Oh, the edgy and chic undercut. For the past few summers, this daring haircut—where the hair on top is left long, and the underlayer is shorn tightly to the scalp—has appeared everywhere. When fresh, the cut prompts proud Instagram selfies and side-eye stares from conservative types. But months later, when new length begins to appear, the awkward transition phase of growing out short hair comes in hot. Stars like Gina Rodriguez, Demi Lovato, and Halle Berry, who have all rocked this cut in the past, have recently made successful long-hair comebacks. This past spring, Rodriguez took the big-buzz leap for her film Deep Water Horizon, and now she’s sporting a textured wavy bob. Wondering how on earth she did it? We went straight to the hairstylists responsible and convinced them to dish on everything they knew about growing out short hair the right way.
Check yourself.“Before even getting this haircut, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to deal with the growing-out process. It’s such a pain in the ass to grow your hair back long again,” says Los Angeles hairstylist Riawna Capri, who worked with both Kelly Clarkson and Demi Lovato through their hair transitions. She notes that the process can take a full two years.
Invest in the strength of your strands.“The best way to grow out an undercut starts with maintaining the health of the hair,” Rodriguez’s hairstylist Paul Norton says. “I’ve gotten Gina on a strict regimen of Joico Luster Lock, my favorite strengthening treatment, which allows me to avoid cutting her hair for longer periods of time.”
Embrace the in-between.You’re not going to have Rapunzel locks five minutes after you decide you’re over your undercut, so settle on a sharp transitional style you feel good about. “That’s how Demi decided to do the bob. It was a good way to get the rest of her hair to catch up to the short sections,” says her hairstylist Clyde Haygood. (If you really loved that look, here’s the scoop on how to re-create Lovato’s recent Allure cover hairstyle.)
Don’t fear faking it.“There were times when Demi was in the in-between that we’d just use extensions to balance her hair out,” says Haygood. “I love tape-ins because they’re easy, a girl can do them herself, and they’re removable.” Haygood used wefts of hair, for instance, when Lovato had a shoot for her album cover.
Scissors aren’t the enemy.“Short hair can get very bushy as it grows, so I periodically dust the ends with microtrims,” says Norton. “As it gets longer, I’ll remove some bulk by conservatively slicing with texturizing shears.”
Color can help.There’s an idea that a wild new hue might damage your strands, making the goal of long hair drift even further into the horizon. But according to Capri, dyeing your hair well has no ill effects. “As long as you’re getting it done with a proper colorist and they’re using products like Olaplex, you’re not going to damage your hair at all,” she says. Don’t believe her? Look to Rodriguez. Shortly after getting her undercut, the star also dyed her hair blonde—and it seems to be growing out right on schedule.
Inspired to make a big hair change? Watch as model Lula gets a curly pixie cut transformation.