How-To: Trimming and Dusting Natural Hair

How-To: Trimming and Dusting Natural Hair

how to trim natural hair

how to trim natural hair As naturalistas, most of us are obsessed with retaining length, especially if we BC’d (big chopped) and are just starting to see some of our length return. One way to retain length is to maintain healthy ends. If you wear protective styles often, you likely won’t suffer from split or damaged ends as much as naturalistas who don’t since the elements can wreak havoc on exposed ends especially in colder climates. So, check your ends regularly to ensure that you don’t have split ends or excessive single strand knots. If you do, it’s probably a sign that your ends are not healthy.

Personally, I know that I do not “trim” my ends as often as I should although, I do dust them regularly. I have not found a natural hair stylist yet. I am terrified that a stranger will hack off my hair or cut it into a shape that I do not like. For those reasons I have mastered the art of self-trims! So here are my tips on how to trim natural hair.

3 States: There are three states you can cut natural hair in: wet, dry – straight or dry – curly.

Wet: Some stylists cut hair while it is wet using the same method they would if the hair was dry (and straight). This is often preferred because wet hair is easy to manipulate. However, this not recommended for curly hair.

Dry – Straight: To cut hair while it is dry and straight the hair must be stretched by banding, blow drying, flat ironing* or a combination of these. Cutting hair in this state is the best way to find split ends and ensure that hair is cut symmetrical. However, if you don’t usually wear your hair straight, it’s unnecessary.

Since my natural hair is easiest to manipulate when it is straight I prefer to cut my hair in this state. I have more control over how much I cut, exactly what section I am cutting and how even the hair will be.

Dry – Curly: Some stylists cut hair while it is dry and in its natural curly state. This is best if you prefer to wear your hair curly. Before you get a dry – curly cut, you should style your hair as you normally would before you head to the sale, whether it’s a wash and go or twist out.

2 Methods: There are two methods of cutting natural hair that you can easily be achieved at home without a stylist. With patience you can achieve your desired results on your own.

Trimming: Trimming is what most naturals do. First you separate your hair into at least four sections then you straighten your hair using any of the methods listed above*. Then within each of the larger sections you part straight sections (lines) no more than 1″ wide. Once you have a 1” portion of hair, run a comb through it and make sure it’s smooth. Clamp the section between your index and middle fingers at the root, slide your fingers down the shaft of the hair until you get to the end right before the strands you want to cut. Clip the uneven ends.

Once the section is complete pin it away and follow the same steps above for the next section.

Dusting: Dusting hair is when you clip/snip a very small amount of hair. You don’t necessarily cut it so that it’s “even” but to get rid and split, dry or breaking ends. Dusting is often done when hair is in two strand twists after it has been freshly cleansed by clipping the very ends of your twists that don’t “curl” like the rest of the hair does and looks thinner. The goal of dusting is to have healthy hair while still keeping your length.

Things to Remember:

1. Use hair shears NOT regular scissors to avoid snagging your hair.

2. Section your hair. It will make the process much easier.

3. Curly hair should not be cut with a razor or thinning shears; the results are only temporary. When the hair starts to grow back, it will lose shape and be hard to manage.

Happy Trimming!

  • I will be attempting my first trim this week! This advice is exactly what I needed!!!

    • Yayyyyyy! So glad our timing worked just right for you!

    • Curls and Mo

      Don’t forget to tweet me if you have questions!

  • KellyMonroe

    I have been natural for 19 months and I never get in my head with scissors lol. I’ll stick to the professionals but if I have to do it myself I will come back to this post!

    • I feel you, I haven’t tackled self trimming myself but I have began dusting on my own.

      • Robyn Kleinhans

        The idea of self trimming still scares me, and I dust only where and when I see the need. I’m that protective of retaining my length, lol

    • Curls and Mo

      Kelly, the last time my hair was “trimmed” I did it myself. It took forever because I had to blow dry and then flat iron it first but I loved the results. Check out the pic below. (Sorry for not smiling – lol – it was LATE.) I can’t wait to be done with my Castor Oil Challenge in Dec so I can trim it again. The front is already at about 13.5″ and the rest is at about 11.” so this should be fun. LOL. ~Monet

      • Curls and Mo

        Oh! This was last December btw.

  • Self trimming (for me) is the devil. It’s the only part of my hair care I let the professionals do. But I prefer to get it cut while its straight to ensure a great style when I flat iron.

  • I have yet to trim my hair since I did my big chop. I have been wearing my hair in protective styles since my big chop so it’s not really an issue. I am not going to anyones shop I am going to do it right a home with my boo thang! Lol. I have always had my significant others trim or cut my hair for me with very careful guidance. I paid a pretty penny for a good pair of shears which is the most important thing like you stated.

  • Angela

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge on trimming natural hair. Now that I’m wearing my hair in it’s natural state (I’ve kept it straighten since going natural 5 years ago), I haven’t trimmed it. I’ll cleanse it this weekend and do the “dusting” method with the twists. THANKS!!!

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