Thinking of undergoing a big cut? Make sure you’re prepared both physically and emotionally

Everywhere we look these days, it seems, women are chopping off their long locks. Supermodel Karlie Kloss perhaps did it most publically—in the pages of Vogue and in reality one day before her debut in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, where they added extensions to her fresh chop. Despite VS’s initial hesitance (they’ve since embraced it in campaigns), the blunt, swingy above-the-shoulders cut is totally having a moment, although for some it may take months of contemplation to go for it. “Our society puts far too much pressure on long hair being the only thing that is viewed as pretty or sexy, when long hair often lacks style and is actually boring if it does not have the proper shape,” says Shin An, master dry cutter and owner of Santa Monica’s Shin salon.

She adds that some women make up their mind to go for a dramatic cut while sitting in the salon chair, while others mentally prepare for the change for three to six months. And while we all know the trauma of a terrible haircut, “at the end, it’s just hair and it grows back,” says An. “Remember, hair is the one thing we can actually change about our appearance.”

For those contemplating a look-altering haircut, start by “doing your research. When you see a woman on the street and you like her hairstyle, ask where she goes.” Trust in your stylist is key. Research them, read reviews and ask questions of existing clients—“always trust your gut.” An also advises booking a consultation with that person before the real appointment to make sure you’re comfortable with their vision. Sharing pictures of what you like helps, too. Then, “it’s up to the professional to explain what is realistic about your expectations, because in the end it’s about creating a version of that inspiration while customizing the look—not just copying it.”

Psychologically, it can be hard for someone with long hair, which can tend to act as a security blanket, to shed all of it at once. Don’t be afraid of taking baby steps toward your ultimate length goal—and always, An advises, take a before and after photo. Seeing the two side-by-side can be very eye-opening. “There is something very liberating about a complete change,” she adds. “It can help you transition to something new in life. Keep in mind that with a new look can come a new attitude.”

With the right stylist, anyone—no matter the face shape or hair texture—can have short hair, from pixies to An’s favorite, a modern and sexy-chic “shattered bob” that grazes the shoulder or chin. Also important: not leaving the salon without learning how to manage and style the new ’do. “Right now there are celebrities with many different styles—risks are being taken and I love it,” says An. “Evolution is a beautiful thing.”