Thursday, December 20, 2012

5 Minute DIY Haircut for the Broke and Impatient

A little over a year ago I made the super great decision to dye my hair dark teal. It was fun for awhile, but the fade out has been a biiiitch. I've dyed over it twice and the greenish tones just keep peeking through. So eventually I chopped it short-ish, with the intention of keeping it that way til all the green has been cut out.

Now, I know you can just scamper over to Aveda and have a mostly-qualified student cut your hair for like $5. But here's the thing... not only am I poor, I require instant gratification AND I'm a control freak AND the smell of hair salons makes me really queasy. Like, ruins-the-whole-day, halfway-to-migraine-town.

So, I just cut that shit myself. I've gotten a surprising amount of positive feedback (though, who knows, maybe they're just all being nice and I look like a total bum. Meh.) So. Here's how I do it. It's fast, it's easy, it's damn near impossible to mess up as long as you don't go too short and you like the look in the first place. I used the same method when I had long hair for very subtle layers... on shorter hair, you'll get sort of a Joan Jett/Chrissie Hynde kinda thing going on.

Disclaimer: Try this at your own risk. You may not like the way it turns out. Maybe Joan Jett isn't a good look for you. I don't want to get any angry emails because you decided to trust some rando on the internet instead of going to a salon like a proper adult. I mean seriously, who the fuck am I? I'm not a hairdresser. 

 Okay. Now that that's out of the way, the before shot:


As you can see I am Un-Thrilled at my sort-of-grown-out hair. (The bathroom lighting was so unflattering and the poop-brown-and-beige colorscheme so heinous that I hauled off and made these all b&w. Seriously, I don't know who picked out these colors but I have to tell myself they were colorblind, friendless, and thought it was gray because nobody told them otherwise or I might travel through time and smack them.) 

Step 1:

 Bend over and brush your hair thoroughly towards the floor. Gather it up in a super sexy top-of-the-head ponytail, attempting to smooth out as many bumps as possible. I'm lazy about that, but it will give you a more precise cut. Say "Oh my GAAAWDD I love Lisa Frank! Let's play Mall Madness." 

 Step 2:


Using a second ponytail holder, gather the hair up again near the end. (Think "weird unattractive bumpy ponytail thing inspired by Princess Jasmine that weird kids used to wear in the 90's.") You want to place it as far from the tips as you want to cut, because you'll be cutting that free-hanging bit off. Unless you have done this before or are very brave, you're going to want to start with less than I'm using here. 

 Step 3:


Cut just above the second hairtie in as straight a line as you can manage. Use real haircutting scissors that are sharp and not used for any other purpose. They're not expensive (as long as you're not buying the really truly professional ones) and they'll do less damage to your hair. You don't want to cause split ends already, do ya? This is also a good time to make creepy Cindy-Lou-Who faces by puffing out your upper lip and text them to your significant other or parents. 

 Step 4: 


Remove the second hairtie and take a moment to flip around your weird, super-flat-top ponytail. It's fun. Then take out the other one and finger-comb your hairs back into the places they belong.


Done! Just like any other haircut it will look a little better after a wash (and probably would look better if I had been cutting my hair when it had dried straight and not all wavy and mushy, but remember that instant gratification thing we talked about? Anyway you can get a better idea of the results by looking at, like, any picture of me from the last year.) It also helps if you don't hold the camera at an angle that eliminates your neck. Anyway, now you look like an 80's chick-rocker. Put on some eyeliner and bang your head around a little. This haircut is very easy to maintain, since to trim the ends all you have to do is put it up in that ponytail again. If the layering is a little too drastic for you and you want to minimize the Joan-Jett-i-ness, trimming an inch or so off the longest, bottommost layer (perhaps with the help of a friend) will tone it down. If it's still too long, go back to the beginning and take a little more off this time.

Optional step (that makes it slightly less easy to maintain): I prefer for my hair to have a slight angled-bob thing going on, with it a little shorter in the back and longer in the front. It eliminates that little ducktail effect you see in the photo above (and to which my hair is prone for some reason.) To do that, just do the same thing you just did, except with a ponytail at the back of your head instead of the top. Obviously, plan ahead for this step since it will take a little length off too. 


(That is like, a picture of a reflection of a reflection. It is pure luck and chance that I actually got an in-focus shot of the body part I was aiming for.) Voila! You now have a crappy free haircut! Next time I do my bangs I'll see if I can get Travis to take photos- that one I don't think I can shoot on my own (not that I did a super bangup job this time, but hey.) 


  1. Great for long layers too! A friend taught me this trick and she learned it from... a hair dresser!

    1. Woohoo, I'm legit! My hairdress friend coaxed me into telling him how I cut my hair and then just sighed sadly. I promised him I'd let him do something cool with it someday when I can afford to pay him, haha.

  2. Back in the er, um, many years ago, the approved method was to brush your hair as you described, but gather it into your fist and trim over a wastebasket. I like the idea of bands. Much more precise. ;)

    1. I've seen the "dangle your head over the edge of the bed and have someone cut straight across" method, but that requires having someone around who you trust to cut straight lines, haha. I started using the hairties back when I was just trimming the ends off my long hair, because if you fasten them tight enough you won't get any weird angles when you pull the ends of your hair over your shoulder to cut.



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