Whether cutting your own hair feels like climbing Mt. Everest or you do it on the regs, there are a few things everyone can learn before grabbing the shears. We tapped hair kings Ramon Garcia and Cash Lawless for their expert advice on what you must know before you cut your own hair.
The Right Tools for Cutting Your Own Hair
Before you can even think, “I should cut my own hair,” make sure you have the right tools. Cash breaks down his list of must-haves, all of which you may already have at home:
- Spray Bottle
- 2 clips
- A back mirror
- 5-6” shears
- Thinning shears
- Wide and fine-tooth combs
Should You Cut Your Hair Wet or Dry?
Whether you cut hair dry or wet is a matter of preference, and often texture. “No rule solves every problem,” says Cash. However, a dry cut does cut out some of the guesswork. “Generally speaking, it is safer to style the hair how you want to wear it and cut it that way, as you can visually and quickly see the results,” he adds.
Ramon cuts the majority of his clients with dry, straight hair. “It is the best way for me to see what needs to be cut and also helps me to be more conservative with length. Hair naturally has movement, I like not having to use tension when cutting to give more of a natural look,” he says.
How to Cut Your Own Hair
Once you’ve got your tools and decided if your mane should be wet or dry before you chop into it, it’s all about your technique.
Though there are countless ways for a haircut to turn out, there are only three techniques in haircutting. Those are: “Line, where you cut the hair at its natural fall point; Elevation, when you lift the hair to cut it; and Over-direction when you move the hair forward or backward. Knowing that these are the only things you can do makes cutting hair much more simple,” shares Cash.
How you apply those techniques is what affects your mane most, so it’s worth getting to know these terms a bit more closely. Line is used to create bluntness and makes fine hair look as thick as possible at the ends. Elevation is when hair is lifted from its resting point, including removing the width and weight from the bottom—this is how layers are created. With, Over-direction, or when you pull the hair toward your face or away from your face, you leave more length in the area you are pulling the hair away from.
All you need to achieve your best hair is the perfect tool(s) and a strong technique. “The goal is to do any cutting technique with one pair of shears. Our scissors can do way more than just cut a solid line,” Ramon reassures us. So if you’re committed to cutting your own hair, make sure to invest in your shears.
How to Get a Long Layered Cut
One of the most flattering, and possibly one of the easiest haircuts you can DIY is a long, layered haircut, in which you elevate all of your hair straight to the ceiling and then, boom, cut it off. “You elevate the hair and create layers, leaving the hair at the bottom of your neck (nape) the longest and the hair on your crown the shortest,” explains Cash, who breaks it down for us step-by-step, below:
- Create a center part and pull all of your hair over your shoulders in the front (so you can see it in the mirror).
- Cut the perimeter at no elevation, right where it sits. Use thinning shears to do this, as they are the most forgiving shear. This will also prevent that overly blunt appearance.
- Pull your hair up into a loose ponytail and remove the first inch of hair around your hairline. You don’t want to cut this hair.
- Once the hair on the hairline has been removed, pull your ponytail straight up and cut off the top inch or two of hair, depending on how much layering you want. Start with an inch and then let the hair down and check. If it’s not enough, repeat the process.
But Should You Cut Your Own Hair?
When I ask our experts if there’s anyone who definitely should not cut their own hair, the answer is unanimous. “Yeah! Almost anyone who cares about having a good haircut,” says Cash. Ramon gives basically the same response, noting, “I wouldn’t recommend someone to cut their own hair. Everyone deserves the experience of someone else cutting their hair.”
However, if you’re determined to DIY, you probably can. “Some girls just have the eye,” notes Cash. “If you don’t feel confident that you have a good understanding of how it works, take baby steps and just cut little bits at a time. Otherwise, just see a professional.”