Cut it off!

I have hair that does its job and is relatively healthy. The problem is, however, that I hate to do my hair and loathe storing hair stuff. In high school, I had naturally curly locks, which I’d style with my fingers and head out the door with a wet head. This carefree system doesn’t work any longer since my natural curls are totally gone in some places, only waves in other locations, and curly still around my temples. Now, to keep from looking like an unkempt eccentric with combination curly-wavy-straight hair, I have to do it.

For most of my non-curly adult life, I have worn my hair long and just thrown it into a ponytail. Wearing a ponytail has one big disadvantage, though, which is the headache. No matter how loosely or tightly you wear your ponytail, you’ll eventually get a ponytail headache from oddly pulling a single hair into the ponytail holder. Also, a second disadvantage is that you can’t change your mind about your ponytail mid-day because you have that strange crease in your hair. Another big disadvantage is all of the styling stuff you have to keep for those rare days when it’s inappropriate to wear a ponytail.

This week, I decided I’d had enough and I cut my hair off super short. I don’t mean Susan Powter circa 1993 short. It’s more like Victoria Beckham’s short do. And, so far, it’s proven to be quite a drastic and improved change: less shampoo, less drying time, and less styling time.

I still need a hairdryer and a brush, but gone is my need for rollers, curling irons, straightening irons, conditioner, ponytail holders, barrettes, bobby pins, headbands, and hairspray. Cutting my hair literally freed half of my need for storage space in the bathroom.

My hairdryer, single canister of styling gel, and brush now live in an unused flower pot under my sink. I don’t need anything else. Three hair doodads, and that’s it. So, if you’re looking to get rid of some of your bathroom clutter and time involved with doing your hair, consider cutting your hair short. If you have naturally curly or straight hair, you might even be able to get rid of your hairdryer (and, I might secretly envy you). You’ll save money by buying less shampoo and styling gel, and you may even be able to get by without conditioner. Short hair is definitely an uncluttered solution.

77 Comments for “Cut it off!”

  1. posted by Ethel on

    I think there is a great lesson here – style decisions can impact clutter. However, I don’t think short hair is a universal answer.

    Like the author, I chose my hairstyle partly to eliminate time and space clutter. Unlike the author but like an earlier poster, long hair accomplishes this goal for me. My shoulder-blade length, naturally wavy hair doesn’t even need to be brushed daily as long as I minimize hair washing (for natural oils) and condition regularly. I re-cut my face-framing layers about once every three months (when I re-dye, I like my hair red) and cut layers into the rest of it about once a year. Short hair, by way of contrast, needs styling and monthly cutting to continue to work well for me.

  2. posted by ScottMGS on

    Next time your hair gets long and you decide to cut it, see if you can donate it to Locks of Love.

  3. posted by Edward on

    Fellas, My brother shaves his head and the bathroom is cluttered with the accessories he needs to keep this look. Razors out the wazoo, lotions, soaps, etc. Don’t be fooled, shaving your head clutters your life, not the other way round.

  4. posted by lahope on

    I have my hair straightened every 6-9 months at a salon in Koreatown (LA) that uses the Japanese strightening process. It takes about 4 hours, but the result is excellent and very low maintainence. It can cost from $150 in Koreatown to $600 in Beverly Hills. I first discovered it when I was in the Wella testing program and they tested it on me. I haven’t looked back!

    If you want to throw away the razor consider laser hair removal. It can be expensive, because multiple treatments are needed until all the regrowth is zapped, but the result is well worth it–I haven’t needed a razor in years!

  5. posted by Liz on

    As one of the very short haired girls, i agree (in part) with Anna’s post re the social cost.
    Yes, people treat you differently, but where i disagree with her is that I honestly think it is worth it. I am so so so much happier with my new hair, (and yes, so much less time and effort and clutter!) i think of it this way – if someone is going to treat me differently (badly) because i have short hair, well then i’d rather they do that so i know what a jack*$$ they really are. I’ll just go and find someone who isnt quite so shallow and backwards regarding female hair styling and what it says about us :).
    Continuing my rant…I think our society, for all it’s being modern and supportive of women, is still a little sexist if they make a huge deal about a female celebrity getting their hair cut short. Especially if they aren’t lesbian. Who honestly cares who they jump in bed with, and whether their haircut is implying anything in that regard. On some people, yes, short hair IS unattractive. But on others it looks good. This is what it should be about. Not a dumb generalisation about the woman’s sexuality or the whole female world looking good or bad with a certain type of ‘do.

  6. posted by Len on

    I keep my head shaved cause it saves me a boatload of time. I keep a razor, mirror, bar of soap, shaving cream, toothbrush and toothpaste in the shower and that’s about it. Talk about unclutter ;)

    Not to mention it only takes me 5 minutes every other day to do if I stay on top of it vs. the 15-30 minutes daily I used to spend tending to hair.

    Oddly enough for facial hair I employ a completely different tactic. I keep a beard so I only shave from the jawline down daily and once a week I’ll take a couple of extra minutes with an electric razor (w/ attached adjustable guard so I don’t have 10+ attachments) and a pair of scissors to keep the beard looking neat.

    I saved myself a few hours a week when I first started this and the idea of going back is frightening lol!

  7. posted by elrj on

    I, like other readers, was surprised at this post. Having had long hair most of my life, the few times I have had cute short cuts I was surprised at the increase in amount of time I was required to spend on my short haircuts. To me, despite the plethora of bobby-pins and hair-clips (all of which I keep in one pretty box on my dresser… once the hair “items” outgrow the box, I toss a few until they are containable again), long hair is much lower maintainance than short; and I even have nice natural wave! I know several up-dos which are attractive that I wear alternately to the office, all of which take less than a minute, and leave my hair soft and wavy for the even if/when I want to let my hair down. Maybe it was just lack of experience, but if my hair wasn’t cooperating when it was short I didn’t have the option to “put it away” in a pony-tail or bun; I usually just went for a scarf and hoped it would grow out soon!

  8. posted by jillyoli on

    thin hair looks terrible if it’s long….like a witch. I would LOVE to have long, long hair to tie up in a chignon bun but my hair is WAAAAY to thin for that. I’ve found that a little below chin length is best for my thin, straight hair.

    I envy you ladies who can get it cut once a year and wear long hair with endless style. (long hair pulled up nicely NEVER goes out of style by the way)

    Happy blowdrying!

  9. posted by jon on

    Speaking as a male, I switched to a buzz cut several years ago. I did it becasue I was cycling a lot in summer and my old cut was too sweaty in the cycle helmet. So I had it shaved and have never looked back.

    I used to go the hairdressers and pay £5+ to to have a 3 & 2, that is #3 on top, #2 on the sides. But after having the trainees bash my head about and charge me £12 for a bad cut (how can you cut hair badly when all you are doing is running a trimmer through it??!!), I decided to go DIY. I bought an electric cordless trimmer, only £15 from Boots, and now I sit on the edge of the bath, leaning in, and just buzz cut a #2 all over with one hand and feel the result with the other. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes, I do it in the evening and catch any missed hairs in the morning in different light. It took a little practice, but now it’s easy and very quick.

    I also use the trimmer for my chin hair, which is very easy and safe, and so I haven’t clean shaved for a couple of years now (more time saved!).

    In fact, I’ve saved much more than just money. I do not have to make a special trip to get my cut, I don’t have to hang around waiting my turn, I don’t have a shirt full of itchy bits of cut hair to clean out, and best of all, my hair stays neatly cut all the time. Whenever I realise it is taking a little too long to dry, I know I need another cut. So I cut every 3 or 4 weeks now instead of every 6 or 8 weeks when I could find the time to make a trip out to the hairdresser.

    Do yourself a favour and buy a set of trimmers, and whip it off, ALL OFF!!

  10. posted by Harris on

    WOW! Lots of info….everyone has a “best haircut” for their life and look. Sometimes it takes some time to find it but when you do, stay with it. Life is too short to be obsessed with anything!

  11. posted by Khürt Williams on

    Erin, I think we could all have benefitted from a before and after photo.

  12. posted by Julie Andrea on

    Hello! Like some of the others here, I don’t agree that short hair is more frugal. Funny, Mum and I were just discussing this yesterday.

    My hair is long and straight, all one length, no bangs, no layers. I get it trimmed maybe once or twice a year at a cheapie salon for $12.00. If I don’t like the colour, I dump a couple of boxes of home colour on it, total cost about $20.00. I no longer need to pay for cuts every 4 – 6 weeks, perms, highlights, bang trims, etc. I can wear my hair up in a lovely clip (found at the dollar store or can go expensive with handmade clips), wear a headband (I have tons of them, from casual to lace covered), or in a scrunchie, or pinned back at the sides or loose and flowing. The best thing I ever did was grow out the layers and the bangs.

    Of course most hair stylists want you in short hair with layers, that way you are back in their chair every six weeks and hair cuts cost way too much, plus a tip, plus my time and energy – it’s just not a frugal option for me.

  13. posted by Linda on

    I have very sexy, longish, layered (and colored) hair. It is well worth the cost and the “stuff” to maintain it in my opinion. I’m 50 and look about 38, thanks to good genetics and the best hair stylist (IMO) in our area. I have a very high profile career and interact with people all day. Looking good helps me feel confident.

    Appearance (and how to maintain it) is a very personal (and obviously highly emotionally charged) issue. There is no right or wrong here; it is purely a case of “whatever floats your boat.”

  14. posted by Teresa on

    If you have long hair and decide to cut it consider donating it to “beautiful lengths” or “locks of love” I cut my hair for donation every spring and let it regrow. You cannot donate your hair if it has been chemically straightened, colored or permed. Because I want to donate I keep it healthy by using only a light styling gel, shampoo and conditioner. I have a simple short bob for the summer that looks good as it grows longer. I save so much money on hair stuff and cuts now. My stylist cuts my hair for free because I am donating it.

  15. posted by Meghan on

    As some others have commented – I also disagree that cutting your hair short saves you time, space, and money. It completely depends on the person. I cut my long hair off (and donated it to Locks of Love) a year and a half ago. When it was really long, I was told how beautiful my hair looked and to never cut it. I would wash it – and that was it! Sometimes I would go for weeks without brushing. But, when I cut it short, my wavy, fine, incredibly thin hair made me look like an unkempt little boy if I didn’t spend time blow drying, styling, pinning it down, etc… I keep my hair long now mainly in the interest of saving time in the morning.

  16. posted by Meghan on

    Oh! And I also forgot – in terms of short hair saving you money – if you have short hair – you have to get it cut every 6 weeks. Long hair – you can go as long as 4 months. A girl in my office can’t believe I spend $50 on a good haircut – but I don’t go more than 3 times a year. She has really really short hair (think gymnast style) and spends $30 every six weeks on mediocre haircuts. So in the end, she spends almost double what I do and doesn’t look as good.

  17. posted by CO on

    It’s definitely best to keep all hair short.

  18. posted by Peregrin on

    Yeah, I look terrible with short hair. I have long, straight, fine hair that I simply wash and air-dry in the morning, then style with a headband or hair clips and hairspray. I may not sport the latest, trendiest hairstyle, but who cares? I like my long hair and intend to keep it that way till I die. :D

  19. posted by Amanda on

    My hair is very fine, not exactly luxuriant, and it does NOTHING. It won’t even take a perm… three hours after leaving the stylist, it’s as flat as ever. So I gave up and left it long and straight. It takes me approximately 2 minutes to “do” my hair: gather the top section, brush smoothly, and braid (this method spreads the tension evenly across the top of the head, so you don’t get ponytail headaches or pulling at the front hairline). Gather the braid and the back hair, twist into a bun, and clip with an octopus clip. Added benefit is that I don’t have a lot of hair “stuff”. Cleanser, brush, clip, sharp scissors for my quarterly trim. That’s it. If I really feel it needs conditioning, I have eggs and coconut oil in the kitchen. I love it because it’s neat, easy, and professional enough for work. Also, since I’m not putting loads of stuff in my hair and not having to touch it frequently during the day, I can skip a wash and still have it look decent–a great thing on those mornings where nothing goes right and my kid’s velcroed to my leg. :)

  20. posted by Diana on

    I read with interest that a few of the ladies with long hair only shampoo once a week. My hair is thick and curly. It has been every length, from pixie to med-back, but is currently just above my shoulders. I’m gleefully headed back to the shop this a.m. for a nice, short(er) cut & color. When it’s long it’s unruly as heck, takes foreEEVER to dry and gets all tangled. Long thick, curly hair is a real problem for athletics: I mountain bike and work out regularly. If I only shampoo’d weekly my scalp would uhh… REEK! And ITCH!! Plus I fear head lice–> EWWW!!!

    Ok, maybe that was a bit extreme, but short and simple works best for my hair type and my lifestyle. A little gel, a little scrunch, and I’m good to go.

  21. posted by Louise on

    A crew cut works best for me, and it definitely saves time and money. I cut it myself with Wahl clippers, which cost us about $40, a one time expense. My husband also uses the clippers for his haircut.

    We live full-time in our RV and are rarely any place long enough to visit the same hair salon twice, so I have eliminated the hassle of finding a new stylist over and over.

    My hair looks exactly the same, morning, noon and night: short and chic. No combing, no brushing. No clips, bands, barrettes to buy or store. No gels, sprays, mousses.

    In addition to our RV, we have two 150cc scooters. I always ride wearing a helmet, and my hair is completely unfazed by the brain bucket. No “hairdo by Honda” for me! Even more conventional short hair gets flattened in a helmet, but the crew cut does not.

    Best of all, I get compliments everywhere I go from complete strangers. Literally hundreds of women have told me they wish they were “brave” enough to cut their hair this short. It’s too bad that people are afraid to even try a radical, yet completely reversible change like really short hair. What have you got to lose?

  22. posted by Sooz on

    @Louise, I admire your willingness to have carefree and even “helmet-proof” hair — I can see where that would be very freeing! But my answer to your question “What have you got to lose?” is: my sanity, if the look doesn’t suit me & I need to wait for my hair to grow back! :)

  23. posted by Louise on

    @Sooz: I could say something all zen and wise about letting go of the clutter of relating your looks to your sanity, but I think it would sound flippant and I don’t want to minimize your feelings. But! We usually regret more later the things we DIDN’T do, rather than the things we did :)

  24. posted by Sooz on

    @Louise, thanks for your considerateness, which I *do* appreciate, but I think I didn’t express myself clearly. It’s not about relating my *looks* to my sanity, it’s about *waiting-for-hair-to-grow-back* and my sanity!

    For me, the growing-back-in period, from when the hair is long enough to be in my face (which I can’t stand) to when it’s finally long enough to pull back into a ponytail to keep it out of my face, is awful. After a childhood plagued by a hairstyle that drove me nuts (but Mom thought it looked cute!), I grew my hair in at age 18 and have never regretted it once.

    For myself, the ultimate “uncluttering” is that I don’t think about my hair beyond the simple business of washing it & combing it into a ponytail. The length is just about to the bottom of my shoulder-blades. I trim the ponytail at home every few months… that takes about 1 minute to do. If I have to go somewhere dressy, I twist the ponytail up and put in some sparkly clips, and that’s it!

    PS: @Diana: I also only shampoo my hair once a week. My scalp is not oily, so if I wash my hair more often, I’m essentially wasting both time & shampoo.

  25. posted by Mike on

    I understand where John in Indiana is coming from, saying short hair is a signal that the woman does not want to look feminine. Long hair has been a talisman of femininity and fertility for centuries, so it’s unrealistic to expect a man, even in today’s modern world, not to be at least somewhat attuned to that. It’s just the way men are wired.

    That said, it’s true that women CAN cut their hair short and still look good. It’s just that most of those that cut their hair short seem to end the process there and give up on still keeping up the appearance. It’s the same as a guy who gets a crew cut but then instead of brushing it up evenly and keeping it trim, just uses it as an excuse to have an unkempt mat of fur atop his dome. If you’ve ever walked through a Costco on a Saturday morning and seen some of the soccer moms ambling about there, you know what I mean. I don’t expect them to dress up like a night at the opera — it’s just that, wow, they really do come off dumpy with those flat, close-cut noggins on top of everything else.

    In my wife’s case, she has an extra disadvantage: if she cuts her hair short, she looks almost exactly like her brother. And even her friends have told her this. I kept it light, joking that “as much as I like the guy, I don’t think my being married to him would work out.” The compromise we reached is that if she keeps her hair a little longer the way I like it, I return the favor by keeping MY hair the way SHE likes it — short and sharply trimmed. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

  26. posted by Carol on

    Well, I’ve had my hair cut super-short (not crew cut short, but about like Halle Berry’s shortest do, and no, I’m not quite as hot as Halle Berry!) off an on over the years. More so on, recently. I’ve also had it really long, and can attest to the “ease” of long hair – fewer haircuts, the ponytail option, etc. But what it’s come down to for me is I just didn’t have that kind of long hair I could let air dry – it didn’t look great at the end, and it took forever, since there’s a lot of it.

    Anyway, my point being: any decision like this is about what you value. I value looking put-together, and I value not having to worry about my hair. I value not having a lot of crap in my bathroom, and I value not doing my hair one way only to walk out into the humidity and have it become completely different hair.

    I value being attractive to the opposite sex (men), and yet I really don’t value being with someone whose attraction to me might vary depending on how my hair is cut. I don’t care if men are wired to like women with long hair, I want one for whom my appeal doesn’t depend on hair length. Will that be harder to find? I suspect so. I don’t care. I’d rather be alone than have to worry about this.

    See now – to a lot of people that would be nuts. Alone! What’s that! But I just can’t believe that my relationship happiness depends on my hairstyle. So it’s scary to have short hair, but feels like that good scary. Like skydiving. Which wouldn’t tangle my nice short hair…

  27. posted by phillippq on

    i need to disagree here. i alternate very reguarly between short and long hair (grow it long enough to ponytail/braid, chop it to the chin..and so on). My routines go like this:
    Long hair: Wake up, ponytail or braid it. I don’t wash my hair everyday (and actually, the less you wash it with shampoo, the less oily it is). When I do wash, I wash, towel dry and go.

    Now that I have short hair again, every morning is a bad hair morning, so I wash, put in stuff for pre-blow drying. and the blow dry and style at the same time with a brush, apply stuff to manipulate and hold the style.

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