Trimming and Cutting Curly Hair All by Yourself!

Dreaming of cutting your curly hair at home like a pro? While it's often best left to the experts, there are plenty of reasons you might want to take matters into your own hands. Maybe you've faced the dreaded uneven cut from a stylist who doesn't quite get curls, or perhaps the sky-high prices for a curly hair specialist have you cringing. No worries, we’ve got your back!

Cutting curly hair isn't like slicing through straight locks. It’s a whole different ball game. Celebs like Zendaya and Shakira know the struggle all too well and often flaunt their fabulous DIY cuts. But how do they do it? It’s all about mastering a few insider tricks.

First, always cut your curls when they're dry. This prevents the dreaded shrinkage surprise that can turn a trim into a chop. Secondly, invest in a pair of high-quality hair shears. Trust us, your kitchen scissors won't cut it—pun intended! Divide your hair into small sections, and cut each curl individually. This ensures precision and avoids the dreaded triangle shape.

Another pro tip? Follow the lead of beauty icons like Tracee Ellis Ross, who swears by the "search and destroy" method. This involves snipping off only the damaged ends to maintain length while keeping your curls healthy and bouncy.

So, whether you’re channeling your inner Beyoncé or just trying to save a few bucks, these tips will have your curls looking red carpet ready in no time. Get snipping, and let those curls shine!

Trim or Haircut?

Before diving into the details of cutting curly hair, it's crucial to understand the difference between a trim and a cut. A haircut involves styling by removing hair in a specific pattern to achieve a desired look. Need some inspo? Think Rihanna’s bold curls or Lupita Nyong’o’s chic pixie!

On the flip side, a trim is all about maintenance. It involves cutting just an inch or two to get rid of split ends and keep your current style fresh and healthy. Regular trims every three months can make a world of difference, ensuring your curls remain vibrant and bouncy.

Ready to transform your curls at home? Whether you're aiming for a fresh style or just some upkeep, understanding these basics will set you on the right path. Happy snipping!

 Cutting Curly Hair Wet Or Dry?

As a beginner, always cut curly hair dry. Curly hair behaves differently when wet, often appearing longer and more stretched out. Cutting it wet can lead to an uneven result, as curls shrink up once they dry, causing you to accidentally cut off more than intended. Dry cutting ensures you see the true length and shape, giving you better control and a more even cut.

What Cut Suits Curly Hair?

When it comes to curly hair, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. The best cut for you depends on your face shape and curl type. However, three popular styles often top the list: the shoulder-length cut, the bob cut, and the layered cut.

A shoulder-length cut is versatile and flattering for most face shapes, offering enough length to showcase natural curls. The bob cut, worn by stars like Yara Shahidi, provides a chic, modern look that can be tailored to different curl patterns. Finally, a layered cut, beloved by celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, adds volume and definition, perfect for enhancing the natural bounce and texture of curls.

Selecting the right cut is about balancing your unique curls with your personal style. Whether you opt for a classic shoulder-length, a trendy bob, or dynamic layers, these cuts can help you embrace and celebrate your natural curls.

Layers for Curly hair?

Cutting curly hair in layers provides a lighter, more defined look. The result of layering can vary based on your curl type, cut style, and hair density. Loose curls might gain volume, while tighter curls can achieve more bounce and movement. Ultimately, whether to cut your hair in layers depends on your personal preferences and the style you want to achieve. Whether you desire added texture, reduced bulk, or enhanced shape, layered cuts offer a versatile option to complement your unique curls.

Tips on Cutting Curly Hair At Home

You’re probably hesitant about cutting your curly hair at home. What if you mess up or end up with a horrendous look? Don't worry! Here are a few tips to help you out: schedule plenty of time, understand your curl patterns, cut your hair when it's dry, and take it slow. Following these steps can lead to a beautiful and balanced outcome, even for beginners.

  • Set Aside Ample Time

First things first, you need to set aside a reasonable amount of time to cut or trim your hair. Choose a time slot that works for you, which could be an hour or more, depending on the length and density of your hair. Renowned hairstylist Lorraine Massey, author of "Curly Girl: The Handbook," emphasizes the importance of not rushing the process to achieve the best results.

  • Take Your Time

Take your time. Once you get used to it, you'll take less time. However, as a start, you need all the time you can get. Allocating a specific time slot allows you to concentrate and avoid feeling rushed, ensuring a more precise and even cut.

  • Understand Your Curl Patterns

Most people have two or three different curl patterns on different parts of their head. Cutting them all the same length when wet can lead to an undesirable outcome when the hair dries. Christo, known as the "King of Curls" and founder of Christo Fifth Avenue, advises cutting curls when dry to see the natural shape and length, preventing unexpected shrinkage.

  • Dry Hair for Accuracy

If you want to wash your hair before trimming it, ensure it is completely dry before you start. Dry cutting helps maintain the integrity of each curl. Ouidad, a pioneering curl expert, supports dry cutting for better accuracy and balance, particularly with curly hair.


Gather everything you'll need for this process. It's always good to be prepared. For example, check whether you have a pair of sharp scissors. If possible, invest in a pair of professional shears. This post offers some good suggestions on scissors you can buy. Just ensure all your tools are ready. You'll also need a wide-tooth comb or a brush, clips to section your hair, a mirror, and a spray bottle with water. 

Being fully prepared will make the process smoother and more successful.


When you start trimming, cut off small bits at a time. Begin with half an inch all around. Remember, if you don't like the outcome, you can always cut a bit more later. However, if you cut too much, you'll have to wait longer for your hair to grow back. This cautious approach ensures you maintain control over the process and achieve the desired look without drastic mistakes. Patience is key to achieving a balanced and flattering cut.

Tools Required To Cut Curly Hair

You will need the following tools to cut your hair:

  • Two mirrors
  • A brush or comb
  • A pair of hair scissors

Why do you need two mirrors? Well, you need to see the second mirror to view the back of your head. Since most of you already have a wall mirror, the second one can simply be a compact mirror. It will help you track the progress of your haircut at the back of your head, ensuring you achieve a finished look that you are happy with. Having two mirrors allows for better visibility and control, leading to a more successful at-home haircut experience.


There are various types of combs and hairbrushes designed for different purposes, as seen in this hairbrush guide. However, to cut your curly hair, you'll only need a comb or brush to part your hair into small sections. Whether you prefer a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush, the key is to ensure it effectively separates your curls for precise cutting. Simplifying your tool selection streamlines the process and ensures you have everything you need for a successful at-home haircut.


Ensure you have a pair of sharp scissors at hand. The sharper the hair scissors, the cleaner the cut will be. Avoid using scissors meant for cutting fabric or paper, as they can cause uneven and jagged edges. Investing in a pair of scissors specifically designed for cutting hair is recommended. These specialized scissors are crafted to provide precision and ensure a smooth and clean cut, making them essential for achieving professional-looking results when cutting your curly hair at home.

Trimming Hair at Home - Step By Step Guide

Here are the steps to follow when trimming your curly hair from home.


As mentioned earlier, we'll be working with dry hair, as advised by renowned hairstylist Ouidad. This is the best option for beginners, providing a clear view of your hair's natural shape and length. Style your hair as you normally would to visualize the desired outcome accurately. This approach allows for better control and ensures you achieve the look you're aiming for when cutting your curly hair at home.


Begin by trimming the front part, including the bangs. Take a small section of hair, approximately half an inch, and comb it forward. Trim off about half an inch, then repeat the process with each small section until you've completed the front side. Alternatively, you can address split ends individually by picking out each curl and trimming off any split ends that are sticking out. This method ensures precision and allows you to maintain the shape and integrity of your curls while tidying up any damaged ends.


Now that you've completed the front part, it's time to tackle the back section, which can be trickier since you can't see what you're doing. If your hair is long enough, tilt your head slightly to the left to improve visibility. Work with one-inch sections of hair, brushing them forward and trimming off half an inch. Utilize your contact mirror to monitor progress continuously. When halfway done, tilt your head to the right to finish the other half. For shorter hair, brush sections upwards to see what you're cutting, possibly tilting your head forward for better visibility. Remember, patience is key. Work in small sections, taking breaks if needed, and ensure you can easily resume where you left off. This methodical approach ensures precision and a balanced outcome when trimming your curly hair at home.


Once you've finished trimming your entire head, address any stray curls that are out of place. Remember, we've been working in small increments. Gently fluff out your hair, and the curls will naturally settle back into their place. It's important to anticipate that your hair might appear a bit different initially. Curly hair behaves uniquely after being cut, and some curls may seem distressed or behave unexpectedly. Give it a day or two to adjust, and soon enough, your curls will likely return to their original form, showcasing your freshly trimmed and rejuvenated look.

What Next After Trimming Your Hair?

If you're unsure about your trim and feel the need for further adjustments, refrain from immediate action. Allow your hair two to three days to settle. By then, your curls will likely have returned to their regular pattern, providing a clearer view of the trim's outcome. If necessary, trim off another half an inch to refine the look. Once satisfied, it's time to style your hair. Consider enhancing your look by adding hair extensions and blending them seamlessly with a loop brush. With endless possibilities for styling, you can experiment with various looks to complement your freshly trimmed curls.


Trimming your hair at home is simpler than you think. With just a good pair of scissors, a brush, and a touch of patience, you're all set. Even renowned celebrities' hairstylists like Jen Atkin and Chris McMillan emphasize the ease of at-home trims. So go ahead, you've got this! Whether it's tidying up split ends or experimenting with a new style, a DIY trim can refresh your look and leave you feeling confident and fabulous.

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