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All you need are these expert tips (a steady hand can’t hurt, either.)
Cutting your hair at home can be a recipe for disaster, and is not recommended by…just about any professional hairstylist. But, desperate times call for desperate measures, and it’s not an impossible task. You’ll just want to closely follow these expert tips and tricks when taking matters into your own hands.
One thing you shouldn’t attempt? Going for a drastic change. The last thing you need is to be left with a haircut that makes you more upset than the way it was before you messed with it. Leave a major chop up to the professionals, post-quarantine. However, if you have a few rogue split ends or overgrown bangs, that’s something you can manage—promise. Here, hairstylists share their professional guidance on how to cut your own hair at home.
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind before getting started: Less is more! “You can always take more off if you decide you want to, but you can’t glue it back on,” warns celebrity hairstylist and Biolage Brand Ambassador, Sunnie Brook. She recommends starting a trim with clean, dry hair, so you see the hair in its truest form and know the results immediately. “Wet hair stretches, so if you cut it wet it will be shorter than you expect” says T3 celebrity hairstylist, Laura Polko. She agrees with Brook, advising not to overdo it and get carried away with your trim.
Invest in some proper tools.
Having the right tools for cutting your hair is a must, and your kitchen scissors just won’t do. “Craft or kitchen scissors tend to ‘snag’ the hair, making for an unclean, uneven finish that’s also not healthy for your hair,” says Polko, “A good pair of scissors is worth the investment. I find that ones that are about four to five inches long are easiest to handle. Go for a good Japanese pair. They will last you a lifetime and probably save you a few dollars on salon visits” says Brook.
Brook also recommends using a wide tooth comb when cutting your hair on your own. “Fine tooth combs put a lot of tension on the hair, which is great if you’re a hairdresser and want a hard line, but a wide tooth comb is easier on the hair, giving you a softer line.” A softer line helps to create more subtle cut, which is easier to manage and harder to mess up.
Cut for your hair type.
Considering your hair type when attempting a cut is very important, especially for people rocking wavy or curly strands. No matter your texture, think about how you wear your hair the most often to determine how it should be when you cut it. For instance, if you have curly hair but always wear it blown out, you’ll want to cut it while it’s blown out.
For curly or wavy hair, Brook recommends letting it air dry naturally so you can see its shape. Then, twist the sections you want to trim. “This gives the strand a tapered finish which lends to a softer texture. It also helps the curl not bounce up as much,” says Brook. And rather than trimming straight across, cut into your ends for a softer, more natural finish. This is also referred to as “point cutting.”
For straight hair, it’s a bit of a different story. Brook advises blow drying hair first using a flat brush. This is the most efficient way to see clean lines in your cut, which is a great initial guide to see what’s out of place and needs to be trimmed up. “Break up your hair into small sections all around your head and work your way up cutting from the bottom to the top using the point cut method,” she says (here’s a useful primer).
Brook suggests using a light treatment spray before and after your trim as they help with frizz and manageability. She loves the BIOLAGE All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Treatment Spray which also protects from heat and prevents split ends .
Begin by creating shape around your face.
Figuring out the best place to start your hair-cutting escapade can be flat out daunting, so start with smaller pieces and cuts until you find your groove. “I usually start around the face to create a shape and then use that as my guide to connect the front to the lengths,” explains Brook. She recommends using clips to section away the hair you don’t want to cut. “This will give you control as you cut and protect you from cutting more than you want.”
Polko agrees with Brook, and adds you should “definitely make sure the front pieces on both sides of the face match up. You do not want one side that is longer than the other!” She suggests that every time you cut a small section of hair, to measure its length by comparing it with a piece from the exact same spot on the other side of your face. Pull both pieces to the front—underneath your chin—and see if they are even. Here you can determine if you need to trim a little more or less to match the other side so that it’s symmetrical.
Take extra care for bangs and layers.
Cutting bangs would likely fall into the category of drastic change so it’s best to leave it to the professionals, but trimming existing ones is a much easier task to manage. “When you comb down your bangs over your forehead to prep the cut, use very light tension,” says Polko. “Too much tension will have the same effect as if you were to cut wet hair—it will bounce back up after it dries and most likely be shorter than you were hoping for.”
Brook recommends starting your trim just below your brows but above your lash-line. Start by taking just the middle section—and clipping the sides out of the way—so you can set the length. “Twist the section and take the tip of your scissors and cut into the ends of the hair to remove some length. Hold thicker sections between your fingers as you cut,” she says. Brook also loves using a bang face shield to make the process easier by allowing you to get closer to your face with your scissors.
Layers are also super important to keep in mind when cutting your own hair, especially if you already have them. Brook recommends combing your hair straight up to see in “a 45 or 90 degree angle, then point cutting to remove dry ends and length.” To add in layers, she suggests taking a small section of hair at your ends and making small cuts with your scissors vertically (again, point cutting). It adds some light texture and creates a softer edge for your ends.
“I like splitting hair down the middle and directing it forward at a diagonal. Trim hair from chin length down to your ends at an angle and continue to match up for the rest of the layers,” says Polko. She advises using a straightening iron after a cut or trim to really showcase it.