How to give yourself a haircut: guide for trims, layers, bangs and bobs

how to give yourself a haircut

Complete guide for how to give yourself a haircut, with step-by-step instructions for how to cut your own hair in layers, bangs, bobs and trims.

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With hairdressers closed during the pandemic lockdowns, many people turned to cutting their hair at home — even model Emily Ratajkowski is cutting her own hair.

If you don’t have the time between two hairdresser visits, you can safely cut your own tips, fringes or split ends. Even a classic step cut is no problem with the right method. Learning how to cut your own hair is not rocket science; it is simply a question of technology and approaching things carefully. 

Asking your partner, wife, father, or roommate for help is a good idea. If someone wants to cut the tips of long hair or touch up the contours of the neck with a short haircut, it’s extremely difficult to do it yourself. After all, you have to work with two mirrors and see yourself (and of course your hair) in a mirror image, which can take a lot of practice and a lot of skill. 

How to give yourself a haircut: Basic rules
How to give yourself a haircut: Trimming the ends
How to give yourself a haircut: Layered cut
How to give yourself a haircut: Cutting bangs
How to give yourself a haircut: Cutting split ends
How to give yourself a haircut: Cutting a bob
How to give yourself a haircut: Cutting short hair

How to give yourself a haircut: basic rules

how to give yourself a haircut


The scissors are the most important utensil if you want to cut your hair yourself. The sharper they are, the more precise the cut will be. Ideally, you should get special hairdressing scissors. Their blades are particularly narrow and sharp, so that very clear contours can be cut. In addition, its handle has an integrated small bar that prevents you from accidentally slipping off.

However, we strongly advise against using household scissors or other equipment. You work too roughly for the demands of a perfect haircut. And the important thing is that the scissors that you use to cut your hair are never used for anything else.

Dry or wet?

Whether you cut your hair yourself with wet or dry hair usually depends on the structure of the hair. Straight hair is best cut when it is damp for accurate results.

Another good tip is to straighten your hair with the straightener before cutting. Curls fall completely differently in dry hair than in wet hair, so it is better to cut them dry.

Only cut small strands

When cutting their own hair, many people make the mistake of working with strands that are too thick. Always divide strands that are no more than three to four centimeters wide. If you cut strands that are thicker, the result will be uneven.

Less is more

It’s best to feel your way around the perfect DIY haircut little by little. If you cut too much at once, you risk too short a result. So always just cut a little and then check whether you like the length.

Cut first, then check

Always look in the mirror afterwards. If you take a look in between, the result is usually shorter than desired.

How to give yourself a haircut: cutting long hair

Especially if you want to let your hair grow , regular end trimming (about 6 weeks, says the pro) works wonders and ensures healthy-looking strands. Your luck! Because cutting hair yourself works best with long manes.

Comb your hair, freshly washed with conditioner and towel-dried, upside down. And then cut the ends to the desired length.

By cutting upside, there are automatically a few light steps that make the cut look natural and airy. If you like it a little more advanced and want a layered cut, use the ponytail method.

How to cut your own hair layers – long

Moisten your hair and use a brush and, for example, some blow dryer spray to keep your hair straight. Then use a brush to tie all of your hair in the middle at the highest point of your head. The hair should be tied as close to the head as possible.

Stand in front of a mirror and use your non-dominant hand to pull the ponytail straight up to the ends, holding the desired section length between your fingers. Cut to tip, choose about an inch or two. If you want to create layers in hair of equal length, you should cut off at least 5 to 7 centimeters if your hair is over shoulder length.

Now you take a pair of hair clippers in your dominant hand. And cut slowly and straight at the desired point.

Now the tips are softened. So that no hard edges remain, the tips are now slightly thinned. For this you don’t cut horizontally, but vertically a few millimeters into the ponytail until everything looks soft and round. And now open the ponytail and check the result.

Cutting bangs

For the forehead fringe you need a different technique than for your long sections. And depending on whether you want to cut straight or angled bangs, there is a different DIY trick.

Put your hair into a ponytail first. How much hair you then leave out depends on your preference for the shape of your face and your forehead. 

First you split off the forehead fringe. The best thing to do is to make a middle part. Then divide the strands diagonally from each side of the center parting so that a triangle is created in the middle from both sides.

Rule of thumb : The two outer corners of the triangle should be level with the outer point of your eyes.

Cut straight bangs

When the pony section is determined, you can now bring it forward with a comb. Lift it up slightly with your non-dominant hand and do not cut it yet, but cut it off at eyebrow level.

Because with straight bangs it is also important to hold the scissors correctly – not horizontally, as usual, but vertically.

Carefully cut off the forehead fringe from below. The result is not exactly straight, but naturally frayed.

A loose fringe rests on the eyebrow. The brows should never be completely covered. If you want to touch up your forehead fringes, you should do it in a dry state to see how the forehead fringes fall.

This video shows the DIY pony with a little twist to get a nice round pony.

Cut oblique sice-swept bangs

Another technique applies to the oblique side-swept bangs. Here the longer part can easily cover the outer brow line.

You can use the following trick to cut an oblique pony yourself: The longest strand of the divided pony section is held to the tip of the nose and cut off here. Adjust the other strands at the desired angle.

How to give yourself a haircut: Cutting split ends

A split end cut should be done about every three to four weeks to prevent major damage to the hair ends.

The technique that you need to cut split ends yourself is very simple. You simply divide the dry hair into individual, thin strands and twist them tightly together.

The individual hairs that are now sticking out on the sides are removed with sharp scissors. The homemade split ends are ready.

Cut your own blunt bob

To cut a bob yourself, you basically only need a hair tie, a few bobby pins and a little skill. Tie a pigtail low at the back of your neck and then pull the hair elastic down until it is the desired length of the bob. Now you cut along the edge of the hair tie. The basic hairstyle is ready.

So that you can follow the subtleties well and get exact edges, you should definitely watch this video.

How to give yourself a haircut: Short hair layers

Cutting short hair yourself is part of the supreme discipline of hairdressng art. Mistakes can be seen here immediately. Especially with fine hair that should be graduated, you actually need someone else’s hands to get that done exactly.

If you still want to take the risk, it is best to work with thinning scissors. They don’t cut straight edges, but fringed ends that look natural and fall particularly loosely in short hair. The short haircut becomes more layered and fluffier if you use the thinning scissors twice per strand of hair: once just above the roots and once at the tips.

Ideally, you already have a professional cut in your short hair, which you can then trim regularly yourself. It’s easier than cutting the short haircut entirely on your own.

genevieve dumas new Genevieve Dumas is a design, fashion, food and style writer who has worked on major magazines and mastheads in the United States and Europe.