How to guide: cutting your own hair

Don’t cut your hair without reading our guide

We’re still currently in the throes of national lockdown and getting your hair cut in a salon might not be possible for a long while, even when salon doors re-open, for a whole multitude of reasons (hairdresser’s backlog, shielding by yourself or hairdresser, work commitments as you recover from time lost during homeschooling, whatever).

If your hair simply won’t last until your next hairdressing appointment, maybe it’s time to channel your inner Vidal Sassoon and trim it yourself?

Imagine if we’d suggested DIY haircuts a year ago. Many people would have scoffed at the very idea. Three lockdowns later, with hairdressing salons mandatorily closed as per imposed restrictions on non-essential businesses, cutting your own hair doesn’t seem such a wacky proposal after all. Desperate times, desperate measures, and all that.

For those of you with overgrown fringes, straggly crew cuts, messy split ends and the like, we’ve scoured the web and rounded up some top tips straight from the horse’s mouth – by which we mean hairdressers – on how to dodge a home hair cutting disaster.

To point out an obvious and important disclaimer before our tips commence, our Hairdressing Claims team are lawyers, not hairdressers. The information here is a collation of guidance posted online by hairdressers. We cannot be held accountable for any haircut catastrophes. As you’ll discover in #6 and #7, in our opinion, the best thing you can do is sit it out and only let your hairdresser loose with the scissors or clippers.

Without further ado, read on…

#1: Small blades = small mistakes

Think nail scissors rather than paper scissors. The less hair you can cut per snip of the scissors, the better. It’s damage limitation for the non-hairdresser.

#2: Watch hair tutorials

To avoid any major mishaps (and minor ones, ideally!), it’s advisable to head over to YouTube and watch a few hair cutting tutorials. We recommend this 12½ minute video on the BBC website which covers long hair trims, men’s fade with clippers, short cut with scissors and bantu knots for Afro hair. It’s as useful a starting point as any.

#3: Focus on the edges of shorter hairstyles

Proceed with caution if your hair’s short. Try to tidy up the sides and back of your neck only. If it’s possible to do so, leave the rest untouched.

#4: Tackling longer hair

For long hair, plait half of your hair (on one side) then tie a hairband one inch up from the very ends on the loose side. This allows you to see all the ends together. Hold the hairband and make small vertical snips with your scissors. Once done, loosen the plait and repeat on the other side.

#5: Shaved or buzz cuts

First, make sure your hair’s fully dry. Second, set clippers according to your preferred hair length. Start with a bigger guard to prevent accidentally cutting too short. Most people go with the popular 3-2-1 style, for which you use a number 3 guard for the top of your head, number 2 on the sides and number 1 around the edges. Third, run your clippers against the grain.

#6: Use accessories instead

To cover hair that’s calling out for a cut, try out different accessories such as scarves, headbands, clips, fascinators and hats. You’ll feel a ‘new you’ without even picking up the scissors. Read our recent advice on ‘bigger is better’ where accessories are concerned.

#7: Style it up rather than cut

In the same vein, try out a variety of styles achieved with hot irons, hot brushes or curling wands to give your hair the blow-dry, fresh-from-the-hairdresser finish at home, without any cutting. You may decide a haircut isn’t actually necessary right now.

Since the beginning of the first lockdown a year ago, we’ve seen quarantine hair fails dominate the internet, showing that cutting hair isn’t as easy as your hairdresser makes it look. That’s because they’re professionally trained in their job. The best course of action is to sit tight until you visit your hairdressing salon once again.

Although rare, hairdressers occasionally make mistakes too. Perhaps more so when they’re rushing to clear a backlog once lockdown is lifted. Find out what can go wrong and what to do if you find yourself in the sorry situation of being hurt by your hairdresser.


To make a claim against your hairdresser, get in touch with our team in complete confidence by emailing enquiries@hairdressingclaims.co.uk, calling 0800 141 3682 from a landline for free, phoning 0333 202 6560 from a mobile or completing our online enquiry form.

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