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COLUMN: The ins and outs of cutting your own hair


Junior Maia Rabenold shares what she learned from cutting her new bob. Rabenold said taking a fistful of your hair, cutting it off and letting it fall is extremely liberating. Mallory Smith Buy Photos

Hair is a paradox because it is both one of your most distinct physical traits and one of the most easily changeable. So it’s no surprise one of the most natural things to do at a turning point in your life is to change it — cut it, dye it or shave it all off.

These kinds of haircuts are usually associated with negative or hard times, but it can also mark the positive beginning of a brand new chapter. 

A hair metamorphosis can be even more cathartic — or scary, depending on how you look at it — when you do it yourself, which I did recently when I gave myself a bob and straight-across, blunt bangs for the first time since childhood.

Taking a fistful of your hair, cutting it off and letting it fall is extremely liberating. You almost feel yourself getting lighter and more buoyant as you shed your past self, hopefully for the better. 

Ahead is my step-by-step guide for going on your own journey of self-transformation, without the fear of having to shave your whole head after a slip of the scissors.

1. Start with a plan, but be adventurous. It is only hair, after all, and it will grow back. Until then, there are always hats. But don’t pick up the scissors when your eyes are still fuzzy with tears after a breakup, and please don’t trim and drink.

2. Invest in a pair of scissors that are actually meant for cutting hair. While I have been guilty in the past of using blunt craft scissors dating back to my elementary years, I’ve upgraded to an affordable $10 pair of shears that creates much more precise results.

3. For bangs specifically, picking the part to cut is the most important step. A good rule of thumb is to start directly up from the ends of your eyebrows at your temples and section off a shallow triangle that is highest at the middle of your head. The height of this triangle can vary depending on how thick you want your fringe, but it’s best to start at about half of an inch and add more as you go. Start long, because you can always cut more faster than you can grow it back.

4. While this seems counterintuitive, cut vertically. First cut everything horizontally to the length you want it, then go in sections and rapidly snip your scissors up into the hair. This gives everything a piece-y, texturized feel, especially for bangs.

5. Check your results. Use two mirrors or take a picture to see the back, and pull sections down to middle in front of you to check that the lengths are even. Now is a great time to have a friend over to do some quality control.

6. Bask in the success of creating a brand new you. Sometimes something as small as changing the protein filaments growing out of your head is just the kick start you need toward making a bigger and better improvement on yourself.

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