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How to Cut Short Shaggy Layers Yourself

Cutting layers in your hair can be tricky. You could end up looking like your scissors had a mind of their own, or you could be bracing yourself for lots of compliments. If you’ve been thinking about layers for a while (this is not a decision to be made in haste), you probably have a good idea of what you want the outcome to look like. Fortunately, long layers are forgiving so even if you make a few mistakes, it won’t be overly noticeable.

The tousled look will require a bit of patience, though. If you’re adding more shape and definition, you have to be laser-focused on where and how to cut.

Here are a few steps you can follow to ensure your shaggy vision comes to life:

Get a towel

Hair is about to be flying everywhere and you don’t want that itchy feeling stuck to your skin. Wrap the towel around your shoulders like a cape and secure with a clip.

Part your hair

Depending on the style and texture of your hair, the part can really make a big difference in a successful home cut. Portion your hair at the scalp based on your preference and start to imagine what layers will look like. Depending on whether you have coarse and curly hair, or fine and straight hair, it will make a difference to envision it first. If you do have thicker locks, you can likely get away with cutting a dry head of hair, but if you have finer hair, the precision of a wet cut will fair better for you.

Get quality scissors

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t have a sharp set of scissors, you could really botch the job. Layers require a clean, quick cut and you don’t want to have to press too hard when you snip. Sharp shears are going to create a better quality layer, and that’s the whole point.

Part your bangs

If you already have bangs, you’re likely familiar with how to manipulate them (or get them out of the way). If you don’t have bangs, you’ll want to pull your top layer of hair about an inch back from your hairline so you can take care of the underneath layers first. Also, if you don’t like the way the cut is going, you’re finding this out with the less seen part of your hair.

Separate the upper and lower portions of your hair

This will seem like a pain, but it’s worth the work. Using a comb, divide your hair horizontally. Arrange the bottom section so your hair falls naturally around your neck. Depending on how much you are looking to cut, this is the best place to start. Because hair doesn’t fall in a straight line, you can get a better idea of how each cut can affect the shape and texture of your hair.

Brush, Snip, and Layer

You want to make your layers look seamless, so with every cut, use your brush to transition your locks to ensure you are liking the look. Snip in small sections and take your time. You don’t want to cut too much, too fast. It’s best to cut in less than quarter-inch increments (or less) so you can control the style. Cut in vertical directions and, if possible, set up two mirrors so you can monitor what is going on in the back and front of your head. If you don’t feel confident about cutting the back layers of your hair, you can always ask for help.


Fluff, volumize and blow stray hairs away so you can get a good look at the results. Blow-dried hair can always indicate whether you need to fix any areas. You can get a better visual on the left and right sides to see if they are balanced.

Style With a Flat Iron

Now that you’re happy with the cut, you can flatten it out and admire your handiwork in the mirror! If you have some favorite hair spray, gel, or styling cream, you can apply that and start to fix hair to your preference.

Shaggy layers don’t have to be intimidating, but if you are cutting them yourself you’ll like the outcome better if you have a plan of action.

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