DIY haircut tips – dos and don'ts from the MSE team and MoneySavers who have tried cutting their own hair

DIY haircut tips – dos and don'ts from the MSE team and MoneySavers who have tried cutting their own hair

Salons and barbers have temporarily closed again in some parts of the UK, and even if your local ones are open, not everyone feels comfortable going out, or appointments may be hard to get. If you're in need of a haircut you might be tempted to take matters, and the scissors or clippers, into your own less-than-qualified hands…

Of course, at MSE we're not experts in grooming (our skills are in other areas), but given the ongoing crisis we thought it'd be fun to share some amateur tips that may help if your barnet's in desperate need of a trim. We can't promise you'll end up with a Nicky Clarke hairdo, but if it looks rubbish, well, it's not as though you're going out a lot, are you? And you can always get it done properly later at your local hairdresser when it's open, or you can get an appointment.


Important: Not every type of hair will be easy to cut at home, and not everyone will be brave enough to try – and that's fine. If you've any doubts, just wait for an appointment with your hairdresser, and in any case, we're not suggesting you never visit a hairdresser again – let's be honest, most of the time it's best left to the professionals!

Quick tips from me (MSE Rhiannon) and the team...

Personally, I've been cutting my own hair for 10 years, though do remember, I'm no professional stylist. These tips are only based on personal experience, so don't take 'em as gospel. Let's start with my tips in the bullet points below, then we'll move on to some pointers from my MSE colleagues.

  • I keep my expectations low and simply aim to cut my hair well enough that nobody can tell.

  • At first, I watched a few YouTube 'how to' videos for inspiration and/or practical tips for my hair type. MSE Oli likes Alpha M's channel, which has a new-ish vid on how to cut your own hair. If you've longer hair and want to try something simple, Patry Jordan's channel could help. If you're looking for a hairdresser's take, try Brad Mondo's video, which is a similar cut to the one I do.
99p haircutting scissors
  • I use a pair of clean, sharp haircutting scissors which cost me 99p from Home Bargains (bought in the 'before times', pre-lockdown, see image on the right).

  • I avoid anything too complicated – trying to recreate the style I already have, but shorter.

  • I straighten my hair first, if possible, and sometimes find it easier to cut sections of my hair wet (eg, the front) as there is no 'spring-back' in my hair.

  • I clip up any sections of hair I'm not cutting to keep them safe from accidental chopping.

  • I always cut off less hair than I think I need to – it gives me room to take more off when neatening up afterwards if necessary.

  • I measure the amount I'm cutting off against my fingers to try to keep it even all over.

  • I keep in mind that even if I mess up it's only temporary – my hair grows pretty quickly.
If I'd known I'd be putting these photos in an MSE blog instead of just sending them to my friend, I'd have cleaned the dust off the mirror haha

People have said I must take my hair inspiration from a mix of Ace Ventura and kids' cartoon character Johnny Bravo. That's... not entirely true, but after a bad trip to the barber, I started cutting my own hair so I've only myself to blame if something goes wrong!

My top tips:

  • Double-check the setting on your clippers – you don't want to look like Shaun the Sheep.
  • Make sure your hands are steady before you start. If you don't have steady hands, ask someone else to help if you can.
  • If it all goes wrong, wear a hat – your hair will grow back, and it's likely you're not going out much at the moment anyway!

I confess I cheated – I asked my boyfriend to cut three inches off my hair and feather it like a proper hairdresser. He used some £4 scissors I ordered off Amazon and a spray bottle of water. The poor boy was nervous, but the finished result wasn't at all bad, and we're still speaking. (Well done, Stu!)

My top tips:

  • Cutting my hair wet seemed to help a lot – this was a hairdresser friend's suggestion, as apparently it evens out the tension.
  • If there's a time not to be precious about hair, it's now, so give it a go if you're feeling brave (but equally, put the scissors down if you can wait to visit a hairdresser).
  • Take photos before and after, and video it for posterity... or social media giggles.
MSE Laura F knew she was taking photos for a blog, but the trust she must have in her partner (not knowing he's clearly secretly a hairdresser)!

Tips shared by MoneySavers on social media...

We asked MoneySavers on Twitter for their best home haircutting tips and photos, and they delivered! Here are some of our favourites so far:

Here are some of our favourite photos:

Have you been cutting your own hair? Are you a hairdresser with some tips for people cutting their own hair (besides "don't do it")? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter.