So in the summer of 2015, I was between my first and second years of medical school an had gone back to my parent’s house in Richmond, Virginia for the summer. My (wonderful and very supportive) boyfriend had left for three weeks of backpacking through Europe and I was in full on “recover from Neuroanatomy/Neurology burnout” mode–it was our most difficult and last course of the semester. After a week or two of catching up with my friends from high school, sorority sisters, and friends from college and watching way too much of who knows what on Netflix, I remember feeling ready to do something. So I decided to cut all my hair off.
I mean, this had been something that I had wanted to do for a long time but hadn’t ever had the guts to do. However, I was surrounded by my supportive mother and sister (who did ensure that I wasn’t making any dramatic hair decisions during ‘that time of the month’)… and of course I also went back and forth texting various dear, patient friends pictures of celebrity’s heads until we came up with just the right inspiration to go into a salon appointment with:
I wanted a gamine pixie cut a la Emma Watson and Michelle Williams. Here is what my first cut looked like:
Not too shabby! I should mention that I have very thick wavy/curly hair, so texturally I knew it was’t quite going to sit the same as Emma and Michelle’s lovely locks. Once I got used to it, I decided that I could go a bit shorter at my next trim!
I really loved my first several months of having a pixie cut. It felt very liberating to spend so little time “getting ready” on my hair; I’ve always been a high-maintenance hair person. With thick curls, I was always either blow drying and straightening it, or using lots of product to diffuse it dry curly. With the pixie, getting it from wet-to-dry took 3 minutes with the blow dryer and I just ran a little wax through it after that because it was too short to curl. I had so much more time in the mornings! I also loved the way that it changed my entire style in an instant– outfits and accessories that felt stale all of the sudden had this new twist to them. Not to mention, there is no better way to show off earrings or makeup than with a pixie…its like the perfect frame. And lastly, this sounds bad but I will go ahead and say it– its a hair cut that draws attention, so you get a lot of compliments which certainly feels nice.
Things I didn’t love: I needed hair cuts every four weeks to keep it looking good. Trims that frequent = $$$. But on week five, I would start entering the first of the grow out phases that I will mention below. I also, sadly, have a low hairline in the back which means that by week four I desperately needed the neck trim. THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT NO ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT, LADIES. WARNING: If you get a pixie, they will probably need to shave your neck. There will be stubble. I also desperately missed buns and braids. I wanted to be able to put my hair up.
So, I held out for about six months and continued to get monthly trims, and then around January of 2016 I made the official decision to grow it out. Now, the way I went about growing my hair is definitely not the prettiest way to do it (as you will see), but I think I’ve grown it out pretty quickly since we are at the 7 month point now and I am officially at a bob (woot woot!).
Phase 1: The Puffy Pixie
So this phase was significantly worse for me because of my hair texture (thick and wavy/curly), but might not be so bad for someone else with thinner or straight hair. Basically this is what happened for me for the first month or two after the time when I would normally have gotten a trim. Not so bad, and easily tame-able with product, a mini straightener (I used this one every day for 7 months), and intricate barrettes if that’s your thing. While you are at this phase– DO NOT CUT.
Phase 2: Getting Flippy
I actually didn’t hate this phase quite as much as the others. This was about 9-10 weeks in and my hair had started to weigh itself down a bit and occasionally would flip about in a way that wasn’t heinous. I was actually getting back to the gamine look I was going for in the beginning! The key in this phase was headbands, because my “bangs” were getting really long and it helped to keep them back while the rest of my hair “caught up.”
Phase 3: The Mini-Mullet
This is where things start to get cringe-worthy. You might be at the 3-4 month point now and the hair in the back of your pixie is significantly longer than the front or sides and it is starting to flip a little bit. It’s probably time for a trim. Ask your hairdresser to cut the back hairline in length to match the sides and just do a light dusting of the rest to keep it healthy. Make sure they know you are trying to grow it out! It will hurt because you are trying to grow your hair out…but it needs to be done.
Because this mullet look<–not cute.
Bonus: You might be unlucky enough to have a professional photo taken soon after your haircut on a bad hair day. Needless to say, I will be getting a new one before I send out residency applications. Any photographers reading this?
Phase 4: The Long Haul
Once you’ve successfully trimmed your mullet so that your hair is mostly all one length, now its just a long wait of growing it out and trying not to mess with it. If you find that your mullet is beginning to return, you can continue to get the back trimmed so that your hair stays all one length.
Rule #1: Don’t cut it back to a pixie! (Unless you really want it, that is.) There were so many times along the way that I was tempted to re-cut my hair into a pixie again just so it could look like some semblance of an actual style. I had to constantly remind myself that it would be worthwhile. And it has been! So if this is you– stay strong!
Rule #2: Keep your hair healthy. Continue to get regular “dustings” off the ends of your hair every 8 weeks or so so that when you do get your hair to the desired length, it isn’t full of dead ends. On that note, definitely use a heat protectant (I love Its a 10 and this one by Bumble & Bumble) every time you heat style your hair so you aren’t damaging it. Also, avoid bleaching or lightening your hair if possible to keep it strong! I also like doing a hair mask about once a week; it claims to reduce dead ends and I’m not so sure about that…but I always notice a difference in softness and shine.
Rule #3: Try to have some fun with it! You are going to have some bad hair days…that’s life. Don’t let it stop you from going out with friends and doing anything else that you would normally do. Having short hair is a great time to experiment with different hair accessories, and even maybe a demi-permanent color at one of your next trims. Somewhere along the way I accepted that bad hair day ≠ bad day.
I hope this was helpful for any of you guys thinking about cutting a pixie or growing one out! Or maybe you just like giggling at pictures of me with a mullet 😝. So of course now that I am FINALLY at a bob and ready for a trim I am thinking that I am ready for another hair change. I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to hair inspiration…and I am thinking bangs– check it out and let me know what you think!. Instragram user and blogger @Saltandironn has been further encouraging me and adding inpiration with her gorgeous shots.
Thanks for reading all the way through 🙂 Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the Week in Review!