Hairdressing at Home

Does it sound terribly trivial if I say that a lot of women are very worried about their hair at the moment?

Surely we should have our minds on much more important concerns, but in so many ways we cannot influence the big stuff. We just have to stay put and do as we are told. Meanwhile this stuff that grows out of our heads is changing colour, growing longer and looking more ragged by the day. So what to do?

Most of us will be comfortable with administering to other beauty needs ourselves, but styling, cutting and colouring our hair is quite another thing.

So, on your behalf I have been watching lots of videos and reading up on the subject so that I can help you with some ideas (and videos) for how to style and cut your own hair until that happy day when you can get back to a salon and let the professionals take over.

Home Hair Styling

Many of you will already be very comfortable with this as you may be adept at blow-drying your own hair. However if you need some guidelines and some styling product suggestions here they are:

  1. Equipment is key. For my hair which is a short bob which I tuck behind my ears, I need a minimum of 3 round styling brushes of varying size with bristles (to grab onto the hair). I also have a set of 6 Click N Curl Brushes with a detachable handle so they act as both brush and roller.
  2. Wash hair twice with a good shampoo. I am currently using Kerastase Bain Ultra Violet which is ‘an anti-brass’ shampoo. I then apply a conditioner, Aveda Colour Conserve, and rinse very thoroughly. If you have naturally white or grey hair then White Hot hair has some great products.
  3. Add a Styling Product. Use a spritz of something like L’Oreal Tecni Art Thermo Modelling spray on wet hair to add volume and body and to give hair some texture as you blow dry.
  4. Blow Dry using a hairdryer on medium heat to protect hair. Section hair with clips and blow dry each section using the appropriate brush size. 
  5. To add volume and height I leave the 6 Click N Curl brushes in on the top sections of my hair for about 10 minutes so that they have extra bounce.
  6. Finish by brushing through and applying a light spray of lacquer unless that thought horrifies you! I use Kerastse Laque Couture because there is no stickiness and it completely brushes out at the end of the day.

Cutting Your Own Hair.

For this I am indebted to George Northwood who wrote these guidelines in an article in The Times. I followed this advice and you can see me cutting my own hair in the video below.

  1. "Think what you are aiming to achieve - not the perfect salon-finish hair cut but to maintain the general style until you can get back to the salon. So - you are basically giving yourself a trim.
  2. Invest in a good pair of hairdressing scissors (don’t use the ones you use to trim bacon rinds!) and Ideally use a long narrow gauge comb. You might also need a pair of thinning scissors.
  3. Always cut hair in front of a large mirror in good light.
  4. Cut hair dry, not wet. A professional will know how to cut wet hair so that it looks good when dry but you don’t! You are much less likely to cut too much off if you blow dry first.
  5. Don’t cut straight across but point cut into the ends of your hair. Be careful not to snip the fingers of the hand holding the hair. (I cut myself twice without realsing it!)
  6. Assess what needs to be done - a fringe tidy? Or cutting split ends? Or trimming untidy layers?"

If You Have a Fringe

First of all find your fringe by isolating all the longer sections of your hair by tucking or pinning them behind your ears. You only want to have the hair that makes up your fringe falling naturally at the front. Comb your fringe from underneath a number of times. Using your comb to lift the fringe outwards, trim the very tips of the hair. Make sure you chip into the fringe — it’s called point-cutting (you point the scissors like a clock’s hand pointing to seven). Do not simply cut across in a straight line.

If you have full hair, you might want to divide your fringe into two or three sections that run parallel with the hairline. Pin back the upper sections of the fringe and start with the first section that will rest on your forehead. You use the comb to gently pull the entire section forward and chip into it. Follow the existing line of the fringe.

Don’t ever pull your fringe forward using your fingers and cut it because it will bounce back once trimmed and be far shorter than you would wish. Resting the hair on the comb to cut it doesn’t create unnatural tension and you achieve a softer finish.

Side-swept fringes

Most side fringes are quite sweeping and don’t need trimming very often. If you feel it does need a little tidy-up, pull the hair forward and follow the line your hairdresser has put in your fringe. Cut into the hair rather than straight across. It gives a softer and more natural finish.

Swept Fringe

Short hair

If you have very short hair, I suggest you really only make the smallest of trims. Simply snip the areas that you feel might need a slight tidy-up. Always follow the line created by your hairdresser. Even a few millimetres off can refresh a short style.That said, if you have a bob and are considering growing it out, this might be the perfect time. As a bob is such a precision style, it can grow out well.

Short Hair

Long or mid-length hair

Always start with your hair in the style you prefer. For example, if you have a centre or side parting, you trim your hair from that starting point.If your hair is all one length, tip your head forward and make very small cuts into the ends of the hair, removing any split ends. Avoid cutting across in straight lines because this will result in an awkward gappy finish.

As an alternative, you can pull your hair into a ponytail at the crown of your head. From this position you can make small trims to the ends of your hair. Again, don’t just cut across the hair in a straight line, but chip into the ends of the hair. You will achieve a softer and more natural finish.

Long Hair


Unless your hair is quite long and you can brush it forward to trim the layers, it’s best to leave back layers alone. For front layers, start with your hair parted in the way you wear your style. What you want to do is simply trim the sections at the front, following as closely as possible the shape of your style. As with the fringe, if you can isolate each of the layered sections at the front of your hair, you can work on them individually. Again, point-cutting the ends is the correct way to trim. You want to keep the natural graduated finish that follows the shape of the hair around your face.

Layered Hair

Curly hair

As with all trimming, but especially with curls, trim only the very ends. Curls bounce up once cut, so trim no more than half a centimetre.

Sheer Brilliance Lid Colour and No Shimmer Eye Shade in Cream

Split ends

Snip them with scissors, following the line of your hairstyle. Try to use this time as a holiday from hot tools which will reduce the likelihood of you getting split ends in future.

Colouring your Own Hair

I have just recently had a half head of silver grey highlights added to my hair (see my blog Embracing the Grey) on my hair colour dilemmas. I cannot in any way colour my hair myself so I am truly hoping that this fairly recent colour will last me for a few months before looking weird. However I know some of you will be quite freaked out about your hair colour, so here’s what the experts suggest:

From Michael Van Clarke: (award winning hairdresser)

"Be careful about buying some of the hair dyes on the retail market. Retail products are harder than professional products to colour-correct in the salon afterwards. They’re often full of heavy metals and odd elements, which are aggressive on the hair. So try using a touch-up pencil for your roots — you can get different tones and they are good to tide people over. Otherwise, I’d recommend a vegetable colour. It’s more gentle, but will mostly still do the job.

Colour shampoo will last you a week; it will sit on the surface and fade. Vegetable colour is a single product that you apply directly from the bottle which will also sit on the surface, but go that bit deeper. It will wash off in about 6 to 12 washes.

Then there’s semi-permanent dye (which often comes in the form of two parts that mix together). Semi-permanent is a marketing term that’s been abused over the years. Often, semi-permanent is closer to permanent. It’s essentially a weak tint, which means it will affect the structure and colour of your hair for up to three or four years.

If you want to make your colour last, my Lifesaver Pre Wash Treatment is a good option. Combine it with the Michael Van Clarke Cashmere Protein UV Protective Shampoo and Conditioner to retain colour vibrancy and extend the life between tints.

Finally, don’t attempt to highlight your hair at home. It is probably the most skilled process required. But if you’ve had your highlights done recently, I’d say you can push it for two to three months."

Best home hair dyes: the beauty expert’s pick

Colourist Josh Wood suggests that you colour-match to your lightest natural shade, which is often the roots as it can be hard to identify your true base shade. Going darker is harder to fix and could make you look washed out.

Here are his picks of the at-home colouring products.

Josh Wood Permanent Colour, £10

By following an online “consultation” to choose your colour it’s almost impossible to pick the wrong one. The kit also comes with professional grade gloves and a sturdy barrier cream.

John Frieda Precision Foam, £9.99

Rather than painting this on — which can be fiddly — simply massage this non-drip foam through dry hair as you would a shampoo. A great option for an all-over colour refresh.

L’Oréal Casting Crème Gloss, £7

Ammonia-free (as any choice should be) and with a large shade range, this is one of the best choices for a semi-permanent pick-me-up. The formula is packed full of coconut oil, so it conditions too.

Clairol Nice’n’Easy Root Touch Up, £5.99

An easy-to-use (funny, that) tool box to hide growing-out roots until you can get back to the salon. My tip is to go slightly lighter than you think you need — it’s easier to fix if it’s wrong.

I am not sure that hairdressing is my strong suit!

I’m reasonably good at blow drying and styling because I have done it for years, cutting is MUCH trickier but I will do as I have shown you in the video and just trim very conservatively every 3-4 weeks and hope for the best. As to colour I won’t touch that with the proverbial barge pole because I do feel that, on my hair anyway, professional highlighting is best done by someone who knows what they’re doing! Added to which the chemicals used in hair dyes can do considerable damage if mis-used - so if you are tempted to home dye your hair always do a skin patch test first. Like many occupations (teaching, shelf stacking, refuse collection and all the caring professions), this virus is showing us those people who really matter to civilized society. I have just added hairdressers to my list of heroes and can’t wait to get back in the salon!

How are you coping with your hair at home? Please join in the conversation below with any ideas, hints or tips and products which work well for you. Thank you!