Even a 'mistake' will grow out!

Cutting Your Own Hair

by Cathy Conrad

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Adventures in Home Hairdressing

How Realistic Are You About Your Hair?

Most people pay from $20 up to $100 every month to get their hair done. That's $240 to $1,200 per year! Why not put that money in your pocket and do your own hair?

The scariest part about cutting your own hair is the possibility of making a mistake. I'm not recommending that you try to re-style your hair. A new style is certainly best left to the professionals.

What I am suggesting is that since you probably keep the same general style month to month, as most people do, go ahead and give your hair a small to medium trim every four to six weeks, using your current style as a guide. (If your kids will let you, do their hair too!) Then, once every six months or so, take a trip to the salon, for peace of mind if nothing else. Cutting your own hair is easier than you may think.

What You Need

You'll need a quiet, comfortable place with a big mirror (bathroom or bedroom), good lighting, a spray bottle of water, a hand mirror, hair clips, time, patience, plus a comb and sharp pair of scissors. Sharp scissors are important, as dull scissors will result in a dull cut.

Prepare Your Hair

It's easier to cut slightly damp hair, as opposed to completely wet. Cutting wet hair (especially bangs) can result in a too-short style. It is also easier to cut clean hair. When you are ready, slightly dampen your hair with a spray bottle of water. If your hair dries as you're cutting, re-spray as needed.

Be Patient

Remember, it is better to cut too little than too much, and don't try to rush.

Single Length Hair

Hair that is one length all the way around is a straightforward trim. Just follow the procedure for bangs (below), snipping the same amount off your ends in small sections. When you're finished trimming, comb or brush to your usual style and check the back with a hand mirror.


For multi-length hair, start with your bangs. Comb them straight, being careful not to include side hairs. Next, take your bangs between your index and middle fingers and pull them down until a line of about 1/4-inch of hair is showing. Carefully trim approximately half of that (1/8-inch) all the way across. Check the length and repeat if necessary.

Don't try to trim too much length at once. Holding shorter lengths for cutting (1/4-inch) keeps the hairs firmly in place as you cut.

You can make the line of your bangs less blunt-looking by diagonally cutting the tips of a few strands of hair across your bangs. But, only cut a few. Be careful not to overdo.

Sides and Layers

The next step is your layers, if any, and the side angles of your hair. If you have layers all over, you will be following them, top to bottom, front to back. If your hair is all one length except for the side angles, you will be working along the sides of your style only, front to back.

Choose a top layer or side piece of hair approximately the same size and thickness as you did for your bangs. This smaller amount is easiest to work with. If you try to hold and cut too much at once, the result will be uneven. Remember that you want to follow your original lengths.

You will be able to pick out layers of similar lengths by using your comb as a guide and holding the hairs between your index and middle fingers, as you did with your bangs. Slide your fingers down to leave a fairly straight line of 1/4-inches showing. Then, like your bangs, trim approximately 1/8-inch all the way across. For side angles, follow the same technique, being sure to angle your index and middle fingers to follow the angle of your hair.

This is where hair clips come in handy. As you are trimming the higher layers or lengths first, use a clip to keep each finished section up and out of the way.

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The Back

Dealing with the back of your hair might seem tricky, but you'll get the hang of it. Take your time, make use of your hand mirror, and work patiently in sections, as above, clipping them up as you go.

When you're satisfied that you've trimmed all you need to trim, style your hair as usual (re-dampen and use a product on your hair, if you normally do). Voila! A fresh cut and no money spent.

Take the Next Step

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