6 easy ways to style your short straight haircut

Guest post by Roxie Hunt

In order to answer this hair-related question, we brought in our longtime Empire sponsor and contributor Roxie Hunt to give some professional advice! Last time she talked about ditching shampoo, now she’s talking about ditching your long locks.

Photos courtesy of, and Glamour.
Photos courtesy of People.com, USMagazine.com, and Glamour.com.
For the vast majority of my life I’ve had LONG hair. That long hair has always been a huge part of my identity. Back in middle school I was actively aware and proud of the fact I had the third longest hair of any girl in school. In conjunction with a major life transition, however, I am seriously considering chopping it all off for a pixie cut.

My one big reservation is that, as someone only familiar with long hair, I have NO IDEA how to style anything else! I am nervous that my inexperience will lead to this new style being nothing but flat and boring. Any tips?

I’d love to hear about everything from simple, everyday styles, to more complex fancy or dressy ‘dos, as well as general tips about how caring for short hair can be different from when it is long. -Mae

Hi, my short-haired babes. Okay… Maybe you aren’t short yet, but maybe you are dreaming of A Big Chop. Maybe you are short and uninspired. Maybe you are newly short and clueless. Whoever you are, if you have short hair or are considering it, I’ve got some styling ideas for you.

First off, there are many ways to have short hair. Check out this post to help you choose which short hair cut is right for you. If you are growing out your super-short hair, check out this post to help you plan your grow-out and in the meantime, use the following short hair styling tricks to help you bear the unbearable grow-out months.

Today, we are going to talk about Jennifer Lawrence‘s cute and versatile Boxie and how to style it. A Boxie is a haircut for straight or gently wavy hair that is a bit of pixie and a bit of A-line bob. It is the most versatile of the short pixie-ish haircuts. Think of the boxie as the pixie version of a Shlob.

A Boxie (I literally just came up with that name like two minutes ago) is a pixie cut in the back and sides, with longer bangs in the front. It is the perfect mix of chic, modern, feminine, flirty, classy and androgynous all at the same time.

You can see by the above photo that it doesn’t take much to really change the look and feel of the cut. Let’s talk about the intricacies of short hair styling. Time to break it open.

1. Hard-Core Bedhead

For days of playing and mischievous fun. To get this look, let your hair get as dirty as possible and literally roll out of bed. If you need to, use a little matte-finish styling paste or beach hair spray and style it with your fingers. This will give a bit of extra texture and hold to the ‘do. Rake your hands back through your dirty hair and make it stick up all over in every direction. Don’t over style it. Let it be a natural evolution of mess. Make it last for days by applying a sprinkle of hair powder to the roots and brushing it through. It keeps getting better and better. Take lots of naps and romps with your honey and use it as an excuse for good hair. You can make this look last for days.

2. Soft-Core Bedhead

Follow the directions in step 1. Instead of raking your fingers back through your hair, rake it all forward and sweep it across your forehead. This creates a totally different look within the same feel of a casual, effortless, playful mess. Again this look gets better and better with time.

3. The Soft’n Simple

Time to tame the beast a bit and simplify the look. This is basically #2 without the dirty. The hair is still directed forward and swept across the forehead but the look is softer and a bit more natural. To get this look, wash your hair and let it dry naturally. Maybe spray a bit of sea spray to give it a tiny bit of lift and texture, but don’t load it on. The key to getting this soft and pretty natural boxie perfection is to make the front sweepy section tame, but keep the back half a little messy. Use a comb to smooth and sweep the hair across the forehead. Use your fingers to push the sides slightly back, but don’t tuck the sides back entirely. Got to leave a little fringe in front of the ol’ ears.

4. The Secret Dirty Little Secret

Like #3 product-wise, but slightly more asymmetrical styling and without the messiness in the back. This gives the look a bit more polish and edge. Keeping in mind that you don’t want to part the hair, direct the heavy side of the hair to one side, swept across the face and keep some hair in front of the ear on that side (don’t tuck your hair behind your ear). Tuck the other side behind your ear.

  • A trick to remember? When styling short hair, instead of using a “part” to divide the hair on the head, use your fingers to “direct” the hair in the direction you want it to go. Kapiche?

5. The Straight-up Sweep Back

This is for full-on sexy androgyny. I love this look. It can be hard to wear when you have hangups about your huge forehead, jawline, ears, nose, etc because it really lets your face shine. But as I told a client yesterday, everyone has a hair/face/self image hangup. You are not alone. But you are probably the only person who sees it as a disadvantage. The rest of us wish we had your beautiful big nose. So I dare you to rock this look and I predict that once you get used to it, it will liberate you.

To get the look, apply a light gel to your hair when it’s damp. Comb it all back and finish it by raking it back gently with your fingers to break it up a bit. Let it dry like this. Put on your favorite earrings or a neck tie and rock the shit out of it.

6. The Polished Hipster

Follow the product directions from step 5, and the styling directions from #4. Have a dirty little secret, but keep it to yourself. This look is dignified and chic. Do it.

That’s all for today, folks. Go ahead and try these hairstyles out and let me know what you think.

Now let’s see YOUR short hair styling inspiration! Do you have a Pinterest board? Or your tips based on your own experiences?

Comments on 6 easy ways to style your short straight haircut

  1. Such awesome tips. I flop between shorter hair and chin-length so sometimes I have awkward times in there (like right now) so these suggestions are super helpful. I also like the option of clipping or using a bobbypin to hold things back occasionally. If you have a cute, glitzy one, then it becomes an accessory!

  2. Remember that you probably won’t actually need conditioner anymore with short hair. The natural oils your scalp produced will likely be enough to keep it feeling decent and conditioner will make it look unhappy dirty, as opposed to stylishly flirty dirty faster.

  3. I’ve had hair from an 1/8″ buzz-cut to about 18″ long hair, and pretty much every length in between, as it has grown back out. What exact length of “short” will really change what you can do with it. Buzzed is too short for just about anything, but once you get to about an inch, it’s great for spiking with some gel, and as it gets longer, there’s more and more you can do with it. I very much recommend getting some bobby pins you like — I had some plain silver ones (well, not real silver), and using two of those crossed in an X to hold back my hair always made me feel fancy.

    • Thanks! Fortunately I’ve gone back and forth with bangs enough times to have a decent stock of barrettes of all types, but I do think I may invest in more if I truly do follow through with my big chop.

  4. Ooo, totally bookmarking this! I’ve been a long-haired gal all my life, but I’m currently bald after chemo & waiting for my hair to grow back. Kinda clueless about styling short hair, & I’ll have to live with it for a while, so this will help 🙂

  5. I’m going on 10 years of short hair, except for a short stint with extensions.

    1) Good shampoo & conditioner. Seriously stay away from the generics in stores. Ask your hairdresser what they recommend. Also, I can usually go three days without washing my hair, but that varies from person to person.

    2) Good pomade. Pomade is key to any short hairstyle. Again, I recommend buying what your hairdresser uses. Store stuff tends to make short hair look greasy. I use Evo’s Crop Strutters, which I love.

    3) I good “hairspray” or similar item. This will help keep short hair in place, pomade forms your hair, a good hairspray fixes it in place.

    4) Watch your hairdresser style your hair, or ask them how to do it. I usually imitate as best as I can what my hairdresser does… He’s still totally better at it, but I can at least make a passing attempt.

    5) Hats, toques or scarves will be your best friend on a bad hair day. Have them in stock, lol.

    6) Otherwise, short hair is fantastic!! I could never go back to long hair. It used to take me nearly an hour to dry my hair…curling it was impossible. Now, I run some pomade through, blow dry for 10min, fix up with more pomade, spray and go. Simple, easy, fast. 🙂

    • YES to good shampoo & conditioner. With short hair, you use significantly less product, so what you buy lasts a long time. I have no problem spending $5-$15 on a good bottle of hair product when my hair is short.

    • Thanks! Even long I go 2 to 3 days between washes so it will be interesting to see how long I can go short. Good thing I have a good shower cap! I will have tons of products to buy though…it’s the styling that is so daunting to me. Right now on a daily basis it’s a matter of do I wear it down, back (a simple hair elastic), or braided? I’m not used to styling…but I think short could be a great new change and fun adventure! Your and all other comments here are proving to be incredibly informative and helpful though!

      • It is really interesting to me that everyone seems to be washing their hair less with short hair. I’ve had the opposite experience. I found that I’m touching my jaw length hair more because it’s always down and tends to get in my face whereas when it was super long I always had at least part of it pulled back.

        • My hair doesn’t make jaw length, so maybe that’s the difference? I have really thick, coarse hair, so my hairdresser under shaves about half of it and then does funky stuff on the top. I don’t really touch my hair much except to maybe push my bangs away from time to time.

          I also find it depends on the season, or time of the month. I think a lot of it is just what your hair and scalp are like personally, I know people with short hair who wash daily and mine definitely varies from every 3 days to once a day.

        • For me, I have to wash my hair MORE because with long hair, your scalp makes more oil and the amount doesn’t decrease right away. But with so much less hair, I use less product for each wash, which is why my products last longer.

      • I was totally the same when I had long hair, ponytail all the time, and I couldn’t style my hair if my life depended on it.

        Short hair tends to be much easier to style, but it will depend on the cut. And there are definitely times where a short haircut can only be styled one way, so you can get stuck with some monotony. You might find your first cut or two hard to style and daunting… but after a while it becomes pretty second nature. You kind of have to figure out how your hair works and wants to be, long hair is way more simple that way.

        I think a good hairdresser that you trust is also imperative, especially for the first long to short cut (my first short cut was awful). A hairdresser who does a lot with short women’s cuts, or who works with your hair a lot will know a bit more about what your hair likes and doesn’t. I’ve been with my hairdresser for 10 years, 100+ cuts… some amazing, some not so amazing. Lol, but after 6-10 weeks you can usually try again which is fantastic!

    • Mostly agreed!

      I use Pantene conditioner and I only wash it every 2-4 days, though. Yep. I’m gross. It’s rarely oily and usually just has to be washed to get it to lie down after sleeping on it.

      I have some… Monkey Brains? It’s super hold cream in a banana shaped bottle. It was too strong, but instead of taking it back, I usually use a 1/4 – 1/2 of a penny sized amount and mix it with some water to help it spread evenly throughout my toweled-but-still-damp hair which I then end up combing again. You can’t really tell I have anything in my hair looks wise except that my hair isn’t frizzing up or getting too out of place. The stuff is lasting me forever.

      No matter the length, I’ve found I never like my hair freshly cut or styled. I immediately go wash it and give it a basic combing and it looks so better in my eyes.

      To add on to the above styles, sometimes I’ll do #4, then comb the center most part of the bangs back over a bit so it’s flipped over the rest of the bangs on that side. I have no idea how to accurately explain what this looks like but I like it.

      (I had really long hair that was super shiny and gorgeous, but I had to wash every night before school (allowing it time to dry completely) and then straighten every morning. It got to where it just stayed in a ponytail, even after straightening it so eventually I just chopped it off two or three times, getting braver and going shorter each time. I settled with hair about like in the pic. Usually style 4 or 5. Takes all of 3 minutes to style and I love it. )

  6. Ha, this couldn’t be more fantastic timing. I just recently went back to short hair after a 3 year break – my husband asked me to grow it out and I acquiesced. The problem was, after more than a decade with short hair, I didn’t feel like, well, myself. I just had my hair cut on Saturday after showing the stylist #3. It really makes me happy to see more people with short hair, super love J. Law’s style.

  7. I also had super long hair growing up and was terrified (for some reason) of cutting it. Fast forward to my tequila-fueled college days and hacking it all off was the best thing I’ve ever done style-wise. Fast forward 10+ years and I will NEVER go back.

    The best thing about a good haircut done by a talented stylist is that you don’t have to do anything! This is especially true with a short, pixie style cut. I wash it and it air dries and it looks great. If I’m going out I’ll blow dry and add a little wax but easy peasy. No muss and no fuss.

    Chop it off! Freedom!

    • Ah! Such a relief to hear. I trust my stylist, so hopefully my hair will behave similarly to your experience. As mentioned in another reply above, I do next to nothing to my hair on a daily basis right now, so daily styling has me most anxious. Hearing I can probably get away with low-style if I don’t feel like being creative is a huge comfort.

    • Exactly! Most mornings I don’t even touch my hair. Sometimes I have to tame an unruly cowlick or two from sleeping funny, but even then, I just dampen it with water and pat it down.

  8. My hair grows about 1 inch (2.5 cm for you metric users) a month. Since I am blessed with fast-growing hair, I donate my hair every year and a half. I have donated my hair 5 or 6 times since I was a teenager. I have had every hair length, and many styles.
    My best suggestion for short hair is: ACCESSORIZE! Get all the shiny pretties at the drug store and have fun. Headbands, barrettes, scarves, bobby pins, swirly pins, clips, flowers, everything!
    Aside from the pretties, I like to use a light mousse or liquid conditioning spray to help keep my fly-aways under control. (I’ve got 3 cow licks on my head, which makes for some horrible [ugly] bed head. Long hair weighs them down and keeps everything straight, short hair is considerably lighter and freer.)

  9. Yes to watching the stylist style your hair! I got my hair cut short for the first time in a long time (donated 10″) and had a light bulb moment when the stylist used a flat iron. I bought a cheap one at the drug store, and now I no longer panic when my bed-head turns into a voluminous shrub that won’t be tamed. I spend a couple minutes straightening it, and boom! It’s a-okay.

  10. Roxie! You are amazing! JLaw was in fact part of my inspiration behind the idea to go for a big chop, and her “boxie” as you call it would be one of the variations I strongly consider in fact. Due to theater I can’t follow through until the end of December (plenty of time to think the decision through!) but I am totally encouraged by you and the commenters. Keep the advice coming everybody! And thank you all so much! <3

  11. I totally agree with the bobby pins comment. With pins you can make your hair look super versatile! My roomie and I in college both rocked short hair, and we would even bobby pin random things into our hair (monkey from a barrel of monkeys, little nest from the craft store) and used a lot of really fun and cute headbands to make the style seem different every day.

    One thing I noticed with my particular short hair was that I actually ended up styling it more than when it was long…so I had to take some extra time in the morning to make it look like bed-head, rather than actually HAVING bed-head (I was used to going to sleep with wet hair and throwing it in a messy bun/ponytail…but I looked like a 3 year old boy if I just slept on short wet hair and didn’t do anything with it).

  12. I love this, and I love seeing people embrace short hair! My hair is usually somewhere between #2 and #4, and it’s so easy and versatile. Turns out that my hair is also happiest when it’s dirty, so that’s a bonus. My favorite styling product is Lush’s Dirty hair cream–it’s pricey, but a little goes a long way.

    A good stylist will be able to not only give you the short cut that’s right for you, but teach you how to style it at home as well. BTW, Roxie, I LOVE your site! I showed my stylist a photo of a cut you did (because God knows I’d ruin my hair if I tried to cut it myself), and she was able to recreate it for me. Thanks for being awesome.

    • My short hair looks awful when it’s dirty. It gets greasy and stringy and doesn’t hold well in a style. I have to wash it every day or two.
      Does anyone know why this is? All the rest of the advice I’m seeing here is saying “Let it get dirty.”

      • I think it actually depends a lot on the texture of your hair — I am in the same camp as you, and my hair is practically baby-fine, but grows densely on my head. So unless it’s so short that there isn’t enough length to get stringy, I definitely am shampooing every day. I also stopped using conditioner, and switched to a shampoo bar with lavender and tea tree oil, which are supposed to help regulate oil production. I love this one: Handmade clarifying shampoo bar for brunettes

  13. I think a good stylist is key because they need to understand what your hair will do when it’s a ton lighter. For example my hair gets a lot wavier and curlier and has a lot more body in general.

    I haven’t had pixie (or boxie!) short hair, but I still had the stying angst before I got the big chop (both the first and second times, ha!). Turns out even with my shorter hair, I could basically decide how much I wanted to mess with it or ignore it.

    Usually for my “styling,” I just sprayed in some “hairdrying lotion” (Föhnlotion http://www.dm.de/de_homepage/balea_home/balea_produkte/balea_produkte_haarstyling/balea_produkte_haarstyling_spezialprodukte/7218/balea_foehnlotion.html) before I blow-dryed it in the direction I wanted more body (usually the opposite direction of my part, which I know shouldn’t really be a part but usually turns out that way anyway) which just gave it a little more hold and body/height. If I actually wanted it to stay put better, I’d spray it again with regular (non-aerosol) hairspray.

    But like I said, for me “short” is what most stylists consider “medium.” 🙂

    Oh – also: my mom gave me a super-supercool “finger wave curling iron” which would be awesome for really short hair if you’re into the retro look. Mine’s a mini version, but it looks something like this: http://www.vssassoon.com.au/lib/Products/stylers/VS2337A/mast/VS2337A_mast_2.jpg Don’t ask me where you can acquire such a thing because my mom got it from her hairdresser.

    Man, I’m starting to get inspired to really go short…!

    • From someone who’s gone short – go short! Hair grows, right? So if you don’t like it, it’ll change in a month or two. And there’s always extensions if it’s truly awful.

      • This is what I try to remind myself whenever I think twice…I maaaay put it off a few months to get more time with the same stylist first since I haven’t had a regular one for a few years now, but overall I am again really encouraged by all these comments!

  14. My hair is really short – shorter than any of the photos. I have buzzed down a bit on the sides and back and then the top is pixie style – more Anne Hathaway pixie cut when she was growing it out. The buzzed parts are all blended in.

    I have super straight, super fine, thick hair. Even this short it still has to be cut with layers and thinned out, anything longer (even a bob) has to have lots of hair styling so that it won’t lay flat against my head. My hair also resists any kind of curl.

    And since I don’t like spending time fussing with my hair short it is.

    This is what I’ve learned – if your hair is short you need to get it cut regularly. When it’s longer sometimes you can go a few extra weeks or maybe a month without getting it cut but not with a short style. It grows out, it looks messy and not – styled messy – but grown out hair style messy.

    You don’t have to use shampoo every day. My trick is to use a clarifying shampoo every 2 or 3 days to wash my hair. The rest of the time I “wash” my hair with water to scrub out the product.

    Don’t be afraid to try different products or ask your stylist to use something different for a different effect. And don’t be afraid to mix products to see what different looks you can get.

    A word about hats and short hair. Some hats with some styles do not mix. So if you do cut your hair and you have hats you like, style your hair, and the stick the hat on for however long you’d wear it (and watch tv or something ) and then take it off and check the results. It will either be fine, fixable, or something you have to reconsider.

    I would stock up on scarfs and earmuffs during the winter because your neck and ears will feel colder since they are used to be covered by your hair.

    • I have a question on the topic of getting hair cut more frequently. Right now my hair is past my shoulders, but in the past it has been shorter than chin length. The thing keeping me from going full-on pixie like I’d like to is that I know I’d have to get it cut more often, and that means more $$. With my hair long, I’ve been going more infrequently, but spending more money per haircut. I’ve always been of the mindset with haircuts that you get what you pay for. Can a cheap haircut to maintain a pixie-length get the job done without leaving me looking a mess?

    • “super straight, super fine, thick hair…resists any kind of curl”
      You’ve got my hair type exactly, not to mention the disinclination to spend time fussing with it. I’ve been wanting to go shorter than my bob but not sure what style since so many short styles seem to need at least a little texture. Maybe something like you have would be the way to go.

  15. I have super curly/wavy hair AND am a chubby lady. Short hair was something I did a decade ago and would like to get back too, but I’m nervous I can’t pull it off. Also, my husband said he hated my short hair and would appreciate it if I never cut it that short again. SO! The Boxie might be a good compromise, but how do you do it with really curly hair? Keep in mind I have no idea how to use a hair dryer. >_<

    • Yeah, I was reading this like “does everyone have straight hair?” A little product and finger styling will give me vertical hair if it’s less than like 4-6 inches.
      I need heavier products and more defined twist styling

  16. I love the tips but, like the comments about curly haired ladies missing, where were the tips for the women of color? Belive me, I know there are lots of natural hair websites, but it would be great if Offbeat could be a little more inclusive! Especially when the advice is so awesome!

    • Great feedback! We’ll make a point A) ensure future hair posts are more inclusive and B) make sure we’re clear when a post is about a specific hair texture. I’ll shift the title of this post right now.

      • Yes! I’d love to see you address my hair type – a very coarse weird mix of straight-ish at the front, wavy in the back and kinky underneath. I’ve wanted to go short for years but I’ve had hairstylists tell me it would be a disaster with my hair type.

  17. My haircut looks somewhere between pic 3 & 4. My hair is fine, straight and fairly dense and blond. My bed head is not cute, in the morning it usually looks CRAZY and in no way resembles that J.Law pic. It sticks straight up in some places, sometimes resembling a rooster. Not exaggerating. I’ve tried to work with it some days when it’s normalish but it takes too long for it to calm down ( when gravity finally sets in) so it’s just easier to wash it. Anyone have any tips on avoiding bed head? Does anyone else have this problem? Help!

  18. Dear OBH,

    I’m finally doing it. Today’s the day. May be a little delayed from when I asked this question, but I look forward to putting the advice to good use 🙂

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