Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 2014, it’s been updated December 2019
It’s been a little while since I did my last How to Cut Your Hair Tutorial so when I started thinking about going for a shorter, spring-time cut I knew I had to share the process with you here. My hair had gotten really scraggly and thin (postpartum hair loss is not cool, btw) since I had the baby and it was definitely not a cute look.
I have seen so many beautiful, long, choppy bobs on Pinterest lately so those were my inspiration. I also knew I wanted to keep my hair long enough to pull back into a ponytail because let’s be honest, having a little baby around means high-maintenance hair is just not gonna work!
So if you’re wondering “How can I cut my own shoulder-length hair at home?”, “What happens if you cut your hair in a ponytail?”, “What’s the best way to cut your hair by yourself?”, “How do you cut your hair shoulder length?”, and “What is the easiest way to cut curly hair?” This is the post for you!
This hairstyle has ended up being the perfect mix of my needs: easy to cut, the choppy look I was going for while also allowing me to keep my side swept bangs. This long bob hairstyle hair cut was simple to accomplish, the hairstyle looks polished by throwing in a few hot rollers (I used those for my hair in the above picture), and my hair can still be pulled back into a ponytail so the baby can’t pull it like he likes to do.
Let’s get started!
A few things to keep in mind:
- Stay calm! :) – Cutting your hair, especially for the first time can feel kind of intimidating. It’s really only scary the first time you do it. Just remember, if you totally jack up your hair you can always go get it cut/fixed by a pro but at least you have a shot at saving considerable money if you try cutting it yourself first.
- Just like anything, practice, practice, practice! – If you’re not happy with the results the 1st time you can always snip more to craft the ‘do you DO want. Opt for a longer version of the cut you want so you can have some wiggle room for adjustments.
- Think ahead. – If you have a big event coming up maybe cutting your hair yourself for the first time *might* not be the best idea. My mom always says, “Bring a tried and true dish to parties, not something you’ve never made before.” Basically, you don’t want to try out a new recipe or in this case, a new haircut, if you’re not sure it’s going to work.
- Perfectionists need not apply. I can tell you from experience, cutting your own hair can be an adventure. ;) Sometimes the hair is a wee bit longer on one side than the other, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. “Mistakes” and/or “imperfections” are the name of the cutting your own hair game, especially in the beginning.
- Hair cut inspiration – Having a plan is vital, that way you won’t be making things up as you go.
- Hair Cutting Scissors – One of the best things you can do for your DIY haircut is to get a pair of scissors that are meant for haircutting (AKA hair-cutting shears). In the last haircutting tutorial I used craft scissors and since then I’ve gotten legit, sharp scissors that are made specifically for hair, and they have made the biggest difference! (Avoid using kitchen scissors!)
- Mirror – To check the back of your hair.
- Fine Tooth Comb – I love using the pointy end of this comb to make clean parts. Something about a sharp part really takes a hairstyle to the next level.
- Hair ties or clips for sectioning off the hair.
The before and after.
1. I like to cut my hair dry so I can see the progress I’ve made. If you want to cut your hair wet or if you want to have damp hair then take into account that when it dries it will shorten up.
2. Decide how long you would like your hair to be.
3. Divide your hair into 2 sections. Pull the sections over your shoulders, and put hair ties right above the length you want your hair to be. If you have shorter hair than I started out with then just do a modified version with hair clips instead of the using the pigtail method that I did.
4. Take a deep breath, put the hair between your middle fingers and start cutting! Since I wanted a choppy long bob (AKA a lob) I cut straight across for this initial cut. If you don’t want blunt ends like I did then cut into the hair at 11:00 or 2:00 angles, depending on what direction you’re coming at the hair from.
5. Do the other side.
6. Next, pull the hair into a low ponytail and clip off the point. By clipping off the point you’re eliminating the V shape. If you want the V shape in the back then skip this step.
7. Refine your cut by trimming the ends, and cut any pieces that are strangely long. While I started with a straight across blunt cut I did the refining cuts at the 11:00 or 2:00 angle so I have a mix of softer angles and blunt edges. If you cut at the angle rather than straight across the hair will look better as it grows out.
8. Now it’s time to do the front of your hair. Use your comb to smooth and straighten the front section of hair that will frame your face. Use your fingers to create a straight line and then clip the hair under your fingers again with the 11:00/2:00 angle.
9. Fluff, then take a look at the back of your head and straighten up/clean up any areas that need a bit of tweaking. If after you take a shower you notice your hair needs a little more modifying then trim it up. I ended up doing that with my cut until I got it just right. I just clipped a little bit at a time and kept checking it out to see how it was looking as I went.
10. You did it! Congrats!
Do you think you’ll be trying a homemade haircut? If you already cut your hair yourself do you have any tips that you can add?
Thanks to Aaron for taking the photographs!
You look so pretty! Love the new hair!
Your new cut looks fantastic! You’re so brave!
Yay!! Looks great! :)
I used to cut my own hair in college, but have gone to the salon in recent years. I’d love to see a new guide for cutting really curly hair yourself!
I’ve been cutting my hair since last year when I read your last tutorial–& with great success. My hair is long & I often just pull it up & I’ve been getting better at giving myself a trim with each time I do it.
I invested in a pair of German scissors (Fromm is the brand)–pricey, but worth it, since I want them to do a fab job & last forever. I also cut my girls hair, my husband’s & my boys.
Thanks for the update!!
You make it look so easy! Great work. I don’t think I can do it (excuses excuses!) but you make it look great!
LOVE the new cut! I’ll link this post when I update my blog about my new cut. I started cutting my hair last year sometime after reading your blog and love doing it myself!!
Thanks for the update!!
The Graffitied Gardenia
I’m growing out a short cut and am not yet at the point where I can cut it myself. My hair is also uber-thick, so I have to pay someone to thin it out and shape it (or my chin-length bob looks like triangle head). I think once it’s past my shoulders, I’ll start cutting my own. Currently, I found a woman who does a fantastic job with hair like mine and she only charges $25 a cut. I go in every 10 weeks or so. No color. So it’s a pretty small annual expense. My clothing expense, on the other hand–oy!
Wow! You’re brave! I’m not sure if I could do my own, but I need my hair cut…it’s tempting….
I did my own bangs last time you posted about this, and let me tell you, for some reason my bangs freaked me out. But once I did them, they worked. I’ve been cutting my own hair since then.
One tip: make sure that if you are cutting it dry, that it is clean. If it has product or anything in there it will gunk up on your scissiors and that is not good. :)
I had been cutting my own hair (and husband would sometimes help cut straight across in back if I felt it needed it) for about the last 5 years. Finally thought – I should really get a professional cut. Wrong. I walked out with a slightly longer ‘rachel’ haircut (yes, Rachel – from friends – about 15 years later – yuck – chopped.up.layers). I could NOT believe it. I had an entire Pinterest page of hairstyles I liked that I showed the stylist before we started — all long, with very LIGHT, SUBTLE layers. Definitely NOT what I got. I can’t even tell you how distraught I was for the next 24 hours — kept trying to tell myself – ‘it will grow back…get over it…nobody is sick or dying’ etc…
I will be back to cutting my own as soon as this mess grows out. This a great, quick technique. Thanks for sharing!
I’ve been cutting mine ever since I read your other post and all the responses of other people who also cut their own hair. Right now I’m letting it grow, but I have been super happy with cutting it myself. I’ve paid for haircuts that I liked less so I say go for it. Thanks for the updated tutorial. I will keep it in mind when I get tired of the length on mine. :)
If only … I have the same texture as you (a bit curlier) and a LOT of hair. Texturizing is a must. I used to trim my hair and thin it out myself with thinning shears, but it just looked like garbage. I’ve opted to just grow mine out and get it cut every six months instead of keeping up with short cuts. It’s painful, but it works!
Growing your hair long is a great way to save $$$$! So much less maintenance than short hair!
great tutorial! i envy you though, with that curly hair its not as obvious if you do a bad cut … which i’m always prone to do. i have wavy hair but always wear it flatironed and you could totally tell where my oops are!
I hear ya! The straight lines would make “mistakes” easier to spot.
Ahh this is fab! I’ve been cutting my own fringe for years and have always been tempted to try doing the rest of my hair but always too scared! I have given it a shot -dragged the laptop into the bathroom and followed your instructions, also kindly asked my husband to cut off the point at the back and it’s great! I’ve given myself a long-ish bob – woop!! Thank you!!
Yay! So glad you like the tutorial and had success with it!
So thankful for this tutorial! I cut my husband’s, son’s, and my two younger daughter’s hair, but I’ve never had the guts to do my own! I have very thick wavy super long (to my bottom!) hair, and it is 1/3 shaved off underneath because of thickness. I have gotten my 14yo, my husband, and my mother-in-law to keep it shaved monthly, but still haven’t trimmed the long part on top for almost a year. It’s time for me to get some guts and trim away!! (I will still keep it super long!! It’s fun that way!) thanks again, Anna, and blessings!!
I am 47 years old..a brunette. Over the years I have had long and short hair. What I have yet to find is someone who can actually do what they say “yep, Mrs. Reese, I can do a graduated Bob haircut, I do them all the time”. Then, they turn you away from the mirror until they are done….then it’s mortifying!
About 15+ years ago, I really started paying attention to how they were parting my hair for the different cuts, how they were pulling the hair out straight from my head to cut some layers into it and I asked a lot of questions.
It took me a couple years because my hair only grows so fast!…But after watching, listening and asking specific question about my own hair, I finally took the plunge and gave myself a medium A-line Bob. Needless to say I loved it!
I haven’t been back to a hairdresser in at least 13+ years. I don’t tell people (other than immediate family) but I get asked all the time where I get my hair done and “I love your hair”! I also do my kids and husbands hair. I imagine that I have saved a small fortune cutting my own hair. And, I don’t even listen to the hairdressers who tell you “You shouldn’t cut your own hair”! They only say that because I’m cutting into their profits!!
So, go ahead ant try it yourself. It’s awkward at first, but ever time you do it, it gets easier and easier…then you become a pro…really!
“Let’s create a better world. End hate, war, prejudice and hunger right here in America” “Let’s let evolution happen” Valerie Reese
Please show me how to make my short hair cling to the back of my neck, NOT stick out. Thanks
Do you have a cowlick there? Maybe some hairspray or other product would help?
I Just DID it! ILove it! I feel Light again! Easy to! Thankyou SOO Much! :)
YAY! So AWESOME!
I did this for the length after I did the Lee Stafford Cosmo cut. Super easy – just go for it. I’m really happy with my result
Just followed your step by step! Love it and posted a photo on my blog! Thanks again
I just did this myself and it was super easy!! No more trips to the salon for just a cut!! Thank you!!
I just did this too! It was super easy and quick. Losing the length felt so good!
Just used your tips to cut 3+ inches off and I love the results! Thank you so much for sharing.
I am so going to try this – last two pro cuts I had my hair was lopsided and TOO neat – I wanted messy! Here goes nothing – I figure it looks a mess right now anyway, so how can I really go wrong!?!?
I do S & D on my split ends when I see them, but when it is time to get my hair trimmed every other month, I trust my boyfriend to do that. I do cut my children’s hair and between the three of us, I save hundreds of dollars a year. And the results are better than the salon and barbershop.
I have long thin straight hair. I just used your tips to cut my hair for the first time and I LOVE it! I cut off about 2 inches. It was so easy! Thank you!
Why is it that hair dressers don’t listen to what their clients want? I have gone from one bad haircut to the next (even showing pictures of what I want). Where I live, I ask someone with beautiful hair where they get it done, and they tell me they do it themselves! Guess I’ll be joining the rest of you……
DIY home haircuts is where it’s at!;)
Just this minute took the plunge and cut my own hair!
Only wanted a small amount taken off and I hate going to hairdressers – have an aversion for the ‘small-talk’!
My other-half helped chop the V off (had to put my faith in him!) and it was done. So glad I can do it myself and not have to pay for it anymore. Thanks so much for your tutorial!
I’m so glad it was a success!
Great! Just finished mine. I tried this summer but didn’t turn out right, don’t know why I didn’t think of the mirror. Thanks!
Oh, I am so doing this! Pinned it!
I’ve been cutting my own bangs for some months and just finished cutting the rest of my hair. The verdict: not bad at all! It’s quite comparable to the $20-30 cheapo haircut I would usually get. I’ll probably still go to a professional once or twice a year but in-between will do it myself.
My hair was down to my hips and it is thick, coarse, and wavy. I was going to make an appointment to have it cut when I saw your tutorial. I decided to try it and if I messed up then I could still make an appointment to fix it.
I must not have followed your instructions right because I didn’t get the V shape in back. It looks so good and I don’t need to make an appointment.
Thanks! This worked. You saved me a bundle :-)
You inspired me to cut my own hair! Because I wanted layers I followed this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lucvs8KMSxc but I never would have researched it if it hadn’t been for your blog. Thank you!
Googled how to cut my own hair, up popped your tutorial, out came the scissors and the floor mop on top of my head has disappeared!! Great tutorial, thank you so so much! I love my new hair :)
I’m so glad you have this tutorial! I have very straight, fine hair that I just successfully cut for the first time. I’m ecstatic to have 5 inches gone!
Thank you :)
[claps for Melissa]
You are gorgeous and very helpful with this DIY haircut post. The hair you are sporting in your current avatar pic is The Best. You look so sexy and feminine and your hair looks ALIVE.
I have short hair which I’ve been cutting myself for so many years I can’t remember. I find short styles easier to cut myself. Sometimes I get lazy and wait too long, but ultimately, cutting a short style myself is easier care than my long hair was. I have super-thick, wavy hair, and washing it is a pain. I also swim. So with the short, it gets shampooed more often and dries faster. There are days when I’d wash my long hair in the morning and it still wasn’t dry when I went to bed. The texture doesn’t show mistakes very easily, which is another plus. Once you go short, you kinda shrug if you goof and say hey, it’ll grow back, I’m still pretty. Seriously, I love not worrying about my hair in general, particularly what some stylist did to it.
Thanks so much for posting this! I have fine straight hair (also thick with body) that I like to keep right above shoulder length in a messy bob. This was the easiest to follow “cut your own hair” tutorial I could find, and it garnered great results!
Oohhkay …. your tutorial is reallly very easy …Although I don’t hqve guts to cut my own hair (I have long hair .. really really long and straight too :( ) but I swear this is the most wonderful site I found on cutting hair yourself ….. so i thought i might comment …..love ur blog <3 … btw ur hair look fabulously gorgeous …. :-*
Love the outcome! I have super straight fine hair, will the outcome be the same?
I found this on pinterest and thought why the hell not…I’m not in the mood to pay for a haircut and having a baby in tow means I don’t have time.
I was due since post baby hair loss has left me when stupid looking hair!! I followed your instructions and loved it!!! My friends were shocked that I did it myself!! Thanks a bundle!!!
My comment is basically going to be the same as the one above it. Two kids, another on the way, two years since the last cut, and a ton of unexpected expenses in the past two months. I couldn’t find the time or the money for an expensive cut. Thank goodness for this tutorial, and curly forgiving hair :-).
Yay!!! Just done it and love love love it. Such fantastic steps to follow. Thank you!!! Xxx
How do you manage to cut the V in the back? It’s very awkward to do it yourself. Would it work if you brushed all your hair forward over your head do you think?
Thank you! I found your tips (after googling “is cutting my own hair a terrible idea?”) and decided to go for it. My before and after lengths are very similar to your pictures. You’re right – it was a little scary but I followed your advice, took a breath, and went for it. Oddly empowering.
Great post! I love your hair longer, but I understand sometimes, it’s time for a purge. Thank you for a lovely tutorial!
This was so easy. Took me five minutes. I hadn’t had my hair cut in years & was dreading having to go into the salon and dealing with people with superior attitudes. Plus, I have no money. Thank you!!! It looks great too, though I was not aiming for perfection. Women, try this. Stop paying tons of $$$$!!!
Browsing the other comments it looks like I’m the only male to try this! It’s only the third time my hair has been cut in nearly four years as I just don’t trust anyone to do it. (And it wouldn’t be good for their health if they messed it up!)
Anyway, took me all of 10 minutes to do this and I’m well happy with the result. Thanks a lot for the guide! :)
Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just cut my hair in the bathroom in my dorm and I love it so so so so much! Since this was my first time I’ll be going somewhere to get it trimmed a lil bit for cleaning purposes but I love it all the same. Thank you again!
This tutorial works great for guys with long hair too. Thank you.
Great tips, thanks!
Would you explain what you mean by the 11:00 and 2:00 positions when cutting the front of your own hair? Do you mean 11:00 and 2:00 in relation to the left and right side or 11:00 front and 2:00 toward the back of your head? I HATE to have my hair cut straight across. I also like the choppy look you mentioned, and for bangs, too.
I did this for the first time last night after reading this article. Literally, a spur of the moment thing.
I got scissors, hair ties and got to work. It took me 15 minutes in total, and most of that was spent in getting the length of my bangs just right.
Absolutely amazing. Literally one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had, without all the hassle of going to the hairdresser, and a style I actually WANTED, instead of what I normally get when I go to the hairdresser (with photo!) — a style not remotely close.
I doubt I will ever go to another hairdresser. This was brilliant — and saved me 50 euros. :)
Thanks so much!!
“6. Next, pull the hair into a low ponytail and clip off the point. By clipping off the point you’re eliminating the V shape.”
Been cutting my own wavy longish hair for 20 years and always have the same problem, getting rid of that “point,” which is in the back of your head, is near impossible to cut since you can’t see what you are doing! Today I want to cut my hair chin-length, because it is too hot out for long hair. Any tips on trimming the point off of chin-length hair?
Have fun with that baby! I had twins in1978, lovely humans then and now. My hair is a bit shorter than your cut version, but I’ll try that 2/11 thing, as soon as I figure out what it means…..Joyce
I don’t understand the “11-2” reference. Please explain.
Omigosh! This is awesome! Thank you!
I was quite nervous about a DIY haircut, but my car just broke down for the millionth time. Even though I wasn’t planning on replacing it until next year, I may be looking at car payments again soon, so I’m considering ways to cut my spending to make room for it. So, I tried this out this afternoon with a pair of cheap Goody hair scissors, and my hair looks as good as when I pay $30 to have it cut.
Again, thank you so much for posting this. I figure you just saved me about $200 this year!
And, Gloria, think of the angle of the 2nd hand on the clock when it points at 11:00 and 2:00. I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant.
Amazing! I’m going to give this a try tomorrow. I have quite short hair and it is just getting to that scruffy looking stage. I just want it choppy and messy looking anyway since I am self employed at home so no worries about how it looks exactly and am not happy about paying £30 each time to get a few cm’s cut off!
Thanks for the tips and advice!
Thanks just tried this and it looks good. cheated as didnt trim after the ponytail stage but am going to check it again after washing it. was nice as usually i spend ages trying to decide how much to have off.
saved me the cost of a trip to the hairdresser thanks.
Did you use the 11:00 angle in steps 7 & 8 on both sides of your face or did you cut at 11:00 on the left and 2:00 on the right? Should I pick one and use it all the way around or can I switch back and forth between the two angles? Thanks!
i just followed your directions and couldn’t be more pleased with how my hair turned out. first time cutting my own hair!! thank you!!
Thank you for this! So simple and unitimidating. You made the steps so easy that I got all confident half-way through and went assymetrical. I truly think it just may be my favourite cut EVER.
This was a great step by step, I think a good tip to add is always cut your hair a little longer than work it up to get shorter incase you do make a mistake!
Really good point! Then you can always cut more! (P.s. My middle name is Rose too!)
This tutorial is awesome! So simple. And works quite nicely for my hair. Thank you so much for sharing this. I had looked at so many other tutorials and they were more complicated than I wanted.
I love this so much, I even tried it and got the look I desired! Thank you so much sweetie <3
Thank you for sharing! ;) Enjoy your new look.
Hey! I definitely want to try this but I have pretty straight hair, will this method work for straight hair? I want soft/subtle edges and layers. Not something too complicated, just shorter and slightly layered. thanks!
Hi Miranda! Straight hair is even easier to cut, specially if it’s only one inch. Bring all your hair down to your face (or only the top part, depends on what you want to layer) and make a sort of ponytail on top of your forehead, brush all your hair very well, so it’s even. Then, cut from the ends only an inch, believe me, it’s enough. Then put your hair down and see is enough for you, if you want it shorter repeat the process.
Awesome tutorial! Definitely will try this, planning to get a new look. Thanks for sharing!
So glad you found this hair cutting tutorial helpful!
just used this tutorial to cut my hair. Turned out great! thank so much!!
Very happy for your new hair cut, Tracy! Great way to start the Year with a renewed look.
About to give myself a trim. Wish me luck!
Good luck! Let us know how it goes ;)
Thank you!!!! I just cut 6 inches off my hair by doing what you did. I will probably always cut my own hair now. I was scared to do it but just went for it. So happy with the results! I did not have to do the last step and cut the tip off the back pony. It was was straight without doing it. #quarantinehaircut
A great guide, extremely useful especially nowadays, when we have to deal with it by ourselves.
Hi Zbigniew! That is so true!
I just did it and it worked out great! Thanks for the tips!
Yay! So great to hear that!