Jen Atkin Taught Me How to Cut My Hair at Home, and It Actually Looks Great

Jene J. Long

I vowed never to cut my own hair again after a major mishap during my freshman year of high school. Let’s just say, I learned my lesson the hard way. For over a decade, and up until a few days ago, I have kept that promise to myself. However, it was one I made at a time when the possibility of a worldwide pandemic was inconceivable to my teenage imagination.

I typically visit my hairstylist every three months for a trim and highlights. The last time I saw her was in November. (Let me help with the math—that’s over five months ago.) Suddenly, my locks started looking very dry and unhealthy, especially at the ends. So when I saw Jen Atkin share a couple of haircut-how-to videos on Instagram, my interest piqued. My co-workers have recently tried everything from DIY waxing to professional-level facials, so I thought to myself, “How hard could this really be?”

While I won’t be giving up appointments with my stylist in the future (Katie, if you’re reading this I would never cheat on you!), but it really wasn’t that challenging. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying an entirely new hairstyle on your own—after all, I only gave myself an inch trim with a few layers—but an at-home haircut is definitely doable to get by until salons reopen. Here’s how it went down.

MY HAIR BEFORE THE CUT

This is what my hair looked like a few days ago before my at-home cut. It typically grows quickly, and this length was definitely a couple inches longer than I like to keep it. The ends start to split and look a bit stringy when I go this long without a cut.

STEP ONE: PREP HAIR & GATHER SUPPLIES

While I usually get a dry cut at the salon, Jen recommends doing it with wet hair. I wasn’t going to stray from the instructions before I even began, so I used a spray bottle to dampen my locks. Although you’ll need the bottle to spray hair throughout the process as it dries, in hindsight it would have been much easier to just shower.

Sally’s Organics Amber Glass Spray Bottles ($20)

I then used my favorite detangler and ran a dry brush through my hair, parting it down the middle. Looking back, I wish I would have kept my normal side part, but I was nervous to stray from the tutorial. For the rest of the process, I ditched my brush and switched over to a comb.

Amika The Wizard Detangling Hair Primer ($25)

Verb Detangling Brush ($18)

Baxter of California Large Comb ($22)

STEP TWO: TRIM THE FRONT PIECES

Now it’s time to get cutting with the sharpest pair of scissors available. The idea is to cut the front pieces in a way that frames the face: short to long. I first secured all of my hair back with alligator clips, leaving out just about an inch in the front on either side. I combed the hair together in front of my face and then cut straight across in the very center and connected the outer pieces by cutting at an upward angle.

“Nobody’s being graded on this,” Jen reminds us. After the very front section was done, I parted my hair in the center again and then added another inch of hair to each side. I trimmed at a downward angle, away from my face, to align the now larger sections of hair on either side. The idea is to connect the longest part of the front layers with the length you want the rest of your hair to be.

Dragon Riot Professional Hair Cutting Shears ($24)

Sephora Collection Hold It Together: Alligator Jaw Clips ($10)

Drybar Hold Me Hair Clips ($16)

STEP THREE: WORK YOUR WAY BACK

At this point, I’m on part two of the video now, I parted my hair back on the side (for better or for worse) and switched from clips to a scrunchie. I slowly let more sections loose and trimmed as I went, checking my work every so often by simply combing all of my hair to the front of my shirt to see if the two sides looked even. Jen doesn’t exactly explain how to cut the back of the hair (the idea is that this is just a trim after all), so I went a little rogue.

Koro Beauty Silk Elastic Hair Bands ($10)

Tasha Assorted 2-Pack Scrunchies ($11)

STEP FOUR: ADD LONG LAYERS

Finally, Jen dives into how to cut some longer layers. I actually found this part to be a little bit easier because these pieces blend into the rest of the hair. (Read: the mistakes are less visible.) To do this, gather a few inches of hair in the midsection of each side of your part and then secure the front and back sections with a scrunchie behind the head. Jen calls the method she uses to cut this section of hair “slithering.” Watch the video to see her quick movement, but she describes it as, “keeping tension and then opening and closing the scissors while moving down.” I swear it sounds more complicated then it looks. Once I slithered off these layers, I combed everything together and checked my work one last time. Finally, I ran some heat-protecting serum through my strands and blow-dried my hair per usual.

Bumble and Bumble Repair Blow Dry ($32)

T3 Cura Hair Dryer ($180)

THE FINAL RESULTS

As mentioned, the results may not be salon-worthy, but I’m happy with them overall. I ended up removing a little over an inch of length throughout, and my strands look a lot healthier because of it. I recommend watching Jen’s videos in detail to really see how she holds the scissors for each step, but I have faith that if I can do it, anyone with a pair of really sharp scissors can, too.

SHOP THE HAIR ACCESSORIES I’M WEARING WITH MY NEW CUT

Free People Pretty Mess Barrette ($22)

This clip is way chicer than my go-to bobby pin.

Diane von Furstenberg Jella Silk Scarf ($198)

Silk scarves are always a summer essential. I like to wear them with jeans and a tank or a bikini.

Lelet NY Magic Multi Bobby Pin Set ($128)

I love these crafty little clips. I’d wear them on the same side for a trendier look.

UO Bianca Braided Headband ($14)

This soft blue braided headband puts me in the mood for summer.

& Other Stories Rope Chain Circle Hair Clip ($9)

This circular barrette is ideal for clipping back the front pieces of hair.

Next up: Check out the items we’re buying to replace other beauty services.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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