Category: Follicle stories

The One Where I Did Something I Said I’d Never Do Again

They tell you to “never say never”, and that is solid advice because, inevitably, “never” proves far shorter in duration than one expects. For example, in my case, “never” lasted about 5 years.

It was sometime in 2012 that I decided I would NEVER EVER get a pixie cut again. And you know what is happening on top of my head as I write this? That’s right, a pixie cut. Granted, it’s not as drastic a pixie as my last one. It’s really more of a very, very short bob … except at the back, where it sure feels like a pixie. Did I mention there is a touch of undercutting going on at the sides as well? No? Well, that’s what one gets for saying “never”.

surprise!
surprise!

As with all my hair decisions, this pixie cut was an entirely impulsive move. “Maybe I should get a pixie again,” I told myself one morning on the way to work, and by 10 AM that same day, I had a hair salon appointment booked. The appointment itself was not until the following morning, and I hate how life sometimes tries to make me reconsider my dubious decisions before it’s too late. Silly life! I always double down on dubious decisions. I did have a brief moment of serious doubt on the eve of my haircut (more on that in a moment), but I plunged on. As for the result … I’m pretty happy with it. A part of me wishes I had pushed myself a little further towards the “edgy” end of the spectrum; closer to, say, Michelle Williams’ do. I ended up compromising a bit, and sticking with slightly longer layers on the sides just so that, in the event of an immediate change of heart, the re-growing process could bypass the whole Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club-era Beatles phase. Depending on how I feel at my next appointment, I may ask my stylist to go a bit shorter on the (under)sides.

short hair don't care
short hair don’t care

I love long hair. I really do. I just don’t love my hair long; it’s not the right texture to be long (fine and kinda lifeless) and my hairstyling skills aren’t good enough to completely overcome that. I think I look pretty good with long hair … but I also look OK with short hair. And here’s the thing: I love a big change. Every few years, I need a big change. I stopped colouring my hair almost a decade ago, so now the only real impact-making change left within my control is, what else, a big chop. For better or worse, I’ll probably be on the “pixie-bob-lob, repeat” cycle forever. Is there also a saying, “never say forever”? I guess I’ll find out …

Blazer, DKNY (thrifted); dress, MaxMara (thrifted); shoes, Stuart Weitzman; bag, Gucci
Blazer, DKNY (thrifted); dress, MaxMara (thrifted); shoes, Stuart Weitzman; bag, Gucci

As it happens, the one thing that did have me second-guessing myself was the question of how a new haircut would affect my style. Many of the women whose pixie cuts I’ve admired in recent years tend to have a more minimalist aesthetic than I do, often with gamine leanings. Like Michelle Williams. While I admire that sort of look (and will, on occasion, pick outfits with a similar vibe), I also know that it’s not my predominant preference. Would my favourite clothes look strange with a new haircut, I wondered. I ended up finding reassurance from an unlikely source; I adore Elisa Nalin’s sartorial exuberance, but have long come to terms with the fact that I’m nowhere near cool enough to pull off a similar aesthetic. However, looking at pictures of Elisa rocking a short pixie AND lots of colourful prints was all the proof I needed that getting a pixie would not require me to embrace black, grey and white as my everyday rainbow.

Ironically, the first outfit I wore after getting my hair cut? Black, white and grey. In my defence, I had a hearing that day. Also in my defence: I did wear a bold floral. And I loved rocking my pixie.

pixie polished
pixie polished
new year, new do
new year, new do

Growing Out a Pixie Cut: A Visual Guide

Right off the bat, let me break the bad news: I have no magical secrets for growing out a pixie cut in any shorter time-frame than that generally dictated by your hair. To grow out a pixie, you need two things: patience, and a sense of humour. OK, three things. You will also need a good hairstylist. I have no patience, my sense of humour is questionable, but I do have an awesome stylist. All in all, it could have been worse.

Let’s go back to the beginning: spring 2011. My hair was a little bit longer than it is now, a bit past my collarbone. I had just finished growing out pixie cut #1 (total time invested: almost 2 years). Naturally, my thoughts turned to cutting it, again. I’m gonna blame this one on pregnancy hormones, because get this – I became convinced that getting a bob would be the most practical thing to do in view of my son’s impending arrival. No time for long hair with a newborn, etc. Chop chop.

Except that I forgot to take into account the fact that, in order for a bob to look nice, my hair would still require straightening and whatnot. I was a perpetually panicked first-time mom, so the most basic of grooming tasks seemed overwhelming at the time. When my son reached the grabby, hair-is-a-fun-chew-toy phase of baby development, I used that as an excuse for pixie #2. So it began.

growing out a pixie cut
In the beginning … iffy style choices and all

I sported the prototypical first-time mom pixie cut for a good 6 months before the postpartum haze finally lifted, and I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. As I started to prepare to head back to work, I also started mentally preparing for the more tortuous task of growing out my pixie cut. Again.

Here is what it looked like, a couple of months in.

growing out a pixie cut
September 2012: the start of the long road

I can’t give you any technical details, but my stylist basically trimmed my hair every 8 weeks or so, making whatever slight adjustments she deemed necessary to allow growth to happen in a (mostly) becoming fashion.

I won’t lie. There were many, many terrible mornings. During the worst of it, I woke up every day looking like this:

Image via
Image via

I didn’t get to really celebrate growing out of that phase, because I moved right into this one. (I looked mostly like George, in case you were wondering. Sans ‘stache.)

Image via
Image via

Musically, at least, this was huge progress. But, basically, for what felt like the most eternal eternity (but was maybe something like 2-3 months), I did this every time I looked in the mirror.

Yes. Yes, indeed.
Yes. Yes, indeed.

Fiiiiiiiinally, I inched back into bob territory. This took about 9 months or so, counting from the time I decided to start growing out my hair. On the left side, you can see the tail end of my Bieber phase. On the right, pregnancy bob #2, which looks very much like pregnancy bob #1. Circle of life, etc.

growing out a pixie cut
Growing out pains

During my second pregnancy, I made another big decision. Thankfully, this one turned out to be a smarter one. I got a perm.

growing out a pixie cut
That looks … painful. The perm wasn’t bad, tho

I wrote about my perm before, but it was basically my attempt to make myself stick with the whole growing-out process. The perm adds texture and volume to my hair, and removes the need for styling on my part.

Strangely, there wasn’t much noticeable growth in the first 6 months or so after I got the perm. Still, my follicular situation was looking ok. (I got a re-perm in December 2013, but nothing drastic changed.)

growing out a pixie cut
Not much happening …

I feel like I “turned the corner” on the growing-out process sometime around March, when my hair started grazing my shoulders. After that, things started to pick up. This was the summer when I completely overdosed on beach spray, which gave me awesome Medusa hair, and also completely dried it out.

growing out a pixie cut
Getting there …

I finally got a re-perm in August, and was surprised when my stylist told me that my ends looked fine and didn’t need a trim. I guess I have indestructible hair, or something. (Not really. I’m assuming the “secret” is the fact that I’m too lazy to blow-dry my hair, and I rarely straighten it.)

growing out a pixie cut
Perm #3

And here we are. Just about 2 years in, my journey is complete. I’ve grown out my pixie. You know what this means, right?

Psych.

I’m growing it some more. Maybe another 4-5 inches. Then I’ll cut it.

Just kidding.

I think.

The One Where I Get a Perm

Yep, you read that right.

I got a perm. Let’s back up.

As you know, I’ve been waiting to grow out my pixie cut for over a year now. It feels like 5.  Although the plan all along was to grow my hair past the shoulders, I was fully aware that my hair, left to its own devices, looks better shorter. Although thick, my hair is fine and gets weighed down easily. The result: long, flat, limp hair. I’ve seen certain French starlets pull off this look but, needless to say, I lack the je ne sais quoi to do so. This probably explains why I always end up cutting my hair short every time it hits my shoulder blades; I’m not much of a ponytail person, and I’m also too clumsy and impatient to properly style long hair. So, with all this in mind, I knew that I wanted to do something different this time – after all, I am committed to sticking with long hair this time. At least for a while.

Enter the perm. I know what you’re probably thinking and let me tell you – I had one of those perms before. It was 2001, and I wanted the tousled, beach-waved bob of a Meg Ryan (remember when her haircut was all the rage?). Perhaps perm technology was not as advanced back then, or perhaps I had a miscommunication with my then stylist; either way, I ended up with a regular, tight spiral curl perm. It wasn’t as hideous as it sounds, but it was pretty bad.

The "gorgeousness" that was my first perm ...
The “gorgeousness” that was my first perm …

Since then, I’ve heard that there is a new type of perm in town, or at least a new way to do perms, that results in those still-coveted beachy waves. I’ve actually seen it. More importantly, my current stylist assured me that she knew the type of perm look of which I spoke – and that it could be done provided my hair was at least long enough to graze my shoulders. At that length, I wouldn’t have full-on mermaid-y curls, but my hair would have a wavy texture. Texture being the key here. Texture would keep my hair, as it continues growing out, from looking increasingly limp and lifeless. Texture would add volume and, more importantly, an element of fun to my hairstyle. I had briefly toyed with the idea of colouring my hair, as a way to inject said element of fun, but ultimately decided against it; I kind of like having “virgin” hair again after a decade of colouring it, and I figured that a perm would be less expensive to maintain over time than a dye job. [Also, because we are talking about a “loose” perm that would allow for new hair growth to blend in easily, it would only have to be re-done a couple of times a year, and therefore involve less exposure to chemicals.]

Ok, so rationale (and sundry justifications) aside … how does it look?

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Bed-head hair … but in a good way?

Pretty good, if I say so myself! I love how bouncy and fun it looks … and feels. I can’t stop swishing my hair every chance I get.

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Looking pretty good from all angles

Most importantly, it remains practical; I can still put it up in a ponytail, or pin it up for an updo, when I want the hair off my face. I can also straighten it if I feel like a sleeker do, but otherwise it’s wash ‘n go, baby! Just in time for, well, baby.

edit
edit

Most of the few people to whom I had disclosed my plans in advance were horrified by the mention of the “p” word. My husband has since recanted his previous objections, and says he loves it (to be fair, what else could the poor guy say?). Actually, the first thing he said when he saw my new ‘do was that it made me look more like this chica:

edit
Obviously, it’s a superficial resemblance

And hey, let’s look at the bright side. Good or bad choice, it doesn’t matter … I’ll be home on maternity leave in no time, and then my hair will probably not see the light of day for months and months.

Just kidding!