Sheryl Canter

Easy Way to Cut Your Own Hair in a Curly Bob

I’ve been cutting my own hair for years, with varying success. It started as a way to save money, and then became something I just wanted to learn how to do – seemed like I should be able to do. It usually ended up an all-day project. But I found a new method, and this morning I was able to cut my hair into a medium length, gently layered bob in just five minutes. Here’s a pic – I think it came out well! Here’s how you do it.

My 5-minute, do-it-yourself haircut

My 5-minute, do-it-yourself haircut

Note that you must use professional haircutting scissors (very sharp) that you use for no other purpose. Otherwise it will look like a rat gnawed off your hair.

First I washed my hair, put conditioner in it, and left it on (to maximally straighten my curls during the cut). I combed my hair into a pony tail at the nape of my neck (as evenly as possible – side hair on side, back on back, top on top), and tied it with an elastic – not hard up against the nape of my neck, maybe an inch away. And then I cut off the pony tail. I tried to make a fairly even cut, but I didn’t spend a lot of time obsessing on it – total time, 1-2 minutes.

Next I took off the elastic, turned my head upside down, combed my hair up into a pony tail on the very top of my head as evenly as possible (side hair on the side, back hair on back, etc.) and tied that with an elastic. Then I combed the pony tail straight up from the top of my head and blunt-cut it straight across – just a little (about 2 inches) for long layers. Total time for this, maybe 2-3 minutes.

Then I jumped back in the shower to rinse out the conditioner. Done!

Now I have a perfect bob, a bit shorter in the back (as is the current style), and slightly layered so my curls curl. It’s my best haircut in years – in or out of a salon – and I can’t believe how quick and easy it was.

My big mistake in the past was to try to cut my own hair using the techniques that a salon stylist would use. You just can’t do a good job of that on your own head – there is always the problem of the back. There are tricks to cutting your own hair, and they are different from what you do if you’re cutting someone else’s hair!

As you can see, my hair is naturally curly. Judging from my internet research, this technique will work equally well on straight hair, but of course I don’t have straight hair to test it on. If you do, please post your results!

Bookmark and Share

75 Comments

  1. Marissa:

    I think you did a fantastic job. Cutting curly hair can be quite tricky since it is very different to cut over straight hair. If you are not careful when cutting the hair with wet locks, you can end up with a hair style several inches shorter. lol

  2. Sheryl Canter:

    Why thank you! I know all about cutting curly hair too short by accident – been there, done that.

    It’s funny you should post a comment today because I just cut my hair again, using the same technique. I can report that it was not a fluke – it came out well just like before. :)

  3. troglo:

    I have to try this….

    Just to make it clearer: when you say you make a ponytail at the very top of your head do you mean at the centerpoint of your cranium exactly or do you mean its highest point which is the crown?
    And when you say you blunt-cut 2″ do you mean 2″ cut off from the end of the ponytail or you left 2″ og hair on the ponytail?

    thanks, your hair looks great…

  4. Sheryl Canter:

    First, I should mention that this second time when I cut it, I trimmed around the front a little after what I described in the article. I didn’t need to do that – the shape was fine – but if my hair is longer than a certain length it stops curling (may not apply to others). I didn’t have to do this the first time because the front started off a little shorter the first time I cut it.

    As for your questions… I don’t really know what you mean by “centerpoint of cranium” versus “highest point of crown”. I mean the middle of the top of my head. If you were hanging by your hair (like in the circus), that’s where the ponytail would be. Lean over and comb the hair up to the top of your head and put an elastic around it.

    Re your second question… I cut off 2″ of hair, not left 2″ of hair – longer than 2″ was left. Looking in the mirror, I flattened the pony tail and cut straight across. The sides are already a little shorter from cutting off the pony tail at the nape, so it’s just the center of the flattened ponytail on the top of your head that gets cut.

    Hope that helps. If you try it, post back how it worked!

    Here’s haircut #2 (took this just now):

    haircut #2

  5. Marissa:

    Sheryl, you did another great job! I am amazed that you can cut it so evenly. I am just too afraid to cut my own hair. My younger sister is a licensed hair stylist and I don’t even let her cut my hair. lol I have my hair cut in layers for the days that I wish to straighten it. but pretty much I wear it curly for the months of October-march since it will be a complete waste to straighten it only to step foot outside and have it frizz up in less than a minute.

  6. Sheryl Canter:

    It’s just hair – if you mess up, it grows back. :)

    That said, it really is hard to screw it up if you do it the way I describe, and it’s easy. My hair looks even because the technique I’m using makes it even. It takes 5 minutes for the basic cut, then another 5-10 minutes to trim the front a little bit. Piece of cake!

    The last time I tried to straighten my hair was in high school. The processing caused my hair to break off to about 1″ long on the top of my head like I had a brush cut. It was a nightmare. Never again! People with straight hair want curly hair and people with curly hair want straight hair. Life is so much easier when you just accept what you have.

  7. Wisdomandtruth:

    This will only work if you are not particular about your style. I cut my own, but using a much more complicated method. I don’t think I can explain it here. Diagrams would be needed.
    Bravo to those who are not so particular for saving yourself some money and being self-sufficient. IF you learn to do this you can advance slowly. I started using this method.

  8. Sheryl Canter:

    You don’t like my hair style? :)

    Seriously, I’d like to know how you do it. I used to cut my hair in the way that someone else would cut my hair, but doing the back was just too hard. It took me hours and most of the time I could not get it right. What do you do (short version)?

  9. ren:

    sheryl, your cut looks great! i have been cutting my own curly hair for about 15 years, after wasting money at salons and consistently ending up with “triangle head”. I even hunted down curly-haired stylists hoping they had a clue, but had no luck. having curly hair is traumatic enough (i don’t like the attention), but paying to have my hair abused felt like a double violation.

    my most-used method is to first part my hair down the middle. then i start at the front, taking a section on both sides (ear to center), gathering each toward the center part, and twisting. i then hold the end of the twist and cut. repeat in 3-4 sections on each side, minding the symmetry. i guess it took a little practice to get the layers even, but this is fun and quick. i often wake in the morning and decide i need a trim, and do this before heading to work.

    i have also tried something similar to what you did, but i take two sections, front and back, pull into a ponytail, and cut. gave me a sexy punk look with my shoulder-length locks.

  10. Karen:

    Thanks, Sheryl; Your hair looks great! I’ve been experimenting with cutting my own curly hair (though not quite as curly as yours).

    I’ve read “Curly Girl: The Handbook” by Lorraine Massey, and was thereby recommitted to honoring and respecting what nature gave me, instead of trying to fit into the conventional, majority, controlled, (and dare I say “non-ethnic”) “corporate” look of straight, “perfectly tamed” hair styles.

    I’ve found some help in a few pages from “Haircutting for Dummies” by J. Elaine Spear, that discuss “compact haircuts,” which are very simple and quick to do by yourself. These may be mostly suited to longer hair, but I think your approach (using more than one “cut”) fits in well with the “compact haircutting” category.

    I also found several helpful videos on self-cut layered hairstyles at Carolyn Dickerson’s website (http://www.lookgreat-loseweight-savemoney.com/layer-haircut.html).

    It feels great to be saving some money during this economic downturn! I don’t want to put hairstylists out of business, but it’s great to know that there are cheaper alternatives, if you’re in a financial pinch. And the results are predictable, if you use the same technique each time, unlike trying to explain to a new hairstylist what look you want, and hoping you end up with it, after paying more than you can afford! : \

    Anyway, I was in the experimental process of growing all my hair out to reach a “ponytail” cut off at the bridge of my nose (which creates great bangs!), when I came across your web page, and decided to try bobbing off the back, using your ponytail technique. I cut two or three inches down and away from the nape of my neck. Then, over the next couple of days, I followed up with two more compact cuts, gathering all my hair into two more ponytails, equally spaced between the bottom ponytail, and the one at the crown of my head. I was careful not to cut too deeply (just an inch or so), and the result looks quite similar to some of the professionally cut styles I had back in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s long enough that I can still put it up with a clip, barrette, or some side combs, for a little variety in styles.

    I’m still going to grow my hair longer, as I’m curious to see how it will look if I grow all my hair out to a ponytail cut at the tip of my nose, followed by growing it out to a ponytail cut at my chin (maybe keeping the bangs cut to the bridge of my nose). But in the meantime, I think the “bob” makes for a good transition, not to mention that bobs are fashionable right now.

    Here’s to all the self-empowered women with the courage to be different, and the daring to cut their own hair! : )

  11. Karen:

    Addendum:

    I’ve been gradually shortening the bob (by an inch the other day, and another inch today) and am very happy with how it’s looking! I think I’ll stick with this style for a while, instead of trying to grow it longer in back, as was my original plan. I gives my fine, thin curly hair more body, and more fullness at the crown, which is what I’ve always wanted! And to avoid the “triangle-head” hazard, I’m careful not to comb out or over-fluff the curls after they’ve dried.

    Also, I’m going to try growing out the hair in front of my ears to a longer length than I have now, creating what I’ve seen online described (synonomously) as an “inverted bob,” “concave bob,” “stacked bob,” and “A-line bob.” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find many photos of curly bobs online. There is definitely a bias toward straight hair! : (

  12. SF_Gal:

    Wow! I am so stoked. This totally worked. Yay!

    Thank you for the clear & easy-to-read instructions, plus the follow-up in the comments.

    I just knew that going to a salon, in my case, was a waste of time & money. It’s extra awesome when you’re right AND you get a kick ass haircut!

  13. Sheryl Canter:

    SF_Gal – That is great! I’m happy to hear it. Do you have a picture you can post? There are a lot of sites that will host pictures for you, and then you could can use HTML to post it here. If you don’t know how, post a link to the picture and I’ll convert it so it displays.

    Karen – can you post a picture, too? And also could you explain your technique in a little more detail? I didn’t get that part about two more pony tails. Where did you make the additional pony tails and where did you cut them off?

    I’m due for another haircut myself. Last one was late November, as I posted. It’s grown a lot in two months.

  14. Karen:

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’m sorry to say I can’t post a picture yet, since I’m not up to speed on that aspect of modern technology. My adult daughter gave me a digital camera a while back, but I’ve had so many other things on my “priority list” that I haven’t even looked at the instructions for it. There’s a built-in camera on my iMac, but I haven’t messed with that yet either. Call me a Luddite, but l’ve been feeling overwhelmed the past few years (helping my elderly mother, among other things), and have been rationing my time and energy. I do plan to get “with it” eventually, maybe by the end of this year? : \

    As far as the extra ponytails go, when I cut the initial ponytail at the nape of my neck, it ended up looking a bit too angular in back after my hair dried, because of the way the curls stacked up, resulting in what I assume people mean by the “triangle-head” look. This despite the fact that I already had some long layers at the crown of my head from before. I decided to trim a bit of hair (about 1/2 to 1 inch) off at the point where the hair was forming an angle (about two or three inches above where I cut the ponytail at the nape).

    I combed my wet hair carefully (as you described) and pulled it all into a rubber band (fastened as tightly as possible, close to my head), to form and center the ponytail (using the bathroom mirror along with a hand-held mirror to make sure it was not off-center). Then, slowly, with the first three fingernails of both hands, I pulled the band horizontally (parallel to the floor) away from my head while facing the bathroom mirror to make sure my arms were pulling the band straight back. I stopped a few times to check on the location of the rubber band, using the hand-held mirror to be sure it was still centered.

    When the rubber band was about one to one-and-a-half inches from the end of the ponytail, I carefully made small snips close to the band until it was evenly cut (being careful not to cut the band). If the rubber band is tight, you can be confident that the hair won’t slip out while you’re cutting it, especially if you do tiny snips, and keep your fingers on the outer edge of the rubber band, so you can “feel” what you’re doing without having to use the eyes in the back of your head. : )

    I then repeated this whole procedure about two inches above the second ponytail, again gathering ALL the hair into a tight ponytail, then sliding the rubber band back, horizontally until about an inch or two from the end. I should have taken notes, since I’m already forgetting how much hair I took off. I was conservative though, knowing it would be quick and easy to take more off later.

    The results were pretty good, but still not “perfect,” so yesterday, I did one last cut, this time pulling all the hair into a ponytail at the very top and back of my head, and again pulling the rubber band horizontally back until it was about two inches from the end of the ponytail. This was where my longest layers were, and where the “angle” was most obvious at that time, so I wasn’t afraid to cut a little more length off here.

    This area might be considered “the crown” of the head (I’m still a little confused about exactly where the crown is), but when I cut layers at the crown for previous haircuts, I had always held the hair straight up (perpendicular to the floor). This time, I pulled the hair towards the back of the head (parallel to the floor, as with all the other cuts except for the one at the nape, which I had done more-or-less flat against my neck).

    I think pulling the top (crown) ponytail toward the back of the head is important if you want to get the “inverted bob” look, with shorter layers up the back of the head, and longer layers near the face. If you don’t want that look, then pulling the ponytail more toward a point above the head would probably be better (isn’t that what you did?).

    Since I’m transitioning from one style to another, I’ll be working toward an inverted bob (growing out my “sideburns”) for several months before I’ll know if that look works well for me. Right now, my hair looks great, AND it looks a lot like yours! : )

    I hope this clears things up a little. Let me know if you still have difficulty visualizing it. I am, at this point, VERY PLEASED with the hairstyle, and last night I was experimenting with different ways to style it, getting out some old barrettes, clips, and headbands I hadn’t used for a while. I’m even inspired to try playing with some scarves or bandanas, and maybe a narrow-brimmed hat or knit cap, none of which worked very well with my hair the way it was cut before.

    It’s AMAZING how versatile the bob cut is! Because it preserves length in the top layers, you can still pull the hair back into a barrette or clip or bun at the crown if you’re having a bad hair day. Since I live in the high desert, I need to be able to do that when the dry air leaves my natural curls looking lifeless. Right now though, with all the winter rain we’ve been getting, my curls look great — almost as lively as the ones in your photo!

    As a thank-you for your tips, and for everyone’s possible amusement, here’s a “bob haircut worship page” I came across during my internet search:

    http://www.bobhaircuts.com/worship_bobs.php

    Most of the curly bobs depicted, which are too few, seem to be from the flapper era. : \

  15. Sheryl Canter:

    I’d never heard the terms you used. I googled “inverted bob”. That just means longer in front and shorter in back? That’s what the technique described in my post gives you. I trimmed the front afterwards so the difference wasn’t so dramatic.

    When you make a ponytail above the nape and then blunt cut it, what you’re doing is creating layers. The location of the ponytail and the direction in which you pull it determines the location and length of the layers.

    The only “layering” cut I make is the ponytail I gather on the top of my head. That creates long layers that allow the hair to curl and be shaped right (rounded edges rather than a triangle). When you layer multiple times in multiple ways, don’t you erase the last layering every time you make a new layering cut?

    I’ll be cutting my hair again in the morning. If I learn anything new, I’ll post it.

  16. Karen:

    Yeah, I guess what I did was more like a hybrid between an inverted bob and a layered cut, but the top layers are still quite long, so I like the fact that it looks good down or up. I’m also excited to try something new after all these years (at the risk of looking ridiculously retro [circa 1920]).

    I used to always get a short or medium layered cut, which looked great when there was some moisture in the air, but did nothing for me when desert winds stole the curl from my hair. The back of my head is rather flat, so I really need the extra bulk in back, especially on dry days. That’s why I rarely wore hats, even on cold days, unless I could put my hair up in a bun, to keep the back from getting squished down flat.

    This new cut seems to look OK even when the curls disappear. With the shorter layers I used to have, I didn’t have many options on a bad-hair day, since the layers were too short to put up in a clip or barrette at the crown of my head. : (

    Your method (only two cuts) is certainly simpler, and I may end up going back to that method. What length is the shortest layer on top of your head? It looks like it’s probably long enough to put into a barrette or a bun.

  17. Sheryl Canter:

    I just cut my hair again. It’s still wrapped in a towel at the moment. If I have time after it dries, I’ll take another picture.

    This time I cut the nape-of-neck ponytail while still in the shower. Then I gathered the top-of-head ponytail while in the shower, stepped out for just a minute to snip it off in front of the mirror, and got back in the shower to rinse off the conditioner.

    After the ponytail snips, the front definitely needs trimming. I don’t like really long front and really short back. I like it more even. The first time I cut it I didn’t have to trim the front because it was already a little shorter. But going forward, I do.

    Trimming the front took just a few minutes. I just corrected the line from the side to the front. It’s easy to trim the front. It’s the back and the layering that’s so hard, and the ponytails take care of that.

    After trimming the front, I jumped back into the shower to rinse off the clipped hair, and now I’m done. I have to be somewhere, but if I have time after it dries I’ll post another picture.


    Okay, quick pic. My hair is still very slightly damp, but mostly dry. I was playing with the settings on my camera so the color would be corrected for indoor light, and in the process I set it to low-res by mistake. But it’s big enough to see.

  18. Sheryl Canter:

    Karen, my hair looks better shorter. When it’s longer, the weight pulls out the curl and it doesn’t look as good. It gets kind of straggly. Also, I don’t look good with my hair up – I need the volume around my face. So I don’t try to keep it long enough to put up – it’s not a priority for me. It would be easy enough to do, though – just cut the ponytails further down and leave it longer.

  19. Sheryl Canter:

    My hair was still slightly wet when I took the picture above. It looks even better fully dry. I must say, I am very pleased with my haircut! It’s as good or better than any salon cut I’ve ever gotten, and I’ve gone to some expensive salons. Plus it was free and took less than 15 minutes – 5 minutes for the ponytail chopping, 10 for trimming the front. And I can do it reliably. When I look back at the three haircut pictures I took, they are all very similar. I am very happy I found this technique!

  20. Karen:

    Looks great! I love the simplicity of it. My self-cut looks a little different, since I let the bangs fall down to my eyebrows (trying to hide a few wrinkles, but also, I like the way the bangs look). I also do an off-center part to cover a cowlick and make the bangs poof out more.

    The bangs are super-easy to cut using the “compact” method, where you gather the hair you want to cut, comb it out, center it, twist it, and cut off the length you want (I usually use a rubber band to secure it before or after twisting, especially if I’m cutting more volume for a “heavy bang”). Then you comb it out again, twist it in the opposite direction and nab any stragglers or uneven bits you may have missed. I pull the gathered bang hair straight down (tightly) to a point just below the bridge of my nose, and when the curls shrink, they end up just above my eyebrows. This method makes bangs that gradually lengthen toward the side of the face. There’s a different technique I found online for cutting a sideswept bang, but I haven’t tried that method yet, since it seems better suited to straight hair.

    Before I decided to grow my sideburns out, I used to blend the bangs with the hair behind my ears by cutting out the longer bits in between. I agree that it’s pretty easy to cut the hair on the front of your head (around the face). I had to be careful though, because the hair above the outer part of my eyebrows likes to curl up tight, (and my hairline is receding a bit there also), so when it dries it doesn’t look like I blended it. Trimming the hair when it was dry seemed to fix that problem.

    That’s another advantage to self-cut hair. You know the quirks of your own hair better than most hairstylists can!

    Since my hair is so thin and fine, growing out the sideburns may not result in the best look for me, but I’m going to give it a go for now. I’ll put it back with clips or barrettes through any awkward stages until I get it to the desired length, then make a decision. I suspect that I may, at that point, reject the “inverted bob” look, but it’s fun to experiment (cheaply!).

    Thanks again for the tips and photos!
    : )

  21. Jane P:

    Hi from Australia! Thank you so much for sharing your haircutting method! Your hair looks GREAT! I don’t have curly hair, it’s in between, but your method has worked really well for me also. Even though you take photos in to show hairdressers how you would like your hair cut, they just seem to do their own thing, and totally different to what you’ve requested, and then it takes ages to grow out! I’ve been going around in circles for years. It is so frustrating because my hair goes really puffy on the side. HOORAY! I am so delighted to be able to cut it myself now. And think of the savings, which will be over $200 a year for me! Sheryl, THANK YOU SO MUCH! God bless you!

  22. Sheryl Canter:

    Thanks for posting, Jane. I’m really happy it worked for you. :)

  23. Rena:

    What a find! I was searching for sample haircuts to bring to the hairdresser, saw your perfect cut and followed your instructions. Not only did I save a bundle, I saved time and effort and I LOVE MY HAIRCUT! Thank you! (I don’t know how to attach a pix or I’d send one.)

  24. Sheryl Canter:

    I’d love to see your pic. Maybe you can upload it to one of those free upload sites like photobucket and post a link to it.

  25. Debbie:

    Hi Sheryl,

    I LOVE your hair. I have board straight hair that I perm with large rods so that it will look naturally curly. Yes, you are right…….those with straight hair want curly hair :) ……..

    I definitely NEED a hair cut and was totally thrilled to find yours!! I need a new perm to make it look full and wonderful but need it cut worse. The split ends and all that nasty stuff you know.

    Last time I cut my layered bob off in the traditional bob cut. It allowed my layers on top to get long and put the fullness at the sides of my face where I need it as I have a rectangular shaped face. Now I am needing to shorten the top some to make more fullness around my face, not my neck, and you have just described how to do that. I am SO EXCITED!!!!

    Tomorrow morning, after my shower, I am going to cut my hair. It will be just a little bit off the bottom and a little more off the top and I know it will look wonderful because this is exactly what I have been looking for.

    Would you believe I have searched the internet for probably 20 hours, maybe more?? I was compiling pictures to take to the hairdresser, knowing that she would still give me short layers on top and make my face look even longer than it already does. Now I don’t need to go!!! I can get what I really want and with a method that is absolutely perfect.

    Thank you so much!! I will let you know how it comes out.

  26. Sheryl Canter:

    I look forward to seeing the result. Post pictures! Upload them to any of the free picture servers (e.g. PhotoBucket), then put the link in your blog comment.

  27. Debbie:

    Here is an example of board straight hair that is in need of a new perm. Last perm was about 4 months ago. The rod size is about the same diameter as your thumb. It makes a nice soft curl to which I use moose for more definition and blow dry with a diffuser.

    I think this haircut is going to be the ONLY one I ever try on my hair. :)

  28. Debbie:

    Ok…….lets try the picture again……


  29. Sheryl Canter:

    Looks great! Thanks for posting pictures.

  30. cool mum:

    just posted a video blog demonstrating your haircut trick–thank you so much Sheryl!!!

    http://arewestillcool.com/2010/08/watch-me-cut-my-own-hair-and-im-talking-a-major-chop.html

  31. Sheryl Canter:

    Great video, and your hair looks great, too! I’ll see if I can embed your video here.

    One difference between what you did and what I did is that you cut your hair dry. I do it in the shower with conditioner in it.

  32. cool mum:

    yeah, i bet things would have been easier with wet hair!

  33. Karen:

    Hi Sheryl, and here’s an update since my last post (of February 14).

    After growing out my sideburns for a while, I finally decided they didn’t blend well with the rest of the haircut unless I used something to pull them back like a headband, hair clips or barrettes. In other words, as I had expected, they ended up looking sort of straggly, due to the fineness and thinness of my hair, especially on a windy day. With a short curly bob, there just wasn’t enough hair in that area, and it ended up looking too wispy. Since I like a haircut that looks good even when I don’t have time to fiddle with it, I decided to shorten the sideburn hair to blend into my bangs. It looks pretty good now, but I’m addicted to change, so….

    My next experiment will be to let the hair in back (in the “nape of neck” ponytail) grow longer, while keeping the bangs the same length, and cutting the top ponytail at about the same length as it is now. As the hair grows longer in the back, I may start to let the sideburns grow out again, since they will blend in better with the longer style. I’ll grow the back out until the hair on the sides reaches my shoulders, and then I’ll decide whether to try yet another experiment. Who new science could be so much fun! : )

  34. Sheryl Canter:

    My hair is not especially thin or fine, but I don’t like leaving it very long in the front. After I do the main cut with the two pony tails as described in the blog post, I usually trim the front a little bit.

  35. Katje Sabin:

    Hi, Sheryl! I read about your post a few months ago when I was searching for DIY haircutting ideas. I wasn’t planning on cutting all of mine, though, just the bangs, but I liked your ‘do and remembered it. Today, I’m ready to whack the long stuff, and went back looking for you. Sure enough, your photo came up on my first Google image search! It was meant to be!

    The only question I have is about the trimming you mention. You talk about trimming the front after doing the two ponytail cuts, but I’m not seeing any info on how you do that. Would you care to elaborate?

    I’m going to do before-and-after photos, and I’ll link to them once the deed is done. Thanks again for your info!

    (P.S. I do a little bit of hair work myself, but never cutting it. Check my website, http://www.braidglade.com, if you’re curious!)

  36. Sheryl Canter:

    I didn’t describe this in the original blog post because the front happened to start off shorter the first time I cut it, so I didn’t have to trim it. The second time I cut my hair, I noticed the front was longer than I wanted it to be, so I just evened it out a bit. I just parted my hair in the middle while it was still wet, and cut it so the front met the back in a smooth line, fairly horizontal, rather having it much longer in the front.

    It’s pretty easy to cut the front – it’s the back that’s so tricky – so this only takes a few minutes. I cut the first pony tail in the shower, tossing the hair in the sink for cleanup later. I cut the second pony tail in front of the bathroom mirror in with the shower still running (takes all of a minute or two). I do the final trim of the front after I’m out of the shower and dried off but my hair is still wet – takes about 5 minutes.

  37. Katje Sabin:

    Hi, me again! Here’s a link to the set of photos, before and after, of my haircut today.

    I’m not thrilled. I have a LOT less body than you do, and it’s kind of disappointing how flat and blah it looks. I’m hoping once it dries, it’ll perk up… but I doubt it. I’ve lost a lot of hair recently (thanks a lot, menopause), and you can’t make a silk purse out of a droopy mess of hair. Still… once I get used to it, I’m sure it’ll work out OK. I’m not sorry I did it… but I wish it wound up looking different. Any suggestions would be welcome!

  38. Sheryl Canter:

    Your hair still looks wet in those photos – it will look different dry. But that said, your hair also doesn’t look like it’s curly – just slightly wavy. This cut is for curly hair, which has natural body due to the curl. It’s not designed for hair that isn’t curly, and it may not look right if it’s not.

  39. Lucy:

    Hi Sheryl! I LOVE what you’ve done to your hair, I’ve been trying to get up the courage to cut my hair short for a while but I’m still worried about my curls. My hair is very difficult to do anything with it’s curly around my face and also the bottom half of my hair, and then on top it’s like it wants to curl, but just looks like a lifeless mess of half curls, so I don’t wear my hair down very often. That and strong winds or just lying down on a couch will change the look of my hair. Right now it’s a bit passed shoulder length. I normally cut my hair myself as I don’t like the way hairdresser just seem to hack into it, but I only even cut it back to shoulder length. Do you think that cutting my hair shorter will help it??
    Thanks!!

  40. Rosie:

    The traumas of hairdressing salons are just the same here in the UK as in the USA. I’m mixed race and I have never in my life found a hairdresser who doesn’t make a song and dance about my mix of European and Afro hair. I love the haircut I’ve just given myself, using your instructions, which were wonderful. I am totally delighted with the results. Thank you.

  41. Shannon:

    I just tried this haircut with my below-the-shoulder length almost straight hair. Near the ends, my hair has one wave in it. Anyway, I first put my dry hair into a ponytail at about the middle of the back of my head, pulled it to the left side of my face and cut, then the right side of my face and cut. Then I put all my hair in a ponytail on the top of my head and made another cut to the longest part in the middle (my hair is already in layers); then I shook out the shorter parts that did not get cut as I held on to the longest part in the middle of the ponytail. I trimmed those shorter parts in about three cuts. As I completed cuts, I took the ponytail down, examined it, put it back up and made more trims. At one point, I put only the top part of my hair into a ponytail on the top of my head and made a few cuts. I only cut about a half inch or less each time. It looks really good, and I’m usually pretty clumsy when trying these things.

  42. Elizabeth:

    Wow, thank you so much! Exactly what i’ve been looking for all these years. I hate the travel time to and from the salon, having to wait even when i’m on time, the noise, smell, and having the hair stylist try to make conversation the entire time. You have not idea how great this is. :-)

  43. Rebecca:

    Thank you so much for posting this! My hair is very curly, so I had some fears of Rosannadanna-ing, but the results were fantastic. The last time I cut my own hair, I braided about twenty different sections and cut them to get layers. This method is *so* much faster and worked great.

    I modified this a bit by allowing 6 inches between the hair tie and where I cut. I didn’t want to lose too much length, and I was nervous about cutting my hair while wet. I love the final results, and I saved not only money, but the aforementioned trauma I also associate with going to the salon. Thank you again!

    (Hopefully, the html below results in a pic…)

  44. Rebecca:

    It did not – so here’s a link in case anyone is curious:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/22745332@N03/5520978823/

  45. Stephanie:

    Well I have been a cosmetologist since 1986 but haven’t done it in a salon in years but still do my hubby and four kids and some of their friends. I have fine fine long hair. I always had trouble cutting the back and my husbands hands were just too big to fit in my little shears. So I found this by googling. I tried the pony in the center, back of my head, pulling it side to side. Then did the pony straight up but did place in the crown (which btw, is the soft spot on a babies head if that helps)….

    Worked BEAUTIFULLY!!!! OMG! I only had one little piece in the back and husband was able to get it!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Great tricks and I cut it in about 5 minutes! Only because I did it twice, the first time it wasn’t short enough to get all the split ends. I now have a shoulder length, slightly layered hairstyle that makes my hair look fuller. Blow dried with a big bristle round brush and it is gorgeous!!!

  46. Pia:

    Thank you for the info, this really worked! I have curly hair and it is nearly impossible for a hair stylist to get it right. This is so simple it was hard to believe at first. I did have a hard time reaching the end of the pony tail in the back to cut it straight, I had to carefull bring it to the side where I could see it and cut it. I feel so self-suffient now and free to cut and style my hair however I want it!!

  47. Patty:

    Amazing! I love my hair, I have been struggling for a long long time and your directions made me so happy. My hair looks the best it has, ever. Thank you over and over…..

  48. Alison:

    I tried this kind of haircutting this morning, first on my daughter, age 6, then on myself. We both have straight fine hair and did it exactly like the writer said. We are both happy with the results! Make sure you have good scissors and if your hair is medium length life mine you will need utter concentration, (I prayed for a steady hand to) to use the mirror cutting it, and to get it straight.

  49. sandelf:

    Please, please would you post a picture of where and in what position your nape ponytail is in right before you cut? I’m having some trouble with where it goes, and in what direction it points away from the head. I reeeeally want this to work! My hair is very similar to yours, and I love how yours looks. If I could just see the nape ponytail. Do you tip your chin down while making it? Does it lay down along your neck, or come out perpendicular to your head. Is it below the hairline? Above? Pleeeease post a pic?

  50. Sheryl Canter:

    Sorry, sandelf – that would require someone coming into the shower with me with a camera. No can do.

  51. Anne:

    this is fantastic. I love the idea of cutting my own hair but I’ve always been too chicken. I hate spending money, time and again, for bad haircuts. I just got another one, and I’m going to try to correct it with your method, doing only the back since the top is already too short.

    Question, I’m not sure what people mean by Triangle Head. My problem with bad haircuts on my wavy bob length hair is they are too wide on the bottom because there’s too much fulness there and the top layers are too short; is that what people are referring to?

    thanks so much for your inspiring blog.

  52. Elea:

    I have curly hair that morphs into a wavy mess when it gets too long. Today I decided that I needed to get it cut. Recently a roommate of mine decided to chop her long hair (it was down her back) into a bob. She did the initial slice and then had me clean it up and shape it. It looked fantastic and she was very happy with it. Recalling this I decided to do it myself rather than fork over upwards of 40$ to get it done at a salon. I searched around online, read your article, and ran upstairs to try it out. It was so simple and looks great! I cut only an inch at first and once I let my hair dry I saw that I could get a little bolder and shorten it up some more. I repeated the process and am thrilled with the results. I may shorten it up again in a few days. I want to get my roommate’s opinion (she will be shocked since I am not typically an “impulsive” person). Thanks for advice :)

  53. Deanna McCarthy:

    I have always had thick, curly hair.
    With menopause, coloring it every 5 weeks and a thyroid condition, my hair has thinned out to almost nothing! When it gets longer, it just stretches out straight and lately I have really been feeling like a hag! I was desperate. I once had a wonderful stylist who knew how to cut my hair perfectly, but when he moved away, I was just never able to find anyone who could do the miracles that he always could.
    I finally decided that I would bite the bullet and go pay big bucks for someone to do it THEIR way and then go home, wash it all out and try to fix it myself. I found your article here and voila! I DID it just the way you said and WOW! I am so happy with this! I actually had my husband do the cutting, since I couldn’t grasp my thin little shock of hair, which was loaded with conditioner. He cut it within 30 seconds for the ponytail at the bottom and then another 30 seconds for the top! UNBELIEVABLE!!! I am thrilled! THANKS so much!
    I would like to send pics, both before and after. How can I do that?

  54. Erin Rojas:

    The best haircut I ever had was by a Japanese hairstylist who used this method. I have straight hair and he cut while wet, but was very very meticulous in combing the hair evenly into the pony tails. First at the back of my head … but his was more in the middle of the back of my head. Then he did the top of my head straight in the middle. He would then trim long bangs into this. It was great! I loved it and then all of a sudden he was no longer at the salon and I never found him again. I am not brave enough to try this myself.

  55. Sara:

    I tried to do this myself last night. It was a moderate success. The only problem I had was cutting the top half of my hair. I ended up cutting it too short and so I didn’t quite get the right laying effect. Thankfully, it’s just hair and it will grow back. I’m going to wait 4 weeks and then I’m going to go to a curly hair salon so they can fix my mistake. So just be warned to take extra care when cutting the top half. Even with my little fumble, I like this haircut very much.

  56. gabbi:

    Hi!, im 16 and i seriously need to cut my dead ends off but ill have to wait another month to do it , so i wanted to do it myself. will this method work on layered short hair?

  57. Suz:

    I have very thick, very coarse, very curly hair and am long overdue for a haircut. I stumbled upon this site while looking at samples of bob haircuts to show my hairdresser and am working up the courage to forgo the hairdresser and DIY instead. I used to cut my own hair in the 70’s when shags were all it but that was easy–just hack away the top and front. Time to haul the scissors out again!

    One dumb question… Do you cut above the elastic (between the elastic and your head) or below the elastic (between the elastic and the ends of your hair)?

    Thanks for posting. There’s obviously a clamor for your technique!

  58. PJ:

    Sheryl, THANK YOU for your posts here in the WWW! I cut my hair today and love it! I have NEVER done this before! But we recently moved to the middle of the rain forest in Africa from America and needless to say, there are no salons here! My longer hair was making me sooooo hot, as we live right on the equator. I googled “how to cut my own curly bob” and walla! I found you! I video taped the whole thing today in small segments and will try to figure out how to post. In the mean time, thank you!!!!!

  59. Emmy:

    Sheryl, Thanks for your post! I was worried about cutting my very curly hair on my own. I didn’t think it could be done in two cuts. But I did it with a little help from my husband and it’s adorable! Thanks for your walk-thru.

  60. Sonia:

    Thanks for the post, Sheryl!! I started using this method earlier this year and love it! I’ve recommended it to a few other curlies I know. Again, thanks!!

  61. Lori Durwar:

    I like you and most of the commenters here have been struggling with my curly hair all of my life. My hair had grown past my shoulders because I was too wary of going to yet another stylist who swears they know what they are doing with my texture of hair only to cut it so short that I have no choice than to straighten it only to have it end up looking fried over worked. I have never been a stranger to cutting my own hair I always snipped here and trimmed there in lieu of stylist trims for the above stated reasons. I googled “How to cut your own curly hair” and viola there you were. I read all of the comments and looked at the pictures and watched the video posted by a commenter and was so psyched to do it myself I ran upstairs and snipped away. I did it with dry hair, my hair poofs up a lot when it’s dry so I did not want to over do it the first try with wet hair. I was a little conservative my dry do barely brushes the tops of my shoulders now but the curls lie in nicely stacked layers and very flattering face framing waves and curls. Thanks for posting I may never pay for another hair cut again. Sorry there is no pic my phone died and my camera batteries are dead right now.

  62. Tina:

    @Sue: Cut below the elastic!

    I just did this method a week ago on my bsl 2b hair. I love it! Never got such a good cut from a salon. They just didn’t believe me when I told them to leave the front extra long. So naturally my bangs ended up above my eyes – uugh terrible.

    Haha, no more. I’m my own salon now. :D

  63. Diane:

    Wow! I’m amazed and want to give this haircut a try. Has anyone posted here, though, who has very thick curly hair? I think I have enough thickness for 3 people, seriously. Will I need to have it thinned, also, to do this hairstyle? Also, like many of you have said, I, too, have never yet found any stylist who can make my curly thick hair work for me, so I just wear it up in a huge ponytail all of the time. I’m getting tired of it, though, and want something cute. Suggestions, anyone?

  64. Kael:

    Your haircut is so cute! It looks great! :)
    I use this basic idea but I don’t like bob cuts on myself personally so I go with a longer style. Same idea but I do it backwards, making the cut on top first. If you would like the front to frame your face simply move the ponytail to the front of your head. Cut all the hair to the length you would like the shortest part of the front frame to be. Remove the ponytail. This in itself creates a nice layered style but I like the back shorter than this achieves so I then part my hair down the middle all the way to the base of my hairline and pull the back around the sides and in front of my shoulders. Then I cut straight across at the desired length. To make sure the two sides are even I pull the parts closest to my chin together to the center. This cut creates a slightly curved u shape back instead of the harsh straight cut that never has looked right with my curls. I’ve found this cut frames my face nicely and creates the layers curls need! My first go at this took me about 20 minutes because I was nervous but since then it only takes me 10 at the very most. I will never let a stranger touch my hair again after finding how easy it is to do at home myself. Doing it myself actually came out better than the last time I paid for a haircut!
    Thank you for getting the word out how easy it is to cut your own hair. To those of you still worried about trying it I suggest starting off with a longer style. It’s easier to cut more than it is to wait for it to grow back out! :)

  65. Kiya:

    Wow! I first thought no way… this has got to be a fake website. But after trying it on my daughter.. lol. I saw that it turned out AMAZINGLY CUTE!! So cute that I feel it is necessary to post a comment, saying thank you to all who tried before and posted video and pics and thank you Ms. Sheryl for sharing this vital info! I am now going to go home and try it on myself… I will surly post some pics when it is all said and done. Thank you for all of your help!! I would have paid alot of money for my daughters hair to look the way it does.

    And I only did one part of the cut… I brushed her hair out in the shower, enhanced her natural part all the way down and brushed her hair accordingly.. right side down the right, left side down the left and back straight down. Then I put it in a pony tail and cut. It was a low pony tail, and I cut a little longer than I wanted it to actually be as I knew with the curls it was going to curl up.

    With just one cut, it is the cutest it has ever been! And we have paid hundreds and different stylst! I only paid $40 for the sizzors!!

    Could not have worked out better!

  66. Kiya:

    RE: Diane, my daughter has the thickest hair I have seen yet! She is only 8 and has enough for 3 people as well. A lady at Sally’s suggested that I should thin her hair.. but I did not want to buy that tool in addition to expensive sizzors.. And her hair turned out perfect!! It seems the thickness and curles add style and body She can still put it in a mini pony tail, but it is super cute just down… Which is what I want too.. Like you, I keep mine in a bun or ponytail all of the time and I am so sick of it too…

    Advice: I would purchace some nice cutting sizzors, they seem to make a difference in how the hair looks and cuts, and with thicker hair it was nice to have a sharp pair. I did not get the most expensive as that went up into the $100’s but I did get one that was originally $50.. on sale for $40. Totally worth it. And now they are there for next time.

  67. Sheryl Canter:

    Kael wrote:

    I use this basic idea but I don’t like bob cuts on myself personally so I go with a longer style. Same idea but I do it backwards, making the cut on top first. If you would like the front to frame your face simply move the ponytail to the front of your head. Cut all the hair to the length you would like the shortest part of the front frame to be. Remove the ponytail. This in itself creates a nice layered style but I like the back shorter than this achieves so I then part my hair down the middle all the way to the base of my hairline and pull the back around the sides and in front of my shoulders. Then I cut straight across at the desired length. To make sure the two sides are even I pull the parts closest to my chin together to the center. This cut creates a slightly curved u shape back instead of the harsh straight cut that never has looked right with my curls. I’ve found this cut frames my face nicely and creates the layers curls need! My first go at this took me about 20 minutes because I was nervous but since then it only takes me 10 at the very most. I will never let a stranger touch my hair again after finding how easy it is to do at home myself. Doing it myself actually came out better than the last time I paid for a haircut!

    Kael, if you see this (I realize I’m responding long after you posted), could you post a picture of how your hair looks after you cut it your way? I’m curious to see it.

    Thanks!

  68. Newbee:

    Sheryl,

    Thank you for this post!

    I’ve been wanting to cut off my long hair for years. Being aware that having curly hair could result in a bad haircut from a regular hairdresser (who would likely treat my hair just like straight hair), I was contemplating going to a hairdresser who specialises in cutting curly hair. It was going to be very expensive, and I wasn’t too keen on that (especially as it would have to become a regular expense if I was to maintain the bob).

    I had been reading a forum about curly bobs (trying to get inspiration for my potential change of hairstyle), and someone there posted that they had just done a DIY curly bob haircut and showed a picture of the result. It looked fantastic. When I kept reading, there were other people who had also posted that they had cut their own curly bobs, and one of them gave a link to this post here. I read what you wrote, and decided to try it myself. I am very happy that I did!

    The result is not too bad, I think, and I have been surprised by the large number of compliments I have received on the new cut. It is great that I can now cut my hair whenever I like and I don’t have to make an appointment at a salon or pay big $$$ for a cut. I now have the confidence to keep cutting my own hair, and tweaking the style to see what suits my face.

    Thank you Sheryl!

    Here is a pic (hopefully this works)…

    my cut

    ———————–

    Edit from Sheryl: I added the picture (URLs in comments are now prohibited due to excessive blog spam. If you want to upload a picture of your haircut, please email me the link to the PICTURE (to the JPG or PNG) and I’ll upload it for you. If it’s Flickr, don’t just send the Flickr page, send the JPG URL. Here’s how to email me:

    http://sherylcanter.com/contact.php

  69. Sheryl Canter:

    I had to disable links due to the huge volume of blog spam I started receiving. You can send me the link to the photo through the Contact page, and I will upload it. Please be careful about typos:

    http://sherylcanter.com/contact.php

    Be sure to email me the link to the PICTURE itself (to the JPG or PNG). If it’s on Flickr, don’t just send the link to the Flickr page it’s on.

  70. Liza:

    HaHA! Thank you for your post. I have a 22 mo daughter who desperately needed a haircut. I decided to try your approach because I knew she was not going to corporate in a stylists’ chair or in her high-chair for long…. It was quick and had great results with minimal trimming post pony tails. I was a little hesitant to try a drastic haircut like this on my own but boy are the results cute!

  71. Liza:

    sorry about the typo. ;)

  72. Linda:

    I wish my own curly hair was long enough to use your technique. I have so much gray that may or may not be as curly as other parts of my hair. I would appreciate any information you might have on keeping the curl even with gray hair.

  73. karen:

    I have very thick, curly hair that has gotten pretty long, so I put it in a ponytail all the time. I’m sick of it and want a new look, but I have had some really bad experiences with beauticians who don’t know how to cut thick curly hair, so I’m always afraid to have someone else cut it.. I always cut my hair myself in layers, but I really want a shorter look.. I started looking for ideas of how to easily cut it short and found your blog.. What a GREAT idea! Your hair cut is exactly what I’m hoping for. I’m going to try your method tomorrow morning, and thank you for posting it.. I also love the video the very brave young mom added.. After she cut it I thought, Oh no… that doesn’t look too good.. But once she showed it washed and curly, it looks awesome!!!

Leave a comment