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The golden rules of caring for short hair, from long bobs to pixie crops


Welcome to your definitive guide to caring for short hair.

From close crops to extreme bobs, we've consulted the experts and industry insiders to bring you the ultimate tips and tricks to keep short tresses looking healthy and beautiful.

With a whole host of celebrities going for the chop recently, from Jennifer Lawrence to Sienna Miller, there has never been more inspiration for a shorter do. 

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence debuts her blonde bob

Branded on social media with the tagline "short hair, don't care", shorter looks can be a lot of fun. Hair stylist to the stars and Global Hair Ambassador for TONI&GUY Mark Hampton says, "Short hair styles are great as they can vary so much in length and texture and can be be adapted to suit all face shapes."

So how can you maintain a brilliantly beautiful short haircut? As award-winning stylist and Salon Science Brand Ambassador Andrew Jose says, “Everyone knows the basics of long hair care. Be gentle with it and avoid tangles and split ends. However, the needs of short hair are very different.”

Read on for helpful advice, hints and insider secrets.

1. Comb it less frequently

hair brush

Use your fingers

Luckily, short hair doesn't need to be brushed as often as long hair. As Sapphire Lewis of Bleach London explains, "Short hair is less likely to tangle than long hair. Brushing it through with fingers is generally enough to shape and style it a bit." Paul Edmonds agrees that your fingers are often a better tool than a brush. He says, "For styling use your fingers to give you the shape lifting where you need to get volume at the root."

Invest in a bristle brush

If you do want to run a brush through your hair, the experts recommend adding a bristle brush to your hair care arsenal. Andrew Garden says, "If a sleeker style is your preference, then I would suggest blow drying the hair with a small Denman brush to create a smooth finish, with minimal volume. For texture avoid brushes and manipulate with your fingertips."

2. Reduce your use of heated products


Find a style that doesn't require a straightener 

"Don't use heat-styling tools daily. Flat irons, curling irons and even blow drying can damage the hair shaft. Damaged hair is not able to retain colour the way that healthy hair can," says colourist Marie Robinson.

"I almost never blow-dry my hair or use hot tools," she adds. "I usually apply Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, go to bed with damp hair, and wake up with waves."

Use a cotton bud to get rid of flyaway strands

You might experience Sapphire Lewis, salon manager of Bleach London, describes as "weird sleep patterns". We've all been there when we wake up in the morning to discover our hair has defied all rules of styling and is sticking up in different directions. Luckily, Paul Edmonds has a sneaky tip to help you deal with the problem, that doesn't involve using damaging heating products.

The stylist says, "If you haven't got time to wash your hair, damp a cotton wool ball and dab at your hair to get rid of errant root lift stick outs."

Tame volume with products

A shorter cut maximises natural volume, so the key is in finding products to add texture and hold. Aaron Carlo, lead stylist on X Factor with Tresemme says, "It's so important for short hair to have structure so getting the right product to style it is essential. Texturising products serve this purpose perfectly on shorter styles".

Paul Edmonds says, "Maintenance of your look through styling products is also key. Dry matte paste products for shorter hair gives hold and texture whilst for slightly longer hair types a mousse or soft paste can give you a flexible hold."

...but look after your scalp

Don’t forget to take care of your scalp. Andrew Jose adds, "You should give your scalp the same attention as you give the skin on your face. Product and debris can build up on your scalp if not washed out thoroughly and dryness and irritation can occur. Adding an exfoliating scalp treatment to your short hair care routine can serve as a facial for the hair and stimulate the scalp."

3. Trim your hair every three to six weeks

hair cut

Maintain your shape

Heading to the hair salon every three weeks might sound excessive but shorter hair styles, particularly closer crops, require a little more maintenance than your usual cut. This is based on the fact that your hair usually grows about half an inch per month. 

Hair stylist Paul Edmonds, whose clients include Emma Thompson, Michelle Dockery and Margot Robbie, believes the cut of your hair is the most important thing to consider. He says, "Short hair is all about getting a great cut. Getting the structure, length and thickness right for your face shape is key, making sure you consider the direction of the hair growth and thickness at the hairlines."

With this in mind, be sure to ask for a full consultation with your stylist before they wield any scissors (particularly if you are going for a dramatic chop...)

Consider your hair length

Andrew Garden, a hair stylist at the renowned Radio salon says, those with less blunt styles can get away with less frequent trips to the hair salon: "If the shape is slightly softer and the emphasis is more on texture, then visit the hairdressers every four to seven weeks."

Don't forget you can get your fringe trimmed for free at most salons across the UK. 

4. Wash your hair every day

hair wash

Short hair needs more regular washing 

If there's one thing experts agree on, it's that shorter hairstyles require more washing than longer ones. This is because they can become greasy more quickly, although the exact number of times your hair will need washing will depend on how your hair responds to the level of oil produced by the scalp. 

If you do decide to wash your hair every day, try investing in a moisturising masque to help to combat any dryness. Andrew Jose recommends Salon Science Swiss Apple Cellutensive Masque (£19, boots.com), which is "perfect to really deep condition each strand of hair". You might also like to buy a good shampoo if you are washing more regularly, and Paul Edmonds recommends Shu Uemura Neroli Cleansing Oil (£25.60, lookfantastic.com) as it is "gently cleansing and hydrating on both the scalp and hair".

...But dry shampoo will save the day

Of course, dry shampoo is also genius for rejuvenating your locks on days when you simply don't have time to wash your hair. Mark Hampton says, "Use TONI&GUY Causal Matt Texture Dry Shampoo (£7.49, boots.com) in-between washes to eliminate unwanted grease whilst adding a textured finish."

5. Rinse in a blast of cold water for extra shine

woman drying hair

If your short hair is looking a little lacklustre, try this quick and simple trick to add a boost of gloss.

Next time you wash your hair, finish off with a blast of cool water. This will soothe the heat damage done to your hair during showering, which can often result in splintered cuticles.

And you needn't shiver under the cold water for long, as celebrity hair stylist Sarah Potempa says, "even just five seconds is fine".



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