fungal growth, Bailey-Chaidez suggests removing a lot of weight during the initial cut.
One of 2022’s most popular crops, the bixie was born from a pixie cropped to an irreverent, almost shag length — and those with thinner hair would do well to embrace this style in between. “Layers will help give that illusion of thickness,” says Vo, who recommends finishing with a sea salt spray for added texture. For extra punch (and a silky finish), opt for Moroccanoil’s Beach Wave Mousse.
Pixie with bangs
“A great choice for someone who’s ready to commit to the cropped cut without losing the softness around the face,” Bailey-Chaidez says of this bangin’ pixie. “It’s super flattering.” After applying a light balm or styling cream, spray bangs liberally with dry shampoo to absorb excess oil while boosting volume.
Short curly pixies focus on shape: from cut to style, it’s all about focusing on a cloud of curls that best accentuates your face. Depending on your type of curl, adding layers can create a carefree slightly ruffled effect similar to pixie shag. Shape with a favorite styling cream for hold and shine, and finish with a generous spray of volumizing spray. “Powders add a bit more grit to the hair, giving you more control,” Vo explains.
“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 drawing comparisons with The Karine. “Style with lots of texture spray at the roots and finish with a lightweight cream to define ends and replenish texture,” she adds, citing Hairstory Undressed and Cult + King Balm as her asymmetrical product heroes.
Pixie with undercut
If you’re a fan of the evil aesthetic, the 80s revival, or both, a pixie with an undercut may be for you. A fantastic option for those looking to turn their buzz cut into a whole look trip, this cut is androgynous and edgy – but definitely requires a bit of style and forethought. “I would use a lot 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 hair paste is a must.
For a unique look that fits 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 the curls to create fluff. The bigger, the better. To reach great heights, invest in texturizing and volumizing products and help build body without weighing down the lengths.
A complete look that can lead to any of the aforementioned pixies, if desired. This cut makes a strong statement on its own, calling for equally strong accessories (think: a bold lip color). Bailey-Chaidez recommends buzzing the sides a little shorter than the top to keep the round shape while avoiding odd proportions throughout growth. What about hair barely there? All you need is a touch of balm to smooth out frizz and flyaways.