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Stylist Jeff Chastain’s Short Hair Survival Guide

Stylist Jeff Chastain in all his tattooed glory.

As a long hair devotee, I never realized the trials of dealing with short locks. (Who knew being able to put your hair in a ponytail was such a blessing?) But as my good friend Geraldine tells me again and again, short hair is much harder to style, despite, you know, its shortness. After hearing her complain about bedhead, untameable cowlicks, and other issues, I finally took her to the master: stylist Jeff Chastain. He was full of advice — so much so that we’re filming a video with him this week (you’ll see it next month!). Here are some of his best short hair tips.

Mind the Part: "You shouldn’t aggressively part short hair," says Chastain. "You’ll lose the volume and risk the mushroom look." Instead, he says, "Blow dry it unparted, starting in one direction and wrapping around the head and then switching sides and drying in the opposite direction." He says to make sure to direct the heat at the roots and use the fingers of your non blow dryer-holding hand to pull the hair out and give it lift.

Get Paste-y: Instead of gels, which “can look 90s” and waxes, which can feel greasy, try a styling pastes like Shu Uemura’s Shape Paste. A small amount will give your hair texture and hold without feeling gunky.

Nighttime Polish: For a modern take on the slicked back look, Chastain says to skip the gel in favor of a water-based cream like Kiehl’s Heat-Protective Silk-Straightening Cream. It smoothes hair without making it greasy. “It looks wet when you first put it in but when it dries it’ll just look sleek, and you can blow dry it out if you don’t like it.”

Let the Brows Guide You: After you’ve dried your hair and are ready to part it, make sure to line up your part with the highest point of your eyebrow, which opens up the face and makes your hair look grown-up and fashionable.

Don’t Forget the Back: Don’t forget the tendrils at the back of your neck. Instead of letting them fall helter skelter, Chastain says to use a tiny bit of paste to pull them forward with your fingers. Even if they’re a little shaggy they’ll accentuate the jaw and bring the whole hairstyle together.

And if you’re fed up with short hair: Chastain says, “If you’re trying to grow out your hair, keep cutting the back but let the top grow long.” The layers on top are the hardest to grow out. If they’re driving you crazy, Chastain says to “try changing your part frequently, which will help you get over the humps.”

To see Chastain in action, watch our Messy Bun tutorial.

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