Baby pictures will tell you otherwise, but I’ve always felt like I was born with long hair. And I’m not talking about the kind that delicately cascades around shoulders, but length that extends well beyond the waist. My hair was an integral part of my childhood—many a friend perfected her braiding skills at the back of my head. As I grew older, it not only became a veritable security blanket and my beauty signature, but, as a twin, it gave me my own unique identity that separated me from my sister, who always had a penchant for short hair.
In 21 years I’ve donated 13 inches to Beautiful Lengths—twice. The last time I went significantly under the scissors, however, was high school. But after wrapping up my undergrad at NYU, I felt like it was time for another chop. Armed with a photo of Manon LeLoup’s chic bob and Jessica Stam’s edgy waves, I sought out Marc Mena at Warren Tricomi to say good-bye to my length…and four years of unsupervised debauchery. Since I’ve done it before, I was well versed in the process. Step one: Gather hair into an epic ponytail. Step two: Snip. In a flash, eight inches of purple hair—dyed recently as a sort of swan song to my length—dropped to the salon floor.
“The first thing I did was cut that ponytail off to kind of give me more of an inspiration and see more of the canvas,” Mena explained to me. “I do most of my cutting dry—it’s like cutting a piece of fabric, I need to see the shape. Once I have the line, I do mostly freehand cutting.” After a quick blow-dry, he reached for a one-inch curling iron to add texture before using a combo of Keratin Complex’s Straight Day Styling Spray andKérastase Volumifique Spray for added oomph. The result: An effortless cut that rested along my collarbone (a look recently sported by fellow long-hair devotee Amanda Seyfried)—perfect for a beauty assistant who doesn’t own a hairdryer.
The biggest shock (aside from the initial ponytail chop) is that I’ve never felt more like myself. It’s fun, easy, and a hell of a lot cooler—both literally and figuratively. “I think it’s a very liberating thing to do. This look is chic but yet sexy, and I think it’s a great cut for summer,” said Mena. Now that I no longer have Rapunzel waves to hide behind, I’m filled with newfound confidence. As for my twin (she’s eight minutes older), she’s planning to one-up me yet again and cut her hair so that it’s shorter than mine. College ends and careers begin, but some things never change.
This essay originally appeared on Style.com.