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FEATURES Jul 8 2013 7:10PM
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How To Trim Your Own Natural Hair

by Precious Henshaw of Precious-Curls.com

Your hair goes through a lot. You wash it, you detangle it, you style it. Your hair is also exposed to the elements, whether it's the freezing cold or the scorching heat. Even with hair protection methods such as protective styling, which keeps the ends of the hair tucked away and off your shoulders, your ends still have to go through washing and detangling. Your ends are the oldest part of your hair. They've been through the most combing, brushing, and manipulation. Eventually, they will wear down, and that's when it's time to trim them off. How do you know what your ends might look or feel like when it's time to trim? Here are some signs that your ends need to be trimmed off, and some tips on how you can trim your own hair easily.

Differing Lengths and Split Ends

Hair with ends that differ greatly in length can result from breakage at the ends that had happened somewhere in your hair journey. Split ends occur from manipulation of the hair over a long period of time. They can also result from using excessive heat.


Tangled and Matted Ends

Your ends, like I said before, are the most damaged part of your hair, and as a result of the damage the hair can become more porous at the ends (check out my post on porosity here.) The cuticles of porous strands of hair are raised, and this makes it easier for hairs to catch on each other and tangle. If your ends continuously tangle, this is a huge sign you're due for a trim.


Curls that are frizzy & severely thinned at the ends

This is a sign of damage at the ends of your hair. If your hair can't hold a curl pattern all the way to the ends, there's probably something wrong there!


Single-strand knots

Those dreaded tangles that magically form on just ONE strand of hair. As I said a little earlier, damaged hair can catch easily on one another due to the raised cuticles, and although it's perfectly normal for curly, kinky hair to get some single strand knots, lots of SSK's might mean your ends need to be trimmed. Also, things getting easily caught in the ends of your hair, like lint, is another sign your ends need to go.


Coarseness/Roughness Toward the Ends

Damaged hair feels damaged. If it feels rough, crispy, etc. at the ends, they definitely should be trimmed!

Trimming Your Own Hair
It is best to trim your hair while it is stretched out, since curly hair has shrinkage and you can end up cutting off more hair than you actually wanted to. Some people blowdry or thermally straighten their hair for a trim. This works great. However, if you're looking for a heatless alternative, try banding the hair. Banding natural hair gives you similar results to blowdrying, without having to worry about heat damage.
Be sure to invest in hair cutting shears. Do NOT use cheap, dull, paper-cutting scissors. These could end up damaging your ends even more as they are not sharp enough to give you a clean cut.
If you band your hair to stretch it for a trim, it becomes very easy to trim section by section. Remove one section of bands and do a "look and feel”. Look at the hair and see the area that you need to trim off. Run your fingers down the entire section of hair. Feel for the hair going from feeling smooth (healthy hair) to feeling rough (damaged hair), and this should occur roughly around the place that you saw damage toward the end. Trim off the damage by cutting the hair straight across. Most people with healthy hair will have just about the same amount of damage at the ends, but if you find that your hair is so damaged that the ends are very uneven, you may need to get a professional shape-up after trimming to even out the differing lengths.

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