Should you cut your hair or color it first? Many have found themselves wondering this exact question when scheduling hair appointments. If you’ve finally scored a session with that sought-after colorist with the impossible waiting list, do you book your trim for before or after? If you’re looking to add some highlights but are planning to chop your long locks into a bob in a couple weeks, should you wait to go lighter? To finally get to the bottom of the correct cut and color order, we reached out to an expert who makes this decision daily. Brandon Scott, hair artist at Soon Beauty Lab in New York City, provides cuts and color to his clients and broke down everything we need to know about the right order.
Meet the Expert
Brandon Scott is a senior hair artist at Soon Beauty Lab in New York City. With roots in Chicago, Scott came to New York to pursue his career in hair and uses the city as inspiration for all of his work.
Keep scrolling to learn the correct cut and color order once and for all.
Do You Cut or Color Your Hair First?
“It honestly depends on what kind of cut or color I’m doing,” admits Scott. “If I’m going to be doing a big chop, then I will do a rough, dry cut so I’m not wasting time and product. If it’s a huge color change and we are going much lighter, then I prefer to cut after to help get rid of the ends that are now damaged—but I’m a stylist who does both cut and color so I usually just go case by case.”
When to Cut Your Hair Before Coloring
“If you are making a huge change to your cut—for example, if you have long locks and you want to chop it off into a bob—then I would definitely do the cut first,” advises Scott. “Another case where I’d cut first is if you’re going from no layers to adding a ton.” As for timing, especially if you’re seeing someone who provides both the cut and the color, Scott suggests doing the treatments back-to-back. “There’s no reason to wait unless a little change is all you can handle at once.”
When to Color Your Hair Before Cutting
“I think it’s best to cut the hair after if you are a blonde,” notes Scott. “As a blonde specialist, it’s hard to create bright blondes, platinum blondes, and pastel colors without any damage.” Scott uses Olaplex every step of the way, but with today’s hair trends, he explains that some damage is going to happen no matter what. “I think it’s best to cut after so you can clean up any damaged ends.” Since Scott provides both cut and color, he typically ends up doing the cut right after coloring, but if you see two different stylists, he advises to “wait about a week to give the hair time to bounce back from bleaching so that way you’re only removing what needs to be removed.”
The Biggest Mistakes in Cut and Color Order
“The biggest mistake I see is clients doing a heavy balayage on their long hair and then wanting a big chop a few weeks later,” describes Scott. “When you do this, the effect of the balayage is ruined because you’re chopping off the brightest parts—not to mention you just wasted a couple hundred dollars because now you need your color done again.”
Keep scrolling to shop Brandon Scott’s recommended formulas for keeping your hair healthy after a cut and color session.
“This product is the best way to keep your hair shiny and healthy,” declares Scott.
“My favorite toning shampoo conditioner is a tie between Oribe Bright Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner and Kevin Murphy Angel.Rinse,” Scott says.
“If you’re feeling dull, the dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse is amazing to brighten up your strands,” advises Scott.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a vinegar made from the juice of fermented apples. It may remove product build-up, get rid of dandruff, fight split-ends, and restore balance to your scalp's pH level.
“Also, if you’re doing pastel colors or fashion colors, the best way to keep them vibrant is by using a cleansing conditioner. My favorite is Analog Cleansing Foam Condition by R+Co,” recommends Scott. “It’s honestly my favorite thing.”
Chen H, Chen T, Giudici P, Chen F. Vinegar functions on health: constituents, sources, and formation mechanisms. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2016;15(6):1124-1138. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12228