Your Start to Cutting Hair

Start with clean, dry, and styled hair.

Unless you have natural curls or coils, chances are your stylist normally wets your hair before cutting it. While it might seem like a good idea to copy your usual salon experience by cutting your own hair while it's wet, Fitzsimons explains why that's not exactly the case. "Wet hair allows [stylists] to be much more precise with creating clean lines, but they were also trained to do that," he says.

If you find it easier to cut wet hair, Fitzsimons suggests doing so as long as you "make sure you're comfortable versus just trying to remember what your stylist does."

Still, the best way to ensure that your at-home haircut comes out the way you want is to start with dry hair that, for the most part, looks like it would on any other day. "Make sure hair is clean and blow-dried straight or how you wear it usually so you have a clear and realistic vision of the cut," Marjan advises. This, she says, will help to "avoid any surprises, like how much the hair will shrink up when it's dry."

Whether you cut your hair while it's dry or wet, shampooing and conditioning it before doing so is an absolute necessity, according to Marjan. "If hair is oily or dirty, it will cling together and create an uneven finish," she explains.


Start with small, minor cuts.

Obviously, now is not the time to experiment with a drastic new style. The more drastic a cut you try to achieve at home, the more you run the risk of a major mishap. Marjan and Fitzsimons advise working in small sections and cutting hair little by little. "Don't cut to the length you want the end result to be at first — start smaller and work your way up," Fitzsimons says. "Remember, you can always trim more, [but] it is unfortunately not possible to put [hair] back once you've chopped."


Marjan recommends working in very small sections — just an inch or two wide when spread as thin as possible between your fingers — starting at the very front. "You can see where the hair will land, then use that piece as a guide for the rest of the hair," she says. Make sure to have a set of alligator jaw clips on hand to safely secure any stray sections while cutting.


Pay attention to the direction of your hair and your scissors.

Now comes the part where you actually cut your hair, and the way you hold your sections and scissors can greatly impact how your at-home haircut will turn out. Marjan recommends pulling the hair straight upward with your fingers because it's the easiest way to make sure hair length is even overall. Then, place your scissors parallel to the hair peeking through your fingers and snip hairs vertically rather than straight across.


"Point the scissors upwards and lightly open and close scissors on the ends of the hair," Marjan explains further. "This is a point-cutting technique that gives a more diffused finish on the ends." Basically, it's an insurance policy against uneven strands, which stand out far more when hair is cut bluntly across.


You've likely seen a stylist use this method on you numerous times, but if you're having trouble picturing it, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials demonstrating how to do it. YouTube tutorials in general, Fitzsimons points out, can be a great source of guidance when learning how to cut your own hair.


"Find someone who has a cut similar to what you're looking for and make sure they have a similar hair type," he advises. That especially goes for people with curlier hair that might benefit from a different cutting method. Just make sure you're only watching tutorials hosted by licensed professionals.


Be extra careful with bangs.

Marjan warns that trying to cut new bangs is a surefire path to regret, but trimming existing ones is far easier. She advises sectioning your hair in a triangle. When parting hair like this, Marjan likes to use the arches of her eyebrows as a guide to determine the outermost edges of the section. Then, you might want to take a deep breath and relax your hands.

"Place the hair in a comb with no tension," she explains. "Use the comb as a guide for a straight line, then cut upwards with the scissors." But whatever you do, be patient and keep your cuts minimal. Otherwise, you might wind up cutting your bangs way shorter than you anticipated.