How to Trim Your Own Hair at Home

how to trim your own hair at home

The End is Near

The seemingly endless journey that I've been on to purge my tresses of the old, bleach damaged length at long last is drawing to a close. This New Year's Eve I did the last (I hope!) of the large, drastic trims - chops, really! that have been so necessary to rid me of long, over bleached and badly damaged length and I think that from now on, small trims should help me maintain my hair in much better condition while it grows. Or until I decide to do something to it, again! That, I'm afraid is not outside the realm of possibility as I can't seem to leave my hair be. I am always wanting to change it.

All of the trims I've done over the last couple of years have been self trims. I just don't see the point of paying for a salon visit if I can do a simple, blunt cut trim in the comfort of my own home, for free. Self trimming long hair is very easy and quick, once you know how. This is a perfect method to use to trim someone else's hair, also.  I learned this technique years ago from Feye's Hair Trimming Instructions. If you'd like to know how I easily and confidently trim my own hair, at home and get a consistent result every time, read on.



Gather Your Supplies

You will need:

  • Hair cutting or very sharp scissors. It is important that the scissors you use on your hair are very sharp so that they cut clean and don't tear or shred the ends of the strands which can lead to split ends. 
  • A hair tie that works for the thickness of your hair. I have thick hair so I use an elastic tie that is very stretchy but can be made tight around my hair to hold it together the way it needs to be held so that the trim is successful. 
  • A hair brush.
  • A comb or hair stick.
  • A hand mirror and a larger mirror, so that you can check your hair. 
That's pretty much it, for supplies. I have learned that this self trim method works best on long hair that is dry and is as straight and smooth as possible. I blow my hair out and use my straightening brush to smooth any stubbornly wavy spots, if necessary before I trim so that I get the even, blunt ends I like. 

Take it Step By Step 

Step 1: Decide how much length you wish to trim off. The beauty of this method is that you can choose and control the amount of hair you wish to trim. I've done 1/4" dustings and six or eight inch major chops. For your first self trim, I suggest that you make it a modest amount. Half an inch or so, just to give you a feel for what you're doing and if you need to adjust it, you won't be removing a lot of length. 

Step 2: Brush your hair tangle free, smooth and straight as you can get it. Use a comb or hair stick to part it down the middle and brush it smooth and hanging down your back.  

Step 3: Gather your hair into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck, as dead center as possible. Do not pull the hair on the sides up and over your head, keep everything in place, brushing and smoothing from your part, down as you go then use your hair tie to secure the pony. Wrap it as tight as you possibly can, being careful not to move or twist the hair in the ponytail. Check in the mirror to see if your pony is centered. If it is visibly off center, if you see or feel any ripples, loose or overly tight spots, take the hair tie out, brush and carefully pony it, again. Don't rush this step; it is important to get it right, to give you the best result. 

Step 4: Tilt your head so that you are looking down then grasp the hair tie and pull it straight down the pony, as far as you can, then reach up from the back and keep pulling the hair tie down, being careful to keep it as close to your body as possible and to not pull the hair tie to one side or the other. Keep the tie as level as you can until it is just above where you want to make your cut. Note- Looking down, rather than straight ahead will prevent that shallow, inverted U shape in your ends that can happen if you are looking straight ahead when you pull the hair tie down your length. If you feel that you didn't pull the tie down smoothly and evenly, if you feel loose spots or pulling, take off the hair tie and repeat Steps 2, 3 and 4 again. 

Step 5 Once your hair tie is sitting right above where you want to make your cut, depending on your length, carefully, without pulling the hair tie or moving the hair in the hair tie pull it up or over your shoulder so that you can see what you're doing. If you feel that hair pulled loose in the tie or shifted or the hair tie moved, stop, pull it out of your hair and repeat from Step 2. 

Step 6: Once you have your hair tie banded pony in just the right spot so see what you're doing, pick up your scissors, take a deep breath and begin cutting, using the hair tie as your guide. Depending on how thick your hair is, you can either go in, cutting with the pony in the middle of the blades or take "bites" while making that cut as smooth and even as possible. 

I like to cut all of the way through, letting the hair fall on the table in front of me, then I carefully turn the tie over and get that little slightly longer leftover bit across from where I started by trimming it, from outside in. If the ends sticking out of the hair tie look choppy, I carefully smooth away any uneven or spiky bits with small snips so that the cut is as smooth and even as I can get it, all the while being careful to not allow my hair to shift or pull from the tie. 

Step 7: Pull the hair tie off of the pony, brush your hair smooth and leave it all hanging down your back. Now check in the mirror and see how you did. If you did everything right, your hair should be even and blunt. If it is a little longer on one side, you can simply repeat, trimming a tiny bit, just to even it up or have someone carefully snip away that little bit, for you. If it's even but you feel that you didn't trim away quite enough, you can repeat from the beginning or carry on to...

Step 8: Using a comb or hair stick, part your hair straight down the middle (check it in the mirror!) and pull the halves over your shoulders and brush it smooth. Following the line you see, pick up the hair and hold it tight, smooth and taught between your index and middle fingers and carefully, following the existing line trim away a little more length. Repeat on the other side, trimming the same amount. Check in the mirror to see that the hair looks even in the front then brush it all to hang down your back and check, again. 

Step 9: (Optional) If you want to soften your blunt ends a little, you can point cut your ends. Simply part it down the back, again, pull the halves to the front, brush smooth and, holding the hair as described in Step 8 with your fingers very close to the ends, carefully point cut into the ends of your hair. To point cut: Hold the scissors vertically, points up and take close, teeny-tiny (1/8" to 1/4") snips into the ends, all the way across. Be careful to not cut your fingers, while you are point cutting. You're not taking a lot off, just softening that line a bit. Once you're done, brush it down your back and check it in the mirror, again. If you're happy with how it looks, you're all done. If you want to soften it up a bit more, repeat Step 9 until your hair looks just how you want it to. 

Step 10: Enjoy your freshly trimmed hair!

Some Final Thoughts

I know that this reads like a long and complicated process but it's really not. Once you get the hang of it, trimming your own hair is quick and easy. After a trim or two, you'll have a good feel for what you're doing and you will be able to confidently give yourself or someone else a quick trim, any time you want and you'll know that as long as you follow the steps it will come out the same way, every time. Remember, this is a self trim, not a precise, professional cut and it is best for longer hair that is one length. 

If you have limited mobility or dexterity or you just don't feel confident about trimming your hair all by yourself, you can get someone to help you pull the hair tie down your pony and do the trimming, for you. It is also handy to have someone on hand to snip any stray hairs or uneven spots that may occur if your hair slips in the hair tie. When that happens to me, I just repeat the whole process, really quick and trim off the tiniest bit to even it all out. It's easy to make small adjustments to make this self trim method work for you and your hair.

Have you tried trimming your own hair? Now that you've read this would you give it a shot?

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17 comments

  1. I've always cut my own hair when it's in the chin/shoulder length zone, but have never felt confident working on it when it's long. And it's only long *because* I slacked off, so yeah, the ends are a fright. This is just the boost I needed. Thanks!

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  2. I often trim my ends, and having the right scissors definitely makes a huge difference!

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  3. I draw the line at trimming my bangs, lol. When I had long hair as a young person, I could trim the ends but not now. My stylist would kill me ;)

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    1. Please, don't incite your stylist to homicide! Hee! Hee!

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  4. I don’t think I could ever trim my hair well. I would surely mess up, even with your great tips!

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  5. I always trim my own hair, but I don't make a pony - I just split it over each shoulder and trim it straight from the front. The result is a slight U shape from behind (right way up U!) which looks like it was intended to be cut that way :)

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  6. I don't think I could even trim bangs on myself!

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  7. Sounds so much easier than the ways I was doing it. I always had to cut my own hair because hair cuts and dye jobs were never in my budget and my mom only took me to a salon a few times as a kid or teen. I was lucky enough to get salon work done when my hair was blue but seems that I'll be doing it myself again. I'll have to pull up this article again when i get brave enough to do the chop!

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  8. I doubt I'd do something that I could go out in public with. I trim the front of my hair but I'm hopeless with the back of it. Your directions are great for those of us brave enough.

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  9. Thank you for such a great step by step tutorial!

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  10. I have such short hair that I leave it to the professionals to not mess up, thank you for the tips though!

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  11. This is a great guide! Sometimes I don't want to shell out the cash for a small trim.

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  12. I may give this a try, 1/2 inch or so. My hair is long enough that if I mess up I can try again or go seek help from a professional. hahaha!

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  13. This is super helpful, thank you! I was too chicken to trim my hair before, but seems like it's less scary than I thought.

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  14. Nope, I'm not brave enough to try this.

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