Beauty Q&A: Pixie Cuts, Gym Nips, and Meeting Alex Trebek

For over a year I’ve been wanting to get a really short haircut, but I keep chickening out. As far as haircuts go, I’ve had everything from boob-length hair to chin-length bobs with and without straight bangs. My hair is very straight and of regular thickness (I assume). My face shape is square and there’s nothing about my face or head that I feel the need to hide.

Lately I’ve been wanting to get a very sleek 1960s look. Think Mia Farrow, Jean Seberg, Twiggy. Unlike these ladies, however, I’m a curvy size 10/12. I’ve asked my friends and family what they think, and they are supportive but not enthusiastic. I plan on getting this haircut in a month, after I’m done with my summer job and before I head to my last year of college. Do you have any suggestions on ways to know if I’ll look good with a short haircut? How do I make sure I don’t look too masculine? How do I know what style would be best? Any advice about short hair would be very appreciated!

I think you should cut it tomorrow. Remember when Liv Tyler cut her hair like that? I wouldn’t call her a gamine like those other ladies you mention, yet she looked adorable and the world didn’t suddenly turn against her. This is a wish you’ve had for a year, it’s an incredibly easy one to fulfill, and the cliché is true: If you don’t like it, don’t worry, it’ll grow back. That is the amazing thing about most human hair! As someone who’s spent more of her life with a pixie cut than without one, I can tell you that it is totally normal and not something to worry about that your closest homies aren’t lining up to drive you to the salon right this minute. A super-short haircut is bold, rare, and intimidating to a lot of people. They subconsciously worry that this haircut will magically turn you into a boy or a mom or that you’ll hate it and blame them for encouraging you to get this haircut (in order to turn into a boy or a mom). It can also be super fucking hot, causing much worry among everyone you encounter. So, take the support they are offering: Go have it cut, and keep in mind that your new ‘do makes a statement, but one that it sounds like you can totally pull off, pretty-face. Not to mention you have curves which will keep you from looking “too masculine.” Also: pencil skirts and heels?

Just a few tips for rocking short-short hair: Have fun with earrings, short haircuts are the perfect complement to high-impact makeup looks, and now is the time to play with hats! You’ll be able to wear a hat with basically no effort or complications. That is seriously one of the main reasons I get frustrated with my long hair; you can’t put a floppy sun hat over a bun. Ooh, and last but certainly not least: You can dye your hair and if you hate it, cut it off and start over in a month. Keeping your hair extra short means no more fried ends, so play with color to your heart’s content.

For about one million-billion photos of awesome pixie cuts, try this website: (where the awesome style above comes from). Scroll down and on the left there’s a “Hairstyle Finder” where you can either choose from a gallery or search for a specific look. Every day. All day long. Until the internet is dead. Post “after” pics in the comments? PLEASE?

Talk to me about makeup removal! I’ve recently dialed up my makeup routine and I feel like my previous makeup removal system (one step: wash face) isn’t cutting it anymore. Help!

Fun! Do you love it, do you love it, do you love it? I love makeup. Taking it off? Not so much. I have a two-part system for coming clean effectively.

First, use a makeup remover on your eyes and lips if you’re wearing a dark lipstick. I flip-flop between two brands depending on whether a Mary Kay lady is in the vicinity at the time that I need to re-up. They (she?) make a great one simply called “Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover.” It comes in a clear bottle so that when it’s just sitting there not being used, you can see that the liquid separates in two — like oil and water — making it look very sciency. Just shake well to mix and dispense onto a cotton round. Then magically wipe all that stuff off. The other brand I like is Almay, and they make a gentle makeup remover that comes on pre-moistened pads and has a picture of an aloe plant and a cucumber on the front, which makes you feel soothed. Really either one will work.

Next, wash your face using a normal cleanser. Mine is Clean & Clear Oil-Free Foaming Facial Cleanser, but here’s the trick: Use a whole pump or two and, moving your fingertips in a swirly motion, work it around on your skin with a little water for pretty much A WHOLE MINUTE. Literally it will feel like a fucking lifetime and you are missing the entire Real Housewives Reunion, Part One, but it’s the only way and also you have a DVR so relax. Then rinse and dry your face with a clean white towel which will immediately show you if you got it all. No? Repeat and actually do the whole minute this time!

I feel like there are a zillion options for sports bras that will lift, support, and shape big boobs (as there should be, I can’t imagine running with C+ knockers in my way), but for us small-chested gym bunnies, the options seem so flimsy and limited. We may not need compression or support, but we need coverage, specifically keeping our nips in. Some fabrics actually seem to encourage this problem but irritating/rubbing the nipples when moving, plus I’ve recently started at a new gym that is kept icy-cool and the headlights are blazing. It’s embarrassing. Any suggestions for breathable sports bras that lift, shape, and conceal?

Here I come with the anti-advice (again?): Don’t worry about tit. (Get tit?) No, but seriously, seeing nips through bras at the gym is really the last thing you need to think about there. No one else is — except that creepy dude who wanders back and forth behind the ellipticals pretending to wait for one to open up even though there are two open already, but he’s actually more concerned with your butt anyway.

Gyms are awkward, freezing cold, awful, exposing, disgusting places where you pay huge money for the privilege of maybe looking a little bit hotter outside of its walls someday but only if you do everything right during your workout. Do not think about your nipples at the gym.

That said, my very favorite sports bras for small boobs (when I had them when I was too skinny because I got dumped so I was going to the gym too much because I got dumped) were actually workout tops with built-in bras from Nike like this. Notice the descriptors “distraction free” and “bra that supports and flatters”? They are talking about your nipples.

I have been selected to appear on a well-known game show, and I’m flying out to tape the episode way too soon! Aaah! I’ve done basically no preparation of any kind, and although I think I’ve got the flash cards down (ask me the longest river in Asia!), I need some beauty and fashion advice.

They put on my makeup at the studio. But I have to bring a bunch of changes of TV-appropriate, business casual clothes and, most terrifyingly, do my own hair. I need 3–4 outfits that look good on TV, can make it through a cross-country flight, and can be changed in/out of quickly on the unlikely chance that I make it past one episode.

Second, my hair is easy-ish (shoulder-length, fine, bangs), but usually it’s a good morning for me if I manage to comb it after I shower but before I leave the house. On bad mornings I comb it while waiting for the bus. (I know, I’m terrible, but it’s so humid where I live that blow-drying it makes zero difference by the time I get to work. I know that doesn’t excuse combing it on the street. Shhh.) I know, in theory, how to blow-dry it, but this is horrifying. How can I get TV-perfect hair? Are there things I should buy? What should I do? Is it acceptable to just pull it back (probably not, it’s a little short for that?) I know I should practice, but what should I practice doing?!?!?

Can I come? Can I? Can Edith come? Is it JEOPARDY!? When is it? I have the app on my phone if you need a study partner. Call me.

Here’s what I think you should do — and I’m going to answer this assuming the show is Jeopardy! or a similar type of game show where you’re mainly seen from the waist up: Go get four different flattering tops in bright, solid colors. Ask anyone who has ever made a TV show (ahem) and they’ll tell you matte solid colors with no patterns are the way to go. Think American Apparel stretch ¾-length sleeve tops in teal, pink, and so on, only from a company that isn’t gross. Don’t spend too much money; it’s not necessary. The rest of this stuff should come from your existing wardrobe: Bring four necklaces and a pair of medium-sized fake diamond studs (unless you have real ones?). Next, one pair of crisp jeans, one black pencil skirt, and one pair of pretty, neutral heels. Finally, grab a black blazer and a neutral cardigan. Essentially, your looks will be a variety of punchy, colorful, pretty tops that need no ironing along with awesome jewelry and versatile layering pieces to business-ify you if need be. Do not forget a good, supportive bra. BOOM. Your outfits are done.

About hair? Honestly, they say you need to show up with it done but really they mean mostly done. They’ll futz with it and spray it a bunch and make it perfect once you’re in the makeup chair so show up with it clean and dry. The camera will most likely never show the back of your head and rarely the sides so you’ll just want the bangs smooth, the ends tidy, and the sides under control. This is all very easy: after washing and conditioning, just run a brush through it as you blow dry brushing the sides back and your bangs down toward your brow. Once dry, pull the sides back and pin them with two bobby pins at the back of your head. Smooth out the ends with a small brush or comb and let them plaster it with hairspray if they want. Then win all the money.

Previously: Ponytails, Wedding Clothes, and Breast Relief.

Jane Feltes produces the radio program “This American Life,” and no one pays her to say any of this. Do you have a question for Jane?