If you’re like me, your hair is perhaps your most prized beauty asset. And when you value something that much, it’s only natural to want to upkeep it. But the question is, how do you keep your hair looking its best long term? While color processing can play a role, overall, it comes down to knowing how often you should cut your hair.
According to celebrity hairstylist Sunnie Brook, how often you cut your hair depends on your lifestyle, daily hair routine, and overall hair goals. “If you have short hair and a strong shape, you may want to see your hairdresser every four weeks; if you use hot tools every day for your style, you will likely need to see your hairdresser every six to eight weeks,” she says. “Even if you’re growing your hair out, going every six to eight weeks and getting a ‘dusting’—and what I call ‘surface trim’—will keep your split ends at bay and your hair healthy and shiny.”
As helpful as these guidelines are, they’re merely a starting point. To really understand your hair and what it takes to keep it looking its best, read through our definitive guide to how often you should cut your hair.
Meet Our Expert
Sunnie Brook is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with stars like Ashley Park and Elisabeth Moss.
Eddie Cook is a celebrity hairstylist based in Los Angeles.
Kiley Fitzgerald is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with Kaia Gerber and Sabrina Carpenter.
How Often to Cut Your Hair
How often you should cut your hair depends heavily on how you treat your hair. If you’re someone who air dries their hair, you may find that your strands stay smooth and unmarred by breakage for weeks on end. If, however, you blowout or straighten your hair every single day of the week, you’ll likely notice that your tresses become frizz-prone as the weeks go on between cuts. This is because heat processing can lead to breakage, and breakage means flyaways and frizz.
Then there’s the growth component. Depending on your chosen haircut and style, longer hair may not work, which means that more frequent cuts may be necessary to maintain your look.
Overall, Cook says that scheduling a haircut every six to eight weeks is the general consensus for maintaining shapely, healthy strands. “Depending on your goals, you might want to be there sooner or wait and stretch to the 12-week mark—this goes for all hair types and textures,” he says. “If you want to maintain length, then 12 weeks is for you; if you have a pixie or a bob where the shape of your haircut is the look, then it’s important to stay more in the 6-week range for maintaining the look.”
Trims vs. Cuts
Any time you put scissors, shears, or a razor edge to your strands, you’re cutting it. That said, some people consider a cut to be a more all-encompassing experience as opposed to just a light sprucing. The way Fitzgerald sees it, a trim is nothing more than removing dead ends and touching up the shape around the face. A cut, on the other hand, is a means for embracing an all-new style or drastically reshaping your current cut.
“I get two proper haircuts a year, then trim and touch up the front pieces every now and then to give it some life,” Fitzgerald reveals. But it’s different for everyone, and it ultimately depends on the complexity of your chosen style. “I have some clients who just get trims, and their hair has slowly grown and gotten long over time. Then I have some clients who get three or four inches off two times a year, and that’s it.”
With this in mind, Fitzgerald points out that, in her experience, people who color or heat style their hair every day tend to need trims (light touch-ups) more often as a result of damage from everyday styling. Meanwhile, she says that her clients who don’t do much to their hair—those who take more of a wash-n-go approach—tend to cut off three to four inches twice a year (without trims in between) to maintain their style. This, of course, is just another reminder that how often you should cut your hair truly is subjective.
Still, if you’re hung up on the concept of a haircut vs. a trim, consider this: “A trim is just removing any damaged or grown-out hair from your original style,” Brook says. “I would define a cut as a specific style and personalized design.” So, for example, if you have long layers with minimal dead ends, you may want to get them trimmed off; if you have long layers but want to adopt a choppy bob or trendy wolf haircut, undergoing a full cut will do the trick.
Whatever you do, though, don’t assume that a trim will take less time than a cut—or that it will cost drastically less. “In terms of a trim or cut, both will take you about the same appointment time, but a trim implies more of a reshaping or that you’d like as little hair as possible removed,” Cook says.
The Benefits of Trims vs. Cuts
No matter how you cut your hair—whether it’s a trim or a more expansive cut—you can expect certain benefits. “[Trimming] helps the hair have more shape and body, it [helps make] brushing hair easier, it prevents knots, and it helps the hair look and feel fresher overall,” Fitzgerald says. Additionally, if you have wavy or curly hair, Brook says that regular trims can help your hair hold its shape, body, and bounce better, which can make it feel more manageable overall.
The primary benefit of cutting your hair—in the sense of fully adopting a new style or drastically refreshing your current one—is that it tailors your tresses to your face shape and personal style, Brook says. In that way, it can make you feel like a whole new person.
Does Cutting Hair Boost Length?
There’s a common misconception that cutting (or trimming) your hair regularly leads to longer hair. While this is a myth, Cook assures us that regular cuts and trims are key for maintaining healthy, full hair. That’s because even the slightest trim has the ability to remove split ends before they break, mitigating deeper damage to the hair.
That said, if you’re looking for ways to encourage longer, stronger hair, there are some things you can do. “Hair growth starts with scalp care and maintenance, whether that be oiling before washing or a scalp scrub once a week if you use a lot of dry shampoo—healthy scalp, healthy hair,” Cook says.
Another way to boost hair health, and as a result length, is to give your hair TLC with the tools and products you use. For example, using a protective fortifying treatment, such as the IGK Body Language Plumping and Thickening Mist ($29), can pay off. This mist volumizes strands and offers heat protection up to 450°F, which helps to prevent breakage and dullness. While on the topic of heat, even with a protectant spray, it helps to use a high-quality dryer designed to limit the harmful effect of heat on hair—such as the Dyson Airwrap™ Multi-Styler Complete Long ($600)—which now comes in a super fun pink, blue, and orange Ceramic Pop iteration—and the Shark FlexStyle Air Styling & Drying System for Straight & Wavy Hair ($300).
Looking for ways to upgrade your air-drying routine? Something as simple as swapping out your towel can greatly improve your hair’s look and feel. Instead of a classic terry cloth towel, opt for an ultra-soft microfiber towel, like the Aquis Flip Hair-Drying Tool ($50), which is less likely to snag your strands and cause breakage.
Another swap? Your brushes! When your hair is wet, it’s best to use a brush specifically designed for wet hair, such as the Tangle Teezer Ultimate Detangler Hairbrush ($16), as it will glide more effortlessly through strands, causing less pulling, tugging, and breakage in the process. On dry hair, a gentle yet effective boar bristle brush or mixed bristle brush, like the Emi Jay Pink Sugar Mini Boar Bristle Brush ($42) or Virgo Flat Brush ($48), is the way to go. They’re designed to detangle and smooth hair while enhancing shine. What’s better than that?
Ultimately, the debate of trimming and cutting is a bit of a linguistics game—both involve removing ends to enhance body and overall hair health. “It’s great to [regularly] trim the ends [of your hair] in order to maintain the health and density, and it’s especially great [for managing] color and heat tool damage,” Cook says. Best of all, when you get regular trims, it not only removes dead ends, it prevents more severe future breakage, too.
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