Main content
red fishtail braid over a white shoulder

11 Ways to Make Long Hair Look Short Without Getting a Haircut

Want to make your long hair look short? These 11 styling tricks can help you fake a shorter mane, no cut or commitment required.

The lengths we’ll go to to avoid cutting our hair are truly extreme. When you’re desperately trying to hang on to length, the word “trim” sounds like a death knell, and scissors seem like they’re out to get you. Still, there are plenty of options. If you’re sick and tired of the same old ponytail on dirty blonde hair or dark brown hair, use these styling tricks to learn how to make long hair look short—without getting a haircut.

How do I make my long hair look short without cutting it?

In the throes of a bad hair day, when our long, tangled locks are not cooperating, we’ve all considered cutting our hair off a time or two. Or perhaps, more rationally, you’ve toyed with the idea of, “How can I style my hair to look shorter?” Regardless of your reasoning, there is no shortage (no pun intended) of great ideas that can help you fake the look of shorter hair without getting an impulse cut that you’ll later regret.

From clever ways of maneuvering your flat iron to enlisting the help of the accessories you already have on hand, here are 11 genius ideas that may make you rethink that big chop, after all.

Good hair day by

Butterfly Haircut

We know we promised a haircut-free roundup, but hear us out! If you don’t want to chop your hair off later down the road, plan ahead by opting for a strategic cut right now, like the butterfly haircut. This extremely layered look is ideal for faking a shorter cut because it allows you to easily separate the shorter layers from the longer ones to switch up your length in a snap.

Use a claw clip to temporarily hold the shortest layer of hair on top of your head. Then, gather the rest of your longer-layered locks, tucking and pinning the hair underneath. Release the top layers from the clip and shake it out to reveal your new faux short cut!

Good hair day by @chelseahaircutters

Long Bangs

Long bangs work similarly to a butterfly cut, except they don’t require cutting layers all throughout your hair—only the strands surrounding your face. When you throw your hair in an updo like this messy bun and leave your bangs loose, nobody will be able to tell that your hair isn’t all that one length.

Good hair day by @leysahairandmakeup and @pekelariley

Faux Hawk

Shaving the hair on the sides of your head isn’t for the faint of heart, but this faux mohawk will give you all the alternative hair vibes without making that big commitment. If you’re working with natural hair, fasten the sides of your hair into two or three smaller Bantu knots, and you’re good to go.

Add structure and shine when creating your Bantu knots with a formula like Matrix Controller Gel, which will hold your style without flaking or crunchiness.

Good hair day by @mr_alexandrycosta


Here’s another spin on the faux hawk. Pin two sets of two-strand twists together at the back of your head, so your hair looks short from the front, and then let the rest of your long hair hang free down your back.

Good hair day by @lisasaccio

Flipped Ends

If you’ve been searching for easy ideas for how to make long hair look short, look no further. Removing inches from your hair is as simple as the flick of a wrist, transforming a grown-out lob into a chic bob.

After applying a heat protectant (we like Shu Uemura Art of Hair Netsu Design Blow Dry Cream to help with shaping), use a flat iron like L’Oréal Professionnel Steampod Hair Straightener + Curling Iron to gently turn the ends of your hair in toward your face. For a more retro vibe, flip your hair outwards for a similar length-reducing effect.

Good hair day by @beautyby.krys

Headband Tuck

Tucking some of your length into a headband or a folded bandana is like a cheat code for how to make long hair look short, especially if a pixie cut is a hairdo you’ve been contemplating.

Good hair day by @lamajbackwards

Illusion Bob

Instead of heading to the salon to have your chosen stylist cut off those inches, rely on an optical illusion. Using pins to twist your length up into a faux bob is a favorite look of celebrities and models, so why not you?

Here’s how to make fake, short hair: Pull your hair into a very loose, low bun that contains just the ends of your hair. Pull it under toward the base of your neck. Pin it there, and adjust your remaining folded mane until you’ve created a passable bob shape. Finish with a light hair oil like Kérastase Elixir Ultime L'Huile Original Hair Oil to ensure frizz doesn’t ruin your party, and voila!

Good hair day by @jamiewileyeditorial

Braid It Out

Braids can transform previously untamable volume into a compact, comfortable style for outdoor activities and exercise. Finally, your long hair will stop getting in the way of your plank challenge at the gym.

Whether you opt for double Dutch braids that end in a bun or box braids, choosing braids is an easy way to make messy, tangled lengths into a manageable style between haircuts.

Good hair day by @sineadbovell

Extra Textured

The curlier your hair, the shorter it will look—just ask girls with coily hair types. Any easy way to make your mane appear shorter without a cut is to enhance those ringlets.

Start with a curl-supporting system like L’Oréal Professionnel’s Serie Expert Curl Expression Intense Moisturizing Shampoo and Intensive Moisturizer Mask. Once your hair is squeaky clean, apply a styler from the line, like the Activator Gel, and diffuse your hair until it’s totally dry.

Remember: The tighter and more defined the ringlets, the more believable your newfound short lob.

Good hair day by @jamiedanahairstylist


If you really want to test drive short hair, wearing a loose, bohemian updo is one of the simplest ways to do so. Contrary to popular belief, chignons aren’t just appropriate for weddings and family events—they’re surprisingly wearable to grocery shop or take a meeting. These soft twists will get your long hair off your neck and away from your face in just minutes.

New to the world of updos? Try this on for size: Start with a French or Dutch braid (we can show you how to French braid) and continue it until you run out of hair, switching to a standard braid at your nape. Pancake the braid so that you have some looseness, then roll the hair up and tuck it under at your nape (or pin it into a bun shape with the elastic hidden). From here, loosen your braid until it looks a little more ethereal, then top it off with some texture spray like Pureology Style + Protect Beach Waves Sugar Spray to play up the messiness. It’s the easiest updo style you’ll ever wear.

Good hair day by @iamsiannarenee

Top Knot

The top knot is an effective solution if you’re itching to pretend you have little-to-no hair for a day. It even works nicely on second-day hair! To begin, flip your hair upside down and use a brush or comb to smooth it out before pulling it into a pony at your crown.

Flip your hair and twist the ponytail until it wraps around itself. Pin your tail into a bun shape and secure the style with a matte metal bun cuff. As a final touch, secure your style with a high-hold hairspray like Redken Max Hold Hairspray 32 (previously known as Triple Take 32).

Just like that, you’re ready to take short hair for a spin.

Looking for more products to help shape-shift your faux cut? has the professional stylers you need.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device