By Audrey Tan

Because we can’t see our heads from a 360-degree angle, cutting your own hair is usually not a good idea. Trained professionals have the tools and experience and understand the potential aesthetic effects. They know how much cutting is required to get the desired results. 

Nonetheless, there are instances when you simply cannot make it to the hairdressers. Whether it’s a global lockdown due to a pandemic or you just can’t get an appointment, if you must cut your hair at home, we’re here to offer some guidance. 

Consider whether a haircut is truly necessary

Hairdressers combine years of training and experience to develop their techniques and perfect their style. Even with a good pair of scissors, some tips and tricks from the internet and countless how-to videos, you might not get your intended results. 

This is why any stylist will advise you to not be too zealous with your scissors and wait for an appointment rather than snip it yourself. 

Regular trims are essential to remove pesky split ends that usually indicate that you need a haircut to avoid the hairs splitting the shaft and causing irreversible damage. Split ends don’t typically appear until three or four months after a haircut. So, if you’ve seen a professional within that time frame and your hair isn’t brittle, you can probably wait a bit longer.

Use the right tools

It is unlikely that you’ll have a pair of quality shears at home and will use any scissors you can find. But there is a reason why stylists use quality shears as they have sharp, precise blades to achieve clean lines and edges. 

Blunt scissors can do more harm than good by pushing the hair as they cut, leaving hard-to-fix crooked lines and fluffy, frayed, untidy ends. If you must cut your own hair at home, invest in high-quality shears to achieve the best results.

Prepare the hair before cutting 

Shampooing and conditioning your hair and letting it completely dry before cutting is a must. Oily or dirty hair will clump together and leave you with an uneven finish. Drying is also necessary to avoid taking off too much as hair shrinks once it dries. 

The best way to ensure that your at-home haircut turns out the way you want it to is to start with how your hair usually looks on any other day. Using a brush, remove any tangles. And if your hair is frizzy or unruly, spritz some sections with water but don’t get it too wet. 

Start small

Avoid being too ambitious—focus on trimming rather than attempting to fully restyle your hair. Have you ever used a magnifying glass to tweeze your brows only to realize you’ve gone too far? The same holds true for your hair. You can always take more off, but once you’ve snipped away too much, there’s no turning back.

Use alligator jaw clips to divide the hair into sections an inch or two wide when stretched thinly between your fingers. Begin at the front, cutting each section a little at a time. Don’t cut to the length you want it to be right away; start small and work your way up. To cut the same length all over, predict where the first snip will fall and use this as a reference for the remainder of your hair. 

Avoid horizontal lines

Pulling the hair straight upward with your fingers is the best technique to ensure that the overall length of the hair is consistent. Then, with your scissors parallel to the hair peeking through your fingers, snip vertically rather than horizontally for a more diffused finish on the ends.

This is especially important if you’re working on bangs. Horizontal lines are necessary for removing length, but snipping vertically keeps your hair from becoming too blunt, which is a telltale sign of an at-home haircut. If you’ve cut horizontally, follow it up with vertical snips to thin out the ends and make the cut look more natural. 

Fringe Benefits

If you already have bangs and they’re growing too long, this is an excellent guide for trimming them. However, stylists strongly discourage giving yourself some if you don’t already have them. We also advise leaving bangs to the pros as they are incredibly difficult to get right, and a messed-up fringe will take an eternity to grow out.

Many things can go wrong when you go rogue with a pair of scissors. But if you can’t get to the salon and are eager for a trim, it’s fine to give yourself a quick fix at home. Just begin slowly and carefully with one little snip at a time. Now is definitely not the time to try bangs—leave the major hair-dos to the professionals. However, if you want to freshen up your layers, go ahead and give yourself a trim, or nab split ends at home, but do bear in mind the tips that I have listed above.