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How to Cut Your Own Hair in Layers


Haircuts Are Expensive

With the economy the way it is, it's just a waste of money to spend about $200 a month on family haircuts. And this is a frugal price, with just a normal shampoo and cut. Other things, like getting a permanent wave or having streaks, would double the $200 easily. No doubt about it, styling has become a luxury.

I found I can save a lot of money by cutting my own hair and that of my family's. There is nothing to it, and it's actually kind of fun. The "cha-CHING!" sound rings in my ears as I keep the fifty I would have otherwise parted with!

The only upfront investments are a plastic sheet (clothing guard) and shears, which can be purchased at the drugstore for about the same price as a basic haircut.

Find a comfortable chair and good light, and you are ready to begin. I sometimes put newspaper on the floor to make clean-up easier.

Dirty Hair Cuts Better


Easier and Less Flyaway

The ideal way, I have found, is to cut dirty hair! It doesn't slide around so much, which makes it easier to cut. The sections usually stay better separated, too. After the cut, you will be washing anyway, so it makes sense to let it get a little bit oily before you start.

The Ultimate Smarty-Pants Routine

Hair dye is also best applied to dirty hair to protect the hairline from harmful and itchy chemicals. If you color your hair like I do, the really super routine is to color the hair at home when it is dirty. Not only will you use less color, (it's bad for your scalp anyway) but it also creates a more natural, less chemical look. Then, let it get a little dirty again, and cut it. Shampoo and style it.

Men's Hair

My husband is the easiest of all. He doesn't have much hair on his head to begin with, so sectioning off and cutting is as easy as pie. After, I comb into place, make a half-circle around the lower bottom edge around the back collar, and carefully razor blade away the back-of-the-neck fuzzies.


1. Sectioning off the Hair

First section off liberally. Then do it in tiny (about 1/4 inch or a bit more) slices of hair. Sections are usually:

  • Around the face
  • Crown (top of head) to ear
  • Four large sections at the crown (divided up into tinier sections)
  • The back

2. Brush the Hair Forward Towards the Face.

  • Using a rattail comb, section about 1-1/2 inches of hair and brush forward, holding out from the face.
  • Now trim the hair a half inch with shears pointed upwards, so that you are cutting "uphill."
  • Continue like so, trying to cut exactly 1/2 inch from each section, using either classic hair clips or butterfly style "grabbers" to keep the hair properly controlled while you cut.

3. Cutting the Hair "Uphill" Is the Most Important Tip

To avoid the straight harsh line, trim the hair on a slight angle, upwards. This is not left to right uphill, but rather uphill at a 90 degree angle of the sectioned off piece. As if you are stabbing the hair blockade, pierce the wall, and CHOP. This allows the hairs to blend in and provides a more natural look.

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Children's Haircuts

Come on, Mom! Are we done yet?

Come on, Mom! Are we done yet?

Boys: Young kids squirm a lot, so putting them in front of the TV is a good plan to keep them occupied. A lollypop is also a good idea. I used to give my son a comic book or cellular phone to play with, but the head was too far down, and that can be a problem. It's better let him watch a TV show as a distraction.

Girls or Long Hair Trims: I chopped my daughter's hair across the bottom but only after sectioning off the back of her head with a mini ponytail. Again, trim the ponytail hair "uphill" to get rid of any and all split ends, then trim the back. To tell you the truth, I think it looks every bit as good as when she had it done at the stylist's.

Long Hair Cuts (Male or Female)


A small pony tail sectioned off at the crown works better than simply chopping across. Do it in two levels for a more natural, blended effect in the back.

  • To avoid the "escaped from a mental hospital" or the Raw Chop look, section each hair square (2x2 inches) with a clasp.
  • Again, comb upwards to see that the ends are even and in alignment.
  • Chop.
  • Repeat.

Ideally about ten hair clasps will do. It takes a little longer, but the result is more subtle, better blended, and looks fuller. Turn on the radio and take your time. Now you know why most stylists have the gift of gab.

Buzz cuts - u can do it

If you are looking to cut hair with clippers (which is probably the easiest, but a little scary at first) why not have a look at this guide? It will give you the step by step info on where to start with cutting your own hair so that you can start saving $ € in time for summer!

(Unless the summer is already here!! But I digress!).


Pull the hair forward around the jawline to make sure that left and right sides are about the same length if you want a symmetrical haircut.

Pull the hair forward around the jawline to make sure that left and right sides are about the same length if you want a symmetrical haircut.

Bangs are a little bit scary. I remember my mom cutting mine using Scotch Tape on my forehead. That was pretty weird. Anyway, like everywhere else, you need to part the hair into tiny sections within the front of the face.

  • Part off three horizontal sections.
  • When you chop hold the hair vertically. Pin back and continue.
  • It takes about three sections to give a natural look, so if you goof, it won't be obvious.
  • Remember, hold the hair up with scissors pointed upward.
  • Chop uphill towards the crown.

It can be done. So just go ahead and do it.

Finishing Touches

After the cut, a shampoo is essential to get rid of tiny hairs that will scratch you and irritate later.

If you have long hair, bend at the waist to dry the nape first; this adds body. Dry hair also keeps your clothes from getting damp. Now, straighten up and begin styling. Remember, less is more. Air dry at least 50% to avoid an overly dry scalp or damaged hair, especially if you color your hair.

Creme or Gel?

Getting a little off the subject, I prefer creme. The gel looks too plastic when it dries. I take about a nickel to a quarter size and style while the hair is just a little moist and not completely dry. It seems to respond better with a little hydration. I hit the dry ends first, then the scalp, and rub it through my hair as I style it.

Chop, chop!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Anastasia Kingsley


Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on February 11, 2021:

Thanks, Cynthia! Side bangs are a little trickier. Your goal is to feather them in (like tiny layers) If it makes you feel more confident, try to blend them in, using an ordinary disposable shaving razor. Good luck.

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on February 11, 2021:

Thanks, Akriti :) Looks like you've got a gorgeous head of thick hair!

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on May 04, 2020:

Any tips for cutting side bangs? I have been cutting my families hair for years. Recently I cut off about 16 inches of mine to give it a fresh start (log hair is overrated). I am debating adding side bangs but I don't want to just start chopping. Your instructions are spot on and easy to follow, thanks for sharing the well written article!

Linda Bryen from United Kingdom on March 27, 2018:

I also cut my hair and my husband's hair too. It is satisfying cutting your own hair and you can get the hair cut you desire as well as save money too. What a great hub. Voted up.

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on June 07, 2015:

This is such a cool post. Voted up :-)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 03, 2014:

I cut my husbands and mine. I love to go to the beauty shop now and then, but it never satisfies me. I imagine I have saved very much. Wish I had it. lol Great tips.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on January 22, 2014:

Great tips I pinned this one ~ I have been cutting mine and my son and hubby as well. love the tips :)

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on February 05, 2013:

Hi, idigwebsites, what a clever name! Thanks for the follow. I have had long hair for awhile now, and just recently I got the nerve to chop-chop. I have to say it turned out pretty good. And best of all, free. You are right about the layers. The expression dazzle them with your footwork applies here. Perhaps it's not for everyone, but if you have too much hair and a little bit of nerve, you may find these tips work well for you. Look forward to hearing how it turned out.

idigwebsites from United States on January 31, 2013:

I've known someone whose sister cuts her own hair, often in a layered style that looks so fantastic! I think a layered cut will do the (self-)trick so that even if it's uneven it will still look good.

Thanks for the tips, sometimes I think I want to cut my hair in my own way. Some people are dissatisfied with hairstylists sometimes. Up and useful and a following. :)

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on January 31, 2013:

I grew up in West Africa, and my mother cut our hair when we were little. When we got older, we learned to cut each other's hair. In Boarding school (grades 10-12) some of the dorm mothers were great at haircutting and we learned a lot from them.

Today I cut my hair most of the time, and about once a year I get a "professional" cut. It has saved me a lot of money over the years!

We also learned to sew our own clothes, decorate cakes, and many other things while in Africa!

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on January 30, 2013:

Great Hub! I have been cutting my own hair for years. The few times I have gone to a salon I have found them scissor happy and cutting it far shorter than I wanted. I have also cut hair for my sisters and friends. At one time I considered being a hair dresser, however from the comment above by Pegcole17 about having to wash peoples hair that hadn't been washed in months I am glad I didn't. I would never try one of those precision cuts though. That would need a real hairdresser! One other little point; I once cut my own hair after two or three glassed of wine. I do not recommend that! LOL

Deya Writes on November 07, 2012:

This definitely sounds interesting to try. I might start on a smaller section of my hair to see how I do before I move on to the real deal. Great hub, voted up :)

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on November 01, 2012:

Thanks, Alocsin and Debbie Pinkston!

Just an hour ago, I cut my son's hair (using my own advice, of course - like going slow) and I must say he is a dead ringer for Justin Bieber, LOL. Best of all, I now have money in my pocket for something useful. Appreciate the Up Votes - see you online! :)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on November 01, 2012:

I'll forward this to my partner, who cuts my hair. But honestly, I do like to keep my hair very short, so am okay with his running the shaver through my head. Voting this Up and Useful.

Debbie Pinkston from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas on October 09, 2012:

I love the photo of the kid with the bowl on his head. I guess people really did cut hair using a bowl at some time in history!

GlstngRosePetals from Wouldn't You Like To Know on October 09, 2012:

Great hub with alot of good tips. Im a little confused when everything is backwards in the mirror :0) Great hub, Voted up!!!

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on September 19, 2012:

Hello Ladies!! Sorry for the late response. Yes, cutting hair requires a cool head. That is very good advice. Cutting your own hair is not so hard. Take a deep breath. The first person who gave me the courage to try was our town hairdresser. I asked her who cut her own hair and she answered "who else but me?". It looked great. She gave me suggestions to get started and I began researching it with You Tube videos. Other ladies told me they did their own styling for many years - practically all their lives. Glad to be of service, and thank you kindly for the Up votes. Best to you!!! Anastasia

TeachableMoments from California on September 19, 2012:

Great tips! I recently tried cutting my hair and it was a disaster. I now have one section of hair that is way shorter than the rest. Wish I had read this hub before I started. Thanks for a very informative hub.

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on August 09, 2012:

I have cut my sister's and sometimes her friends' hair too and they were very happy with the results. But cutting my own hair ? I have thought about it but never felt confident, as I also have a load of long hair. Your tips are wonderful common sense - and I am sure anyone trying them out will not be disheartened by the results. Voted up and useful.

deimos319 from Prescott, AZ on July 24, 2012:

awesome, thanks! word of the wise: never try to cut your hair while upset :) mullets will happen..

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 23, 2012:

Great, Jennifer, easy does it. Always better to cut too little than too much. Try my tips and tell me how it goes. There are videos on You Tube for inspiration, too. Good luck! :) Appreciate the comment and follow!

Jennifer Stone from the Riverbank, England on July 23, 2012:

I cut my own hair every so often, but never really had the know-how to make it look really good! Thanks for this, very useful!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 22, 2012:

Hello again Euro,

I'm so relieved that you took my comment in the way it was intended. I did not mean to offend in any way and like I said, I've been cutting hair since I was 14. In those early days the haircuts weren't all that great. You genuinely do have a talent for it or you wouldn't have such good results. My caution was to those other people who cut hair without this talent, that can result in lowered self esteem. I can tell you from experience that many have cried their hearts out in my salon chair from a poor haircut or a bad perm, thankfully it was not from me. LOL I cried with them as I wished for scissors that could make hair longer again.

Again, thanks for the good spirit in which you accepted my comments. Yes, some of the patrons in beauty school were quite poor and did not have access to proper hygiene. Seriously, you have the gift you should use it.

All the best to you, Peg

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 22, 2012:

PegCole17 - WOW!

The salon experience can be fun. Getting a new do by a cosmetologist is fun too. Hubs are usually written based on experience and interest, so this was no exception. What I have learned so far I have shared, and hopefully will give someone the confidence to give it a try for themselves. It's not an all or nothing affair. I still go to the stylist once in awhile but I don't go every month - it would blow my budget.

I agree with you about hygiene. When I said dirty hair, I meant days not months, LOL. Thanks for the great compliments! I have been lucky - talent, who knows for sure. My mom cut our hair when we were kids, so I figured that if she could do it, so could I. Of course a trained cosmetologist would do a better job. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a well thought out and objective comment. Take care, I sincerely appreciate it. ECAL :)

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 22, 2012:

Hello Euro,

Congratulations on being part of the apprentice hub team and I admire your contribution here in writing this article. I can't stop myself from commenting about the subject matter of the hub, despite your well written and engaging work here. Well done.

As a licensed cosmetologist, former hair stylist and salon owner, I will admit that prior to licensing I experimented with cutting my hair and that of my own family members'. What I didn't know about styles and hair cutting techniques and my early mistakes were easy to excuse away by their gratitude in saving the money.

As a professional stylist, I've also been asked to "fix" many a home haircut or hair color that went terribly wrong including some whose hair had fallen out in their sink due to incorrect chemical processes performed at home. This is absolutely true.

I completely understand that times are hard and every dime saved is important. That said, I will mention that cutting dirty, dry hair is against the basic principles of cleanliness and sanitation practices that are taught in nearly every beauty school. Some of the clients who were assigned to me in beauty school were those in desperate need of a bargain who admitted they hadn't shampooed their hair for months! Not a good environment for handling and rehandling hair and using sharp pointed instruments. We were supposed to charge patrons for shampooing, but I would shampoo every patron whether they paid for it or not for my own protection and to enable an optimum haircut.

I feel certain that you have a natural talent for this specialized art since you mention your haircuts turn out well. That is great. Not everyone has this talent and can be negatively impacted by a poor self image due to a bad haircut. A good haircut, in my view, is more important than many other equally priced purchases that are worn once or twice.

May I also mention that as a hairdresser, many clients came to me not only for haircuts but to confide personal stories and engage in conversations that were an integral part of the salon experience. I heard things as a stylist that many Moms were not privy to.

I admire your bravery in this endeavor and would encourage you to think of taking a class to develop your obvious skills in this profession.

Jenn from Pennsylvania on July 21, 2012:

Nice tips! My hair is in desperate need of a cut and coloring, but I've been too lazy to get my butt to the salon. I have had pretty bad experiences with cutting my own hair, but I think I might try again using your advice.

rebeccaac from Sullivan Missouri on July 21, 2012:


Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 21, 2012:

Hi Etherealenigma, I love your name -

Just have to say, I don't know a thing about the buzz cutter, one of these days I will find out. My son gets an annual buzz cut before summer which grows out nicely in time for school. The red color you're shooting for will probably come from experimenting two colors. Use half of one shade - a cherry red probably - and a tomato soup red. I personally don't have much patience with the swatch test, I just go for it.

In college in order to save money I would get a perm (my hair got curlier after my kids were born), then a couple weeks later frost my hair using a cap then choose a strawberry blond which made it look really natural reddish blondish curly-ish. Just sharing what worked for me in the past. A little experimenting and taking notes helps so you will get closer to the color you are shooting for. Best, Ecal

Sandra M Urquhart from Fort Lauderdale on July 21, 2012:

I really like the picture of the girl with the red hair. That's the same red I've been trying to get my hair to for a while. Even the salon does not get it right. You shoulda put something in the post about how to use a buzz cutter. I get confused with do I have the blade in, do I not have the blade in, and things like that. I bought 2 of these blades now, and still don't know how to use them right. My son complains that I'm hurting him and it's pulling his hair. So unfortunately, I had to go back to paying to get his hair cut. Good article though.

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 20, 2012:

@Rusticliving, thanks for the read, comment, up vote, share and follow! WOW! :D Glad that some of my tips inspired you. Home haircuts can give you financial elbow space. Best to you, Ecal

@mepperly, thanks for the link. I will be glad to return the favor. Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting. Regards, Ecal.

Shelly Epperly from Vancouver,WA on July 20, 2012:

I just added this hub to my hub about cutting your own hair. You can see it here and return the favor if you would like to. Have a fabulous day.

Liz Rayen from California on July 20, 2012:

This is a great hub! I cut my hair and my honeys hair all the time. You gave some wonderful tips for me to use on myself. Can't wait to try them! Thumbs up and shared! Lisa

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 19, 2012:

Thanks for your comment, takerecess! If you do it in tiny rows of hair, it's not bad. With your comb, hold the row with one hand (left?) then hold your scissors upwards and chop upwards, towards the sky. If you cut your bangs two or three levels deep the effect is minimized so even if it's not perfect it will blend in well. A small curler or curling iron can be used later while styling to let the bangs cascade around your face. Lots of fun tips to try and experiment with! Looking forward to hearing how it goes if you end up trying to do it yourself. ECAL :)

takerecess from USA on July 18, 2012:

I cut my bangs in between haircuts, but I'm too scared to do my whole head. If I ever need to though, I'll use your tips.

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 11, 2012:

Glad you liked the photos, JamaGenee. Photos do help a lot.. A picture is worth a thousand words. There are more of us home hair cutters than it seems. Sorry it took me so long to respond. Best to you, ECAL

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on July 11, 2012:

Today I took my own advice and cut my son's Justin Bieber type hair. It was covering his eyes, a real mop-top. Now he is my little cutie pie again. He said the kids at soccer said he looked better. So nice to save money :) it never gets old.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on May 03, 2012:

I've cut my own hair many times. Actually turns out better that when someone else does it, even at a salon! Always cut my kids hair when they were at home. Thanks for the photos!

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on April 27, 2012:

Super, Natashalh! Your hair looks great in your photo, maybe you knew more than you realized. Thanks for the visit and comment, Ecal

Natasha from Hawaii on April 27, 2012:

I cut my own hair sometimes. Thanks for the photos and helpful tips because I never really knew what I was doing!

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on April 27, 2012:

That's funny, 2 patricias! I sometimes watch a You Tube video before plunging in. My daughter had waist length hair until recently; now it's in a Bob style. Seeing the demo in front of me gave me courage, and yes, it turned out just fine. Thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on April 27, 2012:

Every attempt at cutting my hair, hubbie's hair, friends' hair has resulted in disaster. I think I've saved my marriage by NOT cutting his hair!

Good hub though - times are hard.

Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on April 27, 2012:

Good going, Lilleyth! I do occasionally - maybe once or twice a year, but with a basic cut it's pretty easy to maintain. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Suzanne Sheffield from Mid-Atlantic on April 27, 2012:

I've been cutting my hubbie's hair for 25 years...saved us a lot. Good hub.

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