A Comprehensive Guide To Growing Out Your Pixie Cut, From Someone Who's Done It Thrice

I’m here to walk you through the long and difficult--but not impossible--journey of growing out your pixie cut. We can hold hands if you want. Just for a second. Just to see how it feels.
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Publish date:
March 13, 2014
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short hair, How-To, growing out, pixie cuts

I’ve grown out a pixie cut three times in my life, if you
count the time my mom cut all my hair off in the first grade after a
year of post-bath-time fighting because I never let her comb the tangles out.

I kept my hair long until I cut it all off again at age 20,
of my own volition this time. After growing it out the first time, I cut it all
off again last fall and today it’s mostly grown out again. My hair right now,
which bobs right above my shoulders, is the longest it’s been in four years.

I’d love to wax poetic about what all my different looks
represent, and how each haircut I’ve received symbolizes some meaningful
experience in my life. It would be total BS, though. I just like to switch up my
hair a lot. A pixie cut seemed fun. (And it was!)

The first time I grew my hair out, it did not go according
to plan. My hair looked pretty awful, which is most of the reason for pixie cut
round two. When growing it out the second time around, I’d gotten a bit wiser
to the game and handled the whole situation with a bit more finesse, or at
least I like to think so.

Now I’m here to walk you through the long and difficult--but
not impossible--journey of growing out your pixie cut. We can hold hands if you
want. Just for a second. Just to see how it feels.

Get Regular Trims

I know, I know, I know--you’ve heard this a thousand times,
but it bears repeating for good reason. Keeping your hair trimmed and neat,
especially the back of your head (which will veer into mullet territory faster
than you can say “Achey Breaky Heart”), is the only way to keep it looking
nice and, more importantly, intentional.

Having a pixie cut, in general, is relatively low-maintenance,
as far as day-to-day styling. However, anyone who has had a pixie cut knows
that it’s a great way to find out exactly how fast your hair really does grow.
It’s also fun to learn about which sections of your head grow fastest. The hair
in the back of my head tends to grow faster because it’s less damaged than the
front pieces and also because I spend a lot of time with my head leaned all the
way back, while I stare wistfully at the sky and hum Dixie Chick songs.

Grow Your Hair in
Sections

It’s important to keep the hairs in the back of your head
trimmed while you let the hair on top and in front grow out, You want to aim
for that look that’s somewhere between a shaggy pixie and a bowl cut.

(Shout out to my pal Jay for this photo and the next. If y’all ever need a super-sweet photog in Chicago, he’s your dude. Also, he’s
cute and single, laaaadies!)

If you let the layers on top (as well as your bangs in the
front) grow out while keeping the back in check, this will make your hair
easier to style as it transitions from one phase to the next.

When growing out
a pixie, you WILL have bangs for a minute. That’s just a fact of life. You
don’t have to style them as bangs if you don’t want to. I like to keep mine
messy and piece-y. Achieve this by living your life as a generally messy and
piece-y human.

Embrace the Shag

That in-between stage is the most difficult to style, by
far. Once it’s grown out into even the shortest of bobs, it will be easier, but until
then, it is a challenge.

For me, tackling the awkward shag was simply a question of
confidence. (Sage advice for tackling ALL SORTS of shags. Picture me winking as
I tell you this.)

Volume will help with confidence and styling. I often used a
blowdryer and some hairspray to keep the hair on top of my head froofed up just
a bit, as to keep it from looking too stringy or flat. You want to look like
the chic, androgynous, carefree boy you might have had a crush on in middle
school. Think '90s Leo.

Learn Some Styling
Tricks

While you’re floating freely through the in-between sea,
experiment with parting your hair differently and wearing your bangs in weird
ways. It’s important that you keep your hair interesting, so that you don’t get
bored/sick of it and chop it all of again, letting your hard work and patience
go to waste.

As far as styling, I have a few tricks up my billowing
sleeves. (I’m wearing a wizard’s robe as I write this, obv.)

A lot of the “hairstyles” I wore while growing my hair out
were just strategically placed bobby pins. You can take various sections,
starting from the front of your head and twist them towards the back of your
head then pin them down. Do this until you’ve created some semblance of an
updo. It helps to have some volume on top, and maybe leave a few wispy pieces
down by your ears.

Also, clearly, headbands are a great idea. You can pull
tricks with a headband one of two ways.

The first way is to give your hair
quite a bit of volume and then push it back with a headband. I suggest curling
it, since curls will make hair seem shorter and less awkward, and curls will
also make any uneven lengths less obvious if you’re between cuts. For most
“formal” events I attended while my hair was growing out, this is how I styled
it. The look is best illustrated in this adorable photo, I think.

For another look, you can wear a headband that wraps around
and tuck the pieces in the back under the bottom of the headband. It’s tricky
and might require some pins, but it will look cute like a curled under little
bob.

Give It Some Texture

Like I said earlier, curls will help hide any weird cowlicks
or uneven lengths. Natural curls, in general, are sometimes difficult to
maintain or maneuver. When growing out my hair, I used my curling iron a lot to
make my curls bend under in ways that were more flattering and also to make my
hair a bit more springy.

Curling short hair is sort of difficult, because there isn’t
a whole lot to grab onto as far as length. (I’m sorry for giggling as I typed
that.) My suggestion is to get a teeny curling iron. I used a ¼-inch curling
iron and a ½-inch curling iron. Using two curling irons will give more
realistic curls, as most people don’t have completely uniformly sized curls.

Curling your hair is also a great way to hide the weird way
your mullet will curl up after being pushed against your scarf or collar all
day.

Begin Styling It As a
Bob as Soon As You Can

As soon as the pieces in the front and on the side are at
about jaw-length, begin styling your hair as you would a very short bob. Last
spring, I had my stylist cut my hair with a slightly inverted cut, with the
back being just a bit shorter than the front. I also added some layers in the
back to keep it from resting too flatly against my skull.

This is the basic shape of the cut I continued growing and
trimming for about six months.

As you can see, the hair on the back of neck isn’t much
longer it was when I had a pixie. My entire neck is still exposed. But the way
the rest of the hair is grown out makes this look like a short bob as opposed
to a long pixie.

If All Else Fails,
Just Wear a Hat… Or a Wig!

I’m not here to pretend like every day is a good hair day
for me. I mean, y’all do not want to see the selfies I snapchat with the
hashtag #iwokeuplikethis. Some days, I just throw on some lipstick and hope for
the best.

On those days, I’ve been known to rep a hat. In my younger
and less intelligent days, I thought, “Hats just don’t work on my head.” I was
a silly young lass, indeed.

There are good hats for everyone, and I have some I
really love. I personally prefer hats with a wider brim, like this cute maroon
one I’m sporting here or the straw one my beautiful friend Elaine is wearing.

Wigs can be really fun, too. You could go out and spend a
couple hundred dollars on a quality wig that looks real and just wear that
until your actual hair grows out. Since I’m usually broke and afraid to commit,
I like to wear inexpensive, crazy-color wigs from time to time. If I’m not
going to spend a lot of money on it, I don’t want to even try and pretend it
could be real, you know?

Be Patient, and Be
Good To Your Hair

While I don’t necessarily agree with the adage “Nothing good
comes easy or quick,” it rings true for hair growth. I’ve basically been
“growing out” my hair since August 2012.

My hair grows relatively slowly, but I also kept up trims
regularly throughout the whole process so as to keep my hair in good shape.
Whether you’ve got a pixie or a bob, short hair means the ends of your hair are
close to your face, and if they’re split, they’re gonna be noticeable.

Now, a disclaimer: I have very tough, resilient hair. Since
August 2012, I’ve dyed my hair dozens of times, and bleached it several times.
I’ve used excessive heat styling. My hair’s still in good shape. My hair and I
are similar in that way--we can handle some serious crap, and we’ve both been
through a lot.

That said, I also try to take good care of my hair when I
can. I know what’s best for my hair, and I stick to it. For me, this means
washing it only once or twice every five to seven days, using moisturizing
shampoos and conditioners, and eating a high-protein diet. There’s also quite a
bit of genetics working in my favor.

Treat your hair nicely while you grow it out. Use deep-conditioning treatments and hair masks regularly, and try to tread lightly as
far as things you know will damage your hair. Even though my hair is still in
good shape, I probably could have
grown it out a bit faster had I laid off the bleach/heat.

That said, I did love my pixie cut and going through old
photos for this article made me miss it. I sure am tempted to cut it all off
again…

All right, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you today. It’s time
for you to lay down some knowledge in the comments below. Have you ever grown
out a pixie? Do you have any tips for our readers (or contributors) who
might be attempting it or considering it? Should I go back to the pixie? I
am Natalie Imbruglia levels of torn over this.