Cut Your Own Hair

A trip to the beauty salon for a haircut is fine for a special occasion, but it can get expensive to go every 6 weeks. Luckily, you can save some money by trimming your own hair at home! You might be a little nervous the first couple of times, but after you get the hang of it, you'll be glad you learned it! This article will give you instructions on how to cut long hair, short hair and even how to cut your bangs.


Cutting Long Hair

  1. Buy a sharp pair of scissors. The first step in cutting your hair at home is to invest in the right tools. You will need a sharp pair of hair cutting scissors (not just any old scissors you have lying around at home) and a fine-toothed comb.
    • Hair cutting scissors are easily available at beauty supply stores - you can find them pretty cheaply, somewhere in the $25 to $50 range. If you don't want to buy a hair cutting scissors, a fabric scissors will do - just make sure it's really sharp.
    • Using dull scissors is a bad idea as you will find it harder to cut your hair and may end up giving yourself split ends - which defeats the purpose of giving yourself a haircut in the first place![1]
  2. Wash your hair, but don't dry it. Wet hair is much easier to cut than dry hair, so make sure to shampoo and condition your hair before you start snipping.
    • Fully comb out your hair once you get out of the shower - your hair needs be as sleek and tangle free as possible.Use a leave-in conditioner if your hair tends to be frizzy or fly-away.
    • If your hair is quite long or thick, there's a good chance that sections of your hair might start to dry before you get around to cutting them. To tackle this, fill a spray bottle with water and a little conditioner. Then you can dampen your hair whenever you need to!
  3. Clip up the top portions of your hair. Depending on how thick your hair is, expect to work in several sections as you cut, starting with the bottom-most layer and working up.
    • Use elastic hair ties or crocodile clips to divide hair into sections. Just make sure the sectioned hair isn't left to hang loose - otherwise it could get in the way of your scissors.
    • Once you've finished with the bottom layer of hair, you can start releasing the other sections as you go.
  4. Find split ends. If you just want to give your hair a small trim to get rid of your damaged ends, you will first need to inspect your hair to find out how much hair will need to be cut.
    • Take a look at the ends of your hair. If they seem scraggly or unruly, or you can see the split hairs, they're probably damaged and need to be cut.
    • Expect to trim about 0.25 inch (6 mm) above where the damage stops. This will keep your hair in good condition.
  5. Measure where you wish to cut. For an accurate cut, grab a section of hair between the index and middle fingers of your non-dominant hand.
    • Drag your fingers down your hair, until you reach a point slightly above where you want to cut your hair. Make sure the hair isn't knotted or twisted between your fingers - it must lie perfectly flat.
    • Your hair will look shorter when it's dry, so be conservative when you're measuring how much to cut. This is particularly important for people with curly hair.
    • Remember - you can always go back and cut it shorter afterwards, but you can't undo it if you cut too much off on the first go.
  6. Trim the ends. When you're ready to start cutting, hold the scissors just below your fingers, in a parallel fashion. Try to keep a reasonable tension on the hair between your fingers.
    • Trim slowly, letting the cut hair fall away as your fingers (and the strand they're holding) remain stable and in the same position.
    • If you want a blunt end to your hair, just cut straight across and leave it at that. But if you want a softer finish, hold the scissors vertically (perpendicular to your fingers) and cut directly into the hair, until no sharp angles remain. This will give the ends of your hair a more feathery look.[2]
  7. Make sure your ends match up. After you've finished trimming one layer of your hair, make sure the ends match up. Grab a section on each side of your face with your hands, using your thumbs and forefingers.
    • Pull your fingers down the hair at exactly the same pace. Whichever hand runs out of hair first was holding a shorter strand.
    • Trim accordingly to match up. Re-check the length until you're satisfied, then move on to the next layer of hair.
  8. Trim your layers (optional). Working with layers, especially if you have very thick or curly hair, is best left to the professionals. However, If you absolutely need a quick trim on the layers framing your face, use the following technique:
    • Grab as much of the ends of each layer of hair between your fingers as possible, then trim as little hair as possible, holding the scissors at a slightly downward angle.
    • In other words, trim your hair following the angle from your jaw on that side of your face to the shoulder on the same side.
    • Use the softening technique described above to even out the ends of the hair, then match the layers on each side of your face to make sure they're the same length.
  9. Double-check your hair when it's dry. After your hair has dried (in the way that you usually do it, whether that's air-drying or blow drying), check your cut for any glaring inconsistencies.
    • Use a handheld mirror to check the hair at the back of your head or, better yet, ask a trusted friend to check it for you.
    • If you find any unevenness, take your scissors one more time and, very carefully, attempt to even it out, cutting as little hair as possible.[1]

Cutting Short Hair

  1. Gather materials. Most extra-short haircuts are achieved with an electric razor and a pair of scissors. Make sure you have the guard you want for the razor (which will determine how much of your hair it cuts off) and sharp scissors.
  2. Start with wet hair. You can wash it, or simply dampen it with a spray bottle before you start. Wet hair is easier to cut, and makes cleanup a breeze.
  3. Start with the top of your head. For a traditional men's cut, the hair on the top of your head should be slightly longer than it is on the sides and back.
    • Start an inch or two (2.5-5 cm) above your ear, and follow that line around the back of your head the other ear, moving the razor in a straight-up motion as you cut.
    • Then, starting at your forehead, trim the top of your hair by moving the razor back over the natural curve of your head.
    • Catch any spots you missed between these two areas.
  4. Cut the back and sides. Put the shorter guard on your razor. Start with your sideburns, moving the razor in an upwards motion. Cut just as far as the point where you started using the longer guard.
    • On the back of your head, start the razor at your neck and move upward, again stopping where you cut with the longer guard.
    • Don't worry about the difference in length for now - that's where the scissors come in.
  5. Use scissors to blend the two hair lengths. Using the index and middle fingers of your non-dominant hand, grab a section of longer hair that's just above where you switched guards.
    • With the scissors, carefully trim the hair until the two different lengths blend into each other.
    • Do this all the way around your head until the two sections look well-blended and the there is no obvious difference between the two lengths.
    • Have a friend double-check the back of your head, or use a hand mirror in front of a larger mirror to check it yourself.
    • If the "long" part of your hair on top is shorter than finger-width, then skip using your index and middle fingers to pull out sections.

Trimming Bangs (Fringe)

  1. Get a sharp pair of scissors. You can buy scissors meant for hair cutting at a beauty supply store. Don't just use paper or nail scissors - they're too dull for your hair and will make awkward cuts.
  2. Decide how short you're going to trim. Make a conservative estimate of where you want your bangs to fall. Remember, you can always trim more, but growing back the hair that you didn't mean to cut takes a lot longer.
  3. Pull back the rest of your hair. Secure non-fringe hair so that it's away from your face and out of the danger zone. If necessary, use a comb to part your bangs away from the rest of your hair.
  4. Wet your bangs. Splash a bit of water on the hair, or use a spray bottle. They'll cut more easily wet, and you can do a touch-up once they dry.
  5. Measure where you want to cut. Grab a section of hair between the index and middle fingers of your non-dominant hand. Drag your fingers down so that they're resting just above where you want to make a cut.
  6. Trim the hair beneath your fingers. Put your scissors close to your fingers (so that they're almost parallel) and cut slowly. Your fingers (and the hair they're holding) should remain stable as the trimmed hair falls away.
  7. Make sure your sides match up. If you want your bangs to be the same length all the way across, make sure they match up.
    • On each side, grab a strand between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Pull your fingers down slowly and at the same pace.
    • If one hand runs out of hair before the other, you need to trim a bit to match up the sides.
    • Do this until you're satisfied that the lengths are even.
  8. Cut side swept bangs (optional). If you want your bangs to sweep to the side, comb them in the direction that you want them to go.
    • Tip your head forward slightly, so that your bangs fall away from your face. Put your scissors in the direction you want your bangs to run.
    • Starting near the part, position the scissors where you want the shortest part of your bangs. For side swept bangs, they'll get a bit longer as you go on. Because of this, angle your scissors slightly downward.
    • Make short, small cuts across your bangs. The lengths should be a bit choppy, but not overly so. Aim to cut sections that are about 0.5 inch (12 mm) wide.
    • When your bangs dry, touch them up. Ruffle the hair a bit, and see if you're happy with where it falls. Make more trims if necessary.


  • If this is your first time cutting your own hair, don't go too short. That way, if you mess up, you can have it professionally fixed at the length you want.
  • Make sure you have 2 mirrors present. That way you can check the back of your head.
  • Next time you go to a salon, watch how the stylist cuts your hair. Use this information next time you plan to cut your own.
  • You'll get better at cutting your own hair with practice.
  • The thicker your hair, the more difficult it will be to get an even hair cut. Coarse, thick or curly hair is best left to a professional.
  • If you are cutting hair to donate don't cut it wet as it will mold when sealed tightly for delivery and then won't be able to be used. Also remember that the hair appears shorter when dry so always cut a little longer than you want it to be if you are cutting with wet hair.
  • If you do don't want your ends to be blunt and big or would prefer a more natural line, you can flip your hair over, brush it straight and cut a straight line across. This works well because you can see your hair in front of you and you don't have to mess with mirrors.
  • Be very careful when you are cutting your hair near your ears.
  • Don't use thinning shears too close to the scalp, the thinned pieces can stick up or out.
  • If you have thick hair, get a pair of thinning scissors.
  • Try to put a rubber band at the place you want to cut it.
  • You could practice on a wig.


  • Never cut large chunks of your hair. Take small sections.
  • If you are dissatisfied with a professional hair cut, going to another salon to have it fixed by another professional will yield better results than trying to fix it yourself.
  • Do not attempt a new hair style by yourself. Unless you are an experienced stylist, just stick to trimming the style you already have.
  • Be careful with the scissors.
  • Very curly hair is difficult to cut, and as a general rule should never be cut at home. If you absolutely want to cut curly hair, straighten it first and then cut it.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric razor (optional)
  • Hair-cutting scissors
  • Comb
  • Mirror
  • Water
  • Hair clips or elastics (optional)

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Sources and Citations