Why You Don't Actually Need "Just a Trim"


Why You Don't Actually Need "Just a Trim"

Your stylist (and your favorite beauty magazine) have probably both told you countless times to “trim your hair every six to eight weeks.” And while that’s pretty sound advice, how do you really know when you need "just a trim" versus a haircut?  

Before we get started, let's talk about the real difference between a haircut and a trim.

We've all been there, sitting in the stylist's chair, playing it safe asking for "just a trim." You envision that you'll leave the salon with approximately the same length, just a whole lot healthier, right? More than once, though, you've probably left the salon, feeling that the trim turned into more of a haircut.  Why does this happen? 

Truth be told, it is a simple miscommunication (and a common one, at that). The key to getting the look you want is learning how to tell your hairstylist what you want and to do it in inches.

You're not alone in thinking that a trim is a universal term for taking just a teensy-tiny bit of hair off the bottom. 

A "trim" to most stylists, though, is the codeword for taking off enough to eliminate damage. Because everyone's hair is different, a trim can mean a quarter of an inch for some and up to several inches for others.

Depending on the natural health of your hair, the kind of lifestyle you lead, and the kind of hairstyle you're hoping to achieve or maintain, what you actually want to do instead of asking for a trim is to specify that you actually want a haircut that works with all three of those factors to end up with the look you want. 

Did you know, that each month on average, your hair will grow a quarter of an inch to half an inch?  So, in eight weeks, you could have up to an inch of growth, and you're probably itching to get a trim. Deciding if it is time for a haircut or just a trim can be based on these three factors:

Hair Health

If an inch of hair growth leaves your ends looking scraggly, thin, or ultra damaged, there’s really no point in keeping it all for the sake of slightly longer hair. In fact, the health of your hair one of the factors in determining if you need just a trim or a haircut. If your hair is more prone to split ends, or you have a lot of chemical treatments done, trimming every eight weeks will help keep your hair healthy. 

On the flipside, there’s no reason you can’t rock long, healthy hair—and getting regular trims can definitely help you get there. But, if your hair is a little bit on the thin side, or you’re a bombshell blonde bleaching addict, holding onto length that’s fried and frizzy will only make you look older. We’ll say it again:

Holding onto length that’s fried and frizzy will only make you look older.

You might be dreaming of long, luscious locks, but the truth is: shorter hair is often healthier hair. Not only that, but shorter hair is also more fun, easier to style, quicker to dry, and way less maintenance. Who could resist all of that?


In addition to heat styling and dyeing your hair, you may also be doing further damage to it simply by being outside and exposing it to the elements. Extremely dry climates can have a disastrous effect on the health of your hair, as can prolonged UV exposure. To combat these effects, you should be taking every measure to protect your hair from the sun’s rays, moisturize your hair, and keep the ends from fraying with regular haircuts.  

If you've recently moved to a harsher climate, for instance, the beach or the desert, then you may need more regular haircuts to maintain your hair's health and optimal style. 

And it isn't just the weather that's wreaking havoc on your hair; major lifestyle changes, such as having a baby or starting a stressful new job, can have a huge effect on your hair. Stressful changes and hormonal fluctuations can prompt your body to thin your hair out. In that case, a trim just won't do the job. What you'll need is a haircut that works with your hair's new (hopefully temporary) texture.

Another lifestyle factor to consider is your daily routine.

Are you a workout fiend? Those post-gym showers might be pushing your hair a little too far. Keep your hair looking in tip-top shape with more frequent haircuts, if that's the case.

Do you have a job that has you heavily styling your hair every day? You'll have greater luck styling your hair and keeping it looking fresh throughout the long workday if you visit the salon every six to eight weeks for a cut. 

Desired Hairstyle

The kind of haircut you need, whether it's a full-on cut or just a trim, really depends on the desired hairstyle you're looking to achieve or maintain. 

If you're sporting a super cute bob with some blunt bangs, then a quick trim every four weeks will keep your style in check. 

If you're the queen of long, subtle layers, then you can go twice as long without a haircut. That said, you should definitely have more than just a tiny trim to avoid your style falling totally flat. This is especially true of all you ladies out there with fine or thin hair. You want to keep the gorgeous movement in your layers, and getting a regular haircut every eight weeks will banish the tangles and keep your style looking polished and perfect. 

The key to getting the look you want and keeping your desired hairstyle is knowing exactly what you want. It helps to come into the salon with pictures of your desired cut, that way you won't leave the salon with more or less hair than you were hoping to have. 

Saying you want "just a trim" might not help you get back to your ideal hairstyle, so be sure you know what you want and are prepared to communicate with your hairstylist to achieve the look you're dreaming of. It's all about setting expectations clearly.  

So, the next time you’re sitting in the salon chair thinking, “I really just need a trim,” think again. Ask your hairstylist for the healthiest, most manageable cut based on your hair's health, your individual lifestyle, and your desired hairstyle.

Did you know that Fantastic Sams Cut & Color is a full-service, "no-appointment-needed" hair salon with over 1,000 convenient locations? Find a Hair Salon near you.

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