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Monday, March 17, 2014

How to cut a child's hair

For the past three years, I cut Toby's hair myself. But I had no clue what I was doing! He would end up with shaggy hair and Dumb-and-Dumber bangs. Thankfully, this weekend, my friend Reagan, a hair stylist, agreed to teach me...
This is the tangled mess we were working with. I would literally cut off tangles every few days, resulting in bald patches at the back of his head!
Our handy list of tools: a blanket and clothespin to cover him up, a spray bottle of water, a comb, cutting shears and a Trader Joe's lollipop. And we washed his hair with Honest shampoo, conditioner and used their genius conditioning mist, which detangles hair and calms cowlicks.
Reagan started by spritzing his hair with water. And I learned my first lesson: Toby didn't like getting his hair sprayed and asked Reagan to stop—so she stopped immediately and said she could cut his hair mostly dry. "If you start off on the wrong foot with children, you can’t build back their trust," she explained. "Scissors shape the hair more easily if it’s wet, but no worries if the kid doesn't want to do that!"
She explained that a haircut is a collaborative effort between you and the child. "No kid's haircut is ever perfect," she laughed. "They're wriggly, they're restless, so you have to move quickly and do what you can."
We also kept Toby entertained with the strawberry lollipop, Peppa Pig videos on my phone and lots of impromptu singing and dancing. Reagan asked him to get his wiggles out in the photo above, and it worked!
Three tips from Reagan:

1. Start around the ears because that’s when the child will be calmest. You want to be really careful around the ears, so you don't cut them.
2. Take vertical sections (parallel to the wall, not the floor). And then cut with your scissors at a 11 o'clock angle, versus parallel to your fingers. This technique allows for mistakes, blends the hair and helps it grow in more nicely. Otherwise, if you cut parallel to your fingers, you'll end up with one thick blunt panel.
3. You establish your lengths with the first section you cut. Then, as you start working around the head, you can take a little bit of your previous section as your guideline, so you know how short to go.

(If you're cutting a girl's hair, part the hair in the middle, pull everything to the back and then just cut a pretty straight line—with your scissors at 11 o'clock, like above, so it has a soft, textured line. Cut the back first, and whatever is in front of the ears and forward, you can pull straight down to the sides and connect with the back hair to make sure it's even.)
To cut bangs, pull them straight down and cut at 11 o’clock. "Easy does it," says Reagan. "I’d rather cut the bangs a couple times to get it right, versus accidentally cutting them too short."
Afterward, I sprayed his cute cut with some Honest conditioning mist to keep it detangled and silky. (I actually use this on my own hair now, too!)
Meanwhile, Anton was totally entranced by his big brother. (And how awesome are those bike diapers?!! I love them so much.)
Well done, Tobes!
Do you cut your child's hair? Any tips (or funny stories) to share? I used to cut it in the bathtub and would lean all the way over Toby to get to the other side of his head—totally treacherous!

Thank you to The Honest Company for sponsoring this post. Honest makes natural baby, bath and cleaning products, which we love and use every day for our family. How cute are their spring diapers? I love the giraffes.

Bonus for all readers: Get 30% off your first-time purchase with the code JOSAVE30 (limited to shop orders only; one per customer). Applies to U.S. and Canadian residents. Good until March 31st.

P.S. Four hair tutorials for little girls.

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo. Hair tips by Reagan Baker. This post is sponsored by The Honest Company, whose mission I adore. Thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that make Cup of Jo possible.)

86 comments:

Court said...

Hi Joanna, I don't usually comment but I thought I would today. I love how natural your posts feel, even when there's sponsored content in it. You do a really good job of making things feel like a conversation with a friend, instead of reading a list of instructions or an advertisement. Just thought I'd let you know how much I enjoy that!

Joanna Goddard said...

thank you so much, court! that means so much to me! we really love honest and it's easy to recommend them. thank you again :)

Camille said...

Antons rolls!!!!!!! I could eat him up :)

Shoko said...

these are such great tips! totally passing them on to my brother and sister-in-law :) also, toby and anton? adorable!

Janae @ Bring-Joy said...

Just bought some honest shampoo & I'm so excited to use it (so happy Costco started to carry it!). I've been cutting my kids hair for 8 years now, but I haven't ever really let it get long like Toby's, though my two boys are growing it out now, so I'm glad to have some instructions on that! Using the clippers (as opposed to scissors) is pretty easy, but you're kind limited in styles.

Love the pictures--those chubby legs!! Adorable.

Stephanie R said...

I'm a little confused about the 11 O'Clock angle. It looks more like 3 O'Clock to me. Does it mean the scissors should be pointed upward, as if the tip were pointing toward 11? Thanks!

Stephanie said...

oh man. your boys are too cute. and you look fabulous with a baby on your hip! :)

kristen said...

I don't have kids, but I do cut my husband's hair! I always take so long and end up making at least one bad hack somewhere; I'll have to try the 11 o'clock scissor tip next time! Thanks!

Meg said...

Ooh I like this post! I've just cut my 20 month olds' hair and it took me HOURS!!! I had her in the tub to minimise hair going everywhere where she was happy playing away without knowing what I was doing. I like the tip of starting with the ears, and definitely not to expect it to be perfect!!!! For sure!!! Anton is too cute by the way! xx

Holly said...

Hi Joanna, I'm a long time reader and love all of your posts. Your boys are darling! Could you share the color of the polish on your toes? It's so neutral and pretty.

Joanna Goddard said...

stephanie, yes, i see how that is confusing! she meant that you cut at an 11 o'clock angle if the fingers of your other hand (holding the hair) are at midnight. does that make sense? maybe i can add a graphic to make it more clear....

Joanna Goddard said...

holly, haha, yes! it's essie fiji—my favorite pink because it's bright and fresh and opaque (and doesn't end up looking gray, like some other pale pinks can).

Joanna Goddard said...

kristen, that is so cute :)

13bees said...

omg I have to cut hair?!?!?!?!

katieh said...

Sigh...I wish it was that easy for my curly headed children! So much hair going every which way!

simone antoniazzi said...

My son is 8 & I always cut his hair!

For his very first haircut I took him to a child's salon but after that I have always done it myself - and he loves it! I'm not sure if he realises that children can actually go to the hairdressers LOL!

I cut it after bathtime, always when it's wet & so far we haven't had any disasters! I used to cut my daughter's hair when she was young too.

Love all your photos, Toby is SO like you :)

Emily said...

I was just talking about cutting kids hair with my friend yesterday! And for some reason both our older boys have shorter attention spans to sit through the haircut than our younger ones. I always cut my boys hair in the shower (with a garbage bag cut flat as a mat). Then when we're done I roll up the hair in the garbage bag, throw it away, and the boys are already in the shower ready to wash off those little itchy hairs they hate.

Thanks for the 11 o'clock tip!

jill cavanaugh said...

I am too nervous to cut my kids hair...so off they go to the local barber (ages 2 1/2 and 4). They both were born with tons of hair that just kept growing so they're used to getting it cut. The youngest still sits on my lap but my daughter is good on her own.

A Mum in London said...

That post is a godsend, thanks so much for the tips! Apparently, I'm doing everything wrong, apart from the lolipop (trusted method)!

Joy said...

Great post Joanna!
My husband cuts both our son's and his own hair but I get blamed if there are any flaws because people assume I do it!

Now, I can give it a go!

bananastand said...

Can you tell Toby that all his friends think he looks so handsome?!

Shamim Jaleel said...

Aww, Anton is an adorable baby and I love how he is right beside his big bro, Tobey! So much cuteness.

MeghanTopjian said...

We used to have to hold my little sister's head because she would always fall asleep getting her hair cut - every. single. time!

Andrea Enright said...

I've cut my husband's hair but can't imagine cutting the hair of a squirmy kid! Loved this post. And the photos of little Anton- so adorable!

annie leavitt said...

i never comment, but i have to laugh. i needed this so badly!

we have our first boy and i cut his hair for the first time which my husband coined the "homeschool" hair cut. hahaha. no offense to homeschoolers : )

Me, Just Me said...

I have kind of a weird tip. We used to paint my nephews toenails when my mom would cut his hair. He was fascinated by it and it would cut down on the wiggliness.

Trina said...

Anton cracks me up—so serious and chubs.

jm said...

What a great post! Thanks for the tips and the cute pictures of your boys.

Petra Guglielmetti said...

Joanna whose tallit is he wearing? Ha!

Sol Kawage said...

I cut both my boys' hair, with a hair clipper! They love it, but when my youngest was little he hated it and was scared to death of the clipper and the buzz it made. It took a few times but now they love it and they're always super cute: http://uauage.org/upload/2012/11/Damiano_Santiago_20121113.png

Susan M. said...

Love this post and great tips. I originally did scissors and comb with my little guy, but by about 2 1/2 years old it got to be a big job somehow to sit through. I cut it dry. Then I switched to clippers and I get the cut done in just a few minutes. But he doesn't like the buzz, and sometimes really complains. I can set it fairly long, then I follow up with the scissors to perfect around the ears, bangs, neckline. Great for cutting my husband's hair, too. The clipper kit came with a blunt-nosed pair of scissors, and shorter than my regular pair of hair scissors. So that is a plus. Much safer with kids than wielding the pointed ones. So that is my big tip: try to get the blunt-nosed scissors. I might go back to scissors and comb because my little guy is almost 4 and may not squirm so much now. My nanny in the past helped me to distract him; we'd sit at the table so he could have his trucks or cars to look at and talk about during the ordeal. He also dislikes the clean-up afterward, but won't wear a cape. It's basically a job for 2 adults. Maybe his baby sister will be easier. Love to try out the girl cut tips. I've already cut her bangs once. Love the shots of Anton and those legs!!! Toby is entrancing.

Rachel Upshaw said...

My mom gave me some pretty hilarious mullets back in the day. The worst was in 5th grade she chopped off my beautiful long locks into a chin-length bob. I've honestly never recovered. She still cuts all the guys' hair in my family... but once I could afford a legit haircut with my babysitting money I've never looked back!

Joanna Goddard said...

@mejustme, that is a brilliant tip!! going to try it next time :)

Joanna Goddard said...

emily, a garbage bag is a great tip too. and susan, i'm going to look for blunt-edged scissors. thanks for all of this advice!!

Nina said...

Yes! I do. I have gotten it cut but they dont do a better job than me so...I usually buzz it, I use guides 1 and 2 with a weight line - being a child of the 80s I cant help myself or in the heat of summer I dont use one but this doent turn out as well. My son actually requested I cut it because the last two people Ipaid, one hurt him by doing the clipper too hard and the other CUT HIS THUMB by not paying attention to where her clippers were! So...some tips. Do it dry! Make kid wear a cape - dress up capes work too but dont always cover the front. Good clippers are a worthwhile investment, get small one for around ears and neckline to make it even. Also small sharp scissors to cut npanye rrant long hairs. Corn starch is just like powder...brush it alone the neckline to clean off extra hairs - again naked children just means a super messy, itchy, annoying experience for everyone! Make sure to use sunscreen on their head if its very short. If you want spiky hair (my son had a mohawk for a short time) this japanese hair gel is the best - got it on amazon. My son's hair just has too many cowlicks to fight with for any lenght plus it grows SO fast, he has to get it cut almost monthly.

Nina said...

Oh as a side note, He did get his hair cut at a kid's hair cuttery from about 18 mos - 3 years. They have special seats, a personal TV and get a ballon and lollipop at the end. I did this because when I was a nanny I took my little charge that was about 2 to a place that was touted as a kid's place but she used this huge, sharp piinty scissor and he kept moving his head to see the scissors and she cut this huge gouge slice in her hand and was bleeding everywhere! I was traumatized. At about 3 my son was still enough for 5 minutes:) and could decide if he wanted to go to a place or have me do it. With me, he doesnt have to wait...his least favorite thing!

Kristen said...

Oh man I wish I read these tips LAST week. My lil one has a mullet. I keep saying its ok. But it's definitely a mullet :)

Susie said...

I wonder if it's appropriate to apply this to "how to cut your boyfriend's hair" ... We will see.

visit me at june lorraine xx

Meganbstock said...

Hi Joanna-fabulous post with great tips! On an unrelated note, where did you get your jeans? Love them!

Syl said...

This is totally irrelevant to haircut post but HOW CUTE ARE ANTON's CHUNKY THIGHS! I love all the folds (Scuse the gushing!!) *squish*

dobrya said...

Looking good, Toby! :D

Rachael said...

I cut my daughter's hair over the course of a couple of baths. She's pretty chill in the tub so I was able to do the back and around the ears the first day, and the top and sides the second time.
I was lucky enough to grow out a pixi cut a couple of years ago so I knew what kind of angles I was going for, plus her curls hide a LOT of flaws :D

Katie Riddle said...

Joanna, would you mind saying what kind of case that is on your phone in the picture where Toby's holding it? I happened to notice because I'm in the market and have a little one now. That one looks like it might be kid-appropriate without also swallowing the phone completely...?

Jennine Lavyne said...

I'm so happy to read this post!! I have been cutting my son Charlie's hair for 3 years now too. It's so stressful! He used to have these cute curls so my cuts were very forgiving. However the curls are now gone (so sad) and I was about to give up and head over to a salon. I'm going to give it another shot this week. I try and cut his hair after bath time in his room and it's always such a mess. I'm always trying to do it as quickly as possible because I know I only have a short window of time before he wants to wiggle away. I'm definitely trying Peppa Pig -- it's one of his new favorite shows!

Rachel B.C. said...

Lol, Petra, I also thought that "blanket" looked a lot like a tallis!

larissa said...

Such a sweet post!!
Joanna - would you mind sharing what lipstick you are wearing?

Button For A Bird said...

Basically from age one to age 4, I cut my daughters bangs. At first, it was a freaking wreck and everyone would let me know but I kept progressively getting better. Near the end, people thought I actually started going to a hair dresser.

But great post. Cutting hair is a b*tch.

Aleisha
buttonforabird.blogspot.com

Judy said...

My mum used to cut my little brother's hair while he was asleep. She'd manage to cut one side, then have to come back on subsequent nights for a go at the other.

Eleanor James said...

I just gave my three year old her first hair cut using the creaclip. I also use it to cut my own hair. :) Total do-it-myselfer right here. Toby's hair looks so nice. Reminds me of my little brother's hair back in the day - pure and sweet. ;)

Syl said...

This is totally irrelevant to haircut post but HOW CUTE ARE ANTON's CHUNKY THIGHS! I love all the folds (Scuse the gushing!!) *squish*

Schenck catherine said...

Anton looks so strong! He looks as if he were ready for his first steps!
I've never cut my kids' hair, and I don't know anyone who does. HEre, we take them to the hairdresser's whose job it is, and it's usually perfect. I took my son there when he was 8 or 9 months old, and there was no need for entertainment, looking at himself in the giant mirror was great!

lmamo said...

will keep this in mind for when I end up cutting my son's hair... He has really unruly hair right now but I can't bring myself to chop his little blonde curls. He's 13 months and have been contemplating cutting it myself or taking him to get it cut... the only problem is trying to keep him still! Toby seemed to keep it together well and Anton is such a super cutie!

catherine sprunt said...

Every summer my mum would give me a super short bowl cut with an uneven fringe and I hated having it done. If I came home and saw the little chair she always used sitting in front of the TV, I knew it was time.

anna said...

Loyal reader looking for a few answers re: Anton's sleep training! I'm a mom of two boys, the second is 5.75 months and EBF. Still up every 3 hours or even 2, I'm ready to train and know you wrote about it but can't find the day! Or maybe you'd be willing to answer my questions! And most of all how did Anton's cries not wake Toby during the CIO?!

anna said...

PS: I'm. so. Tired!

Gina said...

Oh my! I LOVE Toby's faces while getting his haircut!! Not to mention Anton... what adorably chubby legs!

I used to hate getting my haircut done as a little girl... in fact I hated it until I was 16 hahaha!

Hanni Go said...

Thanks so much for this great and helpful post. I'm a little confused about the 11' clock tip too. If the finger holding the hair is at 12 then isn't she cutting more like 3 o'clock. And is it true that she isn't really cutting in a straight light but little angles so if you looked at it when she was done there would almost be little triangles? I really want to figure this out as I cut my whole families hair and could use all the help I could get. Oh and I love the honest company too. Just ordered diapers for the new babe coming in a few weeks. Thanks so much for your wonderful blog.

Hanni Go said...

Thanks so much for this great and helpful post. I'm a little confused about the 11' clock tip too. If the finger holding the hair is at 12 then isn't she cutting more like 3 o'clock. And is it true that she isn't really cutting in a straight light but little angles so if you looked at it when she was done there would almost be little triangles? I really want to figure this out as I cut my whole families hair and could use all the help I could get. Oh and I love the honest company too. Just ordered diapers for the new babe coming in a few weeks. Thanks so much for your wonderful blog.

Rebecca said...

My brother cuts my three year old daughter's hair. She holds still and listens to him like she never would her mommy or daddy. She also loves that we let her watch a show that is reserved especially for haircuts. We also use warm water in the spray bottle, and let her hold it for the duration of the haircut. She loves to drink out of it. To date, she loves her haircuts, because it is a special event with her uncle. My brother doesn't seem to mind, and did a lovely, and complicated, a-line style hair cut on my daughter a few months ago, that she never would have sat still for in a salon.

Annalilly said...

I wish there was a better photo of what the 11 o'clock scissor angle is. It looks like she's at a 9 o'clock angle in the photos? Should we be cutting up or down at the correct angle?

Annalilly said...

I wish there was a better photo of what the 11 o'clock scissor angle is. It looks like she's at a 9 o'clock angle in the photos? Should we be cutting up or down at the correct angle?

*** KITSCH *** said...

I have cut my son´s hair for 3 years, then i took him to the hairdressing, First time he put on his hood and said : i do not want to cut my hair!
But the hair dresser started telling a story of Pirates and now he loves going to have his hair cut.

Annie said...

Cutest kids! Also, I would love to know where your jeans are from too!

Bezzie said...

I agree with Analilly...the pictures don't match the description. Great post and I love Toby's haircut. I cut my boys' hair in fits & starts and would love to do a full-on haircut in one sitting. I'm trying to visualize 11 o'clock and in my experience, I'd say I cut the back & sides at 2 o'clock, but the front at 11 o'clock. So does it depend if you are right or left handed? And the one photo shows cutting IN to the hair in the back...or so it appears. Any clarification would be great! Thanks for the post.

Erin said...

SO USEFUL. Thank you!!!

SaraK said...

Adorable! I'm one more confused 11 o'clock person, though. Even if the hand holding the hair is noon, based on the photos that seems like the cut is happening anywhere from 1-3 o'clock. Wouldn't 11 be closer to the head than noon is? A diagram really would be helpful! I have a little guy Anton's age, and keep meaning to order some honest co. dipes.

Liz A said...

My Mom always cut our hair as kids. I didn't go to a salon for a cut until I was well into high school!

She thought it was such a waste of time to drag us three girls down to a hair place where she knew we wouldn't behave and get our money's worth on a pro cut. So she got a book from the library about "how to cut children's hair," some sharp scissors from the fabric store, and that was it!

ña pao said...

In my country we never cut a child's -even baby- hair at home. They are taken within weeks to the baby hairstylist. Amazing that you guys do it at home.

ashley.and.graham said...

love this post, and it's perfect timing. I am planning to cut my daughter's hair for the first time before her 3year birthday next month. Thanks!

Kayla said...

Your Dumb and Dumber link was hilarious. Laughed out loud at work. I don't have kiddos yet (someday...) but this is very sound advice! I agree with Court. :)

Rosa said...

Those 2 dudes look totally edible, but why don't you just take them to a hairdresser ? So much easier !

Rosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellycamille said...

This is so helpful, but I am also confused by the 11 o'clock thing. It looks like the scissors are at two or three! Or pointed at 7... But not 11!

dakotabee said...

Adorable! My 12 year old brother was growing a pretty wild looking mullet and explained it was because he didn't trust hairdressers after 1 too many unwanted ceasar cuts. He let me do it and was thrilled with the result! He even took a selfie to show his friends hehe. cute post!
Dakota
http://dakotabee.wordpress.com/

Christina Jackson said...

I cut my 18 month old son's hair while he's sitting in his high chair. I give him a brand new "toy" (can be any kitchen gadget or trinket, not necessarily an actual toy, as long as it's something he's never seen before). He goes bananas for the new toy and while he's playing I go to town with a comb and scissors! I cut it dry (he hates getting sprayed with water). Make sure you get high quality hair cutting scissors! If he's too wiggly and I'm in a big rush, I forget about the comb and just use my index and forefinger to grab sections of hair. He gets a great cut and barely knows I'm there! Side note: Joanna, thank you for your fabulous blog, it's my favorite!

nina | itsazooatthezoo.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for the tips. I cut both my boys hair this afternoon and they both look great! The 11 o'clock rule really works well. Thanks so much! Perfect timing!

Jennifer said...

This is so helpful. My 10-month-old's hair is already looking a bit unruly around his ears so I will definitely be putting these tips to work. Toby is such a doll and Anton's rolls!!!!!! Yummy :)

Jess said...

This is really helpful. I cut my husband's hair and I cut my 2 1/2 year old's as well (although, he has only needed two hair cuts as his hair took forever to grow in!).
The first time I cut my son's hair I wanted to keep the cute little swathe of bangs that had grown. So, I wrapped some tape around them near the top where I thought the bang line should be and cut above it. Oops! Way way too short. But, I did get a nice little bit to keep and remember his baby hair with.
I also used some clippers on his hair the second time I cut it - just around the back and up the sides and then used scissors to cut the top and keep it styled.
These tips are so helpful - hopefully they'll mean that my 7 month old won't have quite a hilarious first hair cut story as my eldest, because I'll know better what I'm doing!

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meganras said...

Wonderful! My husband and I usually cut our son's hair on the back porch. He sits on my husband's lap with a few sticks. No water, no cover. Just hacking off whatever big chunks I can before he realizes what I'm doing. While it doesn't usually look too bad from far away, up close, yeesh!! Thanks for this!

SMS said...

Fabulous post! I'm also confused about the angle though, and would love to see a diagram. I totally want to try this! :)

Sammi Egan said...

Beautiful post Joanna, great advice :)

Rebecca said...

I cut my little boy's hair too, and always re-read the following link (found on Pinterest, of course!) before I start. It has a great hand-drawn graphic that says to cut the sides at a 45 degree angle and the top at a 90 degree angle. The sides definitely work, but I've never mastered the top. Anyway, maybe this will be helpful for those for whom the 11 o'clock thing is confusing!

http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/how-to-cut-boys-hair-like-a-pro

Krista Goldsmith said...

Where do you buy Anton's clothing? It looks so comfy and minimal. I have a 6-month-old and am in the market for cute stuff. BTW, you have the cutest boys!

Kerry Adams Kerry said...

Hair is surely one of the most important and essential aspects or attributes of a human’s beauty look and represents personality among others. We like to provide whatever you expect from a perfect hair salon.

jasmine nile said...

thanks ...................................................

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