How to Wear Short Hairstyles

Celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson shows us three updated takes on shorter hair.

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What's New: The bob doesn't have to look so perky. "These days, the cookie-cutter bob is not the only option," says Gibson. "It's all about movement, body, and embracing what you're comfortable with." For conservative types, wear this style one length all around. For an edgier look, try the graduated bob (shown here), which is shorter in the back and gets progressively longer in the front. What always defines this cut, though, is keeping it well above the shoulders.

How To:

1. Apply a volumizing product, such as Tresemme Big Boost Root Lift Spray, $4, to wet hair, concentrating on the area closest to the scalp.

2. Coat the rest of strands with a styling spray that protects hair from heat. We like Ellin Lavar ThermMist, $8. Then separate into small sections and blow-dry, using a round brush to add body and fullness.

3. Finish with a spritz of light-hold hair spray, like Sebastian Professional Re-Shaper, $16.50 — it smoothes strands without stiffening.

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Ted's Tip


"The new looks are all about shaping the hair," says Gibson, who cut the eye-catching looks on these models. "You've seen these styles before, but they are back with more freedom and a sexy playfulness." He adds, "And I don't know any woman who doesn't want to feel sexy." We couldn't agree more.

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The Crop


What's New: "Women are finally starting to embrace this stronger, cutting-edge look," says Gibson. There are two keys to pulling off today's cropped cut: proportion and imperfection. You don't want it to be the same length all around — let one side fall a bit to give it that haphazard feel. And make sure the hair has lots of texture. To style, tousle with fingers in various directions. The edges should look undone and not super straight, so it won't be mistaken for a crew cut.

How To:

1. Grown-out hair color is even more noticeable on short styles. Keep your shade strong with a color-enhancing shampoo, such as Wella Professionals Color Preserve Smoothing Shampoo, $13.

2. Add volume to wet strands by scrunching in a dollop of Aveda Phomollient Styling Foam, $14, starting at your roots.

3. Finish by sculpting with a styling wax or pomade. Redken Electric Wax 11, $17, works well to maintain shine.

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The Shag


What's New: Unlike the severe style that characterized the '70s, the latest shag is more blended, less choppy. "It's the most wearable real-life cut because there are so many variations," says Gibson. The surefire way to avoid a dated look: Keep layers on top and don't let hair get too long in the back (the extra length would make this cut feel too retro). Instead, it's more organic, with layers flowing into one another.

How To:

1. Since volume and texture are important for this cut, keep hair healthy with a deep-conditioning, reparative mask once or twice a week. Try Biolage Fortetherapie Intensive Strengthening Masque, $16.

2. Short hair requires some lift at the roots. Build it with Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Gel, $3, to create movement as you blow-dry.

3. Lock in your look with Ted Gibson Beautiful Hold Hair Spray, $25 — just a shot on the ends will do. The light formula lets you apply and brush through easily.

Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.