Depending on your hair type and how often you tend to color and heat-style it, how often you need to book regular trims tends to vary, which is why we asked Jeff Chastain, celebrity hairstylist and founder of MASC haircare, and Matilde Campos, a Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist, to clear things up once and for all.
Keep reading to see how often you should trim your strands, broken down by hair type. Plus, learn the signs that signal it’s time for a trim and tips on how to keep your hair healthy in between salon visits.
Signs it's time for a hair trim
1. Your ends are super dry
If you’re fresh out of the shower and you’re finding that your ends are drying way faster than the rest of your hair, Campos says it’s definitely time for a trim. She adds that dry ends also manifest as tangles and frizz making it difficult to comb through your hair.
2. You’ve got split ends galore
Split ends are a big sign that you’re due for a cut. “Split ends don't just end as they split; they will keep splitting until your hair begins to get thinner and thinner,” Campos says. “This is why a lot of volume is lost at the bottom of your hair.”
3. Your hair feels heavy and lifeless
Got lifeless hair? It’s time to book a hair appointment. Campos says dry hair that’s in need of a trim typically feels heavy, doesn’t hold styles such as curls as well as it did before, and its beautiful bounce is long gone.
How often you should trim your hair, according to your hair texture
To keep coily and uber-tight curls at their best health, Chastain advises cutting hair every 10 to 12 weeks, and being very particular with how much is trimmed so as to not compromise the overall length. “I know if you cut even an eighth of an inch shorter, it can bounce up a full inch shorter. Where it actually pulls up and falls is different for everyone, so it’s good to start small,” he explains. “I try to be conservative with the length at first, then we can adjust from there. I’ll err on the side of having to cut the lengths twice so that they don't up too much.”
Curls have a similar trimming timeframe, and again, the less-is-more rule applies in terms of how much to chop. “If you’re not someone who does heat styling on it and you wear it curly most of the time, every 10 to 12 weeks is ideal. If you have it cut, don’t take off more than half an inch at a time,” says Chastain. “As curls grow out, they can get exposed to heat styling or just dry out over time, especially if you’re doing highlights or single-process color. That can start to straighten out your curls, even if you’re only doing a little bit.” To err on the side of caution, no more than half an inch should be cut to maintain your curly hair’s shape—more than half an inch could cause your ringlet to spring up, making your overall style appear shorter than it is.
Thick, wavy or straight hair
In Chastain’s experience (and your author’s own personal journey as someone with this hair type), those with thick hair with a wavy texture tend to do a fair amount of heat-styling, so trimming every eight to 10 weeks will help to keep split ends at bay.
And like thicker waves, thicker straight hair should also ideally be trimmed every eight to 10 weeks for maintenance. “Unless they’re doing heavy highlighting, it’s usually in pretty good shape,” Chastain says. “Those with medium-textured, straight hair usually don’t have to finish their ends as much, unless they’re a flat-iron devotee, but this timeframe is ideal to maintain hair that isn’t split or dry.”
To keep the shape of your style and prevent your strands from appearing thin, Chastain suggests trimming fine, straight hair every month. “You can do as little as an eighth of an inch to keep it looking fuller at the bottom,” he explains. “As long as you keep that line looking really fresh, it will make your density better. Although the trims are more frequent, you’re cutting small amounts before they have the chance to split.” Even if you’re attempting to grow out your hair, the same rule applies—cut small amounts off the ends to keep them clean so that the rest of your layers can grow without the risk of splitting and breaking.
The all-too-common struggle with bangs? Neglecting to trim them and ultimately choosing to let them embark on the transformative journey from blunt bangs, to eventual side-swept varieties, to the point that they ultimately blend in with your layers. If you’re holding tight to your position on team blunt bangs, Chastain advises having more regular trims to keep your fringe at the correct length.
How *much* hair should you trim, according to your hair length
So, now that you’re clued into how often you should trim your hair according to your hair texture, the next question is how much should you cut? Campos says this will depend on your hair’s texture, length, and how long it’s been since your last trim. Here are some general guidelines to follow.
If you have short hair, you likely don’t wait quite as long in between haircuts, so the goal, Campos says, is to trim just enough for maintenance and to regain style. For medium to long hair, Campos recommends chopping off an inch or two during each trim. But if it’s really been a long time since your last hair trim, three inches may be needed. If your goal is to let your hair grow longer, Campos advises cutting half an inch every other month to keep the dry and split ends away.
So really, does trimming your hair regularly help make it grow longer?
According to Campos, the answer is a resounding yes, but not in the way you’d think. Trimming your hair on the reg, she says, doesn’t necessarily make it grow faster (sigh), but it does keep your hair healthy, which means it’ll look and be healthy as it grows in length. “When you wait a long time in between haircuts, your hair begins to get dry and split ends happen, making your hair thin and needing not only more to be trimmed off but it's not giving it the healthy space it needs to grow,” Campos explains. “Split ends continue to split and your hair becomes weaker and thinner losing its length.”
How to manage split ends in between cuts
1. Use products for your needs
“Using the right products for your hair can make all the difference,” Campos says, which is why she recommends opting for ones that target your hair’s specific needs. For instance, if you have a lot of split ends, use a split end serum to help mend them. Campos swears by Virtue Labs’s Split End Serum ($40).
2. Find the right shampoo
Furthermore, Campos says finding the right shampoo for your hair is also key. For example, a shampoo that promises volume, she says can sometimes try out your hair as these types of shampoo don’t promote moisture. Finding the perfect shampoo for your hair will of course require some trial and error and noting the effect a particular shampoo has on your hair. As a shortcut, Campos suggests asking your hairstylist what your hair is in need of so you can tailor your search according to those needs.
3. Reach for conditioning treatments
To help keep split ends at bay, Campos also recommends reaching for products that breathe life back into your hair such as hair masks, conditioning treatments, oils, and leave-in conditioners whenever your hair starts feeling dry and unruly. Her top picks include Maria Nilla’s True Soft Masque ($30) (a “lifesaver” she says for giving hair a silky feel), as well as the brand’s True Soft Argan Oil ($29) and Structure/Repair Leave-In Cream ($29). These types of products, she explains, help prevent hair damage, nourish and moisturize the hair, and help seal split ends.
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