How to Cut Your Hair at Home Using the Ponytail Method

Since we’re all friends here, I want to let you in on a little secret: I haven’t been to the hairdresser in, oh, about 8 years. It first started when my fine hair began thinning a decade ago. I couldn’t stomach spending $30 to trim a few wisps of hair every month, so I took matters into my own hands.

And even though my hair has since thickened up a smidge and I don’t throw it in a bun all the time, I still cut it at home using the ponytail method. For us gals (and guys!) with long or curly hair, it’s a foolproof way to get rid of split ends and take a few inches off the bottom without visiting a hairdresser. 

Who Should Use the Ponytail Haircut Method 

This haircut will only give you one result: long, shaggy layers. And the more hair you cut off, the longer the layers will be when you’re done. Needless to say, this style isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve got the right hair type and are willing to hone your skills with a little practice, it’s an amazingly easy way to cut your own hair. 

Give the ponytail method a try if you have: 

-Long layers you’d like to clean up

-To get rid of a few split ends

-Straight hair with a bit of volume

-Curly or wavy hair that can easily disguise long layers

–Thin hair that you wear up most of the time

Results will differ based on your hair type, thickness, and length. When it comes to my straight hair, any mistakes aren’t really that noticeable since it’s long and the ends are wispy. But this technique won’t work for everyone, and I highly suggest only doing it if you have long and/or curly hair due to its dramatically layered results. 

Because this method results in long layers, it’s not great for those with short hair or who don’t like a shaggy look

How to Cut Hair at Home with the Ponytail Method


-2 hair ties

Hairbrush or comb

-Sharp hair scissors

-Optional: thinning shears


Only do this if you have the right tools. You need actual hair cutting scissors—not kitchen, sewing, crafting, or any other scissors. Otherwise, you won’t be able to cut through the bulk of the ponytail, and it’ll look messy. 

Step 1 | Wash, dry & comb hair

Before you get started, make sure to wash, dry, and brush your hair. I find that clean, freshly brushed hair is easier to smooth down, so you’ll end up with better results. 

Grab a pair of hair cutting shears and a couple hair ties - we'll show you how to cut your hair at home with the ponytail method

Step 2 | Flip head and make a smooth ponytail

Flip your head over and pull your hair into a ponytail at the top of your head. Do your best to smooth out stray hairs and make sure there aren’t any bumps or cowlicks; otherwise, it could affect your layers. Honestly, I don’t work too hard to get my hair to lie perfectly flat here since I plan to just clean it up later. 

The further forward you bring the ponytail, the longer the layers will be at the front. I saw some tutorials online where the person tied the ponytail along their front hairline. While it still works, there will be a dramatic difference between the layers at the front and the back of your head (the hairs along your hairline will be much closer to the trim line than the hairs at the base of your neck).

Since I want mine to be a little more subtle, I tie my ponytail slightly in front of the crown of my head instead of along my hairline. It’s completely up to you.

Step 3 | Bring ends forward and decide where to cut

Bring the end of the ponytail forward so you can see the ends when you trim them. I like to twist the hair into a tight little bundle, but you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.

Tie a second hair tie at the bottom to hold the ends together and determine how much you’d like to take off. You don’t have to cut much to get dramatic layers, so I recommend starting with a 1/2-inch. If you want to cut more, you can always repeat the process.

Slide the second hair tie to the point at which you would like to cut.  

Step 4 | Cut with sharp scissors

Grab a sharp pair of scissors and cut in a straight line across your hair for a clean cut. For thick or curly hair, you may want to make the cut using thinning shears. This will soften the trim line and make sure the ends aren’t so harsh. 

Grab a pair of hair cutting shears and a couple hair ties - we'll show you how to cut your hair at home with the ponytail method

Step 6 | Snip stray hairs

Take your hair down and tidy things up. I like to look around for any stray hairs or chunks of hair that look longer than the others. Don’t be afraid to give any outliers a quick, imperfect trim. 

Don’t expect perfection. You’re guaranteed to end up with a few mistakes and stray hairs with this method. When you take your hair out of the ponytail, a little clean-up will always be in order. If that sort of thing freaks you out, then this may not be the best method for you! 

Step 7 | Check for evenness

Personally, I also like to part my hair down the middle from the forehead to the nape of the neck, then bring both sides together in the front and make sure they look even. If any pieces look longer than the others, I trim them.

Step 8 | Soften layers with thinning shears

If your layers look too straight and harsh, toss your hair back into a high ponytail and use thinning shears or the tip of your hair scissors to cut straight up into the ends. This will soften the ends and help blend the layers. 

Grab a pair of hair cutting shears and a couple hair ties - we'll show you how to cut your hair at home with the ponytail method

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