SO, YOUR HAIR is getting long, and all of the salons are closed because of a global pandemic. It may be time to cut your own hair at home. Stylists will advise you to avoid getting too overzealous with your scissors, but sometimes you’re left with no choice. Cutting your hair is more complicated than it looks, and this guide is not one-size-fits-all, but it should help you at least figure out the basics on where to start.
Do You Really Need a Cut?
There are plenty of ways to change your look without being extreme or doing something you may regret. As my hairstylist, Angela Layng says, “We never make our best hair decisions when we’re stressed.” Additionally, the stylists I interviewed emphasized the fact that home haircuts can go awry quickly. Just take a look at the videos of people trying to give themselves bangs.
Before you make any permanent changes to your hair, consider some temporary ones. Now is a great time to grow out your hair. Is your hair fried from repetitive heat damage? Break the heat-styling cycle and your mane will be looking its best in no time. If you’ve played with the idea of changing your part, go through the transition while you’re at home.
You can also fake a hair transformation. Create a faux bob with the help of some bobby pins. If your hair is long enough to put into a ponytail, you can use creative styling to create fake bangs with no scissors required. Try covering your head in barrettes or learn to fishtail braid. Experiment away!
Brushing your hair is also an underrated way to give your tresses some TLC, according to hairstylist and salon owner Kenzie Veurink. For curly-haired folks, you can achieve a similar treatment by using a wide-toothed comb or your fingers. The goal is to stimulate your scalp and work its natural oils down the length of your hair. It’ll help your strands stay shiny and strong, and there’s some evidence that scalp stimulation encourages faster hair growth.
Now that you may have more free time, you could slather on a hair treatment mask first thing in the morning and wash it off before you go to bed. You might even have the components for a DIY hair mask in your kitchen already. Ingredients such as mayonnaise, eggs, honey, and apple cider vinegar are great for your hair. Mix ’em up in a bowl and cover your hair, then let the mask sit for as long as you’d like before rinsing.
Gear You May Need
Quality scissors: A sharp edge helps keep your hair from fluffing out at the ends or moving around too much while you trim. Consider using precision scissors or placing an order for hair-cutting shears, which are razor-sharp and should be handled with care.
Hair clippers for short hair: Hair clippers are in short supply right now, but this is a good clipper kit if you can manage to snag it—and this is a good alternative. This self-cutting trimmer might help if you plan to cut your own hair without any help.
Keep These Tips in Mind
Have someone else help: Cutting your own hair in the mirror can be tricky. If you can, get someone to help you trim evenly, or decide when enough is enough. If you have to fly solo, use multiple mirrors and take breaks to check up on how you’re looking.Consider texture and length: A DIY haircut is hard enough for folks with long, thick, straight, healthy hair. If your hair is curly, short, or especially textured, mistakes will be easier to spot, so use caution.
Start small: Have you ever used a magnifying mirror to tweeze your eyebrows, only to step back and realize you’ve gone too far? The same principle applies to your hair. You can always take off more, but there’s no going back once you’ve snipped away too much. It may help to step away for a few hours before you reassess where you’re at.
Avoid horizontal lines: It might have looked badass when Disney’s Mulan did it, but you don’t want to hack your hair off in a big horizontal line. Hold your scissors straight up and down the length of your hair, rather than across it, and snip away just a little bit at a time. This is especially important if you’re working on bangs.
Horizontal lines are sometimes necessary for removing length, but snipping vertically keeps your hair from becoming too blunt—a telltale sign of at-home haircuts. If you’ve cut horizontally, make sure to follow it up with vertical snips to thin out the ends and make the cut look more natural. If you aren’t feeling dextrous enough to cut vertically, try holding your scissors diagonally.
How to Trim Your Hair
Be conservative. This is likely your first time, so trim your hair—don’t try to restyle it entirely. If in doubt, you can always wait and book an appointment with your favorite stylist once shelter-in-place orders are lifted. Below is our best trimming advice, along with some links to tutorials that will help you, depending on your hair’s length and texture.
Wash and condition your hair, and then let it dry completely, because hair shrinks as it dries. This will help you avoid taking off too much. Work out any tangles using a brush before getting started. If your hair is unruly, you can mist it with water, but try to avoid getting it too damp. Snip with the ends of the shears rather than with the full length of the blade.
Make sure you have your shears or clippers and a comb on hand. Use clips to help section your hair into manageable segments. Drape a cape (or an old towel) over your shoulders. Follow the advice below that best applies to your hair.
For Long Hair
Divide your hair and clip it into sections. Bring one section forward at a time, and determine how much you want to take off—we suggest a quarter of an inch to half an inch. (Cut a little less than you think you should.) Trim off the length and then snip the ends to add texture and blend everything out. Watch this video for more in-depth instructions.
For Short Hair
Short hair is one instance where having damp locks may help you out. We suggest having someone else do the job for you. Just remember that less is more. If you’re using scissors, have them start at the sides and work around your head. They can use a comb to help guide the shears and determine where to cut. Be extra careful when trimming around the ears. This video is a good tutorial for a classic short cut using shears.
If you’re using clippers, this is a good basic tutorial. To cut your own short hair, try this video tutorial, and consider purchasing a special self-haircut kit to make the process a little easier.
For Curly Hair
The type of trim you’ll want depends on your curl type (check your curl type here). For looser 2A to 3B curls, you can probably follow this tutorial, where you work with dry hair and trim curl by curl at an angle to ensure voluminous results.
For tighter curl types ranging from 3C to 4C, your approach might be different; try sectioning your hair, gently detangling, and using firm pressure to keep your hair from moving too much as you trim. This tutorial and this tutorial are both great options for highly textured hair.
Depending on your curl pattern and your hair shape, you may want to find a video more tailored to your desired end result. Remember that curly hair has a mind of its own, so be patient and work in small sections.
For Kids’ Hair
If you can get kids to stay still, a haircut isn’t too hard. This is a good guide for blending short haircuts and dealing with cowlicks, and here’s a tutorial for classic shaggy toddler haircuts. When in doubt, you can always use a mixing bowl (or a headband). Just don’t do it when they’re older. By high school, a bowl cut is not going to help their social standing.