I’ve always been a whiz at cutting hair. I’ve cut my own hair and both of my sisters’ since before I can remember. But it was always long hair which I’d practiced with! As I became the mom of two kids with short hair preferences, I had to learn some new tricks! I do consider myself pretty proficient at both types of styles now, so I’d like to share some tips with you!
You really don’t need much in the way of supplies when cutting kids hair. Sure, if you have a very sophisticated child or chic little one, you might spring for fancy hair products or high-quality trimmers, but I find I can get away with very little, which helps with my family budget! When I cut long hair, I usually only need a spray bottle with water, a brush, a comb, clips, and a pair of hair-cutting scissors. For short hair, I really only need the same gadgets but also a trimmer thrown in.
A little on the trimmer – my husband has a massive trimmer that plugs into the wall. It’s heavy and, when turned on, I can barely hold on to it. For the littler men in the house, I purchased (and prefer) a pint sized beard and mustache trimmer. It’s much smaller, and less powerful, making hair cutting a lot easier and safer! Walmart sells these small trimmers for less than $20!
Setup For Success
As with anything to do with munchkins, it’s best to be prepared beforehand. I do this by leading my child up to the process. For older ones used to the practice, this isn’t really necessary, but for those little ones with big curiosities, this really helps make everything run smooth (well, smoother!).
Do this by letting your child help with setup and explain what you’re going to do before you do it. Let them get the towel that will be wrapped around their neck, and the spray bottle that will be used to dampen the hair. Don’t let them handle the scissors or trimmer though!
For little-little ones, a big plate of food in front of them also helps alleviate stress and keep them sitting still (well, stiller!).
When all is prepped and ready, invite your child to sit on a stool (or sideways on a chair) and wrap a towel around their neck to protect their clothing. I use a hairclip to secure the towel so it can be easily removed if needed. If you are completing any haircutting on a carpeted surface, I suggest also laying a towel on the floor. Haircutting is my forte, vacuuming is my nemesis.
I’ve been cutting long hair for well over a decade. I cut my own, plus any family member that feels brave enough to let me have a go. I’ve made mistakes but have learned from them. I also have some unconventional habits that could make any professional hairdresser cringe with shock! But each hairdo I’ve mastered in the last decade is now a work of art and I’m proud of each one! I’m also particularly proud of choosing the right style for the right hair type. For instance, if your child has fine hair, I would suggest the straight across look. The blunt cut contrast with fine hair is a real showstopper. If the hair is thicker, I like the layered look to pull the weight off and give it more bounce. So here we go!
Long Hair – Straight Across
Many parents prefer this elegant and timeless cut for their children, and I do too! It’s very classy and innocent, not to mention – easy to do!
What you will need for this haircut is a lot of water. It actually helps to have the hair wet to completely soaked. You will then part the hair in the middle and brush it until it’s tangle-free. Bring all the hair to the back and ask your child to sit-up straight so that the hair is hanging as freely as possible and not curved over the shoulders. You can then assess the shortest hair and use that as a guide to cut the hair straight across, or, you may want to pick a shorter length than what’s already there. Throughout the cutting process, the hair will move and the duller your scissors are, the more it will move. Fix this by constantly brushing the hair straight and reassessing.
Once the hair looks to be all one length from the back, part the hair in the middle down your child’s head to the neck, and bring equal portions to the front. As hair growing in the front, near your child’s face was cut to the length of the hair growing in the back, it will now appear longer when brought to the front. Fix this by brushing your child’s front hair over the eyes (not the nose!) and make it as free-falling as possible. Cut straight across using the hair from the back (which is the shortest now) as a guide. This guide helps you attain as straight a haircut as possible!
Long Hair – Layered
This cut is simply chic and carefree looking! I have always completed this haircut on myself, and, as a result of no proper training or guide, have come up with my own tricks for attaining natural-looking layered hair. I do hope there are no hairdressers reading this as I’m sure it’s not the recommended way!
What I do, and I’m sure it’s to be hummed and hawed about, is I cut this style while dry. I do not use any water to hold the hair in place. I find it’s harder to see what the style will look like when wet, so I get a carefree look with a carefree method! Good grief?
Part the dry hair in the middle or on the side, and brush it all to the back. I find where the hair is naturally parted works best. Now, you will section the hair and cut the longest layer first, and the shortest layer last. Put the would-be shorter hair up in a clip on top of your child’s head. The bottommost layer should be ready for cutting. I like to start in the middle but it’s just a preference. I do this to get more of a waterfall look, starting with the longest cut first. Take a small section of the hair and cut it in a slightly slanted (angular-to-triangular) shape – I’m certain real hairdressers’ eyes are popping out of their heads as they read this! Continue with each section, making the hair appear naturally layered with uneven cuts throughout. Be sure not to go too deep with any of the cuts as the natural look will be lost. Once a section is complete, take another down and cut in the same fashion until all of the sections are done. Each section of the hair should be cut just slightly shorter than the one underneath. Again, any major differences in length will take away from the natural look. The haircut should be as blended looking as possible.
Lastly, bring the hair to the front and angular-to-triangular cut the front pieces to the desired length. I like to cut them to just past the jawline to give the face a sweetheart shape. Voila!
Now, cutting short hair has been new to me, and I’ve since had to learn two different cuts. As every face shape looks different in the same cut, I had two different cuts to master, because I have two differently shaped kids! I’ve always found the short sides with the long top (crew cut) looked good on long-faced men, while a blended one looked great on round-faced men. I have had 4 years of practice with the crew cut and 2 years with the blended. I am by no means a master, and the barber has always done a better job. However, the more I practice, the better my kids look! Not to mention, I also save money and have these memories to share and cherish with my kids!
Short Hair – Crew Cut
The easier cut of the two, the crew cut is striking and manly. It gives your child the appearance of being older and hip. I’ve found kids particularly like the crew cuts with a deep side part, like my Grizzly Bear, or a razor cut down the side to give them an edge on the precarious playground. Watch out for these cool youngsters!
Contrary to cutting long hair, short hair is best started with the shortest layer. This is where the trimmer comes into play. I like to start off with the most medium length attachment and work my way from one sideburn around the back to the other sideburn, staying as close to the nape of the neck as possible. I do this to avoid diving in, cutting off too much too soon, as once the hair is cut, you can’t turn back time. Not to mention, with short hair, nothing can be hidden. So, if I’m happy with the length and my child is comfortable, I continue to use the trimmer up the sides, switching to the longest attachment nearer to the top. Do not use the trimmer past the portion of the head where sides turn to top. If you imagine a square, the sides of the square should be trimmed, while the surface of the square should be left for the scissors (longest hair). It also helps to wet the hair on the top of the head and brush it to the front, over your child’s face, out of the way.
Once this initial step is complete, I use the shortest attachment of the trimmer to clean up the areas where the hair should be shortest. A barber would likely razor these portions away, like the neck and around the ears. As my kids are small and unpredictable, I stick to the trimmer.
The trimmer can be stored away now. Use the spray bottle to rewet the hair and brush it down onto the forehead. Use the scissors to cut a straight line through the bangs in the middle of the forehead. It does not have to be perfect as this is not where the hair will sit when styled. Then, starting at the back, take sections of the hair with your fingers and, using two or three finger widths from the child’s head to the scissors, cut the hair in rough motions (rough as in carefree, not rough for your child to sit through!). Continue until you reach the front (which should be minimal to cut as it’s already been cut from the forehead guide).
Lastly, I like to style my child’s hair with my personal mommy products, like mouse or styling balm. My Grizzly Bear feels very special when I do this and always takes a running leap to check himself out in the mirror!
Short Hair – Blended Cut
The blended cut is your more traditional cut with a fuller, more voluminous look. It sparks a more natural look, yet it’s eye-catching. The blended cut was the trickier of the two short styles to master, and here’s why: I needed to perfect my use with a comb. My youngest son, Polar Bear, has a round head, and this style looks simply marvelous on him, but it took quite a bit of practice as I barely use a comb on my long hair.
Start out with the trimmer as you would with the crew cut. Make your way around the head and the nape of the neck with the most medium sized attachment. Now, rather than going straight up with the trimmer (as you would with the sides of a square), instead, switch to the comb. If your child’s hair is particularly grown out, use the longest attachment to get rid of some of the weight but try to leave it long enough to pull a comb through it. Take all attachments off of the trimmer and use the comb as the guide. The comb is now a manual attachment for the trimmer, and you are selecting the length based on the area of the head you are trimming. I like to make the hair shorter near my child’s face and longest on top of his head. You are using the comb now as a means to keep the hair long enough to make it appear blended from the top to the base (much more like a circle now than a square). I still use the scissors to do the top of the head where the hair is longest. However, if you are feeling particularly skilled, you can use the comb to do this too, just pull it out to the length you want!
I also clean up some areas with the shortest attachment and style using mommy products! It makes him giggle and feel like a big boy!
The final act is the cleanup. If completed with towels in place, it’s fairly easy to through them into the wash. Otherwise, ask your little ones, with their cool hairdos and big smiles to give you a hand! Although, this may prove more of a mess than it was a minute beforehand. It’s the parenthood way though!
If you have tips and tricks for hairstyles (or feel the need to scold my unprofessional haircutting habits), please feel free to leave a note! I’d love to hear about what worked and what didn’t, or trade secrets of the haircutting business!