So your hair is getting long. Some salons reopened when shelter-in-place orders were relaxed, but why take the risk? It’s safer to cut your own hair at home.
Stylists will advise you to avoid getting too zealous 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 at least help you figure out the basics on where to start.
Updated for August 2020: We’ve refreshed some of the links in this guide.
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 quickly go awry. 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
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 (remember, the risk of contracting the virus this way is still high). Below is our best trimming advice, along with some links to tutorials that will help you, depending on your hair’s length and texture.