Barber or Salon Closed? Here’s How to Cut Your Hair at Home

Barber or Salon Closed? Here’s How to Cut Your Hair at Home

Lots of barbers, salons, and hair stylists have been forced to close down amid the pandemic or — at the very least — severely limit capacity and hours. If your favorite hair pro is one of the many affected, you might be tempted to learn how to cut your hair at home, especially once it gets too long or unmanageable.

Though this can be done successfully, experts say you’ll need the right tools and a smart approach if you want it to come out well — or at least generally presentable on that next Zoom call.

Are you thinking about giving your hair a cut or trim at home during the pandemic? Here’s what pros say to do

1. Invest in proper hair-cutting scissors.

“If you are an at-home novice looking for tools to cut your hair, I recommend getting a scissor that is four or five inches,” said Kali Ferrara, a hairstylist at The Salon Project in New York City. “This will help to give more control over how much you cut and ensure that you hopefully won’t cut your finger.”

2. Cut while it’s dry.

“Trim your hair when it’s dry,” said Rebecca Johnston, hairstylist and founder of “That way you won’t cut too much off and can do it in stages.”

3. Want it short? You’ll need clippers.

“In terms of clippers for shorter cuts at home, Wahl makes it pretty easy,” Ferrara said. “Be sure to keep clippers oiled and sanitized with an aerosol spray sold specifically for the job. A small edger or trimmer like the Wahl Peanut comes with some small attachments to help guide you around the ears.”

As for how short to go, Ferrara says to “Read up on how long the guards will leave your hair. In terms of clipper cuts at home, the shorter the hair left on the head, the lower the number. A naked blade is a 0 and will leave you bald. A number 4 leaves a quarter of an inch. They go up to 8, which leaves you with an inch of hair left on your head.”

When in doubt, Johnston says to start with the biggest size when you cut your hair at home. If it’s too long, gradually work your way up to shorter cuts, so you’re not stuck with a trim shorter than you intended.

4. Take it slow when you’re learning how to cut your hair at home.

“Hair-cutting shears are very sharp — much sharper than your average kitchen scissor and most sewing shears, so if you must cut your own hair, proceed with caution,” Ferrara said.  

“If you do not want your hair shorter than one inch, then do not use clippers. Many short cuts start with clippers on the sides and fade up to a longer length with a scissor cut on top. If you want to keep your hair long, then try to approach it with scissors.

5. Cutting bangs? Straighten them first.

“Make sure you blow dry them flat first,” Johnston said. “Run the straightener through them too, just so you know it’s all smooth and there are no jumpy bits.”

As for technique, here’s what she says to do. 

  1. “Use the points of your scissors rather than going in as if you were to cut paper. 
  2. The center of your bangs should be the shortest bit. Once you have done that, move on the sides. This is where it normally gets longer, so angle your fingers slightly that way you won’t cut too much off. 
  3. Once you have done that, use the points of your scissor to soften the length.”

6. Make sure the lighting is good.

“Lighting is very important because any shadows can make it hard to see what you’re doing,” Ferrara said. “If you are approaching this haircut yourself, use two mirrors so that you can see the back of your head. Help from a trusted loved one or roommate could result in a little bit better control, too.”

7. Keep it to a minimum.

“If you can hang on until you can get a professional haircut by just cleaning up around your ears and neck, I 100% recommend waiting,” Ferrara said. 

8. Remember that mistakes are hard to fix.

“Measure twice and cut once,” Ferrara said. “If you end up taking off too much, grab a hair growth vitamin, like Vitafusion’s Gorgeous Hair Skin and Nails gummies to help your hair grow back before you reenter the public.”

The bottom line about how to cut your hair at home

However you go about cutting your hair, just be careful. Take your time, use the right tools and lighting, and err on the side of caution whenever possible. You can always take more off, but adding hair back on? That’s not really possible (without a wig or costly extensions, at least).

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By Aly Yale / December 22nd, 2020 / Categories: / Tags: , , , ,

Aly Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, mortgage, and the housing market. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Bankrate, The Motley Fool, Business Insider, The Balance, and more. Prior to freelancing, she served as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She graduated from Texas Christian University's Bob Schieffer College of Communication with a major in radio-TV-film and news-editorial journalism. Connect with her at or on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.