Between the outgrown layers, split ends, and awkward bang lengths, there’s no denying that lockdown has seen its fair share of bad hair days. Whether your local salon has closed, you’re under lockdown, or simply trying to keep social interactions to a minimum, it might be time to take matters into your own hands and start cutting your hair. If you’ve been hesitant to pick up the scissors, know that the experts say you can totally do it yourself—as long as you have the right tools of the trade.
To find out more, we hit up L.A. celebrity hairstylist Clayton Hawkins, with a star-studded client list that includes Elizabeth Olsen, Dakota Johnson, Emma Roberts, and Elizabeth Banks. Having worked on high-profile events like The Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, and Grammys, Clayton has been perfecting his hair-cutting craft since he was a teenager. He’s here to give you the lowdown on cutting your own hair, along with the best hair shears to use at home.
The first thing to keep in mind is that not all hair shears are created equal. Celebrity hair stylist Clayton Hawkins cautions against using regular household shears you might have lying around the house.
“Do not under any circumstances cut your hair with office scissors unless you want frayed, broken ends,” Clayton says. “You don’t have to break the bank to find a quality pair of hair cutting scissors.”
What to look for in your hair cutting scissors
When shopping for your perfect pair of shears, there’s a few important things to keep in mind. You’ll want to consider the material, shape, blade and handle type, as well as the size of your scissors. Good hair cutting scissors should fit comfortably in your hand and glide through hair seamlessly.
As far as thumb and handle design go, ergonomic is better. According to Clayton, it’s entirely up to your preference, although “the longer the thumb and handle, generally it’s easier to use.” However, the shape of your scissors doesn’t matter as much as the actual blade material. When it comes to the quality of metal, Japanese steel is the most coveted. They usually have a sharper convex edge, which is especially good for cutting bangs.
“It doesn’t get better than German or Japanese steel,” says Clayton. “These options are certainly pricier, but I would consider them an investment that will last a long time.” German shears usually feature an opposing handle, which is likely to feel better in a non-hairdresser’s hand. For those of us balling on a budget, Clayton says that American stainless steel will also definitely get the job done.
In terms of size, a good rule of thumb to follow is for scissors to be as long as your extended palm. Anything longer is suited for specialized cutting techniques, such as slide cutting or deep point cutting. Clayton recommends a medium scissor that is roughly four to five inches in length. “If you have super long fingers, you can go for a five to six inch pair. But generally this size is easiest for novice hair cutters to have control and grip while trimming their own hair.”
You’ll also want to consider the size of finger and thumb holes in the scissors. Using shears that are too large can put a strain on your hand and even lead to injury with prolonged use. If your scissors aren’t fitting snugly, you can always attach some small, removable finger rings to make them narrower.
The 7 best hair scissors and shears to buy
1. The Equinox Professional Razor Edge Series 6.5”
Called the “perfect beginner’s pair of shears” by Clayton, the Equinox Razor Edge Scissors are among the best you can buy. Not only do they have over 11,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, but they also are relatively inexpensive. The bevel blade is sharp throughout, which helps avoid frayed, split, and damaged hair. The crane design also supports a natural grip, which means you can comfortably use them for extended periods of time.
2. Sanguine Professional 5.5” Hairdressing Shears
Made from Japanese steel, these Sanguine shears are sharp, small, and extremely durable. The compact size gives you plenty of control when cutting bangs and other tricky spots.
3. ULG Hair Thinning 6.5” Scissors
It’s always a good idea to add a pair of thinning shears to your hair-cutting kit. This ULG pair of highly-rated stainless steel scissors can help soften lines, remove weight, and blend layers instantly. Not to mention that there’s finger protection to keep you comfortable while trimming.
4. Jaguar Lane 5.5 Inch Scissors
Clayton recommends these scissors “if you want to invest in a pair that will last you at least a decade.” Jaguar scissors are widely regarded as being one of the best hair cutting scissors on the market, known for their balanced weight and smooth cutting action. Additionally, the premium steel blade has a tip cutting angle for maximum sharpness.
5. Tweezerman Spirit 2000 Styling Shears
Designed for beginners, the Tweezerman Hairdressing Shears feature micro-serrated edges to give you more precision and control. The looped handle is comfortable for most hand sizes. And at just $22 on Amazon, this pair of starter scissors won’t break the bank.
6. Cricket Shear Xpressions
Sensitive to sound? The Cricket Shear Xpression scissors have a built-in silencer that prevents them from making that awful metal-against-metal noise. The stainless steel construction, ergonomic handle, and removable finger rings are just the cherries on top.
7. Feather razor
As a bonus option, Clayton recommends a feather razor for cutting hair extensions. “If you want to cut your Luxy Hair extensions, there is no better option than a feather razor. The blade needs to be replaced quite frequently, but razoring your clip-ins will make them look so much softer and more realistic than cutting them with actual shears.”
How to cut your hair at home
If your hair is crying out for a trim, it might be time to bring the hair salon home. If it’s your first time giving yourself a haircut, it’s best to start small and go shorter in increments. Use sharp hair cutting shears, along with a wide tooth comb to help achieve an even cut. Here are some pointers for cutting hair at home:
1. To trim your hair (and get rid of split ends)
After washing and conditioning hair, let it dry completely before starting to cut. Snip with the ends of the hair scissors, instead of the entire blade length. Use clips to help separate hair into manageable sections. Make sure to check that the length is the same on each side. When cutting off split ends, be sure to keep your chin up. If you’re looking down, you could end up taking off too much length.
2. To cut face-framing layers
Start with your regular part and then vertically section hair, bringing it to the front. Comb this section inch by inch, directing forward at a 40 degree angle. The bottom of your first inch should not lift higher than the corner of your eye. Point cut a small section at a time, following the shape created by your hairstylist (if possible).
3. To cut curly and wavy hair
Begin by letting hair air dry, then style into your desired shape. Only cut pieces of hair that seem to be out of place. It’s best to cut half of what you originally planned to cut, since cutting off 1 inch will look like you cut off 2 inches. The shorter your hair is, the lighter and springier the curls will be.