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Whether you’re trying to grow your hair long or keep it short, regular trims are an absolute must. They keep your hair healthy, strong and damage-free. If you’re a farmer lady on a budget, professional trims can seem like a money drain, and if you’ve got natural curly hair — well, you can’t go to just any old hairdresser.

That’s why learning to trim your own hair is such a useful life hack. Trimming is important because it reduces split ends, which cause breakage and frizz.

The good news is, while curly haircuts can be quite complicated, trims are pretty simple and totally DIY-able. Follow these tips to achieve good results.

“Dust” Your Ends

The technical term for a trim that doesn’t take any length off of your hair is a “dusting.” This means cutting around ¼ of an inch from the ends of your hair, particularly those that are damaged or split. A trim, on the other hand, involves cutting 1 to 5 inches from your hair.

If you’re new to DIY haircuts, I recommend starting with dusting. It’s nearly impossible to mess up since you’re cutting such a small amount! You can dust your hair as often as you like.

Trim Your Hair While It’s Wet… or Dry… or Straight… or Curly

Different professionals will tell you different things about the “best” way to trim natural hair. Should it be soaking wet? Dry so that you can see how the curls lay? Blow-dried straight so you can get every strand easily? There’s no “right” answer. Whichever state allows you to easily see each strand, section your hair out, and style your hair afterward will work. My hair can be pretty frizzy while dry, so I usually cut it when it’s clean and a little bit damp.

Work in Sections

Separate your hair into easy-to-work-with sections, starting from the bottom and working towards the top. Some professionals advise cutting just 1-2 curls at a time, but this can be quite tedious! I advise starting with 4 sections on each side of your head, and increase or decrease the amount as needed.

If your hair doesn’t already have a style/cut, try cutting graduated layers into your hair, with the shortest layers at the top. This adds shape and volume and helps your hair to frame your face.

If your hair does have a style, just cut the same amount from each section. Start small, with about an inch — you can always cut more later.

Search and Destroy Method

To limit the amount of hair that you have to cut, you can simply section your hair and examine each section for damaged ends. Then cut those strands only, rather than all of your hair. This is the search and destroy method.

You may need to cut more or less hair, depending on the needs of your hair. Damaged or overgrown hair will need more of a trim.

Trim Every 4-6 Weeks

Once you’ve got a method down, you should be trimming your ends about every 4-6 weeks to keep your hair healthy. In most cases, all you’ll need is a light dusting or a short trim to keep it in good shape.

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