Trimming natural hair sounds like a daunting task especially if you’re newly natural.
However, allowing hairstylists to trim your hair has led to a big chop on many occasions.
It bodes on the safe side to learn how to trim your hair yourself. Let me share a self-trimming horror story with you.
When I was still relaxed, I came across an article that suggested the best way to trim hair was to wear it in a ponytail and cut off the ends of the ponytail.
This was back in 2009. Subsequently, I pulled my hair into a ponytail and did just that.
Very. Bad. Idea.
When I let my hair down, I had uneven hair all over the place with the worst-hit been hair towards the back of my head.
It was the worst possible way to trim hair. It was a long time before I worked up the nerve to trim my hair myself again.
Nowadays, trimming my hair is a fast and easy process that’s like second nature to me. Don’t make the same silly mistake I did.
I have collated some of the very best tips for trimming natural hair in this article.
I also answer frequent questions ladies ask about trimming natural hair and the best trimming scissors for natural hair.
Why Trim Natural Hair?
Trimming natural hair is essential to healthy hair growth even if you don’t have split ends and your hair is perfectly healthy.
As your hair grows longer, it may thin out at the ends due to its age and continuous manipulation.
Trimming will help mitigate this and also protect from future damage.
Additionally, a fresh trim means your ends are fuller. This will make your hairstyles pop with bouncy ends too.
I trim my hair 2 – 3 times a year irrespective of how healthy my hair is. If I’m in protective styles like wigs long term, I trim lightly 1 – 2 times a year.
How to Trim Natural Hair at Home Without Straightening
There are four methods I would recommend for trimming natural hair.
You don’t have to straighten your hair to use three of these methods while the fourth method requires a light blow out or some other form of stretching.
Whichever one you choose depends on what you’re trying to achieve and how much time you have to dedicate to the task.
Dusting involves searching through individual sections of hair for splits and snipping off the ends.
Dusting can take a significant amount of time so try this method only if you have about half a day to kill.
The video below shows a simple method for dusting curly hair for length retention.
If your hair is healthy, you can use this method. If your hair is damaged and has a lot of split ends though, then the traditional full trim is best for your hair.
2. Individual Twists Trimming
This involves twisting individual sections of your hair and snipping away the very ends that stick out of the twist.
It’s another form of dusting natural hair.
When I take down cornrows under a wig to quickly wash and deep condition, I use this method.
I do this because I already wash and deep condition in twists anyway.
I just make the twists smaller. I use 10 – 15 individual twists on my APL (armpit length) hair.
The video below shows this method on type 3 hair but it applies to all hair types.
This method is best suited for ladies with a low manipulation regimen and if you wear your hair in protective styles a lot.
3. Traditional Full Trim
A traditional trim involves cutting off an inch or more of your hair. A traditional trim gets rid of ends that may become potentially problematic.
In the video below, Naptural85 shows the traditional full trim method.
I do not use the Denman brush though as it pulls out my hair.
If your hair is healthy then there’s no need for a traditional full trim. Dusting or trimming in individual twists is best.
4. Blow Out Trimming
With this method, your hair would be stretched first before trimming the ends.
However, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re skilled at blow-drying and/or straightening your own hair.
The video below video from Parisin85 shows trimming on blown-out hair:-
Stretching your hair via the binding method does mimic a blow out so maybe that would be effective for this method.
Best Tips for Trimming Natural Hair
How Often Should You Trim Your Hair if You Want it to Grow?
This question suggests that trimming hair will make hair grow faster. However, this is a myth. Trimming hair doesn’t make it grow faster.
Trimming removes unhealthy ends and/or thin ends so you can retain length better thus giving the appearance of faster hair growth.
You should trim your hair at least twice a year. If you trim your hair every 6 – 8 weeks as most stylists suggest, you’re trimming off all your progress and won’t see any length.
What Happens if You Do Not Cut Off Split Ends?
If you refuse to trim split ends, expect to go bald eventually.
Split ends will travel up your hair shaft and destroy the integrity of your hair leading to hair loss. Read
How Often Should You Trim Hair When Transitioning?
This is entirely up to you. As often as you’re comfortable with. When I was transitioning, I cut off a little bit every 3 months.
When my natural hair reached around shoulder length, I cut off whatever was left at once.
This occurred over 14 to 18 months. Below is a pic of my hair on fully natural day :).
I stretched it using the banding method before cutting off the relaxed ends. I just woke up and look crazy in the pic. That’s why my face is covered. ?
Is It Best to Trim Your Hair Wet or Dry?
Natural hair shrinks so if you try to trim your hair while wet, you may take off more hair than you intend to.
However, you don’t have to wait for it to be completely dry either.
Hair that’s about 75% dry is the sweet point for trimming your hair. You can stretch it with the banding method prior to trimming as well.
Take out the bands when your hair is about 75% dry then trim as necessary.
You can also stretch via bantu knots, braid outs, roller sets and curl formers.
Which Scissors Are Best for Cutting Hair?
It’s very important that you trim your hair with professional shears and not the regular scissors you would use for cutting paper.
Using the wrong pair of shears could lead to uneven ends and hair loss.
Professional shears are designed specifically for trimming hair and are very sharp and precise.
They are more expensive than regular stationery store scissors but they get the job done effectively.
I’ve had my Equinox trimming shears for a very long time and it’s still as good as new because I use it only a few times a year.
Invest in the right kind of cutting shears and you may not need to replace them for a while.
Below are the top 3 professional cutting shears I would recommend for natural hair:-
3 Best Professional Shears for Trimming Natural Hair
Investing in a great pair of professionals will be one of the best things you will ever do for your natural hair.
If you have any questions about trimming natural hair, ask them in the comments section below.
Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
This post may contain affiliate links which means we will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.