How Often Should You Actually Cut Your Hair? 

Photo: Simon Lekias/Getty Images

It turns out there is no one-size-fits-all standard answer when asking the simple question: “How often should I cut my hair?” It’s all down to your own hair and its specific needs. “It’s all relative,” says Irinel de León, celebrity hairstylist and global styling ambassador for Dyson. “It all depends on your hair texture, the integrity of your hair, and how often you colour or double process your hair.”

Regularly trimming or cutting your hair does offer benefits: De León says that it can improve hair growth, create natural thickness, prevent hair from over drying or breaking off, and keep the hair healthy overall. So you want to be sure you’re making your salon trips at the right time. To figure out how often you should be cutting your own hair, here are the basics that you need to know:

Trim vs cut

Though we often interchange the words “trim” and “cut” when talking about hair, they do mean different things. A trim, as De León explains, is when an inch or two is taken off at the ends, while a cut is a bit more drastic with more than two to three inches being chopped off. They’re also used in different circumstances.

Celebrity hairstylist Laura Polko says that a trim is best for getting rid of split ends and for when you’re starting to notice breakage. If you notice your hair looking drier or starting to lose its shape, you’ll also want a trim to revive it all.

Signs you need a cut, according to De León, include the hair looking limp, hair not holding any style, hair tangling easily, or hair having severe damage. If you’re just looking for a change in style or want to add movement and body to your hair, she says that a cut is necessary to achieve either of those things.

When to trim based on length…

Short hair

While it sounds counterintuitive, the truth is the shorter the hair, the more upkeep is needed to keep it healthy. “Short hair takes a bit more maintenance because of its length and shape,” says De León. “For example, when someone has a bob that sits right below the ear, it will be more obvious when the hair grows because it can easily pass the shoulders after six to eight weeks and it will completely change the style.”

“Shorter haircuts often require more frequent trims to maintain their shape and style,” agrees celebrity hairstylist T Cooper. “If you have a pixie cut [for example], it may need to be cut a little more often to maintain the shape of the sideburns and the nape of the neck.”

Both experts agree that you should trim hair every six weeks, at a minimum.

Medium-length hair

When it comes to cutting medium hair, both Polko and De León agree that it’ll depend on a few different factors, such as your hair texture and how fast your hair naturally grows. But if you want to maintain the length and keep strands looking healthy, De León recommends getting a trim every six to 12 weeks.

Long hair

Rodney Cutler, owner of Cutler salons and a Redken ambassador, says the frequency of trimming long hair will be determined by how healthy it is to begin with. If you are prone to split ends or have flyaways, he says to go in for a hair appointment every eight to 10 weeks. If your hair is healthy and strong, you can get away with a trim every 10 to 12 weeks.

When to trim based on hair type and texture…

Fine hair

Polko explains that fine hair tends to grow a little slower but also looks damaged more quickly, so she cuts it when it begins to look stringy. De León adds that it can depend on both the length and desired style you’re aiming for when wanting to upkeep fine hair, but generally believes that frequent trims are required to maintain health and shape. For short, fine hair, she recommends a trim every four to six weeks. Medium-length hair, six to eight weeks. Long, fine hair, eight to 12 weeks.

Thick hair

Both Cutler and Polko agree that you can get away with not trimming hair as often if you’re not experiencing major damage. “Since there is so much more hair… it can withstand more heat than thin hair or fine hair can,” says Polko. “It can really take the heat [and] higher heat settings, [and tolerate] bleach more than fine hair can.” Cutler says that eight to 12 weeks is a decent time amount of time to aim for between hair appointments, just be sure to keep an eye on split ends.

Curly, coily, textured hair

T Cooper recommends getting regular trims every six to eight weeks to maintain the shape of the curls and prevent damage. She explains that length doesn’t factor in as much because textured hair tends to be drier in general, regardless of how long it is. “Do not skip on trims,” she says. “I often see people with curly hair not waiting to trim their hair as often [and] I get it; because of the curl pattern, the hair appears shorter and they want to keep the length. But if the ends [of your hair] dry out and become brittle, you’re going to lose length anyway.”

If you’re transitioning to your natural hair, then De León recommends getting frequent trims every four weeks. “This helps get the dead ends off so the hair can begin to curl up into its natural texture,” she says. Cutler adds that the most critical thing is to watch out for dryness, and recommends a moisturising shampoo and conditioner (like the Redken All Soft Mega Curls Shampoo and Conditioner) to use in between appointments.

Damaged Hair

All experts agree on this: when hair is damaged, it must be cut off. “If the damage is so bad (you’re bleaching too much or using too much heat), that’s when it becomes a cut instead of a trim,” says Polko. “You’re going to have to commit and then let your hair grow back out.”

“It’s unlikely [that you can] repair damaged hair,” adds T Cooper. “I know a lot of women don’t want to cut off all the damage at once. So get it as short as you can [and] what you are comfortable with, and continue frequent trims from there.” Along with cutting the ends of your hair off, she recommends a healthy haircare routine that includes treatments, a focus on maintaining moisture, and receiving regular trims from your stylist. “It’s a team effort,” she says.

How to keep hair healthy between trims and cuts

The upkeep between hair appointments is just as important as getting those regular trims (or cuts when necessary). “A lot of people don’t realise that healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp,” says T Cooper. She recommends getting scalp scrubs and protein hair treatments and using the right hair products like moisturising shampoos and conditioners to keep hair strong. Be sure to use some form of heat protectant (Polko likes the John Frieda’s Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-in Conditioner) when heat styling, and to mask often.

If you must use hot tools, De León adds that you’ll want to use ones that prevent extreme heat damage, like the Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler. “It’s the perfect tool to create different hairstyles,” she says. “You can diffuse your waves, curls, or coils, straighten [your hair], and give yourself a bouncy blow dry.”

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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