Layers, bangs and boys: cutting your hair, made simple
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    Signs in local barber shops can be downright frightening. But while you’re not willing to let your precious locks get a “college cut”, you’re not exactly excited to pay (up to $150 at Evanston’s Trio Salon) for a hoity-toity salon cut either.

    The one remaining option? Take matters into your own shaky hands. Here’s some time-tested tips for giving yourself (or a friend) an “ear-lowering.”


    Any monkey can snip a blunt cut. If you want something a little more interesting, give yourself a layered look.

    You’ll need salon-style scissors, which can be found for cheap at places like CVS. The scissors should be shorter than five inches.

    Theoretically, your layers should look something like this. Photo by dearbarbie on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    Method 1: For beginners

    1. Trim your hair to a length about an inch longer than you want the end result to be. Use sharp scissors to avoid uneven cuts.
    2. Position the scissors with the blades parallel to the strands of hair.
    3. Snip vertically into the ends of your hair. Keep the scissors straight and parallel to your hair. This will shorten some strands of hair while keeping others longer. The deeper you cut into your hair, the more noticeable the layers will be.
    4. Continue until the desired amount of feathering is achieved. Don’t be afraid to go over the same spot several times. The result is subtle, but makes a huge difference when compared to a straight cut.

    This is also a good way to trim overgrown bangs without chopping off a huge chunk. Just apply the same technique to the ends of your bangs, taking off a little hair at a time.

    Method 2: For the brave

    This is a riskier way to create layers, but creates a more dramatic cut.

    1. Just like in Method 1, trim your hair to about an inch longer than desired.
    2. Take a one-inch-wide section of hair (try starting with the front and work your way to the back) and hold it straight out from your head.
    3. Point the scissors upward, perpendicular to the floor. Trim the end of the section. Though it’s a straight cut, because the hairs are at different angles, they’ll end up at different lengths. Just keep in mind the length of the shortest hair in the section.
    4. Keep going until you get the look you want. Get a friend you trust to help you with the back.
    5. For more severe layers, increase the angle at which you hold the hair before making the cut. Remember to cut in small increments to avoid disaster. You can also try using Method 1 after Method 2 to even things out.

    Bangin’ bangs

    After seeing celebrities like Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon rocking this hot trend, you might be tempted to jump on the bang bandwagon. Professionals may tell you that bangs should be left to them, but it is entirely possible — and easy — to cut your bangs yourself.

    Still, a word of caution, says Weinberg freshman Christina Chaey. Chaey found herself horrified after her do-it-yourself haircut went wrong. “My bangs looked like zigzags across my forehead,” she said. “It looks like I had cut them with craft scissors.”

    Here are some tips:

    1. Always cut your bangs with dry hair. Salons may wet the hair first, but they are professionals — if you go the wet route, your bangs will likely end up short and awkward.
    2. Decide how much you want to cut. Do you want them to hit near the top or the bottom of your eyes? Should they be straight or shaggy?
    3. Once you make a decision, section off the hair you wish to cut with a comb. Pull the rest out of your face using an elastic or clips. Make sure your part is neat; otherwise, your bangs will be uneven.
    4. Comb your future bangs and hold them loosely in between your index and middle fingers.
    5. Snip at a 45-degree angle starting from the sides. Be generous with the length; you can always cut more. The sides of your bangs should always be longer than the middle.

    If you find that your bangs look like more of a “don’t” than a “do,” there are several options: a floppy hat, headbands, face masks or a quick trip to a local salon.

    Boys’ hair

    Photo by Bryan_Chan on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    It’s easy to assume that boys with their short hair have it easier than girls do. This is probably true, but short hair requires more frequent hair cuts. On a college budget, food wins over haircuts, but you can still look decent:

    1. Wash and dry your hair. Clean hair cuts more evenly.
    2. The simplest method is to use an electric clipper. Select the right guard for the desired length. A 1″ guard is a good place to start. Shave from the front to the back, making sure not to miss any patches.
    3. Remove the guard when you are finished to trim the sideburns; be careful to not go too short.

    If all you need is a trim around the back and edges, scissors work fine. Find a friend (a trustworthy friend is recommended, unless you want to end up like this) to do the job.

    Tip: Don’t cut your hair in your room unless you get really excited about vacuuming. The bathroom, with its tile floors and university-regulated cleaning schedule, is a great venue for haircutting. To eliminate mess, put a paper towel or plastic bag around your shoulders.

    If you accidentally cut part of the hair too short, don’t try to shorten everything else to even it out (unless you’re going for the bald look). Hair grows out fast.


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