The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, February 01, 2010
D. I. Y. haircut - how I cut my own hair

I've been cutting my own hair for years. In the photo of me as a blonde in the right hand column and to the left, I'm sporting that style. I've worn the same style for years and it never seems to go out of fashion.

One day, I thought I'd go to the salon and get it professionally cut and colored. I walked away $200 poorer and not at all impressed. I went back to doing my own hair, and thought I'd share this with you since salon trips can be expensive. If you have a hairdresser you love - by all means, stick with what works, but if your stylist moved away, you're a bit brave and you need to do something in the interim of finding another one, you might want to try this (but don't do this if you don't feel confident. I don't want anyone coming back to yell at me because they stuffed it up.):

Wash your hair. It's so much easier to cut clean hair. Scissors tend to slip if there's oil in your hair. Dry hair until it's about 60% damp - not soaking wet, but not too dry either.

Step 1: to have hair layered around the ends with the hair in front about the same length in back - part your hair where you normally would, and gather your hair into a coated rubber band (do not use uncoated elastic unless you like tearing your hair,) to make a pony tail in the back. Do not put your hair behind your ears for this. Be sure that the elastic is fairly tight.

Step 2: Slide the band out to a little longer than the length you want your hair. Be sure to keep the band evenly down the middle of your back. It's easy, when you're trying to manoeuvre behind your head, to pull it to one side or another. You might want to have someone help you with this. Keep your hair as straight as possible - avoid bunching on one side or another. If you mess up, just re-do it. This is an important step and you need to get it right.

Step 3: Keeping the ponytail taught and using a SHARP pair of scissors, cut straight across your hair, just outside the band, so that the cut ends fall away, but you don't lose the band.

Step 4: Remove the coated band and part your hair down the middle of the back of your head. Comb hair around to your shoulders on either side of your head. Use your scissors to cut straight across to even up any ends. Check both sides to make sure they are the same length. Do not tilt your head to one side or the other while you do this, or your hair will be uneven.

Step 5: To layer hair around your face - Using your coated elastic again, bend over at the waist and pull your hair up into the band to make a pony tail directly on the top of your head. Slide the elastic straight up and out so that it's about one inch from the ends and then cut straight across outside the elastic. Remove the elastic and let your hair fall back around your face.

Step 6: Blow dry and/or straighten your hair if you wish, or scrunch it up to bring out the waves. Done!

If you want to add bangs/fringe, be careful to cut them longer than the final length that you want, as your hair is quite "stretchy" when it's wet and will shorten up as it dries. Most people look better when fringe is lightly layered and the ends are "cut into" versus cutting straight across. To use this technique, you need a small pair of SHARP scissors (nail scissors work great for this) and cut at a 45 degree angle, chopping into the ends of your fringe all the way across so that they look soft, and not blunt.

I use all of these steps and have for years. A woman's magazine (whose name I've long forgotten) published a version of this DIY cut  years ago. This is just a variation that's easy to do and works for many lengths of hair.

Short Variation: If you want to wear a bob, don't slide the elastic out very far for the first pony tail. The closer it is to your scalp, the more tapering you'll get in the back. The same goes for the second pony tail. The closer it is to your scalp, the more exaggerated the tapering you'll have (and the shorter it will be). Don't forget to touch up any strays.

Angled Variation: If you want the front shorter then tapering down to the back (1940's style), bend over and comb all your hair forward and make your first ponytail on your forehead, at the hairline, and then slide the band out to the length you want for the front. Be sure to angle upward and outward as you slide the band out (don't slide it straight downward), so that it's lined up with your ears. Hair should remain straight, with the elastic positioned over the middle of your head with no sections that are slack. Cut outside the band, and then follow steps 4 - 6.

Warning: once you get it right for yourself, you may never let anyone else ever cut your hair again.


posted by Melanie O. at 4:06 PM -
  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger Kanani said…

    Well, it helps to be utterly adorable as well!

  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger Melanie O. said…

    Kanani - you're too kind. You just think that because you've never seen me first thing in the morning with no makeup on. ;)

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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