How do I cut my curly (medium curls), shoulder length hair by myself?
May 28, 2005 1:06 AM   Subscribe

How do I cut my curly (medium curls), shoulder length hair by myself?

Here goes -

self made rule of thumb: unless I can afford a really good hairstylist I don't go (there's no point in wasting money AND getting a bad haircut). at the moment I can't :-(.

since I do need a haircut I am once again going to do it by myself. I could really use (simple!) directions. My goal is somehow to cut it that will let my curls keep their shape and fall nicely (a Quidad-like attitude). I guess that means some kind of layering technique.

Directions, advice, links to how-to explanations (there HAS to be an alternative girl magazine somewhere out there with haircut instructions) will all be very appreciated!
posted by mirileh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

No, seriously...I don't know if you're going to have much luck trying to give yourself a layered haircut. That'd be pretty hard. Your best bet might be to find a local hairstyling/cosmetics school, and look into your options for getting a haircut for free or very cheap. They're a pretty standard way for students and starving artists to keep shorn without shelling out a lot of cash. (Or, failing that, find someone in your group of acquaintances who's willing to trade--you cut theirs, and they cut yours.)
posted by LairBob at 3:52 AM on May 28, 2005

Response by poster: the FLOWBEE thing is very funny. PRETTY suspicious there are no pictures (AND it can be used on your pet ;-)).

about hairstyling schools - I once had my ear cut by mistake in one of those places - so no thanks. though maybe I should add that I didn't intend to do the job totally by myself, I meant for my sister to help out.
posted by mirileh at 5:51 AM on May 28, 2005

A friend and I tried to cut my hair last weekend.

Needless to say, I regret it.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:39 AM on May 28, 2005

Best answer: Well, I once cut my brother's ear while giving him a haircut at home, so your sister is no guarantee of safety.

Disclaimer: I have no training in cutting hair. I cut my own hair with layers and all, but it's sort of purposely messy and shoulder length and straight. I have cut lots of other people's hair, and curly hair is hardest.

Here's what I would do:

First, make sure your sister is really comfortable with this.

Then, go to the library and get a book on cutting hair. Most libraries should have one.

Read it with your sister. Find and inspect some pictures of people with curly, layered hair. Then go for it.

The general idea is this: you pull sections of hair away from the head at such an angle that when you cut the ends, all the pieces are the same length. Plan how much you will cut from each section before you lift it up. See whatever book you get to help you plan the layers.

I read somewhere that you should cut the end of each curly piece into a 'V', not straight across, and so I do that. I don't know what it does.


- When curly hair isn't weighing itself down, it will get very springy and short very quickly. It will look much shorter than its current length minus what she cuts off.

- You need lots of layers or your head will appear triangular.

- I don't know what the recommendations are for curly hair, but cutting it dry or barely damp might be the best option -- that way you can immediately see the effects of each cut.

If you were in South Carolina I'd do it for you. Maybe this can become a meetup tradition (MeFi: We have haircuts.)

Let the real barbers now step in and correct me.
posted by climalene at 6:43 AM on May 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

My cousin had her entire wedding party's hair styled at a cosmetic school the day of the wedding, and I was maid of honor... it was great. We got our hair done extra cheap (I don't know what the bill was though) and we each had at least 2 girls fawning all over us. They even put our flower crowns in and sprinkled our hair with silver glitter!

Also, aren't places like Bo-Rics only $9 for a trim? You can save by shampooing before you go in and having them just wet your hair, also.

Seriously, I would NOT try to do it yourself. I read in a magazine how to cut your own bangs - twist them up all together in your fingers and cut straight across - I tried this once and while I thought it was fine, the next time I saw a stylist, she freaked... "Whoa, did you cut your bangs yourself? It looks like you went up on the side over here..."

Find an experienced friend or go to a school.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:56 AM on May 28, 2005

Best answer: A final tip: know when to stop. If you fall into that "just a little off here to even up this side, now a little more off the other side" thing, you can mess things up real good. Stop and wait a few hours, then decide exactly what will make it right, or go to someone to fix it.

I know I haven't provided the simple instructions you asked for! My googling has turned up nothing -- I thought surely "DIY haircut" would find something. Seriously, find a book or heed the advice of everyone else.
posted by climalene at 7:10 AM on May 28, 2005

Best answer: I have long curls, romantic looking curls and I've never had a hair cut I've liked. Since I was thirteen, I've never been to the same barber or salon twice. At this point, I cut my own hair, because if it's going to look fucked up, I might as well be the one to do it for free. This is the best trick I've come up with for layers.

Ben over so your hair hangs down. Make a pony tail at the very top of your head. It has to be the very top. Then slide the tie down as far as you want your hair log, and cut all the hair on the other side of the tie. Instant layers.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:34 AM on May 28, 2005

Best answer: I tried this myself for the first time about a month ago and it went fine. It sounds like we have similar hairtypes -- medium length, curly/wavy. I found this article to be useful: Jonathan Torch: The art of cutting curly hair. Basically he says not to cut it straight across, because it will curl and thus not every hair falls in the same place—you want to cut it on an angle, because that's how the curl falls.

As for the warnings about cutting bangs... curly hair is never going to fall in a straight line, it's a totally different ballgame. Curly hair is forgiving—it's impossible to notice little mistakes.

I've also realised lately that if I don't towel-dry my hair, but apply product right away and let it dry evenly, there's a lot less frizz.
posted by heatherann at 8:35 AM on May 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

FunkyHelix -- that is an awesome technique. I'm tempted to try it myself!
posted by youarejustalittleant at 10:17 AM on May 28, 2005

Response by poster: climalene, thanks for all the advice! too bad I'm no where near South Carolina or I'd take you up on that offer!

FunkyHelix, that technique sounds easy (and wonderful that I can do it myself)! I just wonder if it will work as well on my hair length. it seems riskier at medium length. though I am definitely tempted (and probably will end up trying it :-)).

heatherann, I admit all the techniques that talk about cutting curls separately sound like they should work and I'm dying to try them. Problem is I can't do that myself (my sister seems lost with curl by curl stuff). Did you do the cut by yourself? If you did, how did you do it?
posted by mirileh at 11:07 AM on May 28, 2005

I grew my hair (super curly and coarse) really long and now, I just trim straight across every month or so. Layers are much trickier and if you cut it wrong on curly hair, you'll end up looking horrible. That is why I cut my own hair, stylists never looked at how my curls went, as they curl differently in different spots. I know where to cut them so it all ends up the same length.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:48 PM on May 28, 2005

Response by poster: SuzySmith, I have very fine delicate hair that can't really get long. so any straight cut at my length gives my hair the triangular tent look. but, thanks.
posted by mirileh at 11:27 PM on May 28, 2005

Best answer: I cut my own curly hair pretty often, and get it cut at a Cheap Cuts maybe every seven or eight months to keep things in check.

I wash my hair first, then brush it out like I normally would if I wasn't cutting my hair. Then I cut it fairly straight all the way around my head. It doesn't have to be perfectly straight, because the curls will disguise imperfections when it dries, but try to make it pretty even. I also make sure that the length of my new haircut is short enough to get rid of any split ends, and sometimes I cut it a little shorter in back.

I'm not sure if this qualifies as layering, but to thin my hair out I use a trick I learned from a stylist the last time I got a really expensive cut. I separate out a chunk of hair maybe 1/2 inch across, then twist it until there's a little bit of tension. Then I take my scissors and snip out small amounts of hair -- a little bite at the top of the twist near your scalp, and then continue down the lenghth of the strand taking another little snip every two or three of inches. Do this maybe six or eight times with non-overlapping chunks of hair all the way around your head, and make sure you create your twisted strands from the top, the bottom and the middle of your hair. When you're done, brush your hair and little whisps will fall away.

This method works great for me at preventing mushroom head, but I'm not sure I would have dared try it if I hadn't seen a professional do it first. The key is to make sure the snips of hair you cut are small. If you're not satisfied with the amount of thinning, you can always go back and do more.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:48 AM on May 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have fine curly hair that I cut myself - it's short now (clipped on the side but still enough length to be curly on top) but it was close to shoulder length when I started cutting it myself.
Once I have a basic hairstyle that I've settled on my strategy is to trim selectively on a regular basis. That is, I actually trim my hair here and there at least a couple of times a week. I usually do it when it's dry so I know what it will actually look like. And I do what the Jonathan Torch article suggests and trim individual curls. The key is patience - you don't get the satisfaction of a whole new head every time, but I end up with a more satisfactory haircut than if I went to a stylist who doesn't know how to cut curly white-person hair.
Also, when you style I highly recommend Bumble and Bumble grooming creme. It's the best product for curly hair that I've ever used, hands down.
posted by smartyboots at 1:14 PM on May 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks a lot everyone!
posted by mirileh at 5:27 AM on May 30, 2005

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