red-carpet ready each and every time.
STEP ONE: Retail therapy -- sort of.
"Your first stop should be at the beauty supply store to buy the [right] styling tools," Maisha says. Ideally, you should have a blow dryer (with a diffuser for curly styles and natural hair), a flat iron and a curling iron that's between 1/4th and 1/8th of an inch. Maisha likes the BaByliss line (varying prices, babyliss.co.uk).
Keep in mind: Be careful with hot styling tools! You'll be using them more often than normal, which can lead to hair breakage if you're not careful. Maisha recommends Mizani Thermastrength Style Serum ($19.99, beautyofnewyork.com) to protect your strands from the heat.
STEP TWO: Play with it.
You can look for style inspiration in magazines and BV Hair Talk, but you'll need to get re-acquainted with your hair to make those inspirations a reality. Cutting your hair was a major styling change that will take some time getting used to. According to Maisha, the best way to do this is to whip out the styling tools and just go. "You need to take a weekend to play with your hair and experiment, just so you can really learn how to maintain the hair and create a couple of hairstyles," she says.
Styling tip: When it comes to versatility, it's all up to you. "You can add color extensions. You can add extensions to make it longer. You can play around with the bangs... make it creative," Maisha says. For an edgy look in a hurry, use d:fi d:struct pliable molding creme ($12, amazon.com) to slick the sides, then wrap the strands in the middle of your hair with a curling iron.
STEP THREE: Upkeep daily for best results.
When you wake up, use a moisturizer with a light, non-greasy formula since you'll be using it daily. "You want products to keep it simple," Maisha says. For natural hair, try Carol's Daughter Healthy Hair Butter ($11, carolsdaughter.com). For relaxed hair, Maisha recommends a daily shine spray. Try PhytoSpecific Extreme Shine Spray ($26, sephora.com).
At night, tie hair with a satin or silk scarf since tossing and turning on cotton sheets can make hair more difficult to manage in the morning. "Wrapping is good to help the hair retain the natural oils and moisture," Maisha says.
Styling tip: Worried that wrapping will leave hair flat? Try this trick from Maisha: "Some people like the volume on the top, so they only wrap the nape area of the hair, leaving the top out to keep the volume."
STEP FOUR: Wash weekly.
Short hair often requires more upkeep than longer styles, and as a result, you'll need to use more styling products on your hair. "When you use a lot of styling product, it can create a lot of buildup," Maisha says. She recommends that you wash your hair once a week to prevent hair-dulling product buildup. Try Optimum Oil Therapy Ultimate Recovery Shampoo ($5, shopsoftsheen-carson.com) and Optimum Oil Therapy Ultimate Recovery Conditioner ($5, shopsoftsheen-carson.com) for both relaxed and natural hair.
STEP FIVE: Keep your appointments.
With less hair, your new growth and color roots will be more visible, so you may need to see your stylist more often. According to Maisha, your hair is constantly growing since you're cutting it frequently to maintain the style.
Ideally, you should relax the entire head every 4 weeks, taking extra care to ensure that the relaxer is only applied to new growth. You'll also need to re-touch the edges to keep the hair lying flat. "For the napes and the side, it's usually every two weeks," she says.
If your hair is relaxed and color-treated, the type of color formula will determine how often you need to re-touch your roots. According to Maisha, your stylist can relax your hair and apply semi-permanent color the same day. "For permanent color, you're going to be alternating. You're either going to get your relaxer first, and then getting your color 2-3 weeks after," she says.
If your natural-texture hair is color-treated, you can reapply the color every 4-6 weeks.
Styling tip: Coordinate your hair cuts and trims with your chemical treatments. You should trim your hair every 4-6 weeks on the same day that you get your relaxer or color. If your hair is completely chemical-free (no relaxer AND no color), Maisha says that it's fine to trim it every 6-8 weeks.
What are your short-style secrets?