How to Cut Long Hair Short
Going from long to short can be a big step for a lot of people. If you've been growing your hair out, but want to make a big change, make sure you pick the right style and go about it in the most stress-free way possible. It doesn't have to be scary.
Choosing a Style
Match a hairstyle to the shape of your face.Are you going for an ultra-short punk rock look, or just taking a few inches off to give yourself a nice summer style? Whatever kind of new look you're going for, it's very important to match your style to the shape of your face.
- If you have a very round face, you could try a bob or a layered cut that frames your face better.
- If you have a narrower face or more highly defined structure, a pixie style may look better with your features.
- If your face is oval shaped, then you will look good in just about any haircut.
Consider a layered cut.If you want a dynamic and layered cut, that will involve sectioning off your hair and cutting it at slightly different lengths to get the hair to fall gently and evenly with the back of your head. This will take a little more work to pull off, and might require some help and mirrors.
- To cut your hair in layers, decide where you want the shortest layer to fall and then cut the top layer of hair to that length. Then, use the layer as a guide to cut the rest of your hair longer going towards your shoulders. Hold your hair out at an angle to create a smooth transition from 1 layer to the next. Then work back over the layers to make sure they'll be uniform.
Consider going super-short.Maybe one of the easiest ways to cut long hair short is to use hair clippers and start buzzing. If you're tired of long hair and want to go ultra-short, you don't need to give it much time or thought with a good pair of clippers.
- Another way to go the quick and dirty route is to put your hair back into a ponytail and just cut it off. Using a mirror, go back over the ends and clean them up, snipping the ends at angles so it'll look more layered.
Look at hair inspirations.As with any haircut, it can help to find some pictures of hairstyles that you really admire to help you get geared up for the cut. If you think you might like having short hair, it'll definitely help assuage any fears you have if you pick out some flattering short styles to emulate with your own.
- Try to find someone with a similarly featured face. If you've got a rounder face, it probably wouldn't make any sense to pick someone with a very long face to model your hair after.
Consider going to a hairdresser.If you want to get a lot of hair cut off, it's usually best to go and talk to a hairdresser who cuts hair professionally. This is especially true if you have long hair and want to go for a short, pixie cut. You're perfectly capable of cutting your own hair, but if it's going to be a big job, it's usually best to go to a pro. You can talk about what will look best for your own style, and make sure the cut gets done evenly and professionally. It'll look great.
Preparing Your Hair
Use hair treatments before and after.If it's been a long time since you've had your hair cut, make sure that the sudden loss of body doesn't make your hair look limp and thin. Using treatments along with regular shampoo and conditioner will help to keep your hair strong and healthy.
- Try to use treatments that contain keratin which helps to strengthen and nourish your hair. If your hair is severely damaged, use double or triple concentrated keratin treatments.
Wash your hair thoroughly if you want to cut it yourself.Comb your hair thoroughly and cut your hair damp. Straighten out curls or waves with a straightener tool or a brush and some hairspray or water. If the curls or waves are very loose, they will become straight when you get them wet. However, if you have tight curls, they will probably remain curled when wet so you may need to straighten your hair with a flat iron before you cut it.
- The straighter, the easier. You can use curlers, rollers, or hair tools to restore the curls or waves once the hair is cut, unless you like the straight look.
- You may find it easier to cut your own hair dry. Do what works best for you.
Use a pair of small, sharp scissors.Hair shouldn't be cut with a ratty old pair of kitchen shears. Make sure that you're using sharp, clean scissors appropriate for cutting hair, so the job goes smoothly and your hair ends up looking great. A small pair of scissors will work best for cutting your own hair.
- Some people like to use razor combs to cut hair, but if your hair is very long, you need to do some cutting with regular scissors first. If you want to finish it with a razor comb, after you've layered, that's fine.
Cut your hair on a hard floor in a clean space.If you haven't gotten your hair cut for a while, there's going to be a lot of it to collect. If you start with a ponytail, you'll be able to keep it all in one place relatively easily, but otherwise you're going to make a big mess. Take some steps to make sure that it'll be easy to clean up, if you're going to cut indoors.
- Make sure you're somewhere with hard, laminated floors, like the kitchen or the bathroom. Clear out all bathmats, rugs, and other things that'll get in the way of your sweeping. Sweep up the hair immediately when you're finished, into a trash can.
- Alternatively, going outside can make clean up a whole lot easier. Set up a chair on a warm night in the backyard to cut your hair and don't worry about cleaning it up.
Get some hand mirrors.Regardless of whether or not you or someone else will be doing the actual cutting, it's a good idea to have a couple of hand mirrors ready so that you can periodically check on the work and make sure you're not taking too much off the back. Mirrors allow you to see your head from all angles, making sure that you're not missing anything.
- Mirrors are great for checking your results. However, if you cannot see the area that you want to cut without using a mirror, then don't try to cut it.
Getting it Cut
Start with the ends.Depending on how damaged your hair is, you will generally want to cut just above where a majority of your split ends are, 0.5 in (1.3 cm) or so. This will cause your hair to be much healthier and will help you to maintain your locks. Worry about getting the hair styled and shaped after you've done the damage-control of getting your split ends taken off.
- For curly hair, you may be able to wait up to 8 weeks to get it trimmed, but most other hair types will require trims every 6 weeks to keep their hair healthy.
Go a little at a time.If you are uncertain on what style you want and are not happy with what has been advised or do not think that it will suit you, start by cutting your hair inch by inch. This way you can tell how short is too short. Don't try to get it over with and chop the hair off in a few seconds. Take your time.
- Measure off the hair accordingly and hold the hair straight in between your fingers. Cut in a straight, even line with no angling if you want a blunt cut. Hold your hair at a 45 degree angle your hair if you're going for a bob. For layers, clip off the hair being used for the next layer or so in sections.
- Remember that you can always cut more hair off, but you can’t put it back on!
Use short, diagonal cuts.You don't want to cut straight across your hair, but make short diagonal snips when you've got your hair about as long as you want it. This helps to keep hair looking healthy and flowing, rather than lank and flat.
- You want to avoid making long, straight cuts on your hair, or it'll look flat and dull. Remember, your hair will dry and won't be as straight (even if you have very straight hair), so there's little point in worrying about getting all the ends the exact same length. Hair looks dynamic when the ends are "evenly irregular."
Give it a few days.Often changing from long hair to short hair can be such a change that you may not like your end result at all. Often the change only seems bad to you and it can usually take up to a week for the hair to grow to a nice length or for you to get used to it.
- Try to style it in a few different ways and give yourself a chance to experiment. It'll always go back, so even if you're not thrilled with it at first, treat this as a fun little project. Try new styles you've never tried before. Be a new you.
QuestionCan you show a hairdresser what kind of haircut you would like? Or should the hairdresser choose?
Licensed CosmetologistLicensed CosmetologistExpert AnswerYes, you can show your hairdresser pictures of a haircut that you like. You don’t have to let them choose,but they will give you their opinion as to how the cut would look on you, etc. However, if you’re indecisive about the cut that you want, you can let the stylist choose if you trust their judgement.Thanks!
QuestionMy hair is just below mid-back length, but I am thinking about cutting it above my shoulders. Can I put it in a ponytail and cut off the main bulk before having it cut to my final length?
Licensed CosmetologistLicensed CosmetologistExpert AnswerYes you can put your hair into a ponytail and cut off the bulk of it and then clean up the cut. Doing so is a great idea and it will help you perform the final cut better since you don’t have all of that extra hair in the way.Thanks!
QuestionCan I cut my hair if I'm not sure what hairstyle I want?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's best to have an idea in mind before you begin, but if you are confident and have cut your own hair before, then you can certainly play it by ear.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I have had long hair forever and I want it cut but I am not really sure?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo for it! Look at pics of what you would like and go to a hairdresser you trust.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I not regret losing my 15 inch long hair?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerKeep telling yourself that you're just not used to it yet, and you'll feel better after some time has passed. Look for some cool new hairstyles you can do with shorter hair. Remember, your hair will grow back.Thanks!
QuestionI pulled my hair into a ponytail, and I felt nervous about just chopping off my hair. Should I?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou're always going to feel nervous, because it's a big change. If you want to cut your hair, you should do it. Remember that it will grow back, and you can always experiment with different styles until you're happy, or even get extensions if you really hate it.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I cut hair to make it look masculine?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to a barbershop instead of a hairdresser and describe what you'd like or bring a picture of a cut you like.Thanks!
QuestionI have a straight nose, what's the best cut?Community AnswerThere are various styles you could try, some more flamboyant than others. You could either do layers by cutting to your shoulders, a pixie cut, or go super short by cutting it to the shortest length using scissors and then using clippers to finish it off. You could even slightly taper it on the side and spike it a bit or do a quiff.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I taper sides of short hair?Community AnswerThe best is to shape it with scissors, like layering, and then use the clippers on it to even it out. Then use scissors again for any stray hairs.Thanks!
Things You'll Need
Sources and Citations
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