Friday, 4 October 2013

The Easiest Way to Trim your Own Hair at Home

I trimmed my hair myself! *screams!*

This may not seem like a big deal to some of you but those who know me know I'm a length chaser. Yup, I said it. I feel like I'm supposed to be embarrassed about admitting that. Like it means that I've bought into some Eurocentric brainwashing that detracts from the black-power-soul-sista-love thy roots thing that returning to natural hair seems to bring out in many. 

But I'm not embarrassed. Sorry, I'm not sorry. Every time I see a picture of someone with a big a** Afro, my heart skips a beat. I want epic hair. A friend of mine is constantly trying to get me to question the motive behind this. I dug deep but all I could come up with was 'I just want to see if my hair can grow really long'. Thatisall. I am not an onion. There are no layers.

Therefore, by default, a trim to me is more than just taking some raggedy ends off. The funny thing is, when I had a relaxer, I had pretty long hair which I had no hang-ups about cutting. (long for a black girl anyway, or at least, a black African Kenyan girl. I know some of you will be up in arms about this but the reality is, poor hair care practices in Kenya means that length eludes many crackettes). I could go in for a mani-pedi and come out with a pixie cut. It just wasn't that serious. But with my natural hair it's different. Maybe because I spend so much time caring for it it that cutting off even a tiny bit feels like losing a limb.

So, if I want to grow it out, why trim it at all? 

In a nutshell, trimming hair helps hair grow long.  Our ends are the oldest, most fragile parts of our hair. They are, therefore, most susceptible to damage such as split ends, single strand knots, and tangling.
- Left to their own devices, split ends can travel up the hair shaft; the split portion of the shaft can no longer retain moisture and becomes dry and brittle and eventually breaks off. The break is not clean and will undoubtedly fray and split again.  It's a vicious cycle.
- Tangles and knots become a weak point in the hair shaft, breaking off while handling.
It would be pretty hard to be entirely free of all the above, but you can adopt practices that can help minimise them and their effect, e.g. low manipulation and trimming. 

How do you tell when you need a trim?

1. How long since your last trim?
Even if you don't notice any obvious damage, do not leave it too long between trims. Have a proper trim at least every three months then you can do a micro-trim in between salon visits, possibly once every 6-8 weeks. My last trim aka mini-chop was around May, so I was long overdue.

2. See-through ends
If you notice your ends seem considerably thinner than the rest of your hair, when combed out or when doing twists, it is likely you may need a trim.  I wear my hair in two strand twists 5 out of 7 days a week. I had began to notice the ends 'fraying' i.e. finishing off in one or two long hairs. These bother the hell out of me and I am constantly snapping them off or pulling them out. Bad, I know, but it's like a scab I can't stop picking at. 

It is surprisingly difficult to take a close-range hair selfie..
3. Do your ends look and feel rough to the touch?
As mentioned before, split ends, knots and tangles happen to all of us.  If you notice your ends looking or feeling fuzzy and dry and tangling easily, even after a thorough detangle, you likely need a trim. My LO's fine, soft, hair is very easy to comb through, except at the ends.  I have never trimmed her hair so those ends are pretty old, and probably remnants of her fine, baby hair.  They tangle very, very easily and you the difference in sheen between the hair shaft and the tips is noticeable.

4. When you can see the damage
Naturally, if you can see the split ends or knots, then you know they are there. You should cut them off as soon as you see them to prevent further damage.  Tangles should be carefully picked apart using moisturiser for slip. I read on lots of blogs about people doing seek and destroy missions on SSKs and spilt ends. This is fine if you have a looser curl pattern or if you have thoroughly stretched out your hair so can see the ends clearly but but my hair is too tightly coiled to see anything really. It also helps if your hair is long so you can see exactly what you are doing. If you have mid-length hair like mine, you will need to do the bulk of that in a mirror.

How to trim your hair yourself

So I finally had enough and sent off for a pair of hair scissors. They arrived last weekend and I Could. Not. Wait! to try them out. It is important you use a pair of sharp hair scissors.  Don't use kitchen scissors as they can damage your cuticles.

 And what better day than co-wash day.

  • Fistly, I co-washed my hair, making sure to detangle throroughly, especially the ends. I then dried my hair, leaving it a little damp, then twisted the hair into about 12 two strand twists, applying a little oil towards the ends to smooth them.  You want your ends smoothed out as much as possible to tell how much length you are taking off. 
  • I then pulled each twist at the tip to stretch it out and cut off about half a centimetre, pinning them up as i went to avoid trimming one more than twice.
I deliberately took more off some twists than others because my hair badly needs shaping and this was my half baked attempt at controlling some length issues

  • I then undid the twists and re-twisted into about 30 smaller twists before going mad and snipping the ends off those too! :) This step is optional; I simply couldn't help myself.  

 That's how simple it is. I am yet to find a hairdresser I trust so i will carry on trimming my hair like this until i do.  I am really please with the results.  My hair looks and feels better and is much easier to detangle. My only worry now is that, with my addictive personality, I am going to start snip-snipping so regularly I wind up bald! *screams again*


  1. I'll come pick the hair shears for safe keeping until you're due for a legit trim

  2. Where did you get the shears??

  3. Where did you buy the shears?