How to cut your hair at home, according to hairstylists

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It’s times like these when you realize how much your hair salon means to you. Since quarantine involves limited social interaction, it’s kept people from getting their hair done. And if you’re used to getting a haircut every three weeks, this is certainly a trying time aesthetically.

So, now you’ve resorted to cutting your own hair. Although this may seem like a good idea at first, there’s a lot of risks involved that you should consider. Cutting hair takes a lot of skill and practice, and there’s a huge chance you might do more harm than good. In fact, that’s one reason why Katie Cox, a hairstylist at New York’s Hairroin Salon, advises that you leave hair-cutting to the professionals.

“My biggest advice is that you wait it out PLEASE,” Cox told In The Know. “I’ve been seeing a lot of quarantine haircuts out there and they are rough.”

At the same time, Cox acknowledges that people are restless and struggling to keep their ‘do looking fresh. While there’s no substitute for the hands of a professional, here are a few tips to follow if you’re thinking about cutting your hair at home.

1. Keep it simple

Don’t get carried away. For both men and women, that means sticking to clean-ups and trims. For any fancy or intricate style — like a fade or layers — you’re better off waiting until salons reopen, according to Cox.

2. Make sure to bring the hair forward

If you’ve got medium- to longer-length hair, it’s important to bring the hair toward the front of your face when you begin to cut it. According to celebrity hairstylist Monae Everrett, whose clients have included Jada Pinkett Smith and R&B singer H.E.R., this is the most effective way to execute a clean trim.

“What I would recommend doing is focusing around the face where you can see because you don’t want to make any holes or have any major mistakes where you cut the hair,” Everrett told In The Know.

3. Cut hair when it’s wet

While there is some ongoing debate about this, creative director of Glyph Salon in Los Angeles and senior hair stylist Paul Desmarre says that you often get the best results when the hair is wet versus dry.

“It’s going to be easier when you section the hair if it’s wet,” Desmarre explained to In The Know. “It also adds weight and helps tame the hair so you can better cut it. It will not be too fluffy and it will be easier to control at home.”

4. Be conservative with the length you cut

Once you section the hair and bring it forward, don’t cut exactly where you want the length of your hair to be, but add a bit of length to play with.

“Bring the hair to your chest,” Desmarre explains. “Then after you determine the length you think you want, add one inch.” By adding one inch, you’ll avoid cutting too much off, and it will likely give you the length you intended.

5. Do not cut straight across

If you want to avoid cutting too much hair off at once, never cut horizontally.

“You want to cut the hair vertically, otherwise the cut will be too blunt,” Desmarre said. “Cutting vertically creates more evenness and it’s more forgiving if you mess up.”

6. Have someone assist you

Shorter styles often need a clean-up around the nape of the neck and around the ears. For these areas, Everrett and Desmarre recommend grabbing a friend to help you trim those hard-to-reach spots.

7. Use trimmers with a guard

A guard is crucial because it controls the length of the haircut. Guards have different sizes which are indicated by their number. The lower the number on the guard, the shorter the cut will be, according to Cox. You also can remove the guard if you prefer a cut that is close to the skin.

“I would say about a normal length for a nice haircut — usually for most men — is about a 3 or a 4,” Cox said.

8. Make sure to use proper shears

Remember, kitchen scissors and shears are not the same thing, and they will not give you the same results. While good shears can be expensive, they can save you from a bad hair cut and potentially a month’s worth of regret.

“The reason you want to invest in shears that you can afford the most is because if you cheap out on the shears they don’t cut the hair really well, they rip the ends and you’ll find yourself always needing a haircut,” Everett explained. “Like you think you did something helpful and you come to find out that you didn’t.”

Below are some must-have tools to get you started at home.

Shop: Professional Barber/Salon Razor Edge Hair Cutting Scissors/Shears 6.5-inch Ice Tempered Stainless Steel, $14.89

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Professional GERMAN Barber Hair Cutting Scissors Shears Size 6.5, $19.99

Credit: Etsy

Shop: Fcysy Professional Barber Sharp Hair Scissors Hairdressing Shears Kit, $27 (Orig. $29.99)

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Professional Salon Hair Cutting+Thinning Scissors Barber Shears Hairdressing Set, $24.99

Credit: Etsy

Shop: Professional Barber Scissor Hair Cutting Set – 6.5″ – 1 Straight Edge Hair Scissor, Shears, $49.99

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Philips Norelco Multigroom 5000, $44.99 (Orig. $49.99)

Credit: Kohl’s

Shop: Wahl Lithium Pen Detail Trimmer, $13.66

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Philips Norelco Beard Trimmer Series 5000, $49.96 (Orig. $79.99)

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Shop: Hatteker Mens Beard Trimmer Cordless Hair Trimmer Hair Clipper Detail Trimmer 3 In 1, $55.99

Credit: Amazon

Shop: CEENWES Updated Version Professional Hair Clippers Cordless Haircut Kit, $52.99

Credit: Amazon

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