Trim Your Hair According to Your Needs

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By Jc of The Natural Haven

Trimming is necessary to remove split ends and knots that cannot be unravelled. It can also be used to help maintain the ends aesthetically, where older, weathered ends are cut allowing the hair to look fuller/thicker.

The method you select to trim your hair depends on three main factors

1.The length of your hair

2. The extent of damage to your hair

3. How much hair length you are willing to lose.

The key tool that you require is a sharp pair of scissors. Hair scissors are useful because well made shears have a very sharp edge allowing for a clean cut without fraying. Depending on the method you choose, you may optionally require a mirror and a source of bright light. Here are the three methods

1. Search and Destroy

This method should be selected if you want to cut off as little hair as possible as only damaged hair is selected for cutting. The method is simply to take a small section of hair (approximately  1 square inch) and search the ends for any splits, breaks, frays or knots.  Ideally the cut should be performed at least one quarter inch away from the knot/split/fray. This will ensure that all the damaged portion is cut. The search and destroy method can be performed as frequently as you like, however, if you need to perform this method more frequently than once a month, then your hair may require or suit a more aggressive trim (see method 2 and 3).

Advantage/Disadvantage :

The key advantage is that you retain all healthy hair but the disadvantage is that you can end up with uneven lengths (though if you mostly wear your hair in curly/textured form this may not be an issue).

Notes:  If you are doing this method on your own, your hair has to be sufficiently long for you to see the hair ends. This is more important for hair in the middle and back of your head which needs to be pulled forward to be seen. You can use a mirror to aid you or you can ask for help from someone you trust to help if your hair is not long enough.

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23 thoughts on “Trim Your Hair According to Your Needs

  1. Thank you for this post! Can anyone share if they trim in the “natural state” or get their hair pressed or flat ironed to trim??
    I struggle with this because I don’t want to get any heat damage! I would rather not go through flat ironing. I usually get my hair pressed every 4 or 5 months for the trim. That’s about twice a year. I do have a friend who trim’s her hair by doing twists all over then snipping her ends. You can see the damage after twisting, my ends will usually be bushy. I’m thinking of purchasing my own shears and doing this myself but a little nervous!

    • I’ve had my hair trimmed before in it’s natural state and I also got a trim when my hair was blown out. Both times I went to a professional because I do not trust myself with cutting my own hair. I only trim my hair twice a year. Although I do not put heat on my hair (only when it’s time for a trim), I prefer the blown out method because my hair shrinks when it’s wet. To avoid my hair being uneven I go to my hair stylist to blow out my hair when it’t time for a trim.

    • I do exactly as you do: only trim when my hair is straight (I like having even, symmetrical hair), and only do it about twice a year.

      I used to go to a woman who did an excellent job, but she moved, and I’ve fallen out of favor with the woman who used to do my presses. So now I do my own blowouts + flat-ironing, and I trim the way my former trimmer did. I watched her carefully for four years, and it takes me longer than she did, but as long as I’m careful my hair comes out great!

      I do the search and destroy when I’m detangling and I come upon any knots and such.

    • I press my hair and it still cut wrong it was a total of 4 inches and I do it once every 6 months. But it is good 4 someone else 2 do it or get it done professionally.

    • I started with a professional cut about a year ago. I now what would be considered “dust” my hair every 3 months. I actually part my hair into sections and proceed to trim so that I am sure to get all the ends. I think it actually would fal somewhere betwee a regular trim and your description of a dusting.
      I use a pair of shears I bought which I only use for this purpose. So, far this has maintained my hair cut fantastically. Hopefully, I will never have to pay for one again. :) It was a great cut, but it took 2 hrs. He cut each curl in its natural stat (dry then wet)- the Devacurl technique.

      • Typing on a smart phone is tough for typos!!

        Meant to type “I do now what would be . . . ”

        “fall” , “between”, and “state”

        I trim my hair in a completely stretched state, but not blow dried or straightened.

    • I cut the way your friend does, snipping off the ends of each twist as I put it in. The most I take off at any time is maybe 1/3-1/2 inch. I generally do this seasonally. My most recent trim session was last week. I wore those twists until this week, when I undid them to do a yogurt conditioning and a regular cleansing. Now it’s up in two flat twists down the back of my head and another section twisted in front for a bang that was supposed to be twisted out but never made it to that point :-).

      I was supposed to be snipping off about 1/4 inches per week, or per cleansing session, whichever happened more frequently, to transition out of some dry-end damage I sustained from too much manipulating of my twists—they tend to unravel—and not enough protection plus moisture loss at the ends. But (1) I’m not that industrious, and (2) I hate scissors, so I’ve just been keeping the ends tucked away.

      It’s helping with the moisture, at least, and having my hair in twists last week helped me see the difference in how I’d been handling my hair. Since I only trim when I twist, I would need to learn some updo styles to do on twisted hair in order to protect it if I was going to trim and retwist every week.

  2. I am starting to trim every half a year. I have gotten both trims done in non-heated state, once while in twist and other after they washed it. I think it was easier for first salon while in the twists, but I think they end up trimming cutting more hair by default. While the other I got my hair more even and cut less length.

    But, finding a good salon is key. The last salon end up tangling my hair in the washing process, followed with ripping through my hair with a Tangle Teezer (which made me shudder) and regular comb from root to end (versus end to root) with very little leave-in conditioner. Even when I suggest to her add more in because she seemed to be having a hard time (and I could hear the breakage) she just said “I already added leave in!” which was not my point. So in the end I think she caused just as much, if not more damage than she was trimming off. So because of that I am still afraid of getting trims.

    ***Anyone who can suggest an excellent salon for trims, cuts, and who knows what dusting is, in Toronto I would grateful.***

    So far I have only found only one salon who knows what dusting is, and only two who supposedly knows how to work with my hair type (extra kinky).

    • Dusting is not a term most hairdressers understand, it is really an online/forum term. I also think a hairdressers inch is very relative for some 3 inches is one inch.

      I think when it comes to hairdressing it is better to be very firm and demonstrate how much you want cut off.

      Hopefully with time more natural hairdressers will be available.

  3. I’ve had my hair trimmed before in it’s natural state and I also got a trim when my hair was blown out. Both times I went to a professional because I do not trust myself with cutting my own hair. I only trim my hair twice a year. Although I do not put heat on my hair (only when it’s time for a trim), I prefer the blown out method because my hair shrinks when it’s wet. To avoid my hair being uneven I go to my hair stylist to blow out my hair when it’t time for a trim.

  4. Trimming is very important in my book, and although my hair is very long length is not as important as neat /healthy ends. I trim about 3 times p/year.

  5. I trim my hair 2 times a year and take off about half an inch each time. I did a serious trim of like an inch a few weeks ago because I just felt my ends were seriously scraggly. It is a delicate balance between health and length retention. I honestly just feel like the frequency of the Trim should depend on the condition of your hair. If you are being mindful, you will see when your hair needs some help and trim it. Sometimes schedules and stead fast RULES are not the best way to go, LISTENING to your hair is often the best rule of thumb b/c everyone’s hair is different and since hair is an organic thing it doesn’t always abide by a schedule.

    • I agree with you that listening to your hair is best and if you prefer to cut when you see damage, that is fine. I do think that the advantage of having a schedule is that you cut before damage appears or propagates. Often by the time you see damage, it has already been there for a long time.

  6. I’ve been natural for 18 months and I’ve only dusted my ends twice. I put my hair in twists and dusted the ends. I don’t want to risk heat damage for any reason and I don’t plan to wear my hair straight any more so I don’t care if it isn’t perfectly even. And it still looks good when I wear a ‘fro.

  7. I get my hair professionally cut once every 8 months, and I trim once in between. I’ve just started to do the search and destroy method about four months ago, since I get tons of fairy knots. I think this plan has helped me retain even more length. I always get it cut in it’s natural state, and when I trim, I do it in twists, but next time I’m gonna try to do it out, since my stylist gave me tons of layers last week, which I’m digging and don’t want to lose the shape. Any tips on how to do this would be soo helpful. I also think I’ll be doing some dusting every three months, just to see if this also helps with maintaining health as well as length.

  8. I trim my hair only pressed, but only when it needs it. I have not trimmed it in four months, because it does not need it. If you don’t put a lot of heat or chemicals in your hair, there is no need to trim your hair that often.

  9. For over a whole year, I went without a trim! I BC’d exactly one year ago in DEC ’10, so that was long time to go without trimming my hair. Finally, I decided to flat-iron my hair, so it can be trimmed, as I cannot find anyone who knows how to cut my hair in its natural state. I really needed a good old-fashioned trim/cut, because I had some serious split ends. I lost about 1/2 inch to an 1 inch of hair in the process. It doesn’t bother me much because its only hair and it will grow back. But, I wish I had a trim much sooner! I will definitely not wait so long the next time around and I will take better care of my ends this time around.

    The moral of the story is that you naturals should get regular trims, so you will not lose too much hair like I did! Also, seal those ends really well to keep them from splitting! Good luck! :D

  10. I use method #3. I regularly trim my hair every 3-4 months. That’s usually about the time I start noticing split ends. I flat iron my hair and trim my hair with shears as I go along (typically a half inch to 1 inch).

    My hair may be slightly shorter than it would be if I didn’t trim on a regular basis. However, I hate the look of split ends; so it’s worth it just to have healthy looking (and feeling) hair! The worst is when you see certain YouTubers with long hair, but the ends are raggedy and split. Is it worth it just to say you have longer hair even though it is badly damaged? Not for me!

    • Ditto on the youtubers with 20 inches of split hair. Of course your hair will grow long if you don’t trim it for 3 years. To me the challenge is retaining long lengths with minimal split ends. So to that end, trimming is key.

  11. I dust (1/4 inch or so) about every 3-4 months on stretched hair (via braiding or banding). I do this to keep my ends in good condition. If I didn’t have a psuedeo-schedule, I’d forget and my ends might suffer.

  12. I dust my ends every 10 weeks. I have it on my phone so I don’t forget. I do it while my hair is in twists, and I cut a quarter inch off each time. I tried keeping my ends nourished and in protective styles, but I ended up cutting an inch in October and another quarter inch in December. I can stand to lose 1.25 inches a year if it means that my hair is healthier, and since I’d probably lose that much anyway with a more major trim, this way doesn’t hurt as much.

  13. My ends were OUTTA CONTROL dry and frizzy…after attending a NATRUAL meetup this wknd and being reminded about sealing and moisturizing I knew it was necessary…I cut about an inch and plan to be respectful to my “elder hair’ by moisturuzing daily.

  14. Hi ,
    I’m unsure if I need a trim or not . I cut my hair in 2011 into a short cut. Then I transition and let my perm grow out & then cut it . it will be 2years in august & idk if I’m supposed to get a trim . I haven’t put Scissors to my my hair since . Please help :)

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