Mackenzie Dunn
Updated Mar 18, 2020 @ 5:38 pm
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Credit: Yulia Reznikov, Getty Images

Right now, with coronavirus (COVID-19) forcing many salons to close for an indefinite period of time, more and more people are having to forgo their regular trips to the hairdresser and toy with the idea of cutting their hair themselves. Because there’s no way around it—if you want your hair to grow, snipping off the dead ends is key.

And since we’ve all toyed with the idea of cutting our own hair at some point in our lives (or wondered if it’s even possible to do so without total catastrophe), we tapped two professional stylists for their expert advice on the subject.

While they strongly advise against DIYing a drastic chop at home, they do say that trimming your own ends doesn’t have to be a totally daunting task. Phew. For times when you can’t squeeze a salon appointment into your schedule (or times when you physically can’t access a salon), here’s how to cut your own hair, the right way.

How to cut your own hair:

1. Start with clean, dry hair.

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Having clean, tangle-free hair is essential before going in and cutting it with scissors. Just like your stylist does at the salon, give it a good shampoo and brush through with a wide-tooth comb before even thinking about grabbing a pair of scissors.

For DIY cuts, it is also advised that you dry your hair straight so that you the best visibility on the ends. Because hair tends to stretch when it’s wet, dry strands will let you see your length most accurately, explains celeb stylist Kendall Dorsey.

2. Section out your hair.

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Start by sectioning your hair with a good pair of alligator clips to keep it in place as you trim.

Judy McGuiness, a stylist at Mizu Louis Licari salon, says to make a center part with a cutting comb from your hairline all the way to the nape of your neck and pull the sections neatly towards the front. Then, “comb all the hair in front of your shoulders, and hold the comb straight across where you’d like the length to be.”

NYC-based hairstylist Dhiran Mistry says that another way to give yourself a trim is to put your hair into a high ponytail (for a layered look) before cutting. “This will eliminate any uneven tension on the hair,” he says. “That way, you’re not pulling on your hair from the scalp and into your hands, which could easily result in cutting too much.”

3. Point cut the ends.

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Here’s where you’ll get to the actual cutting. Blunt haircuts (à la Kristen Bell) are usually best left up to the experts, but softer cuts can be done through a technique known as “point-cutting.”

Start by holding the scissors vertically and cutting into the hair instead of across it. This will give a softer, less severe line so any unevenness won’t be quite as noticeable.

And FYI, this technique can not be done with your regular kitchen scissors. So, if you’re thinking about cutting your hair at home, our experts say it is absolutely necessary to invest in a good pair of hair-cutting shears with nice, pointed blades.

4. Cross check your work.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure your work is even by cross-checking the ends, says Dorsey.

As you’ve probably seen your own stylist do at the salon, make sure your ends match up by grabbing a section on each side of your face with your hands and pulling them down to see if the ends match up.

Take your hair out of the ponytail and do a check, of course, making sure you look at the back of your hair, too.

Voilà! Healthy, at-home hair done just by you.