Saturday, April 20, 2024

Here’s How to Gracefully Grow Out a Pixie Haircut

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If you’ve landed on this page, chances are you’re wondering how to grow out a pixie cut. We get it — getting a super short haircut can feel liberating, bold, and fun. There’s a reason why celebs like Karrueche Tran, Florence Pugh, and Doja Cat have jumped on the pixie hair bandwagon at one point or another. But growing it out? Well, that’s a process that can be awkward and hard to style. 

In this story, we’re delving into every aspect of going from short to long hair, focusing on the middle transition. We tapped top hairstylists to share their tips on the topic so you can rest assured your hair will still be on point every step of the way. 

Whether you’ve decided to take up extensions or just want to play with different pixie cut styling techniques, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Meet the experts:

In this story:

How long does a pixie cut last?

According to the National Library of Medicine, the healthy hair growth rate is 0.35 millimeters per day, which is approximately 0.5 inches per month or six inches per year. “The time it takes to grow out a pixie cut varies depending on one’s genetics, overall health, hormones, and age,” says Azadeh Shirazi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at La Jolla Dermatology and Laser in California.

Dr. Shirazi notes that some people may experience faster hair growth, while others may have slower growth rates. “Studies show factors like the pigmentation of hair (white versus naturally darker pigmented hair) and location of hair on the scalp can also vary in growth rates. White hair grows at a slightly higher rate than pigmented hair while hairs on the back of the scalp show higher growth rates than hairs on top of the scalp.”

Other factors that include growth rate include:

  • Genetics: It’s the biggest factor, says Dr. Shirazi. “The rate of hair growth is typically inherited from your parents but can be affected by other things,” she says.
  • Age: “As we age, our hormone levels decrease so we produce less estrogen and testosterone,” explains Dr. Shirazi. “This decreases hair follicle activity and the individual follicles spend more time in the resting phase. The anagen phase of hair growth also shortens leading to shortening the hair growth cycle.”
  • Hormonal changes: Dr. Shirazi says hormonal shifts that come with pregnancy, stress, or menopause can also influence hair growth rate.
  • Lifestyle: Your lifestyle can impact how quickly and healthily your hair grows. “For example, smokers tend to have thinner, brittle hair because of the lack of blood flow caused from smoking,” says Dr. Shirazi. “This decreases collagen production, ultimately leading to a slower hair growth rate.”

On average, hair grows at about half an inch per month, so if the goal is shoulder-length hair, it can take up to six to nine months according to studies. The key in the meantime? Have patience, embrace the in-between, and let your creativity run wild with hairstyle ideas.

How do you grow out a pixie haircut?

Growing out a pixie haircut is a matter of letting time do its thing — but that’s easier said than done. Ahead, you’ll find a few tips that will make the process more manageable.

Get trims regularly.

Luis Miller, a hairstylist and creative director of Vidov West in New York City, recommends visiting your salon every four to six weeks if you have fine to medium hair because of its density. “You want to make sure you’re cleaning up the ends again before it splits,” he says. 

If you have thick hair, you can get away with trims every six to eight weeks. Miller says the goal of these trims is to de-bulk the hair. “[De-bulking] too frequently in between could cause your hair to look frayed. Curly hair is usually easier to grow out.”

Try extensions.

If you don’t want to deal with that amount of upkeep — we hear you — you can get extensions. “It could be great for any type of haircut to grow out provided your hair is strong enough to support them and they are at least five to eight inches long,” says Miller.

But the type of extensions you decide to get depends on you. There isn’t really one type of hair extension that’s less or more maintenance — it all comes down to your lifestyle and preference.

Some popular types of extensions include:

  • Keratin fusions: These are bonded to the hair rather than glued or clipped in. Miller recommends them for certain clients because they can add more movement and aid in healthier hair regrowth. “The attachments themselves are designed to mimic the same keratin protein as your hair and allow it to expand and contract just like your natural hair does when wet versus dry,” says Miller. “This method, when done by a professionally certified stylist, is damage-less.” Keratin extensions last three to five months depending on hair density, growth, and at-home maintenance.
  • Tape-ins: If you’re someone who is always on the go and doesn’t have time to sit in a salon for three to five hours, tape-ins may be for you but it requires more trips back to the salon. “These should be re-taped and moved up every four to eight weeks and usually can be reused up to three times depending on the brand, styling, and lifestyle,” says Miller.
  • Clip-ins: For one-day events or special occasions, clip-ins may be the best way to go as you can instantly put them on and take them off. These should be removed and re-clipped every time you use it. “Leaving them in while sleeping can cause extra tension and stress on your hair,” says Miller.

Prioritize hair and scalp health. 

A healthy scalp is the foundation for growing and maintaining healthy hair. “It’s the factory behind the product,” says Dr. Shirazi. “So, if you want high quality hair with the best growth rate, then you have to invest in your health. If scalp health is compromised, it will take away from your hair quality and growth.”

Miller agrees. “Caring for your scalp is essential when wanting to achieve healthy hair and growth as that’s where it all starts,” he says. Proper scalp care includes consistently clearing it of dirt and debris and making sure it’s hydrated.

To thoroughly cleanse your scalp, we recommend the Ouai Scalp and Body Scrub, a gentle exfoliator made with a blend of sugar and coconut oil, and the Reverie Suna Exfoliating Shampoo.

Reverie Suna Exfoliating Shampoo

For hydration, New York City hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew enjoys using her own brand’s Flower Extract Conditioner to strengthen, volumize, and soften hair. Allure editors love the SheaMoisture Wash N’Go Conditioner for deep hydration, as well as the Fable & Mane SahaScalp Amla Soothing Serum for its itch-relieving effects. (Check out our best scalp products story for more editor-tested recommendations.)

TSD Hair Flower Extract Conditioner

SheaMoisture Wash N’Go Conditioner

Fable & Mane SahaScalp™ Amla Soothing Serum

More ways to take care of your scalp, according to Dr. Shirazi, include:

  • In-office based treatments: Consider investing in scalp PRP where growth factors in plasma extracted from your own blood help keep hairs in the growing cycle longer. Scalpcials (facials for your scalp), offered by devices like HydraFacial or Diamond Glow can reduce scalp build up and optimize hair growth.
  • Weekly scalp massages: Regardless of your hair type, once a week prior to shampooing, give yourself a scalp massage using an oil or scalp serum to boost circulation and relaxation as stress is one of hair’s biggest enemies.
  • Treat underlying inflammation: “If your scalp is itchy, sensitive, flaking, or red, it’s not happy,” says Dr. Shirazi. “These are signs of underlying inflammation which interfere with hair growth and quality. It’s best to address scalp conditions with your dermatologist and calm any inflammation to create a healthy environment for hair follicles.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle: Healthy hair comes from within. It’s important to optimize nutrition to give your hair follicles the necessary building block to produce strong healthy hair fibers. These include B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, biotin and iron as well as adequate amounts of protein.

Always use a heat protectant.

And let’s not forget heat protection when it comes to hair care. No matter if you’re using a hair dryer, curling iron, or straightener, heat protectant is key for preventing breakage, frizz, split ends, and overall damage to the follicle. How does heat protectant work, exactly? “It forms a film on the hair cuticle that acts as a barrier, slowing down heat conduction, reducing hair breakage and loss of moisture from the hair shaft,” Dr. Shirazi says. “Similar to how sunscreens work to protect your skin from UV damage, heat protectants protect against heat damage.”

Most heat protection hair products come in the form of sprays or creams that you can use on wet or dry hair. Applying a couple of sprays or pumps then brushing through goes a long way to protect your hair. This is important even if you have extensions, as Miller notes your actual hair still needs to be strong and healthy for extensions to attach.

The LolaVie Perfecting Leave-In Conditioner is a Best of Beauty Award winner for how it protects and smooths hair (with a gorgeous floral scent).

Lolavie Perfecting Leave-In Conditioner

How do you style your pixie as it grows out?

There are plenty of styling options to choose from to tide you over as you wait for your hair to be long enough for ponytails, buns, and heat styling.

For natural hair, Sturdivant-Drew recommends using protective hairstyles such as weaves, braids, locs, and wigs, depending on your personal preferences. If you want to avoid awkward-looking lengths, she suggests braiding the hair and getting a weave.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images

Matt Newman, a hairstylist in New York City, cites stacked bobs, piece-y side bangs, and face-framing pieces as excellent styles for the in-between phases.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images

For more short hair ideas, try a bob with flipped-up ends, a slicked side part, a wavy lob, and a pompadour. Feeling even bolder? Go for a mullet that’s halfway between short and long hair.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images

For many of these styles, a strong-hold gel, pomade, paste, and dry shampoo will surely come in handy. Miller suggests using texture pastes, such as Oribe’s Fiber Groom Elastic Texture Paste and Rough Luxury Soft Molding Paste for control and mobility. You can’t forget about hairspray either, he says. Our pick: the Kristin Ess Refine Signature Finishing Hairspray, which has a flexible hold.

Oribe Fiber Groom Elastic Texture Paste

Oribe Rough Luxury Soft Molding Paste

Kristin Ess Refine Signature Finishing Hairspray

Accessory-wise, you’ve got options with cute bobby pins and headbands that you can style in a cinch. To freshen up your look, you can also elevate it with clips and barrettes.

Jennifer Behr x Nai’vasha Abena Bobby Pin Set

Eugenia Kim Rafaela Headband

More on hair:

Now, see how short hair has evolved within the past 100 years:

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