Cutting your own hair at home is nobody’s first choice, but during the previous two lockdowns, it’s been inevitable for many people who couldn’t wait for their next appointment at the hairdressers.
It’s now the only option yet again, as Boris Johnson has announced that the whole of England will be going into a third national lockdown at midnight on 5 January.
The new strict measures mean that the whole population is required to stay at home other than for limited exceptions, household mixing is banned and all schools and colleges will close. Non-essentials businesses must also shut their doors again, including gyms, restaurants, bars and salons.
However, just because we’re unable to get to the hairdressers, it doesn’t mean our hair has stopped growing, with many of us battling split ends, overgrown highlights and beards during lockdown.
If you can’t wait any longer to tidy up your locks, read our guide to cutting your hair from home, with advice from the hairdressers themselves.
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Far from simple, many hairdressers have trained for years to master the skill and hairdresser and founder of Buller & Rice, Anita Rice, advises it’s not a decision to take lightly. “I definitely don’t recommend anyone trying to cut their own hair. Nearly 100 per cent of the time it doesn’t come out how you imagined,” she told The Independent.
But if desperate times call for desperate measures, there are steps to take that can help you avoid disaster.
“Use small blades ie nail scissors; the smaller the blade, the smaller the mistake. For long hair trims, plait your hair to one side over your shoulder, tie a hairband one inch up from the very ends so you can see all the ends in one bunch, then hold the hairband and make small vertical snips (by doing vertical snips you will lessen your chances of cut lines). Once you feel you have trimmed all of the longest pieces undo the plait and repeat on the other side.”
Her advice for cutting shorter hairstyles is to proceed with caution, as it’s much harder to get right. “Don’t get too scissor happy, hang in there. Have a go at the edges/sideburns and back of the neck, if these are kept tidy you will be amazed how long you can leave the rest.”
Songwriter Harry Harris told The Independent that taking the plunge and cutting all your hair off for a bald style is also possible at home, and in his own experience, it’s manageable. “Firstly: if your hair is already reasonably long, then don’t try beard trimmers – I ruined a pair that way, they just get stuck,” he says.
“If it’s reasonably short then I’ve used my beard trimmers to get it down to a shaveable level. I use Harry’s razors, which for full disclosure explicitly say do not use on heads, but I think they’re great – use a new razor every time, go slowly, and do it twice – you’ll miss bits. Then put lots of moisturiser on your head.”
To stay on top of new hair growth, Harry does this himself at home using a razor once a week.
As schools are closed indefinitely, you may be thinking about cutting your kid’s hair as a few months indoors could make a noticeable difference. Journalist and poet Victoria Richards found her attempt at cutting her eight-year-old daughter Emily and three-year-old son Max’s hair, turned out to be surprisingly successful.
“I’ve never cut hair before in my life but ended up chopping about 4in from my daughter’s hair. I just did it in the garden with a pair of kitchen scissors and comb freestyle, it’s not perfect, but it’s perfect enough, right now. I cut Max’s hair in the bath, he had been growing a bit of a mullet so I chopped it off around the back and even gave him a fringe trim,” she said.
“Since cutting the kids I’ve looked at myself and definitely considered giving my own hair a trim,” she added.
Digital PR and content marketing executive, Iona Jess Townsley, said she cuts often her own at home but does recommend watching a tutorial like this one on YouTube first to avoid any mishaps.
Using kitchen scissors, she keeps it as simple as possible. “For my own hair I went freestyle, just a short-ish bob cut straight along, I cut the front parts first to the length I wanted by combing damp hair and cutting straight across, then followed it as far back as possible. The back part was definitely not as straight as it could have been but I have bouncy hair so I could mask the unevenness pretty well,” she said.
If all else fails then Rice recommends to experiment with accessories and get creative. “Play with silk scarves, headbands, giant clips, turbans, fascinators and maybe get some fancy hats too.”
After you’ve cut your hair, these are the best products to maintain your hair with:
Josh Wood Colour root smudger: £15, Josh Wood Colour
Created by celebrity favourite hair colourist, Josh Wood, this root touchup artfully disguises hair growth with its innovative sponge applicator that mimics in-salon colouring techniques used by the man himself. For best application, simply lift hair upwards and away from the scalp to ensure all regrowth is well-covered, twist and squeeze to load the product and apply to roots. Then style as usual.
Lasting three washes, our tester was pleasantly surprised at just how well her hair was covered for so long and loved the fact that it can be used on both dry or damp hair. If you’re one of those people who tends to regularly extend the life of your hair washes, or needs a touch-up before the next trip to the salon (whenever that may be), then this root smudger is definitely for you.
Larry King velvet texture clay: £22, Larry King
It’s no surprise that the winning product in our round-up comes from a man who has styled the hair of countless male celebrities. With his signature bedhead-but-better aesthetic and utilitarian approach, Larry King’s velvet texture clay is every bit as easy and efficacious as the man himself. A non-greasy, matte finish makes it look as if nothing is even in your barnet while the soft, warm scent of cedarwood banishes any memory of the sterile smell we get from other styling products.
Cloud Nine the touch iron: £129, Cloud Nine
The unique technology featured in these straighteners allows them to heat up to as high as 195C instantly. Not only does this eliminate the time you usually spend waiting, but it’s adaptable – if you tap the plates together three times, the temperature will reduce to 165C, a friendlier temperature for finer hair. The plates are ceramic and mineral-infused, which we found left our hair feeling conditioned rather than dried out. While they’re wide enough to speed up styling time, they’re not so wide that you can’t use them to create waves or curls. The effects of these straighteners were long-lasting, surviving a few days of a humid holiday and even the Tube during rush hour. They also come with a heat mat and a useful carry bag.
ghd glide professional hot brush: £139, ghd
This heated brush gives the appearance of blow-dried locks in a matter of minutes. Designed to tame and smooth hair while adding shine, we wouldn’t normally associate a heated tool with healthy looking hair, but a quick brush with this immediately makes hair appear glossier, giving your ends the sleek, just blow-dried effect we all want. The varied sizes of the heated bristles means the brush can tackle both long and short styles, staying at an optimum 185C as you use it. We love this brush for revitalising second-day hair as it’s a real game changer for when you can’t be bothered to wash it, bringing shine and smoothness back to unruly locks.â
Shrimps Antonia bead-embellished hair clip: £30, Matches Fashion
This retro floral hair clip is all you need to elevate a conventional white T-shirt and denim jeans get-up. Simply clip it into the back of your hair so it holds two front strands together, and you’ve completely transformed your everyday look and added a touch of glamour. It’s not cheap, but this geometric gem-adorned clip is sizeable and will provide you with the pizzazz worth of three other accessories. It works a treat even on your frizziest and most irritating hairs, given that it tucks without tugging – a rarity in the troublesome world of hair clips.