Short Hair Puts A Ponytail Out Of Reach (& 11 More Reasons It May Not Be For You)

Braids, buns, and ponytails are always in style, and the reasons you'd want to wear one are myriad. This is especially true for the ponytail, which is the quickest, chicest, and easiest route to addressing various hair-related dilemmas, such as the occasional bad hair day, eliminating hair-related distractions while trying to keep your focus on other tasks, or simply getting your hair off your neck on a hot day.

Then, of course, there's the fact that there's something undeniably fun and feminine about rocking a ponytail. And let's not forget your gorgeous face that deserves lots of attention, which wearing a ponytail certainly accentuates. A short haircut also serves this purpose exceptionally well. 

But, on the other hand, short hair also puts a ponytail out of reach, along with many other styling options. Unfortunately, many people who have gone for the big chop have lived to regret the loss of those options. As much as we love short hair, and notwithstanding any reasons to consider going short at least once in your life, short hair is not the right choice for everyone. So, before you commit to chopping your hair off, perhaps consider the reasons a short haircut may not be right for you. 

People will make assumptions, and maybe you care

"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life," said iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel, who, in 1917, cut her hair short before it became de rigueur. Chanel's pioneering tonsorial choice put her on the literal cutting edge of the then up-and-coming 1920s trend toward bobbed hairstyles. Whether she did so by choice, or it was her only option after a gas heater-related mishap in her flat, as some claim it was, she knew of what she spoke because she lived it. 

While we can't confirm the specifics of how Chanel's life changed after the big chop, we can hazard a guess that even if nothing changed, everyone assumed something had. A century later, cutting your hair still has the effect of communicating to the world that you're either poised to — or are already going through — a major life change.

Moreover, assumptions may be made regarding your lifestyle, career, and beliefs related to the nature of the supposed change. There's nothing wrong with any of the possibilities or the myriad of assumptions people might make. It's just that if they're not true for you, then you might not appreciate your haircut distracting others from seeing you as you wish to be seen. 

Not everyone will be a fan

Short hair may be the height of style and has been at various times, including in the 1920s (flapper chic), the 1960s (thank you, Twiggy), the 1990s (who could forget Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow's matching pixies?), and the 2010s (Pink inspired many). But not everyone will root for your fashion-forward look. 

As hairstylist Serge Normant advised via The New York Times in 2014, in response to a wave of pixie regret among his clients, "Don't follow trends. It's important to think a month ahead." But you might not have to wait a month for regret to set in. All it might take is a "Boo, Mommy. Blech" from one of your children; that's exactly how author Tricia Lott Williford's young son responded to her big chop, per a blog post on her website.

Williford didn't let it get to her; 10 years later, she's still wearing her hair cropped —but you may not be as resolute in your choice. And if you're not, making your children cry might be harder to take. Moreover, "short hair don't care" may not ring so true for single heterosexual women after realizing some single heterosexual men consider short hair a hard pass. And even those inclined to swipe right might be doing so based on incorrect assumptions they're making because you have short hair. And that's a red flag that needs addressing

Work complications could arise

Short hair can help raise a woman's professional profile, as Arizona State University gender studies professor, Rose Weitz, has observed (via Today). While there's no denying scientists have seen a correlation between length of hair and place in the company pecking order, the road to professional recognition for the short-haired may be rockier than Weitz's data might suggest.

First, because short hair defies the social norms that females wear their hair long, your coworkers and bosses may perceive the decision to wear yours short as a sign of rebelliousness. Now, that might be exactly how you wish to portray yourself, particularly if you're looking to rise through the ranks at, say, a fintech startup. However, in a more traditional or conservative-leaning workplace, your style choice could leave you feeling misunderstood. 

Moreover, while short hair can look kicky and fun, it can also send a "mature" message. As much as it pains us to say this, the reality is that ageism in the workplace is still a thing, especially toward women. According to a 2021 survey of 729 workers aged 18 through 70, 77% reported "gendered ageism" in the workplace (via Forbes). Since it's a tossup whether or not short hair could afford you the professional leverage you're hoping for, the decision to go short would best be made from the heart or not at all.  

It's not just the ponytail that's out of reach

Short hair is perfect for nailing the messy hair look, but what you may not realize as you ponder whether to cut or not to cut is that short hair doesn't mean you won't have bad hair days. In fact, it's arguable short hair may result in more bad hair days than longer styles. For one thing, unless your short haircut is a buzz cut, it is going to show every cowlick. And since cowlicks are the result of both nature and nurture, most of us aren't getting a free pass. 

Fortunately, between styling appliances like flat irons and styling products such as straightening serum and texturizing paste, there are lots of options if you're not up for an updo for whatever reason. Unfortunately, most of those options won't make any more sense for short hairstyles than a ponytail would. Depending on their size, flat irons often require longer lengths than short hairstyles afford. And serums and pastes can quickly weigh short hair down. So, short hair may mean your #IWokeUpLikeThis look becomes your all-day reality.

You're going to attract a lot of attention, whether you want to or not

Short hair will likely make you stand out in a crowd. That's especially true in places where conformity rules — like some suburbs and workplaces. But even dyed-in-the-wool attention seekers may regret their choice to go short when they come up against one strange but true short-do phenomenon: Some folks seem to think that if you cut your hair short, then you must want to talk about it. 

"You're so brave," some may say. And you won't know whether it's a compliment or a criticism (or neither). Indeed, those who say it may not be certain. But the comment is one that anyone considering short hair should probably accept as inevitable. And it's among the gentler you may hear because many people also seem to think that if you cut your hair short, you won't mind people questioning and criticizing. 

The bottom line is that when you cut your hair short, you're going to receive a lot of attention, some positive, some negative, and some you can't quite interpret. If you're not up for that, short hair may not be for you.

The secret costly side to short hair

When you fantasize about the big chop, you may anticipate saving time and money. It's true your need for scrunchies and clip-in hair extensions may go on hiatus. But the shorter you go, the greater the chance you're going to find yourself thinking a lot more about fashion accessories for the face and neck than you ever did before. Whether it's because you feel that without the flowing locks, you're socially obliged to telegraph your femininity or because you love shiny stuff like earrings and necklaces and now have a (more) blank slate on which to display them, going short may tempt you to start filling your jewelry case with everything from adorable sparkly post earrings to statement necklaces.

The same is true of makeup. For example, the Jean Louis David salon suggests shorter hair may inspire you to "find the perfect balance between a tomboy and a party queen," resulting in quite the makeup application. Even if you've never worn smokey eye shadow in the past, you may end up feeling bare without it. Or, regardless of what stylists may say, you may simply find yourself reveling in your "canvas" (AKA your face). And let's not forget the various new styling products and appliances that your new short 'do may require.

In any case, it's wise to be prepared to make some non-routine style-related expenditures thanks to your new look. And if that's not what you had in mind, then maybe short hair isn't for you after all.

Don't believe what they tell you about less hair being less maintenance

If we had a nickel for every person who went for the big chop under the misapprehension that it's going to be all "wash and go" and "short hair don't care," we'd be up to our pixie cuts in nickels. But anyone who's gone short will tell you that short hair demands at least marginally more maintenance than long. Whether we're talking buzz cut, the '60s stacked haircut, or the so-called "job" haircut, your hair is going to require some sort of styling and visits back to the salon for upkeep. And even though it won't be "long" again for a while, you should bank on its growing approximately a half inch per month. 

The thing is, when your hair is just inches long, every half inch will make a big difference in how your hair looks. So, if you loved your hair when you walked out of the salon and want it to continue to look just like that, then that will mean another visit to the salon in the next few weeks. Indeed, celebrity stylist Philip B says his short-haired clients come in, on average, "every two weeks to four weeks just to keep it tight and looking good" (via Good Housekeeping). Short hairstyles may require more frequent hair coloring for the same reason. 

Short hair comes with a hat-related logistical issue

You probably aren't washing your baseball hats enough, but if you decide to cut your hair short, this will likely cease to be a problem. That's because short hair makes wearing a hat something of a challenge. Until you've already gone for the big chop, you may not realize your new look may involve retiring most, if not all, of your hat collection. 

In all fairness, many hat companies will fully deny this, claiming it's a myth that short hair precludes headwear. However, hat-centric outlets certainly have reason to be biased in that direction. Even the Kansas City T-bones Baseball Blog claims to offer guidance on how to wear a baseball cap with short hair — but even they would appear to acknowledge that if some portion of your hair isn't flowing out from beneath your hat, then it's probably not the look you were going for. 

But even if you're not someone who regards hats as fashion, this can present challenges in winter, when a wool hat stands to make you look hairless beneath it (but not wearing the wool hat stands to make you very uncomfortable). The same is true if you're a biker or motorcycle rider, both of which may require the use of helmets depending on the state in which you reside. 

Short-haired celebrities have expressed their regrets

Actor Michelle Williams has been a short-hair role model since the early aughts. But the truth is, as she revealed to Elle in 2011, she only cut her locks at the request of her late love, Heath Ledger, and, despite her claims that she's "grown into it," she kept it short as a memorial to him (via The Telegraph). And Jennifer Lawrence's pixie became instant #ShortHairGoals when it debuted in 2013, but it wasn't so much that she wanted to wear her hair short as her hair was so damaged she had no other choice, she told Yahoo.

Kaley Cuoco's short-lived short hairdo may have inspired many a pixie cut among her fans, but that cut was something she regretted immediately, she confessed in her 2022 memoir (via CafeMom). The list of celebrities who have regretted going short is long and includes Kim Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, and Cameron Diaz, among countless others. 

So, if you're inspired to go short by a celebrity (or anyone you don't know personally, for that matter), it's worth considering that perhaps you don't have quite enough information. Moreover, much as you may want your hair to look a certain way when short, your particular hair may not be suited to the short haircut you've been eyeing. And if you end up feeling regretful enough, that leaves you with the dreaded grow-out process to contend with. 

How long does it take to grow out short hair really?

Hair grows, on average, half an inch per month. That can be viewed as either torturously slow or exasperatingly fast, depending on where your hair is now compared with where you would like it to be. But if, after cutting your hair from long to short, you realize it was a mistake, then guess where you're most likely to land on that continuum?

Indeed, by now, we've all learned from actor Jennifer Lawrence that growing out a pixie cut might not be much of a picnic. Actually, Lawrence blames her shortest and most regrettable shortcut on her own impatience with what she deems an awkward grow-out.

Moreover, if the grow-out weren't such a challenge, most of the multi-step advice out there on how to do so gracefully wouldn't exist because it would have no audience. The good news is that hair extensions have never been so technologically advanced. The less good news follows.

The sticky truth about hair extensions

Hair extensions can be a wonderful alternative when you're stuck in the short hair grow-out phase. Before making them your failsafe, however, you'll want to consider that depending on the type of semi-permanent extensions you choose and the stylist you go to, the hair should already be at least three to six inches long. 

For optimal results with clip-in extensions, your hair should be even longer. The same is true of sewn-in hair extensions, which require natural hair to be "past shoulder length," according to Angel Hair Extensions. In any case, the bottom line is that depending on how short you've gone, you'll have to continue wearing it short — i.e., sans extensions — for anywhere from several weeks to more than six months before any hair extensions can be installed (and actually look good).

Something else to consider is that professionally-installed hair extensions will cost you anywhere from $600 to $3,000 right off the bat. But then you'll still have to maintain them — an added expense that will cost you each time you visit the salon — which may be as often as every three months. Like short hair, extensions are a commitment, so before making the prospect your failsafe, do consider the pros and cons, and make sure to take care of your hair extensions so that your natural hair — and bought hair — remain healthy.