October 6, 2022

woman with curly hair looking into camera

We’ve all had that moment: You spot a curl out of place, your scissors are in sight, and you can’t resist the urge to snip. Whether you’re living with a grown-out cut or just thirsty for a change, it can be taxing to call up your stylist whenever you’re in need of a simple trim.

While we advise seeing a stylist whenever possible, trimming your natural hair is something that most people can learn to DIY—you just need the right tools and a little guidance. In fact, if you’ve found that you’re slow to book regular trims, mastering a DIY trim is an important skill to have at the ready in order to keep your hair health intact. This is particularly useful for folks with natural hair, since stylists aren’t always easy to come across.

Even if you’ve had a rough go with at-home cuts in the past, there’s no shame in taking your trim into your own hands—as long as you’re properly prepped. To ensure just that, we’ve tapped natural hair expert Nigella Miller for an in-depth tutorial on mastering an at-home natural hair trim with just a comb, cutting shears, a razor, and a few clips. Keep scrolling for Nigella’s step-by-step guide on how to trim natural hair at home—so long, jagged ends.

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Separate Your Face-Framers

First things first, split your hair in half on each side of your center part. Once your hair is parted into sections, you can clip the back section away. At the very front of your head, pull a small piece from each side of your center part forward. These will be your face-framers.

Nigella recommends doing this trim on straightened hair to make sure your cut is minimal and precise. A tiny curl can comprise of quite a bit of hair, so blowing out your curls leaves less room for error.

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Lightly Trim Your Reference Pieces

Holding your face-framers together with your index and middle fingers, use your shears to lightly trim about a 1/4 inch from the ends. This will be the reference piece— or guide—for the rest of your bangs.

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Clip Your Full Length Away From Your Bangs

Using your comb, make a part to establish where your bangs end and your full-length cut begins. Then clip away whatever goes past that point.

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Lightly Buzz Your Face-Framers

With your pre-cut guide section as a reference, lightly trim the remaining section of your bangs. Nigella suggests gently tapping your face with the clippers for a more precise cut.

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Clean Up Your Cut With Shears

Use your scissors to clean up any tiny pieces that the clippers may have missed.

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Create Another Guide For the Rest of Your Hair

Release the clips at the back of your hair and divide it again into two more sections. Next, you’ll be repeating the first two steps by creating a reference piece, or guide, for the full-length section of your hair. Comb this section forward, or away from its natural falling position. Nigella says that this method, called over-directing, ensures that “it doesn’t feel like you’re cutting more than you’re actually cutting.”

At this point, the key to finding your guide is determining where your cut gets longer and heavier from your bangs. Once you find that point, trim through as desired with your clippers.

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Remove the Clips and Even-Out the Back Section

After releasing the clip at back of your hair, use your clippers to connect the front and back full-length sections by trimming them to match your guide piece.

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Use Clippers and a Comb to Trim the Back

To get a precise trim at the back, over-direct that section and then push it forward with your comb. Stop the comb at the section that needs to be trimmed and clip whatever is hanging out. To even it once the comb is out, face the clipper backward toward this section, and slowly trim.

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Repeat on the Opposite Side

You did it! Now all that’s left to do is repeat it on the opposite side. If you’d like to give your trim some shape, take pieces and over direct them to the front of your head. Then examine your ends for outliers and snip at an angle using shears.

Once the trim is all done, Nigella recommends smoothing out flyaways with Eden Bodyworks’ Papaya Castor Conditioning Hairdress. And voilà! You’ve mastered a DIY trim on natural hair.