MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration

MTF / Transgender Hair Styles and Inspiration Guide

Salon 101

If it’s your first time in a salon, you might feel a bit out of place.

The salon experience can be intimidating for some trans folks, especially for pre- or non-transition women. You might be nervous, but at the end of the day, you’re a paying customer and the stylist’s job is to help you. While walk-ins are usually accepted, most salons recommend you make an appointment beforehand.

Don’t feel like you have to out yourself to your stylist, though you can if you would be more comfortable. Make sure you tell your stylist what your plans are – “growing it out,” “looking for something feminine,” etc. He or she may unconsciously gravitate towards a more masculine style if he or she reads you incorrectly. The safest way to get the hair you want is to come prepared with a picture – after all, saying “I want bangs” or “I want red hair” can mean many different things to different folks. 🙂

In some salons, you pay different prices depending on how long your hair is, if it’s thicker, if you’re having it just cut or if you’re having it blow-dried or styled, etc. Be sure you know beforehand what the approximate cost is and keep a few extra dollars for a tip.

Picking a Style That Works for You

While many stylists can help suggest a haircut that would work for you, it helps to know what look fits your style, hair type, and face.

MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and InspirationIn general, you want to pick a hair style that complements your best features, or plays off of your bone structure. You’ll also want styles that are “softer,” meaning trying things like side-swept bangs, soft waves, a layered hairstyle, or gentle highlights. Avoid harsh, straight across bangs or bobs that are angular and “harder.”

For illustrations and ideas, check out the guide on this page. When in doubt, shoulder length hair looks great on almost everyone!

“Won’t I need really long hair to pass?”
Absolutely not! While longer hairstyles tend to help with being read correctly, you can pass and feel great without long hair. Tons of women, trans or cis, prefer shorter cuts, and there are tons of styles you can rock while looking cute and feminine. Pick a style you like and the confidence you’ll gain in looking sharp will help with passing.

“Should I wear a wig?”
That’s a personal choice! Many trans folks wear wigs if they’re not out full-time, if they’re growing their natural hair out, or because they prefer the look. If you do choose to wear a wig, we recommend going for a human hair wig. They’re more expensive, but they can last for many months or even years with proper maintenance, whereas synthetic wigs are cheap but can easily fall apart in 4-6 weeks. Plus, with a hair wig, you can wash, blow-dry, and style as you would your own hair. For wig construction, pick a “mono” top so you can choose where to part your hair. Wigs come with a variety of attachment options, so do some research to pick the right style for you!

“What if I have hair loss?”
Many women self report that their hair loss or receding hairline reversed once they started hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but if you have not yet or do not plan to take hormones, you still have options. You could try a topical minoxidil product for mild to moderate thinning. Some women also go for hair transplants if they’ve experienced significant recession. No matter what, you can always use hair extensions or a high-quality hair piece that blends with your natural hair to achieve whatever style you choose.


Accessories can make a huge difference in your overall style and how you’re being read in public. If you have shorter hair, a pretty barrette, clip, or headband can be a cute touch. Of course, avoid the girly bows or cheap plastic clips little kids go for – something more sophisticated will be your friend. Some women also accessorize with a hat (not for everyone, we know!) or a flower in their hair.

Styles We Like for 2015

We think these looks are awesome, not just for transgender ladies, but for any woman. (Be sure to let us know in the comments if you’re rocking one of these styles or if you have another look to add!)

MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration
MTF Hairstyle Guide: Tips and Inspiration

Some golden rules of haircare advice:

  • Don’t shampoo every day, especially if you have dry or coarse hair. Some shampoos can strip away oils from your hair and leave your hair and scalp feeling dry. Plus it’s often easier to style hair that is washed once every few days.
  • Conditioner: a healthy scalp means healthy, softer hair. Use it!
  • If you choose to wear a wig, be sure it’s comfortable, secured with clips or tape, and sits in the middle of your forehead, not slipping too low or up too high.
  • If you have longer hair that’s prone to frizz, dry your hair after a shower by squeezing it with paper towels. The paper doesn’t create as much friction, and it absorbs moisture better than a regular towel.
  • If you’re getting your hair colored, wash your hair beforehand. It’ll help your colorist see your natural hair color since product and oils can make your hair look darker. Plus, it’s just a myth that unwashed hair takes color better.
  • If you’re using products to create volume in your hair, try blow drying them after applying. The heat activates the products better than just air drying.
  • Fake fuller hair using a toothbrush. Once your hair is blow-dried completely, take a clean dry toothbrush and back-comb the undersides of your hair for extra lift. Unlike a comb that tears at your hair, a toothbrush roughs up the strands just enough to add volumne.

Other Resources:

Read Now: Don’t miss our counterpart post, FTM Hairstyle Guide: Tips & Inspiration

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