Curly black girl with dreads looking at ocean beach

Afro hair is African American hair in its natural state. This means no chemical or thermal straightening was done to it. Trimming Afro hair poses special considerations due to the curl pattern of Afro hair. However, once these special considerations are known, trimming Afro hair becomes a fairly easy task.

Wet Trim vs. Dry Trim

Many times when people see hair being trimmed, they see it performed while the hair is still wet. For Afro hair, this is not an ideal way to trim. When Afro hair is wet, the natural curl pattern is loosened. When the hair dries, the natural curl pattern returns, and the hair appears shorter once it is dry. This is referred to as shrinkage. Therefore, when Afro hair is cut while wet, the length of hair seen after the trim will be much shorter once the hair has dried. It is best to trim Afro hair while it is dry to see the final result or effect the trim has on the hair's length.

Trimming Afro Hair

Sectioning Afro hair is the best way to trim it. Part the hair down the center of the hair starting from the front hairline, ending at the back hair line. Create a second part across the middle of the head from ear to ear. This should give you four sections of hair. Tie the hair in an elastic band or scrunchie, making four ponytails. Detangle the hair in each tail using a wide tooth comb. Next, take a narrow tooth comb and comb down the ponytail until there is a quarter of an inch of hair between the comb and the ends. Take your scissors and clip or trim the ends. Repeat for each section of hair. Remove the ponytails and comb hair. Your Afro hair should be a uniform length.


If Afro hair is styled in what is commonly referred to as a "short natural," a professional hair stylist or barber should trim the hair. This is because a short natural often requires the use of hair clippers to trim Afro hair, and professional hair stylists and barbers are trained in their use. When trimming at home, it is best to use sharp pair of barber scissors, however, a good pair of sharp sewing scissors can be used as well. If you are unsure about trimming the back of your hair, get someone to help you to make certain the trim is even. Afro hair should be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks.