Knowing how to cut your own hair is a perennial skill that, once unlocked, will always come in handy in a pinch or if you find yourself in a haircut emergency. Even if the days of DIY haircuts might soon be a thing of the past, sometimes the only resort is to quite literally take things into your own hands—and it's best to be equipped with the right guidance, tools, and products to be able to do so seamlessly and correctly.
Whether you actually enjoyed giving yourself a bang trim or simply want to cut down trips to the salon for whatever reason, we understand that knowing how to maintain your ends and the general shape of your current 'do will always be a valuable trick to have up your sleeve.
From having the right tools (time to bring out the best hair dryer and cutting shears you can find!) to getting the hang of some insider haircutting hacks, we rounded up several expert-approved cutting methods that help guarantee that your at-home session is a success.
How to cut your own hair
Tip #1: Only use professional tools
To guarantee your at-home hair cut is a success, you’ll only want to use professional tools (professional shears, clips, etc.) when cutting, says hairstylist Monica Davis of Hair Madness Salon and founder of MyStraightener.com, a hair hub that deals with everything from pro tips to tool reviews.
"Get professional shears—you must never use any other types of scissors, or you will end up with split ends," she warns.
Investing in protective products can also make a big difference in maintaining your hair, as Sandi-Kaye Henry, hairstylist, and owner of The Shyphenk Salon, says that strengthening products can keep your hair strong in between trims.
"I would suggest Olaplex #0, Olaplex #3, and Olaplex #6 [to strengthen hair],” she recommends. "The key is to keep your hair strong and healthy while outside the care of a professional."
Tip #2: Part hair into sections
If you have no clue how to cut your own hair at home, Sandi-Kaye says there are several ways to give yourself a fresh chop if you're in the mood for trendy short hairstyles.
One beginner-friendly method she recommends requires parting the hair into several equal sections and cutting the ends as desired. This ensures your at-home cut (whether it's a layered haircut or a blunt one) is completely even.
"I would highly recommend parting the hair off into four equal sections," Sandi-Kaye says. "On each of those sections, you would cut the ends for a blunt cut. If you want to add some layers, elevate your hands a few degrees off the floor. The higher your hand goes, the more layers you create." Monica concurs: "You will need an all-purpose professional comb to section off your hair evenly, and at least a few hair clips (no-slip) to use section by section."
Tip #3: Cut hair when it's dry
While it’s customary for a hairstylist to wash, cut, and dry your hair at the salon, Dallas-based hairstylist Holly Dear says learning how to cut your own hair while it’s dry is another safe, at-home cutting method to try.
Since hair shrinks when it dries, cutting dry hair allows you to monitor how much hair you are taking off already as you snip so you don’t end up removing more than you want to.
"Cutting your hair while it’s dry allows you to see how your hair reacts as weight or length is taken off," Holly explains.
For quick, precision drying, we recommend to use the best hair dryer for your hair type. Across the board, however, we like the non-damaging flow we get from Dyson Supersonic, as it manages to get our locks shiny, dry, and prepped for a dry haircut without the accompanying damage.
Tip #4: Use the point-cutting method on ends
If you really want to learn how to cut your own hair in between salon visits, Holly says trimming your hair "like a bonsai tree" can help eliminate dry and damaged hair or split ends.
"Pick the hair up in pieces, and trim the dry ends off in a point, similar to trimming a bonsai tree," she explains. "This helps clean off splitting ends without removing too much length." Point-cutting means sandwiching the ends of the hair between two fingers with your non-dominant hand and then cutting "into" the ends at an angle with your dominant hand. See the video below for reference:
Tip #5: Focus only on ends
Mastering an at-home pixie cut, without a doubt, can definitely feel exhilarating. However, Monica explains that it's best to always cut off less than you intend to. Otherwise, you’ll be back in the salon immediately—with worse results.
"It can be difficult to measure the right length without knowledge of proportions and haircut styles," Davis says. "With that being said, you should focus only on trimming off split ends if you’re cutting your hair at home."
Not sure how to get to all of those errant ends? We recommend a hair dusting technique, where you twirl sections of hair into a rope twist, then skim the scissors onto the edge of the twist, snipping off the flyaways as they splay out. Although twisting is easier for a DIY haircut since you can't see (or reach) the back of your head, some pros do it without twisting at all, as in the video below:
Tip #6: When in doubt, see a pro
If the thought of learning how to cut your own hair seems intimidating, Monica says it’s always best to see a professional. Hairstylists have years worth of training and can help you avoid embarrassing lopsided cuts, she explains.
"95% of women who came to me after cutting their hair at home had one or several problems, including irregular and asymmetric shaping, heavily split ends, overstretched curls, burnt hairs, terrible frizz, and more," she says. "If you don’t want one or more of these, you shouldn’t attempt to do the professional-grade work if you don’t have enough skill and experience. It takes years and money for hairstylists to learn how to cut and style your hair in a healthy way. Of course, you can shave your head without help, but other procedures go much better with skill and special tools applied."
Those with longer hair can get away with learning the viral ponytail hack, as seen in the video below. Shorter, more precise haircuts like bespoke bob hairstyles might require the help of a professional. Good luck!
Courtney Leiva is a seasoned lifestyle writer with nine years of experience under her belt. She graduated from The Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2012, and since graduation, she has been actively contributing to major news outlets such as Refinery29, Women's Health, Yahoo! Lifestyle, HelloGiggles, NewBeauty, and more. Courtney initially started off covering beauty news, but as she has grown her career over the years, her health, home, and shopping pieces can now be seen on BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast, and Huffington Post. When she's not writing, Courtney enjoys ranking her favorite ice cream flavors, spending her weekends in HomeGoods, and dreaming up new ways to decorate her house. Follow her on Twitter @CourtneyLeiva and on Instagram @MissCourtneyLeiva.
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