“I Found My Forever Haircut”: 6 Women Try Pre-Autumn Trends

There are a lot of emotions tied up in our hair. Personally, I've been considering chopping off a lot of hair — like six inches — and I just keep putting it off. I have excuses (avoidance tactics), like, I'll do it in the autumn when it's less humid. Then someone will compliment my long hair and I'll convince myself that I love it, too. But if I'm honest with myself, I want a bob.
When I'm scared about a physical change — be it something like Botox in my forehead that no one really notices or a drastic haircut that feels more high stakes — I do some outreach and talk to people who have experience and can offer advice. Here, I spoke with six women who recently chopped their hair into short, fresh cuts. You'll see some of the biggest pre-autumn trends (the circular bob and a Hailey Bieber-inspired dry cut) and classic styles (like the pixie and the now ubiquitous post-wedding chop), across different hair textures. I ask these women to explain the process, how they feel about their hair now, after living with it, and what they wish they knew before their haircut. See the transformations and read the stories ahead.

The Italian bob

Name: Kelsea Stahler (she/her)
Hair type: Coarse, very thick, wavy-kinky  
The salon and stylist: Hairroin Salon in LA, stylist Miriam Diaz
The haircut you asked for: the Italian Bob. I used this Elizabeth Olsen pic, though I opted out of the fringe because I needed lower maintenance. I also used this '60s bob for inspiration, and this one as well.
The process: My stylist posted a transformation video to her Instagram. Originally, I went in wanting the chop and a slight fringe, but ultimately decided to try it without the fringe and I’m glad I did because it really cuts down on styling time and maintenance. 
How you felt immediately afterward: Naked! I went from really long hair to a bob so it was a major change. I had a bob when I was younger, but my hair texture was softer then, so I didn’t anticipate my hair having such an abundance of volume at first. But I took it out for a whirl in Palm Springs that weekend and got compliments galore. It gave me a nice confidence boost during the first few days of transition and now I love it!

I wish I realised just how different my hair texture is from the last time I got a bob, and how much more maintenance it needs.

The styling routine: Most days, I air dry, but I will blow it out for special occasions using Bumble and bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat Protectant, £27, and a ceramic hairdryer with diffuser and concentrator attachments. My hair has been bleached a lot in the last two years, so I rely heavily on Olaplex conditioner and shampoo. After washing and conditioning, I scrunch my hair with a t-shirt (regular towels are frizz factories) and work a few drops of the Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil, £28, and a pump of the styling cream into my hair.
Also in the mix, depending on the day and how unruly my hair is being, are Kristin Ess Scalp Purifying Micellar Shampoo, £10, Amika Flash Instant Shine Mask, £24, for shine, and Briogeo Curl Charisma Hair Mask, £15, for moisture. Between washes, I also use Briogeo’s Soft Wave Texture Spray, £22.50, for days when my waves are feeling a little limp. Most importantly, I recently installed a soft water filter in my shower and that has made a world of difference because tap water in LA is hard. It’s wild how much curlier my hair gets at this shorter length and the right care.
What you wish you had known before cutting your hair: I wish I knew how hard it would be to get out of my face when I’m cooking or working out — I’ve invested in a few claw clips and they have helped. I also wish I realised just how different my hair texture is from the last time I got a bob, and how much more maintenance it needs — but I think I figured out the right products to help tame it, thank goodness.

Pixie cut

Name: Nia Jackson (she/her)
Hair type: 3C-4A
The haircut you asked for: I didn’t really ask for anything specifically, I just told her to cut it all off and I showed her my inspo pictures, like this and this. After three years of not taking care of my hair, my relationship with it was so bad that I had no connection to it anymore. I wanted to cut it for three years and I let fear dictate my decision. But this time I was certain I wanted it gone. I actually decided to cut it a week before my birthday!  I didn’t think I was asking for a pixie cut but the pictures I showed were pretty much that and that’s what they gave me.
The process: During the next visit, the stylist let me cut the first braid [editor's. note: you can see that moment on TikTok]. It was a very bitter sweet moment. When she was cutting she kept asking me if I wanted to stop and I said no. So she kept buzzing away. I think that is how I initially ended up with the pixie. I wouldn’t have minded if she kept going honestly; I was so ready for it to be gone! After we finished cutting we did a steam treatment and she taught me how to style it. 
How you felt immediately afterward: After the cut I felt so amazing. To be free of something that has been a weight on my shoulders for so long is such an indescribable feeling. I know it’s cliché, but while I was sitting  in that chair, I felt the old me shedding off. I couldn’t believe what I was doing, and at the same time I was so proud of myself.

When you cut your hair once, you will definitely want to cut it again.

The styling routine: When I first cut my hair, I had to learn how to style it again. Since I couldn’t braid or twist my hair, for the first few washes my style was a wash-and-go. I used a gel to define it. Instead of finger coiling, I used a fine-tooth comb to define each curl. I still do wash-and-goes, but I can do a protective style now and again, since my hair has grown. I also love using a diffuser when I want my curls to look extra juicy — helps the curls stay longer too. 
My go-to products are: Mielle Organics Coil Sculpting Custard, £13.99, it has a medium hold and my curls look so well moisturised and healthy when I use it. I also love to use Miche Beauty’s Styling Mousse, £21.99, and Curl Defining Gel, £22.99, together. To deep condition, I like to use Crème of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment, £4.99. When I do a protective style, I use a cream-based product, like Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter, £13.50, or Bounce Curl Defining Butta, £22.99
What you wish you knew before cutting your hair: I wish I knew that after getting a pixie type of cut, you have to cut your hair more than once. Since the top and the back are two different lengths, it will grow unevenly! When you cut your hair once, you will definitely want to cut it again. It’s so easy to maintain. And just knowing that you look good — even without hair — is definitely a confidence booster for sure!

Blunt lob

Name: Courtney Seamon (she/her)
Hair type: Thick, wavy, and colour-treated
The salon and stylist: NYC The Team. Michelle Hong for colour and Chloe Pasi for cut.
The haircut you asked for: An above the shoulder, post-wedding chop! I had a giant urge to chop my hair post wedding, mostly because I felt like a change. After doing it, I learned that it is actually super common for brides. Maybe it's because of the stress of a wedding and making sure you look your absolute best (hair included), then afterwards not really caring and wanting to do something drastic. Anyway, Julia Berolzheimer was my haircut inspo.
The process: It was such an amazing process and also quite freeing. I have had long hair my entire life and I was just so ready for a change. We actually ended up going a bit shorter than how I was feeling at the beginning.
How you felt immediately after: I felt incredible! I was so, so happy. 
The styling routine: I always air-dry my hair and use a curling wand from Amika and a straightener to add waves. I use Wella hair products and Oribe dry shampoo

The issue with short hair is a botched trim is a lot more noticeable than with long hair. Never stray from the stylists you trust.

What you wish you knew before cutting your hair: I learned that getting a trim means very different things depending on if you have short or long hair. I needed a quick trim so popped into a cheap spot near my house and they ended up butchering it! The issue with short hair is a botched trim is a lot more noticeable than with long hair. Never stray from the stylists you trust.

"Circular" bob

Name: Danielle (she/her)
Hair type: 3B-3C 
The salon and stylist: I went to Beauty Supply and had my hair cut by Tiffany Fodor who was recommended to me by my friend, the owner, Emaly Baum.
The haircut you asked for: I asked for an old haircut I used to have when I moved to NYC about nine years ago. I basically said I want my hair to be a circle again and showed Tiffany old photos of me from 2015-2017.
The process: I went way shorter than I thought I would! It was a big chop and I was super ready, no holding back. I am a big fan of drastic hair changes and have had many different cuts, some good some bad. Tiffany found a way to combine inspiration from an old beloved cut with her own new spin and gave my curls new life! I feel like the shape of my face changed. 

My advice: Do it! Get a big chop and make people go, "Omg! Is she ok? She looks hot!

How you felt immediately after: I felt so confident and myself. It’s such a unique cut and drastic change. Very me.
The styling routine: I wash every 4-6 days but condition daily. I shower in the morning, scrunch with mousse, then either a balm or leave-in conditioner, such as Reverie Milk Leave-In Conditioner, £30.24. Truly, I’ve been using Tresemmé mousse for years, but Christophe Robin Luscious Curl Defining Cream, £28, is also amazing. Then I blowdry with a diffuser, spritz some hairspray, diffuse one last time, and use my nails to give it one last fluff from the roots. Then I’ll take the balm or leave-in and do some final fingering to polish the bang and top curls and we’re good to go. 
What you wish you knew before cutting your hair: Just a gentle reminder to myself that hair grows back! I was growing my curls for a while — and that was fun— but my face shape suits a shorter cut with more volume. Finding someone who is a wiz with curls is no easy feat! But I am so happy that Tiffany can still surprise me and wow me with even a cut I swore I had before. My advice: Do it! Get a big chop and make people go, "Omg! Is she ok? She looks hot!

Hailey Bieber bob

Name: Rachel (she/her)
Hair type: I have very thick, naturally wavy hair
The salon and stylist: Tiffany Fodor at Beauty Supply in NYC
The haircut you wanted: A short bob. This was around the time that Hailey Bieber chopped off her hair. My best friend had recently cut hers and so she had planted the seed too. I had done random chops before and started fresh but I never really liked the cut. This time I had Tiffany, thankfully, and I really talked through what I didn't like about my short cuts prior. I showed her photos of that to make sure we weren't going to get that style again. I showed reference images of Alexa Chung. I like that her hair has a choppy vibe, like less blunt. Then a little bit of a Patti Smith vibe. I referenced Hailey Bieber by name and Tiffany knew exactly what I was talking about. Tiffany also has short hair and I love the way that hers looks, so she was a point of reference as well. I just turned 30 and I wanted to try something new.
The process: I talked to Tiffany about the fact that I didn't want to have to style my hair. So she cut it dry to allow for my natural texture to show how the haircut would look when it's not styled and that was really helpful.
We ended up with a cut that was pretty much exactly where I wanted it to be for length — a bob that worked with my texture. Tiffany thinned out the bottom of my hair and that made a huge difference. 

I wouldn't have known that I like the length that I currently have had I not taken the risk to cut it. In doing so, I found that iconic haircut that I'll probably have for the rest of my life. 

How you felt immediately after: There were some nerves in the chair and immediately after. But now there's about three months of growth and it's at a length that I really, really like. I wouldn't have known that I like the length that I currently have had I not taken the risk to cut it. In doing so, I found that iconic haircut that I'll probably have for the rest of my life. 
The styling process: I don't know why, but my hair being shorter, I only wash it twice a week and it's perfectly fine. As opposed to before, when my hair was below my chest, I had to wash it all the time because it was so dead and constantly losing moisture.
I don't really put heat on my hair. Usually I'll just let it go or throw it in a clip, which is so much easier with short hair. I have one from Free People that I love.
I asked Emily, the colourist at Beauty Supply, and she recommended Christophe Robin Aloe Vera Moisturizing Shampoo, £26, and then the Davines MoMo Conditioner, £22. Because I have thicker hair, when I go to blowdry it, I use the Color Wow Dream Coat, £27, and I always use it when I style my hair. It's the best thing ever, it basically makes my hair waterproof. I'll also use a Reverie Anti-Frizz Milk Leave-In, £30.24, when my hair is natural and dry and that will help tame the frizz but also keep my texture. Those are the staples.
What do you wish you knew before cutting your hair: That my getting-ready time was going to be cut in half. Anything can be solved with a clip; if it's too short, but it in a clip until it grows longer. Also, I love that my boyfriend isn't rolling over on my hair every night, that was a game-change for sure. 

The Big Chop

Name: Emari (she/her)
Hair type: 4B
The haircut you asked for: I cut my own hair — but I did a terrible, terrible job. I was going through a lot. I was like, "I'm not going to anybody; I can do it myself." I've always done my own braids and trimmed my ends. But I just wanted a short haircut. I was also tired of how damaged my hair was.
I was lost. I had just moved from Minnesota to Texas. It's just me and my mum, we don't have support from anyone. At the time I was 19 years old. I'm a server and was working long shifts. I lost a lot of weight. I didn't feel happy. I also met a guy who wasn't good for me at all. I just wanted to have control over my situation and cutting my hair was something I wanted to do, mostly because I didn't love my hair like I used to. I have always been attached to my hair and I wanted to get rid of it.
The process: I posted a video. It was completely raw and unedited. I had my hair straightened when I cut it, which was a big mistake. Because when it's natural, of course, it shrinks up. I botched this whole haircut. I cut it too short in the front so it was long in the back. I was really sad about it, but the more it grows the more I like it. 
How you felt immediately after: I was shocked. I always say, I'm going to cut my hair, but I never actually do it. That's why I recorded myself, to hold myself accountable. But afterwards I felt really, really sad. I felt naked, exposed. I felt ugly. I felt like I couldn't hide behind my hair anymore. 
It was a big loss. I was grieving for about a month. I eventually snapped out of it. I've received compliments before, but never compliments like this. People were like, "Don't ever grow your hair back." I had girls texting me and telling me I'm brave and asking me how I found the courage to cut my hair off. It hurt, but I would do it all over again.

It will grow back. My hair is growing back so fast. Also, it's 2023, nobody cares.

The styling routine: My hair doesn't need too much maintenance now. I wash it every other week but I co-wash throughout the week. There's a brand called Adwoa that's really good. Briogeo has Curl Charisma, £21, and that's the best thing for my hair. Pattern Edge Control, is really good. 
What do you wish you knew before cutting your hair: It will grow back. My hair is growing back so fast already. Also, it's 2023, nobody cares. I felt naked and like everybody was looking at me, but cutting my hair made me realise that nobody cares. Do it for you and not for others. I used to get really frustrated when I had a bad hair day, but now I don't worry about that. I have more control.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Hair

R29 Original Series