Do It Yourself: How to be a DIY barber


Mo Saffaf

The idea of cutting your own hair might be a worrying thought and seem quite daunting, but you would be surprised at the number of people that do this in order to save some money. Of course, it’s terribly easy to get this wrong! Whether your bangs are beginning to annoy you, or you'd simply like to trim everything off in a buzz cut, a rash late-night decision to cut your hair can quite easily turn into an emergency trip to the barber.

If you have ever unsuccessfully tried to be your own DIY barber in the past, then it’s probable that you would not have been equipped with some of the tips or tools that professional barbers use to rectify any errors that you’ve made, or indeed to have cut it effectively in the first place. Proper planning could prevent the need for you to take out a payday loan to visit a professional barber after performing a trim on yourself. There are some sure-fire techniques that you can use when trimming your hair to prevent mistakes - a typical barber or hairdresser may be reluctant to share some of these with you to ensure you keep coming back for a quick trim.

Whether you need to trim out a few split ends or give yourself a quick touch-up before you go out, have researched a few of the best and most common tips that you can follow to help you become a better DIY barber.

interior of a barber shop

Trim often

Starting with some regular trimming and maintaining your hair can give you the confidence to start cutting your hair more often. As your hair continues to grow healthily, it's very likely that the shape and style is going to deviate from how it was set after it was initially cut by your barber or hairdresser. Even with longer hair you are bound to see some of these deviations within six weeks of visiting your barber. Most barbers would recommend going for a quick trim every 3 to 4 weeks in order to maintain a shorter cut. This type of haircut usually removes some of the smaller dry ends and reshapes hair so that it is more manageable to cut again.

You can complete one of these cuts by yourself at home - this usually involves removing approximately half to a full inch of hair during the course of the trim:

  • Use a pair of scissors or a sharp razor to remove the split ends.
  • Work your way around the current shape of the haircut and take off some of the latest growth.

Trimming off a small amount of hair is usually the first step in becoming your own DIY barber, as you are basically using the framework from your usual haircut to learn how to cut your hair in a style that suits you.

Dampen your hair before any cut

If you have decided that you'd like to do a more in-depth cut, one of the best pieces of advice that any barber will give you is that wet hair is far more manageable and easier to cut and style. Spraying your hair with water and doing a quick towel dry can help to de-tangle your hair. If you have longer hair then you should brush it back into a ponytail and tie it up with a hair band or clip. This can help you work on layers before you take away any length. If you want to preserve the length, be sure to secure the ponytail towards the top of your head and keep it positioned there as tight as possible.

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Mirror placement is important

When planning to cut your hair, make sure that you have a well-placed mirror to help guide you and aid your view. Frame your face well and make sure you can see the full length of your hair. If you can get your hair in a ponytail, make sure it can stand straight up and is still visible at the top of the mirror.

Working with length

If you have longer hair, use the ponytail trick to manage the length better by following these steps:

  • Place your hair in a ponytail tightly against the top of your scalp.
  • Use your weaker hand to squeeze down the hair band until it is at the base of your scalp.
  • Start pulling the ponytail straight up towards the ends of your hair.
  • When you reach around 3 inches from the base of your hair, hold the ends of the ponytail and your hair tightly.
  • Start on the ends of your hair and cut them to an even length, working your way along them slowly.
  • If you want just a light trim, start by gently removing just the longest of split hairs.
  • Continue taking off more length as required and when you are finished, remove the hair band.

scissors cutting wet hair

Checking on shape

After completing a quick trim it's a good idea to check the overall shape of your hair in order to see if you’re on the right track. To do this quickly shake out your hair after you’ve completed cutting it. Run your fingers through it at a few different angles and if the hair doesn't feel smooth then it's quite likely that you've missed some of the split ends. Go over your hair following the same steps above and then check your hair in the mirror once again until it looks like you have even layers and your hair follows the original format of your haircut.

Improving your look further

If you want to style your hair after you’ve cut it then it’s important to treat it with the right product that will not damage the quality of your hair and also hold it in the style that you like. Many barbers and hairstylists will offer you a variety of hair products to use in your hair after you have finished your haircut, including oils, gels, creams or wax. Using some coconut oil after having a shower is a fantastic way to treat and condition your freshly cut hair.

How to effectively condition your hair after a trim

If you have just had a haircut it's usually a good idea to consider a deep conditioner to treat any of the new healthy roots that you have exposed. Preserving your hair after a haircut can keep it at its healthiest. If you don't want to spend money on a deep conditioner, there are more readily available products that can be found at home that can be pretty effective.

Household products that work best for deep conditioning:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Almond oil

Directions for deep conditioning

Pour a full teaspoon of your conditioner into your freshly cut hair and comb it through evenly. Obviously if your hair is quite short, then feel free to use a smaller amount of conditioner. Using a wide tooth comb will be the most effective way to spread the conditioner over you scalp in order to properly condition your hair and make sure the conditioner reaches every end.

Leave the deep conditioner to sit in your hair for at least an hour. Placing your hair in a shower cap or using shrink wrap on your hair can be a great way to ensure the conditioner is treating your hair to the fullest. One full hour should be enough time to make sure the deep conditioner can penetrate into the roots of your hair and tackle any of the newly formed ends that you just created.

Shampooing the conditioner out is the next step. Get into the shower with the deep conditioner still in your hair. Make sure that you get your hair as wet as possible with the conditioner on and then work at removing the conditioner with the help of shampoo. It may take several sessions of shampooing before the conditioner is fully washed out of your hair. This is quite normal though, so don’t worry if you’re unable to fully wash the oil out on after shampooing the first time. When your hair returns to its natural texture, it should feel soft and nurtured.

Completing a cut and then finishing it off with a deep conditioner can leave your hair feeling softer than it ever has. This is a wonderful way that you can practice a bit of self-care as well as keep your hair looking at absolute best between appointments at your barber or hairdresser. Although it may seem a bit intimidating to cut your hair for the first time, going through the process and following the right steps can make the process much more comfortable.


Cutting your hair doesn't have to be difficult. After the first few times, having followed the same style and shape you usually get from your barber or hairdresser, you will naturally start to feel more comfortable about cutting your hair by yourself. When you start to feel more comfortable with cutting off greater length, you can work at using the ponytail trick or lining up the ends of your hair to really trim off more volume!

If you do decide to use some of these DIY techniques, we would recommend that you still consider going to see a regular professional at least a few times a year. Even professional stylists will go and see a barber or stylist to update their look from time to time and check for hair damage. Having someone else work on your hair can make the process easy when they can see the areas that need shaping, cutting and layering first-hand. Coordinating all of this in a mirror can be a real challenge, but we hope this guide has been helpful in providing an alternative to expensive barbers, reducing the need to take out an online loan.