How to Cut Your Own Hair at Home (Long, Short, Wavy, Curly, Kids, Bangs)

So your hair is getting long. Most salons reopened when vaccines became available, but with a new variant spreading around, you may feel more cautious. You may also have a difficult time finding an appointment.

Stylists will advise you to avoid getting too zealous with your scissors, but sometimes you’re left with no choice but to take matters into your own hands. 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 July 2021: We’ve refreshed this guide with new picks, updated advice, a new table of contents, and more.

Table of Contents

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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’ve 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. It’s still a great time to grow out your hair. You can also fake a hair transformation. Create a faux bob with the help of some bobby pins, or don a cool hat. 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!

Be conservative. Focus on trimming your hair—don’t try to completely restyle it. When in doubt, you can always wait and book an appointment with your favorite stylist once you’re fully vaccinated and they have time to see you. Below is our best trimming advice, along with some links to tutorials that will help you with the basics.

  1. Wash and condition your hair, and then let it dry completely, because hair shrinks as it dries. This will help you avoid taking off too much. Work out any tangles using a brush before getting started. If your hair is unruly, you can mist it with water, but try to avoid getting it too saturated.
  2. Make sure you have your shears or clippers and a comb on hand. Use clips to help section your hair into manageable segments. Snip with the ends of the shears rather than with the full length of the blade.
  3. Drape a cape (or an old towel) over your shoulders.
  4. Follow the advice below that best applies to your hair.

Divide your hair and clip it into sections. Bring one section forward at a time, and determine how much you want to take off—we suggest a quarter of an inch to half an inch. (Cut a little less than you think you should.) Trim off the length and then snip the ends to add texture and blend everything out. Watch this video for more in-depth instructions.

Short hair is an instance where having damp locks may help you out. We suggest having someone else do the job for you. Less is more. If you’re using shears, have your assistant start at the sides and work around your head. They can use a comb to help guide the shears and determine where to cut. Be extra careful when trimming around the ears. This video is a good tutorial for a classic short cut using shears.

If you’re using clippers, this is a helpful basic tutorial. And to cut your own short hair, try this video tutorial, and consider using a special self-haircut kit to make the process a little easier.

The type of trim you’ll want depends on your curl type (check your curl type here). For looser 2A to 3B curls, you can probably follow this tutorial, where you work with dry hair and trim curl by curl at an angle to ensure voluminous results.

For tighter curl types ranging from 3C to 4C, try sectioning your hair, gently detangling, and using firm pressure to keep it from moving too much as you trim. This tutorial and this tutorial are both great options for highly textured hair.

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