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What Are the Best Products for Styling Short Hair?

The next best thing to Vidal Sassoon styling your pixie. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Anyone with short hair knows it has its ups and downs. Five years ago, I chopped off around 12 inches of hair. Going from hair that went well beyond my shoulders to a pixie cut required a total reevaluation of my styling routine. I’m still amazed at how quickly I can wash and dry my thick hair, and I haven’t had a knot or tangle since going short. On the other hand, I’ve had to say good-bye to messy buns and ponytails, my old bad-hair-day staples.

As Salon Jatel stylist Tyler Lin says, “You can’t hide a bad shape” with short hair, whether that’s a crew cut or a bob, so getting a good cut is an essential first step. Once you leave the salon and are on your own, though, there are products and techniques you can use for styling your cut. We asked three hair stylists to recommend their favorite shampoos, creams and waxes, tools, and more for short-hair upkeep.

Best shampoos and conditioners

According to Lin, short hair, unless it’s been double-processed, is generally healthier than long hair because it’s cut more often and doesn’t incur as much breakage or damage. Therefore, he says it’s less important to look for smoothing or hydrating shampoos and conditioners and instead focus on products that improve scalp health. He’s a fan of this scalp-focused line from Japanese brand Milbon. “It thickens the scalp and helps the hair grow, and it also feels very refreshing and smells good,” he says.

Tahlya Loveday, stylist and art director at The Drawing Room salon, likes this shampoo-and-conditioner set, with lavender and sweet almond oil, for managing frizz in short hair. “It’s infused with anti-static polymers, which adds volume while helping to prevent static and fly-aways,” she says.

For adding volume to short styles, Corrinn Dinan uses “a volumizing or even a clarifying shampoo, and a lightweight conditioner that won’t weigh the hair down.” She says she’s “currently in love” with the sulfate-and-silicone-free shampoo and conditioner from Living Proof’s Full Collection, which meet all of her requirements for a body-boosting pair.

Best styling products

Loveday turns to this lightweight paste for holding a style in place. “From bobs to pixie cuts, this product is engineered to work with most hair types and styles,” she says. “The paste adds extreme texture and provides elastic support without feeling too heavy or waxy.”