How to Cut Your Hair at Home Using the Ponytail Method

ashley rubell ponytail haircut tutorial

Ashley Rubell/BYRDIE 

Want an easy five minute, transformative hair hack? Meet the ponytail method, also known as "The Unicorn Cut." This DIY haircut method that's been blowing up on YouTube has people tying their hair into an extremely high ponytail that looks like a unicorn horn and giving themselves a refreshed haircut with a single snip. It's a bold move to say the least, but the results aren't as harsh as they seem.

The ponytail method can only give you one type of haircut: a heavily layered one. As a professional hairstylist, I'd suggest only entertaining this method if you have extremely long hair or curly hair, because drastic layers are best suited for curly texture and lots of length.

Thankfully, attempting this haircut method at home requires only a few affordable tools. Here's what you'll need:

  • A pair of shears
  • Two hair ties
  • A detangling brush or wide tooth comb
  • A mirror
  • Optional: Thinning shears

Continue reading for a quick breakdown on how to achieve this 5 minute transformation in just 5 simple steps.

01 of 05

Brush Your Hair

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 ASHLEY RUBELL/BYRDIE

To start, you're going to remove any knots from the hair with a detangling brush. If you have curly hair, you can use your favorite wide tooth comb. Make sure that the hair is completely dry so it doesn't shrink up after you cut it. I'd also recommend doing this on clean hair instead of second or third day hair because the natural oils our scalp produces can weigh our strands down a bit more and therefore the length of your hair may shrink up a bit after your first wash.

02 of 05

Create a Bump-Free High Ponytail

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 ASHLEY RUBELL/BYRDIE

Next, flip your tangle-free mane upside down and collect the hair into a high ponytail just above the center of your forehead (channel your inner unicorn). Flip your head right side up and check in your mirror that the placement of your ponytail is centered before securing with a hair tie.

To avoid bumps, you can use your detangling brush to help you smooth the hair down around the scalp.

03 of 05

Determine Your Desired Length

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  ASHLEY RUBELL/BYRDIE

Then, determine how much length you want to cut off. If you aren't sure, start small with 1/2" or 1" (depending on how long your hair is to begin with). If you don't cut enough off the first time around, you can always go back through this process again because well, you can always go shorter. Plus, this is only a five minute process.

Use your second hair tie to mark that line where you're going to cut. Wrap it close to the base of your ponytail and then slide it down to your cut point.

04 of 05

Make The Snip

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  ASHLEY RUBELL/BYRDIE

Your one and only snip is going to be made just below that second hair tie, cutting straight across. Having sharp shears is important, especially for a cut like this that's working through such a thick, concentrated area of hair. If you use kitchen scissors or anything that has a dull blade, you'll find that the scissors will really struggle to glide through the bulk of your strands and will leave them more susceptible to fraying quickly.

Now, I would recommend never cutting your length above the chin. Following this advice will ensure that your shortest layer falls no higher than your jawline. If you desire to have a longer fringe or side bang, I'd suggest leaving those bits out and blending them into your layers after the bulk of your hair is cut.

You can use your shears for this cut if you prefer blunt ends, or if your long hair has a finer density and you prefer that it feels fuller versus wispy. For thicker hair and curly hair, you might consider using texturizing shears if you have them available to you. Thinning shears have a lot less room for error because the cut they make isn't so harsh. These shears will give you a much softer, blended finish on your ends.

05 of 05

A Few Finishing Touches

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  ASHLEY RUBELL/BYRDIE

You've done the majority of the work and your hair is almost ready to go. As a professional stylist, I have a few last minute tips for detailing your newly layered 'do. These are all totally optional, but they have the power to transform your cut even further to looking like it was done by a pro.

  • Point Cutting: If you've let your ponytail down and you feel the layers are looking a little too harsh or blunt for your hair type, I'd recommend point cutting your ends. Toss your hair back into that unicorn ponytail -- you can use your regular shears or thinning shears for this -- and with a taut grip around those ends, use your shears to cut straight up, into your ends. Point cutting will provide a softer, lighter finish to your ends and can break up what may feel like "shelf" layers.
  • Fine-tuning Your Shape: The ponytail haircut method will give you a distinct "V" shape when it's all laying down against your back. If you prefer a your strands to fall with less of a notable shape, here's what you do -- create a clean, center parting split all the way down your head. Bring each side around to the front of your shoulders and make a straight snip across the bottom layer of hair. Cross check that both sides are even by bringing them together beneath your chin. Losing that last layer will eliminate the long point that creates the "V" shape, and will leave you with more of a soft "U" shape, like a square manicure with rounded edges.
  • Product: Styling aside, if you have the ability to pick up a tiny travel size bottle of Virtue Split End Serum ($20), I highly recommend doing so. I use this after every haircut to help seal freshly cut ends and prevent any fraying or future splitting. Continuing to apply a pea size amount of this product to your ends when you get out of the shower, will help keep them looking healthy and extend the amount of time until your next haircut.

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