How To Cut Your Hair at Home, According to Stylists

These tips and techniques can help if you can't get to the salon.

Life can get hectic. Sometimes even routine appointments, like a haircut from your stylist, can fall by the wayside. It could be work demands, a lack of transportation, or a busy schedule that's keeping you from making it in to see your hair expert. You might even be tempted to take up the scissors and groom yourself.

While many stylists don't recommend cutting your hair, desperate times call for desperate measures. As long as you aren't getting too daring with your scissors, you can rid yourself of your dead ends or successfully give yourself a bang trim without it looking like you stuck your head in the garbage disposal.

Avoid Making a Drastic Change

However, unless you're a hairstylist, major changes are best left to the pros, said Jerome, a stylist at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City. "My biggest tip is to not cut too much. You can always go around a second time if you want to remove more hair," said Jerome. "Don't try anything new or different, wait for your stylist and be patient."

While the consensus from hairdressers is to wait on drastic chops until you can get to the salon again, Health found tips from the stylists on how to cut your hair at home. So go forth—you can now try out that trim with a little more confidence and guidance than before.

Get the Right Equipment

Your kitchen scissors just aren't going to cut it (pun intended) for this type of project.

"I wouldn't recommend using your usual house scissors because they're just not going to be sharp enough—the blade is too thick, and because of that, you're going to get a very jumpy, choppy line," explained Carrie Butterworth, a celebrity hairstylist at The Salon Project by Joel Warren in New York City. It'll basically look like a hack job.

If you want a healthy, clean cut, you need to invest in a pair of haircutting shears. "The best type of scissors to use are the cheaper haircutting scissors you can get at a drugstore," said Butterworth. You can snag hair shears online if you can't visit the drugstore.

You might also want to consider hair clips, which could help make things easier. Sectioning your hair off with clips allows you to see better and will help you avoid the rough, choppy look you would get if you tried cutting straight across, said Butterworth.

Moisturize Before You Start

Before you even think about reaching for the scissors, make sure your hair is protected with a moisturizer, said Dora, a stylist at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City. Working with damp, moisturized hair is the best way to ensure you get a clean cut, so it's crucial not to skip this step.

Make Sure Your Length Is Even

When you're ready to start cutting, here's how you can begin to the trim, according to Butterworth:

  1. Part your hair down the middle (regardless of where you normally part it).
  2. Then, keeping your chin to your chest, part your hair into one-inch sections.
  3. Cut each section one at a time.
  4. Now and then, step back a couple of feet to see if you've made a straight line.

By taking each piece in small sections, you can avoid major mishaps that make your hair look uneven. "After you've decided the initial length, just be sure to match the next section to the previous one, holding the hair tautly between your fingers," said Butterworth. "You can make any adjustments you need to make from there."

As for cutting anything more than just a straight line, you should probably hold off until your next salon appointment. "I don't recommend cutting layers, as there are many different ways to cut layers, and only the person who professionally cuts your hair knows the kind of layers that they've put in based on your texture, density, and the look that you want," warned Butterworth.

Don’t Try a Geometric Hairstyle

As much as you might like to come out with a dramatic new hairdo, Dora suggested keeping it simple until you can see a professional stylist again. "I would recommend not cutting any perimeter or geometric changes to your haircut," said Dora.

The perimeter is the hairline area that begins at the forehead, down past the ears to the nape of the neck and back. Geometric haircuts include bobs and cuts that have bangs.

Whatever you do, never cut the hair straight across, said Dora. "Start out by taking small sections of your layers, twisting the hair, and point cutting into the ends," said Dora. In case you're not familiar, point cutting is a technique stylists use to soften and texturize the ends of your hair rather than to remove length.

Cut Bangs Slowly and Carefully

If you want to touch up your bangs (or try them out for the first time), start slow and ease into the length you'd like. "Bangs are in our face, [so] please remember you could always go shorter if you feel you left them too long," said Dora.

Here's how you can cut your bangs, according to Butterworth:

  1. Dry your bangs straight down.
  2. Hold a tiny section between your eyes flat against your face.
  3. Once you have the initial section, pull another small section toward the center and repeat (this will give you a curved effect instead of straight across).

One thing to keep in mind is not to pull your bangs too tightly when you're cutting since it could lead to cutting them shorter than desired, pointed out Butterworth.

Ask Someone Else for Help

If possible, have someone else cut your hair for you, recommended Butterworth. "My main tip for cutting your hair at home would be that if someone at your house cut your hair for you, at the very least, you'll have a straight line in the back," said Butterworth.

While you might not want to trust anyone else with your hair, it's a lot easier than trying to get a perfect straight-across cut on your own.

A Quick Review

Sometimes life gets busy, and making a trip to the salon might not be your top priority. If you aren't trying to drastically change your hair with a significant cut or new style, you can freshen up your dead ends with an at-home trim.

Before you start, make sure you have sharp scissors for cutting hair. You may also want to have a few hair clips nearby to help you pin up your hair. Moisturize your hair before making any cuts, and start slowly with small sections at a time. Ask someone else for help if you can.

If you want to try a new look or make a more drastic change, it might be time to head to the salon.

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