Hairstylists Break Down How Often You Should Cut Your Hair, In Case You're Curious
It's one of the most frequently asked questions beauty experts receive, right up there with how often you should shampoo and how often you should wash your face: How often should you cut your hair? Because, sure, you know that regularly trimming your ends can help foster healthy hair growth, but how much is really necessary to speed things along?
Just like those other hard-hitting beauty queries, the answer is a resounding it depends. Some say four to six weeks—no questions asked—while others believe you can hold out for months, based on your style. And if you have bangs? Well, that's an entirely different timeline.
Below, we tapped hairstylists for all their haircut counsel.
How often should you cut your hair?
Here's the thing: Everyone has different hair goals—some are looking to grow their hair longer and quicker, while others are hoping to maintain a specific style, both of which require slightly edited trimming schedules. It also depends on your level of damage: As you may know, split ends can lead to breakage and slower growth, and regular trims are the only way to eliminate the frays.
That said, we had experts break it down by length and hair goals:
For split ends.
For regular cleanups, experts recommend trimming every three months. Hair tends to split around that time frame (even if you don't notice it!), and it can happen even faster if you regularly take a hot tool to those strands. "Even if splits aren't visible, hair begins to weaken every day from hair elastics, brushing, and friction that can start to form small tears along the hair's outer cuticle," says hairstylist and cosmetologist Faith Huffnagle, director of education at Prose.
If you do notice more splitting than usual, you can always try dusting—that way, you can shear off pesky frays without eliminating any length.
For shorter styles.
Again, if you're trying to grow out your hair, you might need to change up your trimming schedule. But if you're trying to maintain a shorter style (a pixie, bob, lob, etc.), Nick Stenson—celebrity hairstylist and artistic director of Matrix—says you'll need a trim as often as every four weeks to keep the look polished. "This is especially important if there's short detailing around the ears and neckline."
For medium-length styles.
Mid-length styles are tricky. They require less maintenance than shorter cuts, sure, but wait too long and your perfect shag can easily look overgrown. That's why both Huffnagle and Stenson recommend a six-week window: "It is less noticeable than short hair if you're overdue for a trim, but more noticeable than longer styles since hair can lose its shape rather quickly," Huffnagle explains.
For longer styles.
"Longer styles are more forgiving if you want to extend the time between cuts," explains celebrity colorist George Papanikolas. Generally, longer styles can use a trim every eight weeks, or you can stick to cleaning up those split ends every three months. "Less often is OK as long as the hair appears healthy," says Stenson.
Does hair texture matter?
Kind of. Everybody's hair grows at the same rate, regardless of texture (which, hairstylist Anthony Dickey, founder of Hair Rules, notes, clocks to about ¼ to ½ inch per month). Although, curls may be more prone to breakage and splits (requiring extra moisture), so you may have to assess your own strands and trim the ends more frequently if need be. "Tangles and snags will let you know it's time to trim your ends," Dickey adds.
Consequently, Stenson notes that protective styles—think box braids, flat twists, jumbo cornrows, and more—may allow for longer time between trims, as these reduce friction and damage on the strands. Just make sure to switch out the braids every two to three weeks to prevent breakage (breakage requires more trims, remember?).
For bangs and layers.
It ultimately depends on which type of bangs you have. Generally, blunt bangs require the most maintenance (Papanikolas recommends every two weeks if you like them just kissing the brow bone), whereas the more forgiving, face-framing bangs (like curtain bangs) can use a trim every four to six weeks. Hair texture does play a role, here—curly bangs can get away with more time because of shrinkage, whereas straight or wavy bangs can fall into your eyelashes quicker. Typically your hairstylist will offer complimentary bang trims since they do require more frequent trips to the salon overall.
Layers don't require much maintenance at all: usually three to six months. It depends on how stark you like your style, though, as shorter layers may need an extra trim at the three-month mark.
There's no gold standard for when you should cut your hair—it's entirely up to your own hair's needs and length goals (read: shorter styles typically require more maintenance, while longer styles can get away with more time between trims). Damage plays a role, too, as the only way to rid broken hairs is to snip them off and start anew—so you may need more frequent trims if your strands are frayed and fried.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.