When it comes to cutting your own hair, even a simple trim can turn out disastrous if you have no idea what you're doing. That's why, under normal circumstances, we'd never recommend attempting to cut your own face-framing layers at home, as it only increases the chance for things to go awry. Now is the exception, though, seeing as we're living in uncharted territory due to the on-going pandemic, and many folks are still steering clear of salons and choosing to play hairstylist at home.
Despite the current situation, some experts still don't suggest cutting your own hair if it's anything other than a straightforward trim. "My advice for cutting your own face-framing layers is simply… don't," says New York City-based hairstylist Sherene, who's responsible for giving Jonathan Van Ness a new lob. "We are in post-lockdown in most states now, so visiting salon professionals is the best way to achieve the best results."
Still, if you're set on doing it yourself, it can be done, so long as you're careful and work extremely slowly. Also, being in a calm state of mind is key, according to Los Angeles-based hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons. "Cutting your own layers seems to be something that's really daunting for most people, but stressing out is only going to make it worse," he tells Allure. "Take a deep breath before you start to help yourself relax."
Of course, deep breathing will only get you so far. You need to have some technique up your sleeve, too. Luckily, we managed to gather some tips and tricks from experts who understand how tempting it can be to cut your own hair right now.
1. Dampen hair and grab your tools.
Before you do any cutting, make sure you're equipped with the proper tools. In this case, the professionals say you should shoot for a quality pair of shears (this guide has a number of expert recommendations, including Pacinos' Signature Line Styling Shears), especially since you're doing more than just a blunt cut.
"Make sure you have hair-cutting shears and not the craft or kitchen scissors you have laying in a drawer somewhere," says Fitzsimons. "Those will actually cause more damage to your hair, and it's a good investment if you plan to be cutting your hair yourself frequently."
Additionally, Fitzsimons strongly suggests having a comb on hand (we like the Carbon Tail Comb by Harry Josh Pro Tools). "A comb is definitely a must when cutting layers in order to distribute the hair for an even cut," he says. "We want feathered layers, not chunks!"
Speaking of which, working on damp hair can allow for a more "precise cut," according to our experts, so spritz your strands with some water beforehand — or wait for your hair to dry roughly three-quarters of the way after washing it.
2. Part and section your hair.
Once you're prepped and ready with your tools laid out in front of you, part your hair where it normally falls. Then, it's time to section the hair, which is super important as it ultimately determines how much you cut.
"Always make sure to section your hair and clip away any pieces that you don't want to cut," says New York City-based hairstylist Erickson Arrunategui.
The hair you'll want to work with should be at the "very front top of the head," explains Fitzsimons. "It should make a triangle shape into your part — this will be the hair you use to create your layers or bangs."
3. Start cutting slowly.
The speed in which you cut truly can't be stressed enough. "You can always trim more if you want, but you can't put it back once you make the cut," says Fitzsimmons.
Now, when you're ready, take the front triangle section of hair you created and divide it down the middle, as these will be the pieces used to create your layers. "Hold one section at a time, and cut at a diagonal parallel to the section's part," says Fitzsimons. "Then repeat this step with the other section, being careful to match the length of hair on the opposite side."
As far as length is concerned, Brooklyn-based hairstylist Teddi Cranford says it can be helpful to use your own face as a guide. "When cutting your own hair, always go a little longer and use your facial features as reference points," she says. "For example, the shortest pieces should be around your nose and the longest ones should be at the chin."
Another tip from Cranford? "When creating your own face-framing bits, you want to slightly elevate and cut up and into the hair," she says. "We call this point cutting."
Arrunategui elaborates on this technique. "Point cutting is when you hold the scissors at the ends of the hair and cut small amounts of hair at a time while keeping the ends soft. You can also do this technique to remove bulk without taking length off."
If you're a beginner, point cutting could be a great option to try because it's so straightforward, whereas Fitzsimons' method might feel a little advanced for your skill level. Whatever you choose, remember to go slow and only snip off a tiny amount of hair at a time.
4. Make sure both sides are equal.
After you've done the damn thing (congrats!), it's all about making sure both sides match up. For this, simply combine the sections of hair that you separated before cutting, and then comb it all downwards in front of your face to see if it's even. If some pieces are longer than others, pull the scissors back out and do a little point cutting until everything's the same length, but be careful not to take off too much in the process.
5. Style to see what needs touching up.
The final step — which is optional — is to actually style your hair, as this can help you see if anything needs adjusting. "Blow-dry the hair with a round brush and simply fix the layers as you see fit," says Fitzsimons. Alternatively, you can rough-dry your hair if that's what you normally do. Either way, styling your hair afterward will reveal if any further work needs to be done.
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