Typically, we would advise against cutting your own hair. Besides the potential aesthetic outcomes, a trained professional has a certain set of tools and skills (plus a view of the back of your head) most of us do not. They know how to add layers, give you a prim and pinprick-sharp bob, or snip those bangs to perfection. But, we’re also human beings. Sometimes, you just can’t make it to a salon chair for one reason or another. Whatever the story is, if you’re going to reach for the shears anyway, you might as well have us to guide you. Call it the Mrs. George principle: If you’re gonna drink, we’d rather you do it in the house — which you may be stuck in because, you know, ongoing lockdowns.

We also called in some reinforcements: Some of our favorite and most trusted hairstyling pros are here to share their best advice on how to cut your own hair at home. This guide is best for people with straight, wavy, and loosely curled hair types. If that sounds like you, keep reading — and maybe bookmark this page for later.

First, ask yourself if a haircut is actually necessary.

Any stylist is going to encourage you to wait as long as possible before attempting to cut your own hair. Chances are, even in these pandemic streets, you’ll likely be able to go to a salon safely. But not everyone can or wants to do that and we respect it.

“You don’t want to end up like that one meme of the girl who cut her bangs to her hairline,” says New York City-based hairstylist Erickson Arrunategui. It’s taken him a decade to perfect his style and develop his skills, so mastering a great haircut on yourself with a few pro tips and tricks isn’t something that can be done on the first try (or even the second or third). 

Regular trims are a necessity, especially for people with color-treated and/or heat-damaged hair. According to Arrunategui and Los Angeles-based hairstylist Justine Marjan, split ends are an indicator that you’re in need of a trim.

“Split ends are usually a sign you have to cut your hair because you don’t want those hairs to keep splitting up the shaft and cause irreversible damage to your strands,” says Arrunategui. Split ends, he adds, usually don’t start showing up until three or four months after a haircut. If you’ve seen a professional within that amount of time and your hair isn’t feeling brittle, you can probably wait it out longer.

If you can hold off on cutting, invest in some reparative treatments.

If you can keep yourself away from the scissors until a salon visit is doable, the right products can help repair and prevent damaged ends, says Arrunategui. “I would take time to focus on the health of your hair in other ways,” he advises.

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