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How to Cut Long Hair: My Story

Jennifer used to pay for professional haircuts, but one day her stylist moved away. Now she cuts her own hair and couldn't be happier!

Cutting your own hair may not be as difficult as you think.

Cutting your own hair may not be as difficult as you think.

A few months ago, I contacted my hairstylist for a haircut only to discover she had moved to another state. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to another set of bad haircuts while I sought out my next perfect stylist. I took the typical route and began asking friends who they would recommend. One recommended stylist only worked when I was not available, and the other turned into a game of phone tag. Since I had waited too long for a haircut and had travel plans in a few weeks, I was desperate.

Not sure who I would trust with a pair of scissors, I thought about all of the purchases I've made based on consumer reviews online. Usually, I'd say higher-priced items offer better quality, but if 200 people tell me the cheaper version is the way to go then that's what I buy. I usually put a lot of trust in online reviews because people are more likely to complain than give a compliment. After reading several reviews on more than one website, I finally found a salon downtown. I was excited to have my hair cut by a guy again. For some reason, I think male stylists often have a certain " je ne sais quoi" that makes for great haircuts.

The Downtown Salon

When I walked in, all of the stylists were male and flamboyantly gay. I thought I had found hair nirvana and secretly hoped my new stylist would become my new shopping buddy. As we began to chat, I learned he went to a well-known school and had just moved here from a major city. I couldn't wait to see what he would do with my hair!

Although I wanted to let my bangs grow out, I also knew side-swept bangs would not hold up to the humidity of the midwest in July. So, we discussed giving them a trim to keep them out of my face. Initially, he mentioned cutting them into a "V" shape with the center as the longest part. As a working mother approaching 40 who chases a toddler on the side I told him I didn't think that would work with my lifestyle. Sure, I'm probably turning into an old fart, but I need a style that isn't constantly in my face. I just wanted something simple and low-maintenance.

He trimmed the length and then began to add layers. Sections of hair were pulled up and the scissors were pulled (seemingly haphazardly) through the ends. When I put my glasses on to take a look, my bangs were way too short and I quickly noticed the hair on the left side was about half an inch longer than the right. Despite all the layering that was done, I noticed there weren't any layers on the sides of my head. He went to work fixing the length difference, but when he was finished, it was still uneven.

At this point, I really just wanted him to put the scissors down. My mistake was that it wasn't until this point I asked what he enjoyed about being a hairstylist. Turns out his favorite techniques were funky cuts and bold colors. So in the future, if I ever decide on a blue and purple mohawk, this would be the person to see.

Repair and Recovery

I paid him for his time and went home knowing my best hairstyle for awhile would be a ponytail with a headband. The more I looked at my hair in the mirror, the more disappointed I became. I had one chunk of short hair in the back that didn't match any other "layer". After posting my displeasure on Facebook, I had a friend offer to try to fix it. She did the best she could given the circumstances but told me it would be another two haircuts before the short layer in the back would blend in without cutting all my hair off. My hair was about 3 inches below my collar-bone before my first haircut. After receiving 2 haircuts in 48 hours my hair was now almost 4 inches shorter.

Doing It Myself

A few months passed, and it was time for another haircut. Frankly, I became tired of not being able to wear my hair down. One afternoon I searched YouTube for videos on how to cut your own hair.

There were a variety of haircuts resulting in different hairstyles. Something inside told me this might be a bad idea. Then again, my last haircut didn't turn out well, so I didn't think I had much to lose. A few weeks passed, and the video above really stuck with me. She suggested to only cut a little at first because you can always go back and cut more. One afternoon while my son was napping, I grabbed the hair scissors I bought at Target and began to cut.

Starting with the hair at the nape of my neck I pulled it forward in sections and trimmed about 1/2 an inch off. I let a little more hair down and trimmed it to match the underlying layer. After each layer, I checked to see that both sides were the same length by pulling them forward towards my sternum. I continued the same process until I had let all of my hair down. About 30 minutes later, I looked at my handy-work and discovered my hair was straight and I had gotten rid of the scraggly layers at the bottom. I loved it and I had just saved myself at least $50, if not more.

To clean up some of the longer layers, I pulled my hair in sections to the side and cut vertically towards the ceiling. I repeated that same process with my bangs to give them a few layers as they grow out. I must warn you that once you've successfully given yourself a haircut, it can become addicting. A month or so later, I became impatient for my bangs to grow, so I pulled a little more hair forward and cut it slightly longer than the bangs I had. Now they all seem longer. It's been a few months since I last cut the longer length, so perhaps I will cut it again today. I love that I can now have a haircut anytime I choose for free and I don't have to go through the agony of bad haircuts anymore.


Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on May 16, 2012:

The first haircut I gave myself was not much more than a trim. I have to warn you Victoria, it becomes addicting after you've given yourself 1 successful cut. Now I play with cutting it at different angles and different cutting techniques. I absolutely love cutting my own hair!

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on May 15, 2012:

Great hub. I've been going to the same hairdresser for over 20 years. I have long hair, and I just don't trust it with anybody else. Being half-employed now, though, I've thought about trying to trim it myself. It's long enough that even if I goofed, no big deal. It grows out fast. Thanks for the hub. I'll have to consider this!

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on May 01, 2012:

Thelma, I am happy you found a good hairdresser. I'm still cutting my own and I don't see myself looking for a stylist anytime soon. Thank you for sharing your story : )

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Thelma Alberts from Germany on April 25, 2012:

I enjoyed reading your article. I went the same road with you when I was looking for a hairdresser years ago, who can cut my long hair the way that I wanted to and ending up cutting my own hair. Now I have at last found a good hairdresser and so contented with her cuttings. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub.

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on March 18, 2012:

emilybee, I HAD to have bangs last year too. Now I'm trying to patiently wait for them to grow out. Someone once said "if you want to experience regret, cut yourself some bangs". LOL! I was afraid to cut my hair at first but a "professional" messed it up so I figured if I took my time and only cut a little I'd be o.k. Now I'm addicted and I've discovered a new sense of freedom. Thank you for sharing your story and vote : )

emilybee on March 17, 2012:

I'm too scared to cut my own hair :) I cut my hair last year giving myself bangs because I HAD to have them, and a month after I couldn't wait for them to grow out... I just have SO much hair that it would be choppy I think if I cut it myself. Thanks for sharing your story and kudos to you for cutting your own hair!!! Voted up!

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on January 22, 2012:

Sherry Digital, I'm still in love with cutting my own hair too. The chemicals added to most things are crazy. I'm happy you found something you love :) Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Sherry Duffy from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR on January 22, 2012:

I've been cutting my own hair for the last year and it has never looked better! I also stopped using commercial shampoo and conditioner. My hair feels amazing and I am much happier knowing that I am no longer consistently putting nuerotoxins on my scalp.

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on January 09, 2012:

Vinaya, I have felt that before. My hair was almost down to my armpit and I cut it above my shoulders. At first it was fun, but after a few weeks I began to miss my hair. Another instance I went to a highly reputable spa and the stylist cut most of the hair off one side of my head and left the other as is. It's a horrible haircut when it's lopsided. Thanks for commenting and sharing your time : )

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on January 09, 2012:

After growing my hair for six years, I went to the barber and asked him to cut. I felt like my body parts being cut. I was so much attached to my hair. Have you ever felt this?

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on January 09, 2012:

Thanks for voting SanneL and cr00059n. It is very easy to cut your own hair. Just cut a little at first and after your first successful cut you'll become more adventurous. It can become addicting but it is also very liberating to know you'll never have to blame someone else again for a bad haircut.

SanneL from Sweden on January 09, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your hair horrors with us. I had my shares of "screams in the mirror" myself, so I decided to start cutting or "pulling" my hair myself, and I'm always happy with the results. It is very easy as soon as you get the hang of it.

Great hub!

Voted up!

cr00059n on January 05, 2012:

An interesting yet resourceful article on cutting hair. Thanks for a nicely written article with great depiction images. Up Up Goes for Your Article.

Barbara C from Andalucia, Spain on January 04, 2012:

When I last went to the hairdresser she used these odd serrated scissors - I guess these achieved the same effect. She doesn't speak English & my Spanish isn't good enough for me to have asked her though!

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on January 04, 2012:

Have you ever had a stylist pull the scissors through your hair as they cut little pieces along the way? Pulling up sections of hair I'd let the bottom 6 inches or so hang towards the floor. Starting near your hand point the scissors towards the floor, parallel to the hair. As you move the scissors towards the ends of the hair make little cuts along the way. The scissors move pretty quickly. It should feel more like the scissors are pulling your hair than cutting it. Basically it cuts random pieces along the way creating the invisible layers. It helps keep the hair from looking heavy.

Barbara C from Andalucia, Spain on January 04, 2012:

mmm - 'invisible layers' I'm intrigued - how do you do those?

I just succumbed an hour or so ago and cut my fringe as it was getting in my eyes :D

Jennifer Essary (author) from Idaho on January 04, 2012:

Suki, Luckily I don't have to color my hair yet, but I have colored it a few times myself for fun. I think good stylists will cut your hair exactly how you ask them to. I've had several horrible haircuts in my life and I vow to never go down that road again. It's very freeing to know I can have any haircut I want whenever I want. I've recently experimented with invisible layers. They're pretty easy to do. Thanks for stopping by : )

Barbara C from Andalucia, Spain on January 04, 2012:

Hi Jennifer - I, too, have been down this road! I'd been going to the same hairdresser for about 15 years in the UK (male, gay - but into 'conventional' cuts ha-ha) but, when I moved out to Spain about ten years ago, I had one hair disaster after another trying out different stylists that were recommended but just didn't suit me.

After a while I decided to just give it a go myself. I'd remembered reading an article about cutting long layers by pulling the hair into a pony tail on top of your head and cutting across so that the hair falls naturally into long layers, so that was the method I decided to try.

Like you, I started by cutting just a small amount at first, but became bolder as time went by - I did this for nearly four years and just recently went for a cut by a young Spanish girl as I felt it was time! I'm quite pleased with it but think I'll soon be going back to DIY :)

ps - I also colour and highlight my own hair - I've trained my husband to pull the hair through the cap at the back ;) and I reckon I've saved a fortune over the years!

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