Though salons have started to open in some parts of the country, many people are still practicing social distancing, so a professional haircut may not be in the cards just yet. If you’re desperate for a cut, don’t worry.
With a few tips from professionals, you can give yourself a salon-worthy trim at home. And though a haircut may seem like the last thing on your to-do list, self care can be more important than ever in stressful times like these.
We spoke with several professional stylists, many of whom have cut their hair at home for years. While some warned against an at-home trim, others have plenty of tips on how to get rid of that frizz and those split ends, and exactly what to use.
Cutting straight hair
Don’t wet your hair when you’re cutting straight or wavy hair, says Paul Wintner, the global education manager and corporate trainer at Alterna Haircare. “I always cut hair dry, as you are able to see exactly how much length you’re removing and it allows for more accuracy when cutting,” he says.
You also don’t want to be too creative, celebrity hairstylist Annagjid “Kee” Taylor advises. “I’d recommend just trimming where you see split ends,” she says. “And don’t try to reshape your cut at all while it’s in a ponytail, like so many people try to do, as it will look completely different once you let it out of the ponytail.”
Instead she recommends either having a member of your household cut your hair straight in the back, or sectioning your hair with clips and cutting the same length of ends all around.
Elfina Hair Cutting Shears Professional Stainless Barber Scissors Set ($24.99; amazon.com)
A full kit for cutting your hair is an excellent idea if this is your first time picking up scissors. This one, with one pair of cutting shears, one pair of thinning shears, two hair clips, one comb and a cleaning cloth, seems perfect for beginners.
Lunata Groom Me Hair Cutting Kit ($70; lunatabeauty.com)
This pro-approved and Instagram-ready kit features gorgeous rose gold shears, alligator clips, a cutting comb and a grooming comb, all designed to simplify an at-home trim.
Bangmeng Hair Cutter Comb ($6.99; amazon.com)
If you’re just looking to trim a few split ends, this hair cutter comb makes it incredibly easy with a built-in razor.
If you’re going to attempt to trim your bangs, celebrity stylist Dominick Pucciarello (who has documented his own adventures in trimming on Instagram), says it’s best to take your time and follow a specific series of steps to make sure you don’t end up with a disaster.
“Part your hair in the middle,” he says. “The bang area is one inch back, then make a triangle from the middle part to the arch of the eyebrow. Trim the bangs just to the bridge of your nose. You may not think that the bridge of your nose is short enough, but trust me, if you have never cut your bangs before, it’s better to start there.”
You can see a helpful video tutorial of that method here.
One more tip: Cut up, not across. It’s easier and less likely to ruin your ‘do if you slowly cut your hair upward rather than try to cut a straight line.
Equinox International Professional Razor Edge Series Hair Cutting Scissors ($23.97; amazon.com)
With thousands of reviews, these stainless steel scissors with an easy grip handle are lightweight and the ideal size to cut every length of hair.
Ace Dressing Hair Comb ($7.23; amazon.com)
You want control when you trim bangs, and a tiny hair comb can hold your hair while you trim.
Original CreaClip Set ($44.99; amazon.com)
This clip set pulls through hair to create a straight line for trimming bangs and cutting the ends of long hair. And if you’re a fan of “Shark Tank,” you may remember seeing the highly rated tool on the show.
Cutting curly hair
“I would say for an amateur, cutting curly hair dry and in its usual style is probably best,” says Pucciarello. “Just dust the ends. Do not make it complicated. You will end up with a disaster. Or try just doing deep conditioning treatments and wait for your stylist.”
Pucciarello emphasized, “Again, good scissors play a major part. You cannot use house or kitchen scissors.”
For best results, Wintner says you can also straighten the hair to give a super precise cut. “For best results, flat iron the hair, so it’s completely straight, and then give the ends a trim,” Wintner says. “Then you can reactivate the curls and cut any pieces that are longer than the length you’re going for.”
Feng Chun Professional Hair Cutting Shears ($22.98; amazon.com)
These gorgeous colorful scissors earn rave reviews, with one professional hairdresser writing in the comments, “I’ve been doing hair for over 15 years. During quarantine the whole family needed haircuts and I was without my tools. I bought these just as a cheap alternative and they worked out really well.”
Japonesque Classic Barber Shears ($12.99; target.com)
We recommend these inexpensive shears for a simple reason: They work for almost every hair texture.
Amika The Conductor 1 Inch Precision Germanium Flat Iron ($150; sephora.com)
This ceramic flat iron works to protect hair as it straightens, with infrared heat that can help seal moisture in the hair.
HSI Professional Glider Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron ($39.89; amazon.com)
If your hair texture is more coarse, this top-rated, budget-friendly flat iron promises to quickly straighten, flip and curl with minimal effort.
Conair Double Ceramic Flat Iron ($17.89; target.com)
Reviewers rave that this flat iron works wonders on natural hair, straightening curls while also keeping hair shiny and nourished.
Cutting natural hair
“If you’re wanting to cut natural texture, take small sections and pull the hair down and barely trim the ends,” Wintner says. “Then, shape the hair in the way they like to style it and trim any pieces that are sticking out.”
You can also put your hair in twists and trim. “This is known as a Rezo cut, where you separate your hair into four to six sections,” says Taylor. “Take each section in your hands (so that your fingertips are touching your thumb). You’ll be able to see exactly where your ends are hanging out and you’ll be able to trim them fairly precisely.”
Taylor recommends a few items to help you through this intense process: “Great scissors and a hair tie to tie off each section of hair.”
24 Packs Duck Bill Clips ($9.99; amazon.com)
You get a lot of clips for a low price in this pack of duck bill clips, which are perfect for sectioning hair while trimming.
Goody Ouchless Women’s Hair Elastic, 27 Count ($4.11, originally $7.79; amazon.com)
You can never have enough hair ties.
Slip Silk Skinnies Scrunchie Set ($39; amazon.com)
And if you want to be extra gentle on your hair, these silk scrunchies from editor favorite brand Slip promise not to leave creases or damage hair.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.