If you can't get to the salon—for whatever reason—and are considering cutting your own hair at home, here's what stylists want you to know before picking up the scissors.

By Christina Oehler
May 01, 2020
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Life can get hectic—sometimes causing even routine appointments like a checkup at the dentist or a haircut with your stylist to fall by the wayside. Not to mention, now that you've been quarantining for awhile due to coronavirus, you might be noticing some unwanted split ends or that your bangs are getting just a little too long. No matter the reason that you can't get to the salon, you could be well on your way to getting creative with your grooming at home.

While many stylists don't recommend cutting your own 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.

However, unless you're an actual hairstylist, major changes are best left to the pros, says 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," Jerome tells Health. "Don’t try anything new or different, wait for your stylist and be patient."

While the general consensus from hairdressers is to wait on drastic chops until you can get to the salon again, we've gotten tips from the stylists on how to cut your own 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," explains Carrie Butterworth, a celebrity hair stylist 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 hair cutting shears. "The best type of scissor to use are the cheaper types of haircutting scissors that you can get at a drugstore," says Butterworth. If you aren't able to make a trip to the drugstore, you can snag hair shears online, like the Anastasia Beverly Hills Scissors ($23; sephora.com).

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, notes Butterworth. The Harry Josh Pro Styling Clips ($15; dermstore.com) are a stylist favorite and come in a pack of three.

But first, moisturize.

Before you even think about reaching for the scissors, make sure your hair is protected with a moisturizer, says Dora, a stylist at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City. Working with damp, moisturized hair is the best way to ensure you're getting a clean cut, so it's crucial not to skip this step. Her go-to: Moroccanoil Mending Infusion ($28; sephora.com), a nourishing styling product that zaps dryness, fights frizz, and prevents damage. "This product will protect the hair from breakage and seal split ends," Dora adds.

Make sure your length is even.

When you're ready to start cutting, start by parting your hair down the middle, regardless of where you normally part it. Then, keeping your chin to your chest, part your hair into one-inch sections and cut each one at a time, says Butterworth. By taking each piece in small sections, you can avoid any major mishaps that would 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," she says. Every now and then, step back a couple of feet to see if you've made a straight line. "You can make any adjustments you need to make from there," Butterworth adds.

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," warns Butterworth.

Don't go geometric.

As much as you might like to come out of quarantine with a dramatic new 'do, Dora suggests keeping it simple until you can see a professional stylist again. "I would recommend not cutting any perimeter or geometric changes to your haircut," she says. (FYI, The perimeter is the area of the hairline that begins at the forehead, down past the ears to the nape of the neck and back.)  And whatever you do, never cut the hair straight across, she cautions.

"Start out by taking small sections of your layers, twisting the hair and point cutting into the ends," says 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.

Tread lightly with bangs.

If you're wanting to touch up your bangs (or try them out for the first time), start off 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," says Dora.

To cut bangs, you'll first want to dry your bangs straight down, and then take a very small section between your eyes and hold it flat against your face, explains Butterworth. "Once you’ve got the initial section, pull another small section in towards the center, and repeat. This will give a gently curved effect, as opposed to China doll bangs," she adds.

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

Enlist the help of a friend, if you can.

If possible, have someone else cut your hair for you, recommends Butterworth. "My main tip for cutting your hair at home would be that if you have someone at your house cut your hair for you, at the very least, you’ll have a straight line in the back," she says. While you might not want to trust anyone else with your hair, it's a lot easier than trying to get a perfect 180 degree, straight-across cut on your own.

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