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10 Chic Shorter Haircuts

Simple styles that will turn heads


spinner image Three women with short hair
George Pimente, Jason Merrits, Pascal Le Segretain; Getty Image (3)

Thinking about cutting your hair? Summer does that. While going shorter can be freeing and certainly update your overall look, it takes guts. The scary part used to be growing it out (the uh-oh moment). Now it's more about feeling exposed, naked without our usual locks. Here's why: At 50-plus, hair may be a bit thinner, and cropped hair puts newly matured necks prominently on display. But don't let that stop you! Here are 10 ways to chop chic and love it. 

spinner image Maye Musk and Tilda Swinton with an undercut style.
Gary Gershoff/WireImage, Tony Barson/FilmMagic

1. The Undercut

Maye Musk and Tilda Swinton have this long-on-top, crisply-short-below bi-levelstyle. The superlong top section is what gives this cut versatility. You can swoop it up in a pompadour-like wave, create a sideswept bang, or brush it back and off the face. One cautionary tale: Do not let any stylist talk you into shaving the undercut part or doing a "fade." This cut is for divas who like to stand out in the crowd. Statement color adds to the effect.

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spinner image Sharon Stone with a chiseled bob style.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Image

2. Chiseled Bob

Sharon Stone's cut is basically a chin-length layered bob with graduated layers at the neck and nibbled layers beneath. You can do a side part and tuck all behind the ears for a smooth look, blow-dry it up big on top for lots of drama and volume, or smooth it off the face with styling pomade for yet another variation. If you're ready to snip your fine, thin hair blunt — this is it.

spinner image Gayle King and Kris Jenner with bangs
Jim Spellman/WireImage, George Pimentel/Getty Images
spinner image Isabella Rossellini, Maye Musk, Helen Mirren
Getty Images
spinner image Headshots of Frances McDormand and Lauren Hutton showcasing the gamine crop
Steve Granitz/WireImage, Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

3. Gamine Crop

spinner image Doria Ragland and Whoopi Goldberg with a short bob 'locs
Steve Parsons /Getty Images, Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Soft, wavy tendrils around forehead, ears and nape give naturally ripply hair a feminine, sort of French look. Frances McDormand has the run-my-hands-through-it casual style that works with this cut. If you're on the fence, pin the back up for a test run like Lauren Hutton does. It's very low maintenance. Simply apply mousse to wet hair to encourage curl, and let it dry on its own. Run wet hands through to revive when needed. If you choose this style, consider adding highlights to create the illusion of density and thickness.

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spinner image Judy Dench and Robin Roberts with an ultra short cap hairstyle
HGL/Getty Images, Jason Merritt/Getty Images

4. Ultra-Short Cap

A bold chop of head-hugging mini layers — like the ones rocked by Judi Dench and Robin Roberts — is fashionably contemporary. Dench prefers piece-y wisps around the hairline and ears directed toward the face, while Roberts styles her cut totally off the face with extra lift at the crown. Brow definition with pencil and powder is an important move for close cuts that are more face than hair. Keep makeup soft and neutral and hair color in a one-color hue. All you need is a well-shaped head.

spinner image Jamie Lee Curtis and Iris Apfe with the spiky pixie style.
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic, JP Yim/Getty Images

5. Spiky Pixie

It's those gutsy stand-up strands at the crown that make the short cuts of Jamie Lee Curtis and Iris Apfel’s edgy, rather than sweet. Curtis tapers her stick-straight style to expose ears, but Apfel prefers long piece-y sections in front of her ears and at the nape. Tweaking a cut to suit your preferences is up to you, not your hairdresser. Always look in three-way mirror before and after you get a cut, and discuss specifics with your stylist. Rub a tiny bit of soft styling wax or pomade between your fingertips to help with the stand-up bits. Don’t spike it too much — no one wants a porcupine look!

spinner image Annette Bening and Viola Davis with the curly crop hairstyle
Jim Spellman/WireImage, Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

6. Curly Crop

From Annette Bening's tousled springs to Viola Davis' tightly textured coils, curls make going short glam. Both looks benefit from expert cutting, diffuser drying and moisturizing styling creams for definition. Use a curling iron or hot rollers to enhance or restore bounce to frizz-prone looser curls or those gone flat at the roots. Section hair in an irregular way (not uniform rows), let heat do its thing, cool and unroll. Use fingers — not a brush — to shape. For tighter natural curls, rub shea butter cream between fingers and randomly twist sections of hair. Then use a pick at the roots for extra lift.

spinner image Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson with the short new bob.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images, Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

7. Short New Bob

Looks can be deceiving. What appears to be a classic chin-length bob now has invisible layers beneath to add oomph. With a twist of the flat iron, a short bob goes bend-y or wavy, like Helen Mirren's hair. Coax a wavier effect with a texturizing spray, or use a curling iron to spiral in random waves — let cool and break up with your fingers. Sculpted off the face with a gel, paste or pomade, the same short, layered bob becomes a sleek and modern alternative to an updo or pulled-back chignon — exactly like Emma Thompson does it. It's a great in-between length: short but face-framing.

spinner image Martha Stewart and Diane Sawyer with an elegant shag
Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images, Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

8. Elegant Shag

Ready to go from long to medium — but not quite ready for a major cut? Do it in stages. Martha Stewart and Diane Sawyer sport polished modern looks that work for straight, wavy or curly hair. Starting just beneath the chin with tapered ends for movement, a side part and sideswept bangs, this neoclassic style hugs your face, jawline and neck. Who'd say no to that?

spinner image Doria Ragland and Whoopi Goldberg with a short bob 'locs
Steve Parsons /Getty Images, Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

9. Short Bobbed 'Locks

Thick, ropy chin-length dreads like those of Doria Ragland (Meghan Markle's mom) and Whoopi Goldberg — whether natural or salon-created —  tweak classic bobs and lobs. If you have long thin weightier dreadlocks that add traction at the hairline, take a break and then switch to this shorter, lighter version. Add a scarf hairband or pull dreads back gently in an elegant ponytail for a variation.  Thin hair can benefit from the addition of a few pop-in faux 'locks. Use a tiny dab of pomade to help style and set and to reduce frizz.

spinner image Gayle King and Kris Jenner with bangs
Jim Spellman/WireImage, George Pimentel/Getty Images

10. Bangs

While not technically a "short cut," bangs are an entry snip to going shorter — no matter if your hair is long, lobbed or bobbed. Simply pulling the rest of your hair back with full feathery bangs will give you the feel of going short. Get used to it that way. You might start out like Gayle King, with a wavy bob and bangs, and work up to a short cut that's basically all-full bangs like Kris Jenner. And remember this: A heavy bang gives the overall impression of thicker hair and makes Botox irrelevant ... forever!

spinner image Isabella Rossellini, Maye Musk, Helen Mirren
Getty Images

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