Don’t panic. Whatever it looks like, there’s probably a solution out there. It may not be instant. It may not be perfect. But there are things that can be done when a haircut just turns out too short.
At the end of the day, it’s hair and it’ll grow back.
But here are some tips and tricks you can use to get through the awkward phase.
8 Tips For When A Haircut Is Too Short
It’s all about experimenting to find the tips that work best for you. Whether the haircut is too short on top or on the sides, it’s very likely that there’s something that can be done to help.
1. Speak Up
Let’s put it this way.
A good barber is going to want each of their clients to leave the chair feeling satisfied and eager to come back to them in the future.
They appreciate the lifetime value of a customer – keeping them happy is probably the most important aspect of that.
Don’t get me wrong, if you feel as though the haircut is too short, they won’t be able to magically give you that length back.
But they may be able to do something. They’re professionals.
They could potentially reshape/restyle it or at least give you ideas for how to style it in a way you might actually be happy with.
Most barbers would do this for free – it’s in their best interests.
But it’s a good idea to let them know how you feel – even if it’s just to stop it from happening again.
Be polite about it. “I like the (fill in the blank) but it’s just a little shorter than I wanted”.
Asking for a refund should be the very last resort.
Often, it’s just not worth doing. Asking for a refund pretty much prevents you from going to that barber again because even the others that work there aren’t really going to want to work with you.
But don’t be afraid to communicate to your barber (politely) about how you feel about the cut. There’s a chance that something could be done about it.
2. Give It Time
This is, by far, the easiest fix out there.
If you feel as though the haircut is simply too short, just give it time.
For one, the initial disappointment you might feel is probably going to be down to the shock from the change.
It’s just different to what you’re used to seeing. Sometimes, change can feel unpleasant, even though the haircut itself is fine.
Give it a few days and you’ll probably start to get used to it. It’ll become the “new normal” after the shock from the change has started to fade.
“Normal” feels a lot more comfortable.
If after a few days you still aren’t loving the new cut, just give it some more time. Even if you don’t ever get used to the short length, it will grow back to a length you’re happy with.
As I mentioned earlier – hair grows back. It’s in its nature.
I know this isn’t exactly a “fix”. But it’ll save you a lot of stress.
Put up with the awkward phase and prevent the hair from being cut so short in future haircuts – I’ll be talking more about how to do this later on.
3. Try A Different Styling Product
There’s a good chance that your new short hair won’t respond to the same styling products you may have used before.
For example, if you were using water-based pomades or hair gels before, you may find that they make your hair look too wet or thin now that it’s so much shorter.
Try a matte or low shine product instead.
Matte clays work well for short hair. They allow you to build some texture while also giving you a pliable hold.
The lack of shine avoids too much scalp showing through the short hair.
Overall, low shine products like clays, pastes, and creams would most likely be better for your short hair than shinier products such as pomades, waxes, and gels.
Finding the right product is crucial for making a haircut that’s too short work for you during the awkward phase.
It’s yet another thing that your barber could help with before you leave their seat. Ask them what the best type of product might be for hair that’s of this length.
They’ll probably have something you can try out there and then.
4. Blow Dry
Short hair can be difficult to style, especially when you’re not used to it.
The reason for this is that it often sticks up and refuses to lay flat – it simply doesn’t have enough weight to do so.
Because of this, it’s often necessary to use some pressure to do so. A good styling product is one way of doing this.
But a blow dryer shouldn’t be underestimated. A common misconception is that they’re only useful for long hair.
This isn’t true.
For example, if you’re trying to comb your hair to one side but finding that it just won’t lay flat, some pressure and heat from a blow dryer (while combing) should make it easier.
It’ll make it more likely to lay flat and do so for longer.
You can then apply some styling product to really keep it in place.
Blow drying can also make the hair look fuller and more voluminous. This can give off the illusion of looking longer.
If you don’t have one, it’s definitely worth considering. It can make a short haircut work for you during the difficult early period.
5. Change Up The Style
When you get a haircut that’s too short, it can be tempting to try and style it the same way you did when you had longer hair.
For example, if you were used to styling a slick back before, there’s a very good chance it’s now too short to do so.
You need at least 5 or 6 inches to really have a chance.
But if you continue trying to style a slick back with your new short hair, it’s probably just going to spring back up in defiance no matter how much styling product you use.
Instead of clinging to the past, why not change things up? Choose a style that actually suits your current hair length.
Until that hair grows back to a length you can actually work with, styles such as short quiffs or even comb overs might be a better option for you.
Ask your barber for some style ideas and tips before you leave. If you aren’t entirely happy with your haircut, it’s something they’ll almost certainly be happy to do before you leave.
5. Grow Some Facial Hair
Here’s an interesting one.
One reason why a haircut that’s too short can look strange is that it drastically changes the shape of your face.
When you had longer hair, there’s a good chance you were able to use it to alter the shape of your face to make it more appealing to you.
For example, men with rounder face shapes often use longer hair to add length and height at the top. This could be by styling a tall quiff or a pompadour, for instance.
But now that the hair is shorter, it isn’t possible to add this much height. As a result, the face simply looks rounder than you would like and there’s not much that can be done about it.
The point here is that this isn’t strictly true. There is something that can be done about it – just not from the top of the head.
Instead of trying to alter the shape of the face at the top, why not do so from the bottom? In other words, facial hair can be used to add length to the face or alter its shape in whatever way you want to.
For example, a long goatee could be used to elongate the face and make it look less round. It’ll compensate for the roundness caused by the short haircut.
Beards can be shaped in many different ways.
You’re probably sick of hearing this by now, but once again, your barber can provide some invaluable knowledge when it comes to this too.
They often provide beard trims and know what styles work best for specific face shapes.
Ask them for tips too.
Men who aren’t fans of facial hair probably aren’t going to like this option. But if you’ve ever been tempted to grow some facial fur, a short haircut could be the unexpected excuse you needed to go for it.
I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t going to be a quick fix. A beard takes time to grow. By the time it’s grown, the hair will probably have grown out too.
But you’d be surprised by just how little facial hair you need. Even just some heavy stubble can definitely make the face look more balanced when the haircut is shorter than you want it to be.
6. Buzz It Even Shorter
OK – this one won’t be for everyone. If you aren’t a fan of your short haircut, there’s a good chance you aren’t going to want to go even shorter.
But the reason why a buzz cut may be a solution to your problem is this.
Although the short length you’ve got at the moment is likely to be offensive to you because of the length itself, it probably isn’t the only reason.
It probably isn’t shaped or styled the way you want it either.
If you’ve tried the tips earlier in this article to try and make it work and you’re still struggling with it, why not start from scratch?
In other words, buzz it down short and start over.
Buzz cuts are great because they’re so simple and that’s what makes them aesthetically pleasing.
There are different types of buzz cuts.
Although most people think of a classic induction-style buzz cut with all of the hair trimmed down to the same, ultra-short length, this isn’t all there is.
But they’re still super short cuts that would be pretty easy for a barber to craft out of the short haircut you’ve currently got.
Yes, this would mean going for another haircut.
You do always have the option of going to another barber to get this done. However, you’d need to pay again.
A simpler solution would be asking the same barber to redo the cut you’re not happy with.
As I explained in the first tip on this list, a lot of barbers would be happy to do this for free if it’s done in a polite way.
Not all of them – if you paid very little for the cut in the first place, there’s a good chance they won’t be willing to spend another 15 minutes giving you a new one.
But most barbers would be pretty happy to trim your haircut down to an even shorter and simpler haircut, especially if it’s just a case of buzzing most of it down.
Buzz cuts are great because there’s very little that you need to do with them once they’re cut. They’re low maintenance, with very little styling required.
They’re a great option if you’re struggling to make your new and awkward short haircut work for you. It may sound counterintuitive, but going even shorter may be a simple yet effective solution.
7. Hats Are A Last Resort
Having to hide a haircut never feels good. It’s pretty terrible for self-esteem. You’re giving into insecurities and that’s always going to do more harm than good.
It’s better to try and embrace the short haircut or try to fix it using the tips in this article.
But if you really hate your new haircut and you aren’t willing or able to try to help matters, a hat could be a very temporary solution.
All it should be meant for is to help you get through the awkward phase of a brand new haircut.
Once it’s grown by even just half an inch, you should now have enough length to do something meaningful and acceptable with it.
If you do use a hat, don’t make it obvious that you’re using it to hide a haircut that’s too short.
Choose one that’s appropriate for the weather and the other clothes you happen to be wearing.
Also, don’t wear it all the time. For example, keeping it on indoors all day when you’ve never been a hat person before will make the attempts at hiding your hair seem pretty obvious.
8. Prevent It From Happening Again
This tip is about preventing a short haircut in the first place. This is always important, but it’s even more important if you’re going to the same barber again.
When you’re communicating how much length you want to be cut off, be as specific as humanly possible.
Make it literally impossible for a good barber to misunderstand what you’re saying.
A great way of doing this is simply showing them a photograph of what you want. This could be a photograph of an old haircut you got that you were happy with.
This is often the most effective. Next time you’re happy with the length and shape of a haircut, be sure to take a photograph of it immediately after the haircut so you can show it to barbers in the future.
It could, of course, also be a photograph from a magazine or blog.
Either way, this sort of visual representation of what you want is often way more helpful to a barber than simply saying you want “half an inch” off.
Clients and barbers often have slightly different ideas of what an “inch” really is, as funny as that may sound.
Use your hands as well.
Physically show them how much length you want cut off by using your fingers. Have an idea of what you’re going to ask for before you attend for the haircut so you don’t have to come up with something on the spot.
Finally, if you’re getting your haircut and you feel as though the first few snips may have taken off too much, it isn’t too late to correct things.
Letting the barber know early on in the haircut (politely) might allow them to change their course and salvage things before it’s too late.
There aren’t any magic fixes. Making hair that’s been removed reappear isn’t something that’s possible.
But there are things that can be done to help you get through the most awkward and earliest phases of a haircut that’s too short.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some simple and effective ways of seeing things through.