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Dusting Versus Trimming: What's The Difference + How To Dust Your Hair At Home

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. 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.
Woman Trimming Her Bangs in the Bathroom Mirror

When it comes to home-friendly beauty projects, the DIY haircut seems to get a lot of gravitas. It makes sense—mastering the at-home trim takes some incredible time, effort, skill, and a pinch of faith. But if you're looking to clean up your look without the stress of a full DIY trim, consider "hair dusting." No, it doesn't require a vacuum, but it is a sort of housekeeping ritual, if you will. Here, we dive into dusting, plus how to do it at home: 

Dusting versus trimming: What's the difference? 

Think of dusting as giving your locks a much-needed tuneup; you're not trimming off any length, per se, but you're using scissors to clean up broken ends of hairs that are starting to split. "This technique stops the hair from continuing to split up the hair shaft," says celebrity hairstylist and Biolage brand ambassador Sunnie Brook

With dusting, you're cutting into the hair rather than snipping ends off, and you can do it whenever you notice some split ends forming (whereas you may only need a full trim every few months, depending on how often you heat style). Think of dusting as a "bridge" to last you until your next haircut, explains celebrity colorist George Papanikolas—and considering it may be a hot minute before we find ourselves in the salon chair, many of us might welcome that bridge with open arms.


Benefits of dusting.

The good thing about dusting is that it's perfect for those who want to shear split ends without actually trimming any length. Cutting your hair at-home includes a whole lot of confidence, preparation, and pressure (if you're feeling up for it, you can find our at-home guide here). Dusting takes that anxiety out of the equation for some: You can avoid a rough chop but still feel like you're doing something to keep your hair healthy while salon doors remain closed. 

Another benefit? Removing damage and preventing future hair breakage. By shearing off split ends, you'll stop the hair from continuing to split, says Brook. 

How to dust your hair at home.

First things first: As with most at-home haircuts, it's best to wait for the salon if you can. "The process is a bit different from how a hairdresser will do it in the salon," Brook notes. A hairstylist will have a better angle (not to mention more experience) and can shape your frayed ends with expert-level precision.

That said, dusting is still a bit easier to replicate at home than your standard trim. All you need to do is twist a half-inch section of dry, clean hair to see if any broken split hairs come out. Make sure you're in a well-lit area (Brook recommends outside in the daylight), so you can see the damaged ends clearly. Then just take a pair of small scissors and trim off the split hairs. "Even nail scissors work, but make sure they're sharp," says Brook. Super-sharp shears are imperative, Papanikolas agrees: "Otherwise you risk fraying the ends, causing more split ends down the road."

The take-away.

If you're looking for a way to rid your mane of frazzled, split hairs without shedding length (or perhaps just a low-stakes way to change up your look during quarantine), dusting may just be the perfect DIY project. Snip your split ends, slather on a hair mask, maybe even perfect your air-dry game—you'll come out of this quarantine with healthy, glossy hair, even if your locks are a little longer than usual.

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