Want all the details on how to trim your own natural hair? We are going to get into the benefits and the how to’s of trimming your kinky, coily, or curly hair by yourself.
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A question I get a lot is “Do you trim your own Natural Hair?” and the answer is, yes. Yes I do. I’ve had a pretty bad history with hairstylists, so I discovered awhile back, that learning how to do my own hair was the best path.
I live in Vancouver, BC, which has a relatively small Black community. To be fair, over the past 5 years alone, it’s grown tremendously… but, I still find hair salon options to be limited (and much more expensive than in cities with a bigger population of Black people).
So maybe you’re living somewhere more rural, maybe you have a general distrust of others touching your hair, or maybe given the pandemic, you understandably want to be able to figure this stuff out by yourself.
Regardless of what your reason is for coming to this post, I’ve got you covered. Bookmark this page, because this is going to be your ULTIMATE guide for trimming natural hair. Not only am I going to walk you through how I trim my Natural Hair, but I’ll talk you through a couple different methods.
So without further ado, let’s get to it.
Benefits of trimming your natural hair
I’m sure you’ve heard the words of wisdom before: trimming your natural hair is key to having healthy, long hair (even though it seems backwards).
If you are regularly trimming your hair, your hair will thank you in the long run. A lot of people wonder how trimming helps hair growth. And the answer is: it actually doesn’t help with hair growth.
This is because hair growth has more to do with how your hair grows out of your head, and doesn’t really have anything to do with the ends.
That being said, trimming your natural hair regularly will help with length-retention, and will help you have healthy hair in the end.
This is because getting rid of the damaged, unhealthy bits of your hair will help prevent ongoing breakage.
Regular trims will hep get rid of:
- split ends
- swollen ends
- single strand knots
All of which are prone to travel up your hair shaft, making your hair more fragile and likely to break.
In addition to that, regular trimming of your hair will make:
- it easier to style (you want a nice, clean twist out, don’t you?)
- it easier to detangle (less snagging, breakage, and hair loss as you comb out your curls)
- your hair appear fuller (no strange, thinning ends)
How often should you trim your natural hair?
For the most part, people will need regular trims every 3 to 4 months. Some people are very on top of this hair trimming schedule, and will have it marked down and planned out into their routine.
Those who are less-organized (like myself), tend to play it more by ear (or by hair). I try to pay close attention to my curls, looking for signs it’s time to break out my hair shears.
So what signs do I look out for? Check these out:
How to know when to trim your natural hair:
1. Your hairstyles aren’t popping
Do you find that something is just sorta… off about your hairstyles lately? Are they just not looking as crisp and clean as they used to?
When you’re due for a trim, your hairstyles will often come out frizzy, especially at the ends. The bottoms of your braid outs and twist outs are more likely to snag on each other on the unravel, and no amount of patience, care and oil can smooth them out.
2. Your ends feel dry and rough to the touch
Do the ends of your strands feel dry, rough, and a little crunchy? No matter how much product or oil you put on them?
Whenever I feel like I just can’t get the ends of my hair to stay hydrated, I know it’s time to give my natural hair a trim. As the ends are the oldest parts of our hair, they are likely to be more damaged, and even more porous than the rest of the hair shaft. This means it’s harder for them to retain moisture.
If your hair isn’t retaining moisture, it is more likely to split, and those splits are more likely to travel up the hair strand and cause breakage.
3. Your hair is difficult to detangle
Detangling natural hair in general is always a drag. But if you’re noticing that your curls are consistently, and progressively getting harder and harder to detangle, you probably are overdue for a trim.
This is because all those split ends and single strand knots we mentioned earlier are likely getting all tangled up with each other.
BONUS: You can SEE the split ends creeping up your strands
Okay at this point, I don’t know what to tell you. If the damage to your hair is that visible, it is time to get the scissors out, or go see a stylist for a much-needed trim.
I know a lot of people with Natural Hair are super resistant to losing even the slightest length, but keep reminding yourself of those benefits, and persevere.
How much of your hair should you trim?
Okay, you’ve finally built up the courage to cut off a bit of your ends. Now you’re wondering: how much of your natural hair do you really have to part with?
The answer will vary depending on how long it’s been since your last trim. The longer it’s been since your last trim, the more you will likely have to cut off.
But if you are staying on top of trimming your natural hair every 3 to 4 months, you will probably only have to trim about half an inch off each time.
Note: you may need to trim more of your hair off, or trim it more often if you have been heat-styling or colour-treating your curls. If you want to reduce damage while blowing out your natural hair, try using the Revlon One Step Hair Dryer and Styler on “cool” mode. (Click here for a review on the product).
Make sure you have the right tools before you start trimming
Okay, so now you’re ready to get into it. You’re ready to trim your natural hair all by yourself, and you want to know how to best do it.
Before you begin trimming your hair, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools to do it. You don’t want to pull out any old craft scissors from your drawer.
Make sure you have dedicated hair-cutting shears to trim your hair. These should be scissors that are sharp, and made for hair cutting.
Trimming with a dull shears, or scissors that aren’t meant for cutting hair, is likely to cause further damage to your strands. A dull blade will tear through your hair strands, rather than giving them a nice clean cut.
Some of the highest-rated hair cutting shears on Amazon are:
- The Equinox International Hair Cutting Scissors
- Coolala Stainless Steel Hair Cutting Scissors
- Utopia Care Hair Cutting Scissors/Shears
Should you trim your hair while it’s wet or dry?
Now we are getting into the details of how to trim natural hair. The first question people tend to ask, is it best to trim wet hair or dry hair?
I’ve been doing some research on it, and there doesn’t seem to be a “right answer”. It really seems to depend.
People with straight hair, are often better-off cutting their hair wet. This will ensure lines are clean cut and even,
People with natural hair (people with curls, coils, and kinks), might be better off cutting dry. Especially if you were to go to a hairstylist, they could cut your hair paying close attention to your curl pattern. This way, your hair cut would complement the way your curls naturally fall.
Whatever you choose, remember:
- Hair shrinks as it dries. The hair you cut off while wet, will seem like a lot more once it dries.
- When wet, hair is at its weakest. Just be aware that your hair is weak when it is fully wet. If you choose to trim wet natural hair, make sure you are gentle. A good compromise could be to trim it while damp.
Methods for trimming your own natural hair (how to)
If you are wondering how to trim your Natural Hair by yourself, there are three main ways to do it. Let’s break them down a little bit, so you can decide which hair-trimming method is best for you!
Trim while in twists
This is actually my go-to way for trimming my hair by myself. My preferred natural hairstyle is actually twist-outs. So trimming while my hair is in twists ensures that my hair looks great when it’s twisted out!
So section by section, I twist up my natural hair. Then I’ll cut off the end of each twist.
I find I get a more-thorough trim when I have smaller (and therefore more) twists on my head. I’ll also make sure that I am trimming right where the twist begins to taper. This ensures I’m cutting off the thin parts, the bits that are most-likely already damaged and breaking off.
When trimming your natural hair in twists, you can do it wet or dry, shrunken or blown out, depending on your preference.
Stretch your curls in sections
You can do this hair trimming method on blown out or shrunken hair.
All you do, is working section by section, stretch out your hair, and snip off the ends. Just make sure, you are being consistent in how much you cut off each time!
Again, it’s best to chop where the hair begins to thin, and look a little damaged.
A comb can be really helpful for trimming too! Make sure your hair is detangled, then run a fine-toothed comb through it. Wherever the comb meets resistance, us usually where most of your split-ends begin. Trim there.
If you plan on wearing your hair straightened, I would recommend trimming while your hair is blown out, so that it ends up being all one length.
Naptural85 has a great video tutorial for trimming your hair when it’s dry and blown out, here:
And if you don’t know, Naptural85 is the absolute QUEEN of Natural Hair. If you haven’t checked out her Haircare line, make sure you go read up on it!
Seek and destroy
Honestly… this just seems not that practical a method to me. BUT. this is where you steadily work your way through your hair, seeking out damaged split ends. And then you DESTROY (err. I mean trim) them.
This method is good, in that if you are patient, you will be very thorough.
On the other hand, the sheer amount of time and focus this needs is a lot. Although some people do a little bit over a night over a week or so. You also won’t be getting all the hair on your head, just the damaged ones, so you aren’t likely to have an even cut.
So there you have it, I hope this post was helpful in guiding you through the how to’s of trimming your natural hair.
Remember to get some good hair-cutting shears before you start, and to not go too long without getting your curls trimmed.
And if you’re looking to continue reading about Natural Hair Care, read these related posts:
- Learn Your Hair Porosity (The Key to Healthy Curls)
- How to Use Olive Oil in Your Natural Hair Routine
- 30 Day Natural Hair Care Challenge: Get Your Curls on Track
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