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How to Cut Hair Straight

Two Methods:

Cutting hair straight is simple, but there are a few bad habits that can create gradations and prevent that neat, blunt, straight-across cut. Cutting your own hair can seem exciting, but you are also more likely to mess up. If this is your first time cutting hair, be sure to invest in a good pair of hairdressing shears, and cut off less than you think you want. Remember, you can always cut more if you want it shorter, but if you cut too much you can't add hair back!


Cutting Your Own Hair

  1. Comb your hair out so that it is free of any knots or tangles.You can start with dry or damp hair. This method is most recommended for those who have straight hair. If you have wavy or curly hair, make sure your hair is wet before cutting.
  2. Pull your hair back into a low ponytail.Part your hair down the middle. Pull it back into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck, then secure it with a hair tie. Make sure that the ponytail is neat and smooth, and that all you hairs are in the elastic.
  3. Tie another elastic a few inches/centimeters below the first one.Smooth your ponytail down as much as you can, then wrap another elastic around it. Depending on how long your hair is, and how short you plan on cutting it, you may need to add a third elastic below the second one.
    • Adding elastics gives you control before and as you cut.
  4. Hold the ponytail between your fingers where you want to cut it.Make a V-shape with your fore and middle fingers, then close your fingers around the ponytail. Slide your fingers down to where you want to cut the ponytail.
    • This will give you a slightly-rounded bottom edge. If you want to cut it straighter, you will need to slide your fingers further down so that you have room to make adjustments.
  5. Cut the ponytail below your fingers.Use sharp, hairdressing shears for this step. Do not use regular scissors. Cut slowly and carefully, a little bit at a time.
  6. Undo the ponytail and check the shape.Turn around so that your back is facing the mirror, and hold another mirror up in front of you. Your hair will either have a rounded bottom edge or a slight curve.If this is not straight enough for you, proceed to the next step.
  7. Remove the hair tie and part your hair down the center.Extend the part to the nape of your neck, like making pigtails. Drape the left side of your hair over your left shoulder, and the right side over your right shoulder. Keep the strands that were on the back of your head on the outer edges as much as possible.
  8. Pinch your hair between your fingers again.Choose a side to start with: left or right. Grab the hair from that side, then pinch it between your fore and middle fingers as you did earlier with the ponytail.
  9. Pull your fingers downwards, angling them slightly.Slide you fingers down the length of the hair section to where you want to cut your hair. Angle your fingers upwards slightly, so that your finger tips are pointing up towards your shoulder. This will allow you to cut the hair from the back of your head shorter; when you brush your hair out, it will be the same length.
    • Make sure that the hair that came from the back of your head is on the outside of the section, next to your shoulder.
  10. Cut your hair below your fingers using the same method as before.Keep your hand and hair close against your shoulder as you cut. If you have very thick hair, you may need to split the section into smaller sections. Measure the new section against the previous one.
  11. Repeat the process for the other side of your hair.To ensure that you are cutting your hair at the same length, it would be a good idea to measure the uncut hair against the cut hair. Take the innermost strands from both the left and right sections. Note where the cut strand ends on the uncut strand with your fingers.

Cutting Someone Else's Hair

  1. Start with wet hair.You don't have to wash the person's hair with shampoo and conditioner, but it needs to be wet. Have the person sit in a tall chair so that their hair is at a comfortable cutting level for you.
  2. Gather the top three-quarters of their hair into a bun.Use the handle of a rat-tail comb to create a neat part, then pull the hair into a bun at the top of their head. Clip the bun out of the way, or secure it with a hair tie. Leave the bottom portion of their loose.
  3. Pinch a strand of hair from the bottom portion between your fingers.Make a V-shape with your forefinger and middle fingers. Close your fingers against a 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) wide strand.
    • You can also use a rat-tail comb to measure out the sections. This will prevent you from accidentally pulling down too hard on it.
  4. Slide your fingers down the strand to where you want to cut.Keep your hand against the person's back and avoid creating any angle by pulling it away from the back. Your fingers should be parallel to the part you made earlier and the floor.
    • Do not twist your fingers upwards, flip the hair, or pull the strand away from the person's back. Doing so will cause a slight gradation.
  5. Cut the hair off below your fingers.Use the length of your fingers as a guide. Make sure that you are using sharp, hairdressing shears for this; do not use ordinary scissors.
  6. Gather another section, and measure it up against the already-cut one.Take a inch (1.3 cm) wide section of hair. Add it to a few strands from the section that you already cut. Pinch the section between your fore and middle fingers, like before. Slide your fingers down until the bottom edge is level with the cut strand.
  7. Cut the hair, then move onto the next section.Cut the strand until it is even with the already-cut strand. Let go of the hair, and take another section. Measure it up against the previous strand, and cut it. Continue in this manner until you have cut the entire bottom layer of hair.
    • Never pull the strands away from the person's back while cutting them. Keep them as close as possible to their back.
    • Measure up the left and right sides in the front to ensure that they are even.
  8. Let down the next layer of hair.Use the handle of a rat-tail comb to create another neat, horizontal part. Leave enough hair so that you can still see part of the previous layer beneath it. Gather the rest of the hair into a bun once again.
  9. Measure the upper layer against the bottom one while cutting it.Take a 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) section of hair from the new layer. Add a thin strand from the bottom layer to it. Pinch the strand between your fingers, then run your fingers down until they are level with the already-cut strand. Cut the new strand below your fingers as before.
  10. Cut the rest of your hair using the same techniques.Measure the new strands against the previous ones, and the new layer against the old one. Always keep your hand close to the person's back; do not pull their hair away from their back. Keep going until you have finished cutting the person's hair.
  11. Dry the person's hair, then make any necessary adjustments.If you want to, you can wash the person's hair to get rid of any tiny snippets of hair. Blow dry the person's hair, then trim of any ends that stick out.

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Quick Summary

To cut hair straight, comb your hair so it’s free of tangles and pull it back into a low ponytail. Then, tie another elastic a few inches below the first one. Depending on the length of your hair, you might add a few more elastics to give you control before you cut. Hold the ponytail between your fingers where you want to cut it and cut the ponytail below your fingers. Make sure to use sharp hairdressing shears and to cut slowly and carefully.

Did this summary help you?
  • Do not flip or turn the hair upwards, otherwise you'll get a graduated cut.
  • Keep your hand close to your shoulder/the person's back while cutting.
  • Straight cuts aren't recommended for curly or wavy hair types due to the unique shape of each curl.
  • If you have curly or wavy hair, and plan on straightening it, you should straighten it before cutting it.
  • When in doubt, cut off too little. It is easier to cut off more later on. If you cut off too much, you'll have to wait for your hair to grow out.
  • If you are cutting your own hair, consider getting a three-way mirror. This will allow you to easily see the back of your head without having to hold up a second mirror.

Things You'll Need

Cutting Your Own Hair

  • Brush or comb
  • Hair tie
  • Hairdressing shears
  • Mirrors

Cutting Someone Else's Hair

  • Rat-tail comb
  • Hair clips
  • Hairdressing shears

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