Now that I shared how I take care of my hair, I’ll show you how to get the cut.  The short style I’ve been wearing for years always had stylists eager to start snipping.  But the problem with short hair is how high-maintenance it is.  Mine needs to be trimmed every four weeks to keep its shape and I can wait a maximum of six weeks before it looks sloppy and overgrown.

My favorite cut ever cost me $50 (not including tip) and at eight hair-cuts a year I decided to save over $400 and the crazy frustration of working an appointment into my schedule by learning to cut it myself.  On very rare occasion, I recruit Mr. M to lend a hand.  He gave me my best ever shoulder-length cut (I made a ponytail, he hacked it off) but refuses to assist on hair so closely cropped to my head.  Odd seeing as he loves when I keep my hair short…

The pictures here aren’t the best quality, but I’ve been wanting to do this post for a long time so I’m giving you the best that I have.  I wanted real action shots, not something I posed some other time.  There are a lot of them though, so I hope it’s helpful for anyone looking for a similar style.

The basics of my hair:  Fine.  Dense.  Fairly straight.  Little to no body.

Description of my cut:  Long on top.  Side-swept bangs.  Cropped back.  A-line side layers.  Ears not cut out.  (Why does every stylist always want to cut out the ears??)

FYI:  I have no hair stylist training.  So try this at your own risk.  When cutting, I always remember that I can take off more later and that hair will grow back.  In other words, only cut a little at a time and if I do screw up, no one will notice after a week or two.

My tools:  Comb, scissors, claw clips, thinning shears.

I start with my hair wet but not soaking and comb it all back from my face.  Then I part it at the ends of my forehead right before my skull starts to turn down.  I end the section at the back of my crown before the downward slope begins.  I twist my “top hair” and fasten it in place with a claw clip.

First I work with the back of my hair staying between the notches of my skull behind my ears.  I comb a vertical part at each notch, connecting it to the horizontal part on top of my head.  Then I comb the sides forward and sometimes fasten them with two more claw clips.

Keeping my fingers vertical and spread approximately 1/4 inch between each, I wiggle them from the nape of my neck up until my lowest hair is between the base of my fingers.  I keep my fingers pressed lightly against my head and cut along the top of my fingers.  This is how I set the length.  For this step, I point the scissors up.

For the top 1/3 of the back of my head, I do the same thing, but gently close my fingers and pull my hair away from my head at about a 30 degree angle.  This makes my hair longer at the top fading into the crop at the bottom.  Here, my scissors point down.

Moving on to the sides, I release the clips and comb the hair back.  I do the same separated-fingers move, this time right behind my ear.  I want all the hair to run flat against the side and toward the back of my head.  Then I trim anything longer than the hair in the back section.  This blends the sides and back together so there is no obvious difference in length.

When I drop my hair and comb it down, I’m left with a graduated angle and perfect layers.  I also pull both sides taut to make sure the longest points are the same length.

Sometimes I like to leave the layers but have one length along the bottom.  In this case, I trim the bottom to the desired length while the hair is combed down.  Do small snips at a time while holding your hair in place with your first two fingers.  (I did not do that here.)

When the sides are done I move on to the top.  I take out the clip but don’t bother combing it.  I tousle a section of my hair at the scalp, close my fingers and pull my hand out to the desired length.  It’s important to keep it vertical and perpendicular to whichever angle the scalp is at that section.  I always hold my hair with my fingers pointing to the back of my head (instead of toward my ears) to cut smooth layers.  If I point them towards my ear, I will cut choppy uneven chunks.

The last thing I do to the top is pull all my hair to the left and then to the right looking for any stray pieces that stand out too far.

All that’s left now are my bangs.  There are a number of ways to cut bangs, but I’ll show you my most recent method.  Bangs should start and end at the point where the forehead starts to turn down.  The amount of hair cut is dependent on how tall the forehead is.  I tend to cut mine about an inch back and do a straight line across instead of a triangular shape.

First I comb my bangs forward.  Then I place my fingers across them slightly lower than I want the longest piece, lift until the hair is parallel to the floor, and cut along the bottom of my fingers.  Don’t try to do the bangs in one cut; do use a comb to hold them in place if it’s easier.  Small snips with the front of the scissors here…bangs don’t allow as much room for error as the other areas of hair!

To avoid my bangs looking blunt, I move my fingers up just a bit and point cut the ends (I point the scissors into my hair).  Again, small snips, not too much.  Just to help it lay nicely.

During this hair cut I tried something new.  Because I have so much hair I often find it too bulky along the sides.  So I bought thinning shears to lessen the weight.  For this cut, I placed them 1/3 of the way and 2/3 of the way between my scalp and the end of my hair and cut.  I did this in three or four places until I got the desired density.  Do know that thinning shears also create texture so don’t do too much at once.

This seems like a lot of work, but it’s really very quick.  All of my hair is cut in about ten minutes.  The trick is to get your hand and your scissors at all the right angles and you’ll be set.

Happy hair cutting!