If split or raggedy ends are driving you up the wall and you can’t get into the salon for a trim, there’s a way you can do it on your own—though our expert emphasizes caution above all. “Trimming your own hair should happen in emergency situations only—anything more, and it has all the makings of a disaster,” says New York City salon owner and stylist Mark Garrison.
With necessary warning noted, here are some essential rules for trimming your own hair.
Have the right tools
A wide-toothed comb will allow you to brush hair so that it lies flat without static. Garrison recommends using Fiskars scissors at home for a sharp, crisp cut; they’re typically around $10 for an inexpensive pair.
Cut dry hair with a straight edge
“You’ll have more control and will cut less when hair is dry,” advises Garrison. Leave fancy layering to professionals, and just stick to a straight-across trim when going it alone.
Leave it longer than you want
For obvious reasons that may not seem so obvious when you pick up the scissors, trim hair a bit less than what you imagine, says Garrison. It’s always easier to go back and even things out than it is to have to wear a ponytail for the next six weeks.
Try the parting method
Section two sides just behind both ears away from a third back section. Then pull one front section in front of the shoulder, twist it, and while keeping it twisted with finger and thumb securing it at the bottom, trim across the ends. Repeat the process on the other side. Then pull both sections down straight to meet in the middle under your face if the length allows, to see if they’re even. Adjust as needed. Then split the back section in two, comb into the front sections on either side, and then trim across so that the back section lines up with the front.
Soften the edge
If after trimming across you find that you don’t want a blunt edge, go back and “chip” into ends across with the scissor for a feathery look and feel. This should be done while the section is still twisted and you’re holding it.
Split end strategy
To trim splits, twist a 1-inch section of hair around and hold it with one hand. With the index finger and thumb of the other hand, gently pinch the section and slide fingers up towards the scalp. “The split ends will splay away from the strand—pick up your scissors and trim the ends where they’re sticking out,” says Garrison.
Waves and curls forgive
Finally, the wavy and curly-haired among us get a styling break; a little self-trim can look pretty pro on these hair types. “It’s easy to notice a rogue piece—stretch the small section slightly out with fingertips and snip with scissors,” instructs Garrison.
Straight and fine? Beware
Straight and fine hair will show every move you make, so Garrison says this hair type should be wariest of self-trims and keep it only to urgent split end snips.
Use a second pair of eyes
If possible, don’t venture entirely alone. Ask a mate or friend to look at your hair from behind, and make sure it all looks kosher.
Find out if your hair is aging you and learn how to turn back the strands of time.
Highlight your eye color. Flaunt your body shape. Harness your confidence. Take our quizzes to better know yourself and get science-based, individualized advice to embrace your true beauty.
Find out if your hair is aging you and learn how to turn back the strands of time.Take Quiz
See how your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio is affecting your beauty and health.Take Quiz
Great sex does more than blow your mind—it's good for your heart, your head and your beauty.Take Quiz
Define your curves and discover the best ways to eat, exercise and dress for your figure.Take Quiz