Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How To Cut Your Own Hair Tutorial

Well, I promised you AGES ago to publish a video of me cutting my own hair. I did video the process, but Blogger simply will not permit me to upload the video - I've tried I don't know HOW many times.

It's been so long, in fact, that it's time for me to cut my hair again! This time, I took pictures instead of videoing. I am therefore very pleased to present my first tutorial; How to Cut Your Own Hair.

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional hair stylist, and I have no idea if I do this the "correct" way. But it works!

Here is my "before" picture. When my hair looks like this - wavy, no frizz, etc. -  it's hard to make up my mind to cut it. And I like long hair. But if it gets much past this point, I start getting headaches from the weight when I wear it up. Honest. It's a lot of hair.

A lot of hair. There was more in the back. Thick hair is a blessing, but it's also very time-consuming to cut. But to me, it's worth it! I love the freedom of cutting my own hair, though I admit I was terrified the first few times.  

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to give yourself layers, and taper those layers around your face. 

To begin, start with semi-clean (not oily) hair, and comb it out until it is tangle-free. I cut my hair dry, because it gets too curly if I wet it. Straight hair is easier to cut. (Plus, wet hair clippings stick to everything!) But it helps if my hair isn't too freshly washed - it lays better. 

Gather your tools:
- a mirror with good lighting (preferably over a counter or sink where clean-up is easy)
- hair scissors (not sewing or craft scissors!)
- a fine tooth comb 
- a wide tooth comb
- claw clips of various sizes
- several ponytail holders  

You're going to begin by dividing your hair into quarters; a left and right section, and a top and bottom to each of those halves. Claw-clip the left and right top sections at the very top of your head. If you have bangs, roll them up and bobby pin them out of the way. In the picture below, I have my bangs pinned up, the top two sections claw-clipped up, and one side of my lower section is clipped to one side, while I work with the remaining section: 

Picture A
 Note that the line which divides the top and bottom sections runs in a horse-shoe manner around my head, about an inch and a half above my ears. It's not the actual "halfway point" on my scalp (it's more than halfway up my head), but dividing my hair there creates equal amounts of hair in the top and bottom sections, because most people have more hair on top than on the bottom. If you gathered the top and bottom sections into two ponytails, they should be the same thickness. This is very important.

Now, I began by chopping my lower sections of hair to the length I wanted the longest layer to be. I do this by bringing my hair forward, over my shoulder, and cutting it where I can see it. On my shoulder, it looks like the hair is cut straight across, but when I toss it back to where it hangs down my back, the center section is a little longer - hence, the tapering. Does that make sense? I didn't get good pictures of that part.

Picture B
Anyway, in the above picture, you can see how my lower sections of hair look straight when they are brought forward onto my shoulders. It looked tapered when I tossed it back over my shoulders. You can also see how I feel when I chop off my hair. Worried! Is this really what I want? Did I really want to cut my hair? No matter how many times I do it, my heart always skips a beat when that first shock hits me.

When cutting your hair, do small sections at a time, and watch yourself in the mirror, with your head held naturally, rather than trying to watch your actual hair and scissors. Do you see the section of hair I'm holding out in Picture A, above? I've pulled out a section that is vertical, running from the floor to the ceiling, rather than crossways around my head. That is how I work on my hair - small vertical sections. When I actually cut that section, I would bring it down to my shoulders and snip it even with the previous sections.

Okay - once you get your bottom sections looking like Picture B, you have your base length established. This is the length of your longest layers. Now you're going to add the rest of the layers. Guess how? Picture A again! Scroll back up and notice where and how I am holding my hair. See how my fingers run vertically, pointing at the ceiling? You want your scissor blades to do the same thing, and snip your hair (in vertical sections - very important!) so that it looks like the edges of your hair are at a right angle to the floor.

Now, you will notice when you pull your hair out to the side like that, that some strands of hair are much longer than others - all in the same section. The short strands are your long layers - don't touch them. But the strands that look like they're too long - well, trim them, and you will get your nice right angle between floor and hair. It's very important that you bring your hair up to the same angle each time, but you can pick which angle you want that to be. Straight out from your head - like I did - gives a nice obvious but gentle layer. Something higher would be more drastic, and anything lower than straight out from the head would be very gradual - hardly noticeable as layers.

This step is hard to explain in writing, so feel free to ask questions if I'm not clear enough. I like to work from back to front - and this time, try not to pull your back hair forward very far - just as far as it needs to be for you to see it to cut it.

Okay. Deep breath. You're done with step one on your first section of hair! Repeat on the other lower side, (comparing often with strands of hair on the first side, to be sure they match in length!) then claw-clip both lower sections in the back of your head, leaving a small bit out on both sides, so you have something to guide you as you cut the top sections.

In the picture below, my bottom sections are pinned back, and I'm using a pony tail trick to achieve layers. Ponytailing your entire section of hair ensures that it is all held out at the same angle. (Just be sure to get the ponytail at the exact same height when you do the other side of the head!)

 Do you see how some pieces of hair I'm holding are already short, just beyond my fingertips? Those are my "guide" strands, and I would trim everything to match them, keeping in mind that I want everything to be at a right angle to the floor. Here, I'm not bothering to trim my hair to the "base length" first - I'm trimming it and layering it all at once, so I have a lot to cut off. Those shorter "guide strands" are probably the pieces that I left out from the bottom section, to show me how short to cut the top section. You can see the amount of hair I left out from the bottom section, on the other side of my head, hanging free.

Okay, so now we've done all four sections - chopping off length and adding layers. Pause to evaluate:

Picture D
 These layers are very gentle - not much difference between the longest ones and the shorter ones. I decide that I want something more drastic.

Remember how I said that the higher the angle when you cut, the more drastic the layers?
I actually took this picture at the beginning of the hair cut, which is why my hair looks longer. But this is what I did to add some more "drastic" (aka "shorter) layers. Just comb it all into a really smooth ponytail at the tippy top of the head, twist it, and you'll see several sections sticking out longer than all the others. Those are the top pieces of hair, when your hair is hanging normally. Trim them straight across, keeping your hair held straight up (that can be a bit of a stretch!).

Okay, so now we have something that looks like Picture D again. Do you notice how the area of hair around my face is so.....straight? So hard-edged? I wanted to soften that. So here's how you add tapering around the face....

Part your hair in a "headband" way, from ear to ear. Make the "headband" sit pretty far back on your head. Comb everything forward. 

Divide that hair in the middle, then into three vertical sections on each side. In the picture below, I'm holding the two front vertical sections forward, the middle sections are clipped on either side, and the back sections are hanging free.  

 Cut this hair the way your would bangs - comb it straight out, and cut straight across. Make the sections closest to your face the shortest, (in my case, an inch or two longer than my bangs) and each successive layer longer, until the back sections are cut just a little bit shorter than the short layers on the body of your hair.

This is what the front section of my hair looks like now. Much better, don't you think?
 And then we let everything down and take a look! Try to spot any "stragglers" and trim them up.

Total time elapsed? Well.....about an hour and ten minutes, I think. Yikes! But I've done it in 40 minutes before. Taking pictures must have been the problem. :) 

Now it's time for a shower and styling. I blow dried my hair and straightened most of it, letting just the ends air dry, so they would curl.  


And if I wash it and let it curl naturally, this is what it looks like: (sorry about the dirty mirror!)  

So....that was a loooong post! Thanks for hanging in there. What do you think? Something you want to try? Have you ever cut your own hair? Anything to share? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely! Makes me want to try it, although I am loving mine more and more as it grows! I totally understand about the headaches. Ponytails give me those sometimes because mine is so heavy!


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