Top 5 ways to cut your own hair at home alone

Many of my friends have been wondering how to cut their hair at home without any help. With so many of us being under lockdown this holiday season, it’s not surprising. I have done this a few times with varied results.

So here’s my top 5 ways to cut your own hair at home, alone.

First, figure out if you really need to cut your hair or if you could wait until you can next see a hairdresser. This is obviously up to you, but the things I’d consider are:

  1. Is your hair looking really wiry and/or dead?
  2. Has it grown so long it’s unmanageable?
  3. Can you live with the results if your hair ends up not turning out perfectly?
  4. What is the natural texture of your hair?
  5. Looking at the ends, are they splitting or are they looking healthy?
  6. Have you damaged your hair by over-bleaching it?

If the answers to these questions don’t make you think, “I definitely need a haircut” then you can probably leave it for a while longer. If a hairdresser is an option for you, do that instead.

If, however, you are looking in the mirror and wondering when your hair started to look less Kate Middleton and more Kate Bush circa 1985, then cutting your hair at home might be an option.

There are so many ways to cut hair, I’m going to go through the main ones you can do at home. I’ve tried all of these on myself, except the last one, which I’ve only done on an ex-boyfriend (with his permission haha).

1. The Pudding bowl cut

Who is it for? Anyone who wants shorter hair.
Who should avoid this: Anyone with very thick hair that curls unpredictably.
Difficulty: Easy
How predictable are the results? Very.

The result of this will make you look like one of the Beatles. This is a very androgynous look but was traditionally used for children by mothers. If you’re an adult man, you may prefer your hair shorter. You may not.

What you need:
A plastic mixing bowl that goes over your head. The size of the bowl will determine the length of the cut. If your bowl is too small you will look like a monk when you’re finished.
Scissors. Ideally, you want some quality hairdressing scissors but in a pinch, any sharp scissors will work.

The method:

Put the bowl on your head and line it up. You may like to get someone to help you, but this is doable alone. Hold the bowl on your head firmly with one hand. Cut around it. In my experience, this works best as a dry cut, because my hair curls and I like to see exactly how it’s going to turn out.

If you mess up any other haircut at home, the pudding bowl is the go-to fix to get an even, straight cut at home.

What this style looks like:

Source: Styleinterest.com
Source: Pinterest.jp

2. The bobble cut

Who is it for? Your hair needs to all go in a bobble (hairband) to make a high ponytail with at least a foot of hair AFTER the bobble. If you can’t put your hair in a bobble, this won’t work. Additionally, if your hair is a medium thickness (or more) this won’t work. And if your hair isn’t naturally straight, guess what? This won’t work.
Who should avoid this: Anyone with hair that isn’t stick straight and a bit thin.
Difficulty: Hard
How predictable are the results? Unpredictable.

You will need:
A bobble (a hair elastic, if you’re American)
Scissors with a long nose.

Method:

Put your hair in a high ponytail in line with your crown (the tip of the curve at the back of your head). Tie the bobble tight so your hair doesn’t move around while you cut it. Cut in a straight line. Ideally, you want to cut once.

Honestly, having tried this, I would totally avoid this one. It’s not a good way to cut your hair. Likewise, putting it into about four to eight smaller bunches and cutting doesn’t work well, either. I’ve included it here so you have the information to make a good choice on how to cut your hair.

What this style looks like:

According to this Daily Mail article, you can look like a 70s pop star using this method, but look at the “before” and “after” pics and you’ll notice her hair hasn’t actually gotten any shorter, despite the fact she’s holding a big chunk of hair in one hand in the second pic. Genuinely, where you position the bobble and how straight you cut into a giant thick chunk of hair will both determine the success of this hairstyle. But at least if you mess this one up you can do one of the others to fix it! When I tried it, I ended up with the back really short and the sides CRAZY long then the front was short again, like a weird pair of dog ears, because my hair is too thick for this one. It’s a really fiddly style to get right (and yet it looks so easy) if you have thick hair, but will work out better if you have very thin hair.

3. The Half-Shaved Bob

Who is it for? Anyone who has at least shoulder-length hair. This is best for thicker hair.
Who should avoid this: Anyone with very thin hair that needs volume.
Difficulty: Medium
How predictable are the results? Medium.

You will need:
A bobble
Sharp scissors
A razor or clippers
Sectioning comb/tailcomb

Method:

Sectioning from above your ears, tie the top half of your hair into a bobble. Using the razor (for a REALLY short cut) or the clippers, clip off all the hair that isn’t tied up. If you don’t have clippers, you can do this with a pair of scissors by cutting really close to the scalp but it will be hard to get such a short cut even without a razor or clippers. Check you’ve done this evenly then let the tied up hair down, and cut it level with your jawline.

What it looks like:

You can see an example here and here on Pinterest here’s a preview:

3b The Layered Bob

Who is it for? Anyone who wants shorter hair.
Who should avoid this: No one, but anyone with curls bigger than 3a might struggle to get a straight edge to the cut.
Difficulty: Medium
How predictable are the results? Less predictable than the shaved bob.

This is a variation on the half-shaved bob that leaves the bottom layer longer, and will suit people with thinner hair (or people who don’t have a razor or scissors). The key to making this work is to cut the bottom layer slightly shorter than the top.

You need:
Scissors
Clippers or a razor
A bobble
You might need a sectioning clip or fine-toothed comb

The method:

Section your hair from above your ears and tie up the top half firmly out of the way. Cut the bottom half in a straight line, holding the hair in place with a fine-toothed comb or a sectioning clip if necessary. Next, tie up the bottom half if necessary, release the top half and cut in line with your jawline (if you do it right, the top layer of this cut should be longer at the front and shorter at the back).

4. The side-by-side straight cut

Who is it for? People with long hair.
Who should avoid this: People with hair that’s only a little past their shoulders.
Difficulty: Easy
How predictable are the results? Fairly predictable

You will need:
A hairbrush
Scissors

Method:

Part your hair exactly down the middle at the back and bring it forward. Brush it either side of your shoulders. Make sure there are no knots or kinks as these will affect the finished look. If your hair is curly, you might want to do this as a wet cut to make it easier to get a straight line. Using a pair of scissors, cut from the outside in. If you cut in a completely straight line, your hair will fall in a bit of a diagonal and meet in a point at the back, Instead, angle your scissors up very slightly, so you’re cutting in an upwards diagonal towards the middle. When you’ve done one side, do the other, taking care to cut at the exact same angle as before. If your hair is moving too much or bunching up in the scissors, keep it in place using horizontal sectioning clips.

What it looks like:

how to cut your hair at home with no help
Ok, so this was 2005, and you have to ignore the crazy bleach job and look at the cut itself. It’s straight and neat. You can easily cut this shorter.

5. The Skinhead

Who is it for? Anyone who wants to be free of the burden of hair.
Who should avoid this: Anyone who likes to keep their ears warm.
Difficulty: Easy but time consuming.
How predictable are the results? Very.

You will need:
Clippers or a razor

Method:

Starting on one side, move the razor or clippers over your head. If you are using a razor, you will need to stop very often to remove hair from the blades.

Have you tried any of these? Let me know how it goes in the comments or tag me in your Tweets/Instagram @mamaadventurez

Note, I am not with you in your house and not responsible if you wreck your hair. Exercise your judgement and always practice safe scissoring.

Author: Torie Adams

I am a thirtysomething travel writer, lifestyle blogger, photographer, and USA Today bestselling author in Ireland, aka Mama Adventure. As a writer, I have written articles that are published in Offbeat Bride and on Buzzfeed, and as a photographer, I have taken photographs that are published in local and national news outlets in the UK. I have a blog at www.mamaadventure.com Twitter: @mamaadventurez