How I Fixed My Puffy Triangle Hair Without Going Back To The Salon

I’m one of those people who pay close attention to whoever is working on my hair to quietly lurk on their technique, just in case I ever wanted to use it on myself.
Publish date:
March 5, 2014
haircuts, trims, DIY, hairstyles, bobs, shears

You know how if you want something done right, you have to
do it yourself? Most people wouldn’t necessarily apply that manta to something
like surgery, or commercial building demolition, or cutting your own hair. All
things you should leave to the pros. I’ve cut my fair share of hairs,
most of them on other people’s heads--mostly the heads of boyfriends and
ex-boyfriends because boys are apparently way more trusting (read: cheap/can’t
be bothered) towards a girl who owns a pair of hair-cutting shears than the
whatever barber over on Schmo Road.

For the past two years, I was growing out what I can only
call an antagonistic (albeit well done) haircut that brought me
from a layered chin-length chop with baby bangs to boob-veiling lengths. Until recently, I was nearly back to boob-grazing until my blonding
prompted me to have that chopped, too, giving the stylist fairly free reign to
“do whatever you feel is best.” He cut off the really frazzled ends--all five
inches of them--leaving me with razored ends just past my shoulders, with no

That’s all fine and good for people with thin or fine hair, but for
someone with thick, ropey strands, all this equals triangle head. For once in my
life, a stylist gave me short hair with no layers--so editorial chic--which looks
great on the pages of Dazed or V or other oversized quarterly
mags that cost as much as paperbacks; I, however, do not have an on-set hair
architect making my triangle hair looking perfectly acute.

Had this been my born-again virginal hair, I don’t think
triangulation would be an issue. But as those who’ve gone the platinum route
can attest, the double processing does change the texture of your hair. It’s
different for everyone, and in my case, my hair made like a spooked
cat, haunches arched, tail pouffed. My head is basically covered in puffy cat
tails, like the love child of Boo Radley of Medusa.

I have a vague memory from a past hairdresser who suggested
that if I wanted to go short, under-shaving would remove the bulk.
Dude, what EVEN? Not that I’m a buzzer baby, but the prospect of having to grow
that out in any graceful way is just unfathomable. I’ve had my Chinatown
hairdresser straight-up slice out chunks of hair from the mid-layers to remove
bulk, but this was also in conjunction with long layers, so while I could never
detect where the chunk was and how much of it was gone, the fact that there
were layers meant that I didn’t really care.

Nothing against my last hairstylist, who did a great
job, but a day or two after he cut me, I kind of went to town
trimming what he did, about two inches, so it wouldn’t rest in a weird way
on my shoulders and poke me in the collarbone.
Having cut and trimmed my own bangs many times before, I thought, how
hard could it be to trim my own hair? I’m one of those people who pay close
attention to whoever is working on my hair to quietly lurk on their technique…
just in case I ever wanted to use it on myself.


It takes a while--way longer than if you went to a salon
and were like, “Just need something to get rid of all this bulk, Johnny!” Take a night off to just confine yourself to your bathroom with
some candles, a pair of shears, and maybe …Baby
One More Time
on compact disc. Good lighting is a must. If you want to sing along to "Sometimes" and freak yourself out because you still know all the
words, that’s totally cool.

What I set out to do is discreetly cut out some mid-layers
so I can still have the effect of a textured, choppy, long bob sans-pouf. You
can do this with shears or a straight razor. I don’t have a straight razor, so
here we are. I’m basically channel cutting and slicing, two techniques where
you don’t snip, so much as slide your shears down the mid-shaft of your hair,
applying a bit of pressure to slice layers off to remove weight without the
appearance of it.

You can do this with dry or wet hair, but I find it wet hair
easier to section off and grab. Also, the scissor blades drag less on wet hair,
so I don’t feel the drag as much when I’m slicing. It’s a weird sensation, like
my hair is Velcro and I’m tearing it off itself. If that image hasn’t scared
you off, let’s move along and do as I do!


I clipped my hair up, leaving the bottom section free,
combed neatly to monitor the length. Starting from about three inches up the
hair shaft, I placed an inch-wide section of hair between the blades of my
shears and slid down, pressing slightly.

You can open and close the blades slightly to slice more
hair intermittently for more drastic thinning--something I’d do if my hair were
longer. I’m mostly trying to get the ends a bit lighter.

I did that all around and then released another
section of hair from my clipped-up section, repeating the slicing to match the
first section.

Once I felt that I reached the core of my hair layers,
nestled probably three sections in, I started slicing a little bit higher up
the hair shaft to remove more layers, maybe four to five inches from the nape
of my neck.

The top layers, I focused on the ends—matching them to match
the layers underneath and making sure everything was even.

When my hair dries after a wash, it dries “normally”
and doesn’t pouf out as much. Of course, some taming products assist
greatly; I’m into B and bumble’s Quenching Serum and their Invisible Oil for my daily
dose of dimethicones. Otherwise, I like to pull some camellia, coconut, or
argan oil through the ends each night to condition and keep them from looking
like those magic brooms in Fantasia.

Have you ever tried a more complicated cutting technique at home?