An Unprofessional on Cutting Your Own Hair Unprofessionally

I think about hair a lot. I feel like we all do. It’s something that’s so intimate and so personal, but it’s also so expensive and so time-consuming when you’re going to a pro. Don’t you wish you could just do it yourself? I know cutting your own hair sounds intimidating, but so does moving out or filing your taxes. You really have to just get out there and do it.

Luckily you don’t have to go it alone. I taught myself to cut my hair a few years ago, so I might as well coach you through your first trim. It may get tense, it may get frustrating, it will get messy. I just want to reassure you that there’s hope in the least helpful way possible.

 On Cutting Your Own Hair Unprofessionally*

You can’t just start cutting your hair willy nilly! It’s a slow process. Figure out your Dream ALH by staring at one too many tumblrs of naked ladies with sweet ass haircuts. Make sure to peruse frequently “for research.” Hunt down a hairstylist that perfectly executes said style. As they work their magic, become increasingly aware of your inability to engage in small talk. Make up for your perceived social awkwardness by tipping more than financially advisable. Set up a follow up visit for eight weeks from now.

Hair-raising experience right here via sizima

Visit said hair dresser for at least six trims. This will give you enough time to memorize their movements and become overly confident in the simplicity of your ‘do. Set up a follow up visit for six weeks later.

Hem and haw for weeks on end about starting to cut your own hair as you realize your addiction to hair perfection has taken its toll on your budget. Set up a follow up visit for four weeks from now.

Check your account balance and sigh. Cancel your next appointment.

Go to a beauty supply store and cautiously circle the clipper aisle for the next hour. Finally wave down a sales person to explain the differences between the models since you are not a professional hair stylist. Become simultaneously incensed and embarrassed as they learn that you, a lady, are planning to shave off more of your own hair. Quickly purchase the model your hairstylist used. Slink away.

Hopefully these’ll work and I’ll never have to go back via Nick Brokalakis

As soon as you get home, ensure that no one else needs to use the bathroom for the next hour or day.

Lock the bathroom door. Create your haircut game plan: leave the fringe on top and create a graduated fade wrapping from temple to temple. Everyone will assume you wanted to be Miley. But don’t worry, that accusation won’t come up for at least three years.

Construct an inception type situation by propping one mirror across from another. Lay out your supplies: clippers, guards, bobby pins, comb and scissors.

Axes are optional via spencerpdx


Open your new toy and take the time to play with all of the gadgets and guards. Turn it on and imitate its whirring noise while making airplane motions. Stop when you remember that you are no longer five.

Contemplate making a sweet cape-poncho out of garbage bag for 30 seconds. Dismiss this idea since you’re home alone. Derobe.

Sweet cape

Underestimate how far away you need to set your clothes to keep them out of the hair spray zone.

Pin your fringe/bangs/mohawk/mullet/rattail back with more bobby pins than you thought humanly possible. Make sure that one of the pins is missing its rubber cap so you jab it into your scalp, ensuring you’re alert enough to continue.

Almost enough pins via hey__paul

Snap on a guard and flick the power switch. Take a deep breath and set the clippers to your temple. Narrow your eyes and grit your teeth as you make the first pass. That wasn’t that hard! Breathe a sigh of relief.

Look down. Nothing’s there.

Realize that the shears weren’t short enough to actually clip your hair. Switch to the next shortest guard. Same deal. Curse yourself for having bought a professional version with a limited number of lengths instead of the at-home kit with 16 different guards and a sweet ass cape.

Try again. Marvel at the difference between your newly shorn stripe and the rest of your hair. Marvel at the fuzziness of newly clipped hair.

Keep circling around your head in vertical swipes. Pause as you decide how to tackle the back of your head. Cautiously shear the back by training your eyes on your reflection’s reflection. Contort your arm in a way you didn’t think possible. Settle on “good enough” and make a note to even out your neckline once you’re done clipping the rest.

The “C”s stand for confidence via nemone

Start to smile as you realize how awesome you’re going to look and how much money you’ll save in the long run. Switch to a longer guard as you continue circling. Feel a sense of accomplishment! Resist the urge to kiss your clippers.

Rub your head as you celebrate your new found talent!

Discover that newly cut strands of hair can embed themselves in your skin making your fingers resemble patchy porcupines. The more you know! Spend the next five minutes removing your hair shrapnel.

Onto the bangs. Suddenly recall that your hair dresser would rotate your chair towards themselves (aka away from the mirror) whenever they cut your fringe. Go for it anyways. Pull a lock away from your face and snip your way down it. Feel each clip tug your hair as it gets caught in the scissors’ dented blades. You can’t stop now! Reach for another piece. Snip. Grab a handful. Chop. Continue shearing wildly. Tell yourself you’re adding “texture.”

Remember that you still have to deal with your neckline. Riding high on the heady feeling of accomplishment, situate yourself between the bathroom mirror in front of you and the one propped behind you. Examine your neckline and decide you want to start from “the left”. Start to move your clippers but immediately become confused with which direction you should be moving your hand. After a few false starts, you’ll manage to create a relatively straight neckline. Confidence level: high.

So content with the haircut from the possessed clippers!

Feel the back of your newly shorn head and realize you’d prefer if the hair below the base of your skull was tighter to your noggin . Switch to a shorter guard and start to make slow vertical movements.  Cockily speed up.


Look around wildly to see what that was. Nothing. Remain perplexed. You always sucked at identifying mystery sounds. Finally look directly behind you. Ohhh. That’s the sound of the guard slipping off allowing the clippers to eat an inch-high bald patch into your neckline before falling to the ground!


Evil clippers! You are no longer my friend. Via Teejaybee


Panic slightly and realize you can’t go out looking like this. Mentally nix your evening plans.

Wrap yourself in a towel and tiptoe into the hallway leaving a trail of hair clippings à la Hansel and Gretel. No one’s home but the cat? Right, you had made sure that the house was empty before you started cutting. Stupid panic induced amnesia. Return to the bathroom.

Sheepishly text your roomie asking when they’ll be home to “remedy your situation.” No answer. Oh yeah! No one’s home because it’s exam week and you had the bright idea to cut your hair as a way of productively procrastinating.

Start to sweet up the clippings as you debate what to do. Make the witty observation that hair shavings are pretty much organic glitter when it comes to tidying up.

Might as well use them for arts and crafts. By Craig Ward

Fuck it. You can’t spend all day locked in your bathroom wrapped in a towel and a cloud of hair! Your hairline’s gonna be an inch higher, but so what? Pick up your clippers and soldier on. Contort once more so you can cover the back of your head with one hand. Attempt to align its edge with the top of The Patch. Guide your clippers against the edge of your hand, praying for a relatively straight neckline. Check the front of your head for evenness, clipping or tucking away any errant hairs. Refuse to survey the damage to the back of your head.

Step outside. Be prepared to tell people “you wanted it that way.”

Leave a tell tale trail of hair clippings on any human/surface you encounter for the next 24 hours.

Warily receive a compliment. Are they telling the truth or merely being polite? Receive another one. Relax.

The third compliment will quickly mutate into a request for “just a trim!” when they realize you did it yourself. Protest loudly. You don’t know what you’re doing so you’ll ruin their lovely hair and they’ll never look at you in the same way, irreparably ruining your relationship!! Receive a reassuring hug and a whispered, “Please?” Reluctantly give into their puppy dog pleas. Mentally make an appointment with yourself as you start to buzz their hair.


* If you really want to learn to cut hair, you should probably talk to Katrina.

Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 140 articles for us.


  1. I move every couple of months, so I always strive for salon independence. I also know how my hair ‘works’, so I like to do it myself. Sometimes it doesnt work out, like when i cut my bangs at 3 am back when i had long hair. Sometimes it does though, like my current choppy pixie ‘do. (It was totally meant to be choppy and uneven.)

    One day I’ll grow up and stop DIYing my hair.

  2. thought i’d give myself a short break from working on a term paper, but 10 minutes on autostraddle and now all i can think about is giving this a try!

    also forgot how much i miss having short hair. after two years of growing out, my hair is screaming for a change.

    productive procrastination, right?

  3. I’ve been cutting my own hair for about 8 years and when people ask me how I do it I always say “faith and mirrors”. In equal parts.

    I started out using kitchen scissors, then I got some real hairdressing scissors and now I have clippers as well. The clippers were the best investment. I’ve only messed up a couple of times, such as when (pre-clippers days) I used my housemate’s beard trimmer on the side of my head and accidentally cut 2 much shorter patches which I then coloured in with eyeliner for a few weeks until they grew back in.

    I’ve cut a lot of my friend’s hair over the years and they always seemed to like the results and now I cut my mum’s every time I visit home – and she wouldn’t let me anywhere near her with scissors if she didn’t think I did a decent job.

    To anyone thinking about doing it all I can say is CLIPPERS. Get/borrow some. Totally worth it.

  4. I cut my own hair, and I always go for the hack job look. It think it work on my hair because it’s that wonderful level of curly/frizzy that makes almost any hairstyle look exactly the same. Getting the sides uneven gives it a bit of variety.

  5. I have alwaaaaaays cut my own hair. Incredibly badly. As a child I’d just randomly decide to give myself a fringe or a bob or whatever. My parents would never know what to expect when I came downstairs and hairdressers would always MAGICALLY KNOW and TELL ME OFF ABOUT IT.

    I am now doing the ultimate of unprofessional haircuts and am shaving. it. all. off. *sob* for charity, but still…

  6. My first girlfriend had gorgeous, curly long blond hair and wanted me to cut it one day. So I read a book about cutting hair and then cut her hair. She cried, a lot.

    Since then, I haven’t touched another head with scissors.

    I spend so much money on haircuts.

  7. I cut my hair myself and now I have a mohawk.

    The only time I hate myself for not going to a pro is when I can’t reach the back of my head but that’s when I bug my roommate and walk her slowly through how to trim it without also ruining my hair.

    I think I started cutting my own hair because when I got it cut the first time and after subsequent trips to the salon, they kept asking me if I wanted to add volume. The ladies around here are firm believers in ‘the bigger the hair, the closer to God’ and I have plenty of volume and body on my own without teasing the life out of it.

  8. My girlfriend cuts my mohawk and it’s awesome. We haven’t quite figured out scissors for the middle yet, and one time she gave me a bald spot right before we went to the beach. Tip, if you shave your head and you are a super pasty white person, sunscreen your head!!

  9. While getting your hair did at a salon gives certain evenness and quite frankly zero anxiety if the hairdresser is good, there isn’t much that beats a nightly impulse haircut.

    I’ve been cutting my own hair regularly since the age of 14(26 now) and honestly, it doesn’t have to look perfect. Give it a week and it evens out. More power to self-hairdressers!

  10. This article is amazing – i strongly relate to it!! I find that cutting your own hair is also an awesome de-stressing therapy. More likely to occur after a drink. And if it stuffs up you haven’t spent a heap of money on it so it’s ok! Definitely helps if you’re on a budget too :)

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