Everything Parents Need to Know Before Cutting Their Kids' Hair During Self-Isolation

While practicing self-isolation with our families, obviously topics like the best ways to homeschool and how to sneak in exercise are top of mind. However, it's hard not to acknowledge the simple luxuries we miss — like, say, getting our kids proper haircuts — after a few weeks indoors. Because cutting your children's hair can certainly be intimidating if you've never done it yourself, we tapped Michelle Cleveland, a celebrity hairstylist and owner of the Hair Addict Salon in Toms River, NJ, to get some much-needed pointers before whipping out our scissors.

"The biggest mistake parents make with at-home haircuts is not realizing that there is more to cutting hair than just taking off length," Michelle told POPSUGAR. "Professionals are taught to take such factors as the rounds and curves of the skull, head shape, and how important of a role that takes in how the hair lays on the head into consideration."

Eek! Yup, we definitely don't have that training. But with salons closed for the foreseeable future, sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands. Ahead, find helpful how-to videos and tips from Michelle to achieve a passable haircut at home.

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How to Cut Kids' Hair With Scissors — Ahem, Shears

If you're anything like us, you definitely don't have professional scissors — or shears, as professionals call them! — lying around the house. But according to Michelle, if you're aiming for a presentable haircut, they're an absolute must, especially if your child has fine hair.

"A good pair of shears is a necessity for any haircut but none more than one done on a person with fine hair," Michelle said. "This hair type will show every imperfection and error made. So my tip would be don't grab a pair of kitchen or craft scissors if you fit into this hair-type category."

If you're planning a haircut over the next few weeks, these Equinox Professional Shears Razor Edge Series ($24) are an affordable option.

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How to Give Your Kid a Haircut With a Buzzer

For children who prefer a short cut, using a buzzer or trimmer is definitely the way to go. A good rule of thumb is the smaller the blade, the shorter the cut, so if you're going for a buzz cut, use a one or a two attachment. If your child prefers to wear their hair a little longer on the top of their head, go for an attachment with a slightly higher number on it.

"Most people have used scissors before, so they understand the basic mechanism of how they work," Michelle said. "Buzzers, on the other hand, are a whole different kind of beast. Attachment guards, blade levels, and hand mechanics all play a part in a successful buzzer cut."

And remember: you can always take off more hair, so if you're unsure about your child's desired length, start with an attachment that has a high number first and work your way down.

However, if you're a total newbie, Michelle suggested proceeding with caution. "If you've never used one before, now is not the time to experiment," she warned. "If it goes wrong, there's no salon to run to in order to get it fixed by a professional!"

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How to Cut Curly or Textured Hair

There are plenty of video tutorials that break down how to do a proper fade, but unless you have prior experience with cutting your little one's hair, Michelle suggested holding off until salons reopen.

"If you have textured hair and have always had a professional cut and treat it and you've never gone at it before, now is not the time to start!" Michelle explained. "The biggest fear of every professional stylist is that our clients who have never used chemicals, shears, or professional products of any kind will experiment for the first time while in self-isolation."

"If this happens, at best, all you will have to worry about is looking silly for a while but with no audience to worry about," she said. "On the other hand, attempting to use strong chemicals such as relaxers and chemical straighteners for the first time at home can lead to some serious side effects such as scalp burns and hair breakage."

Beyond a trim, Michelle suggested opting for products that promote your child's natural hair texture. "Just don't do it; instead, reach for all-natural hair masks and products to embrace your natural texture," she said. "Allow this time stuck at home to feed and nurture your natural curls!"

Does My Kid's Haircut Even Matter Right Now?

Given everything that's going on in the world, Michelle's biggest takeaway is not to stress about your child's haircut, especially if you don't feel confident enough to do it yourself!

"I just can't say it enough, but I'll say it again and louder for the people in the back: who cares what your kids look like while stuck at home?" she joked. "Unlike adults, who are maybe using Zoom for office meetings or running to the grocery store to grab food, your kids don't need to look presentable for anyone other than their classmates if they are doing online schooling."