Hair is highly personal, and while getting a proper salon haircut is often the easiest way to avoid a style catastrophe, it is possible to trim or even cut hair at home. But skip the bowl. With these tips, trimming, adding layers or even shortening hair into a slanting bob or long bob is within our own grasp.

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Gear Up

Some basic equipment is necessary for cutting your own hair. For example, heavy duty kitchen scissors will not work well for a DIY haircut. Salon-quality scissors have sharper blades to yield a clean cut without any split ends. A handheld mirror can be useful for checking the back of the head for a balanced cut, and a fine-toothed comb is important for gently pulling slightly curled hair in with the rest for an even line. Ponytail holders and bobbles or clips to hold hair securely in place are necessary as well. A spray bottle may also prove useful for keeping hair damp with frizz at bay.

Get the Technique

Keeping hair damp, pull into a tight, centered ponytail on top of the head. Measure how long you want the style to be, leaving the hair a little longer than the desired length to allow for correction of any errors. Mark with a bobble or clip. With all of the hair pulled back and marked, cut straight across the bottom of the bobble. This will become the longest layer. This will make all strands perfectly equal around the head. From here, segment hair into three sections, two toward the front and one in the back.

Now that the two side sections are at the longest final layer that will frame the face, tightly twist the back section of hair into another ponytail at the base of the neck to be held in place by the nondominant hand. Keeping the hair pulled tight, cut across the twisted pony. This will help blend the slant into the longest layer at the front by keeping the closest hair to the back shorter and the hair closer to the sides longer throughout the cut. Again, start long and gradually shorten as needed. For the visual learners, test the technique out on strands of string or yarn bound at one end with a rubber band. Once twisted, the strands that are closest to the center will be shortest and those toward the outside of the pony will be longer, like fringe bangs. This will give the basic slanting bob shape that can then be further blended and shortened.

Trim the Layers

Blend the slanting line by cutting vertically into the ends of the hair, but be sure to measure both sides as you work throughout the cut to ensure both sides are even and balanced. Cutting vertically will both shorten the look the more you cut as well as make the blunt line appear more natural. To add more layers, pull hair into top, middle and bottom sections at the sides and back of the head. Leave the bottom layer longest and move through each section cutting vertically for a natural and blended look.

Remember to take your time and be patient so you avoid missteps and hasty snips. Always cut longer than desired or expected; hair can always be further shortened. If a mistake does occur, longer hair will more easily allow a professional to correct the situation.