Looking for a way to cut your own hair? Fed up of paying extortionate salon prices? It’s not as difficult, or as scary as it looks, as long as you follow these tips from world-renowned stylists Paul Windle and Lee Stafford.
Paul began his career at Vidal Sassoon in the 1980s before opening Windle London, a cutting-edge hair salon in Covent Garden in 1988.
Lee opened his first salon, The House that Hair Built, in 1984 in his hometown of Leigh-on-Sea and has since been named Men’s British Hairdresser of the Year (1998), launched his iconic Lee Stafford pink haircare brand (2001) and was voted the Most Influential Hairdresser of the Year (2002).
Before we get into Paul and Lee’s advice, we should stress that there really is no substitute for getting your hair cut by a professional. “Finding someone to cut your hair the way you want it is a real quest in itself – let alone doing it yourself,” explains Paul, while Lee recommends getting your hair cut by a professional in a salon to “avoid any hair disasters”.
However, if you’re determined to do it yourself, there are some simple steps you can follow.
Paul advises starting off slow – that way you won’t make too drastic a cut, should you not be entirely sure what you want. “To begin, lift the hair before cutting for a softer look. Alternatively, cut down on the skin for a more blunt, solid shape.” He adds “the higher you lift the hair, the more ‘piece-y’ it will be – like a feather cut.”
Lee adds that there is no need to wash your hair for a soft cut – in fact, it’s got to be clean and dry. “You must ensure your hair is really smooth, especially if you have naturally frizzy hair because it can make the cut uneven.” His top tip is to tip your head upside down and brush your hair forward, gathering it into a ponytail.
“The secret is in judging the length of where you want the first layer to start – take a comb and measure from your hairline where you want your first layer to fall. This could be just below the cheekbones or the bottom of your chin, or longer.”
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After cutting the excess length off, you should chip into the blunt heads by holding your scissors pointing directly into the end of the ponytail. “This will help give the hair a softer appearance and get rid of that blunt look. When you can’t see any more hard edges you know it’s time to stop.”
For those wanting a straight cut, Paul advises using clippers – you know, not quite scissors but not a razor either. These are the best way to achieve a blunt line without actually cutting any straight lines. Lee agrees and says that gently chipping into the hair will get you the look you want without ending up in a mess.
A graduated bob is slightly trickier.
If you’re looking to cut your hair shorter at the back and longer at the front, Lee recommends getting assistance from a friend. “You need to pull your hair into a neat ponytail at the back of your head, it needs to sit as tight as you can get it at the bottom of your hairline, right in the centre.” Then you cut at your desired length before chipping away with your scissors for a soft line.
For lifting and layering, things get a little more complicated and you’re better off with thinning scissors. Paul also recommends thinning scissors if you’re trying to trim your fringe.
“Like with all things, practice makes perfect.”
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Lee adds that “the secret to cutting a fringe is getting the length right and the balance to be the same on each side.” The best way to achieve this balance is to hold the middle of the fringe section horizontally between your second and third fingers and the rest on the bridge of your nose. Lee’s biggest tip is to get yourself hairdressing scissors, “this is really important as you will not be able to achieve the same look with household scissors – it will end up a mess.”
If you hold the scissors at a 90-degree angle and gently chip into your existing fringe just below your fingers, you can thin out your hair which will give you a lightweight, natural fringe. Lee advises against cutting straight across your face as “this will create a very blunt fringe, which can be difficult to correct later. Take your time and be careful not to cut near your fingers.”
And if things don’t go exactly as planned? “Straight to the hairdresser!” chuckles Paul.
Amira Arasteh is a freelance journalist and content creator. Find her making sense of beauty trends, tips and topics – when she’s not stuffing her face with the best food in London or travelling the globe