Not everyone has Beyonce-level clearance with their hairstylists and can get an appointment at the drop of a hat — I can attest to this firsthand. But if you’ve ever found yourself in a hair predicament where you can no longer bear to look at your split ends, you know that sometimes, you just have to take matters into your own hands. Bustle tapped three experts for their professional advice on how to trim your own hair at home like a pro. Below, they answer some of your most-asked hair questions, like should you be dry cutting or trimming your hair while wet? How much of your hair do you actually need to cut to get rid of split ends? And are your craft scissors sharp enough to use?
To ensure you keep up with regular end maintenance (without ruining your hairstyle in the process), read on for everything you need to know about giving yourself an at-home trim like a stylist. Because when it comes to your hair, winging it is never the answer.
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1. Figure Out The Right Time To Trim Your Hair
“The frequency of required trims will depend on your hair health and in-between maintenance,” says celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan, who has styled everyone from Ashley Graham to the Kardashians. “If you take great care of your hair, you can limit your trims to three times per year, whereas people who color their hair more often or have a short cut that requires more maintenance — like heat styling — will probably need a trim every couple of months.”
2. Determine The Amount You Need To Cut
It’s possible to give yourself an at-home trim without messing up your style — if you know exactly how much to cut off. “Those who regret cutting their own hair usually do so because they cut too much off,” Marjan says, adding that figuring out the right amount to cut depends on how bad your split ends are and how long they are. “I would suggest holding out a few strands and seeing how far up the shaft your split ends go,” she says. “This is a good marker for how much is necessary to cut to maintain the health of your hair.”
3. Grab Super Sharp Scissors
Arguably the most important step to trimming your hair comes down to the tools you use. Dull shears can lead to jagged edges and uneven cuts, so don’t even think about grabbing your craft scissors. “I always recommend my clients trim their [hair] with very small and very sharp scissors, like eyebrow or even cuticle scissors, because they’re so tiny you can only take a little bit a time, which keeps you from lopping off big chunks of hair on accident,” celebrity hairstylist and Garnier consultant Ashley Streicher has said about cutting your bangs at home — and the same applies here.
4. Cut Your Hair When It’s Dry
It’s important to preserve the integrity of your natural texture when cutting your own hair, too. Whether you have naturally straight hair or tight spiral curls, Biolage brand ambassador Sunnie Brook Jones prefers to cut dry hair “because this way, you can see the texture and shape in its truest form.” Hair stretches when it’s wet, so if you cut it in this stretched-out form, your hair will bounce back to its true length when it’s dry — leaving you with a shorter style than you anticipated. Cutting it dry also gives you a real-time look at what the final result will be, leaving less room for mistakes. And don’t worry about breaking out a blowdryer: “Let your hair dry naturally so you can see the wave pattern,” Jones says.
5. Start With Face-Framing Pieces
To trim her own hair (hairstylists need upkeep, too), Jones likes to start by creating a half-inch section at the center of the hairline. She cuts this piece to her desired length and uses it as a guide for the rest of her hair. “I like to twist a small section of hair and slide cut it in a downward motion to remove weight at the ends.”
To slide cut, hold your scissors slightly open and glide the blade along the hair as your would a razor. Just be sure your shears are sharp and don’t skip down your strands, as this could pull and create an uneven cut. “This gives the ends a tapered finish, which looks softer,” she explains. Once you’re happy with that section, add more hair and repeat the process in half-inch sections along the hairline. This could feel tedious, since you’re cutting such small pieces at a time, but Jones says this method will be more forgiving as you chip away. Need a visual? Check out her tutorial below:
Another tip: Allow the hair to fall into place naturally and hold it as you cut, but don’t pull on it too tightly as you trim. That’ll stretch the hair and give you a shorter cut than you expected.
6. “Point Cut” Your Ends
Now that you’ve trimmed the pieces around the face, Jones suggests parting your hair down the middle and taking each section in front of your shoulders. She says, “point cut into to remove dry, damaged ends.” You can do each half all at once or split the halves into smaller sections — the smaller the section, the less hair you’re cutting at once, which is great if you prefer to err on the side of caution. Point cutting consists of holding your scissors vertically and cutting up into the ends of the hair with shallow and slightly angled cuts. This removes damage without taking off too much length.