If you're like me, you don't think about getting a hair trim until it's way too late, your hair's got split ends, and the tips are fried. But since you're reading this and asking the question, "How often should you trim your hair?" you clearly care about the state of your hair and maintaining or restoring its health (and you're better at planning ahead than I am). So to help figure out exactly when to schedule your next haircut or trim (because clearly I could use a refresher), I turned to Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, for all the info.
Spoiler: Even if you're growing it out, your hair needs a trim at least every three months. But if you're curious to know more specifically how often you should cut your hair depending on its length, texture, or condition, follow this helpful guide below.
How often should you trim your hair?
No clue when you need your next trim? Your stylist can give the best idea based on your specific hair needs, but if you didn't set up your next appointment during the last time you were at the salon, here's a good guideline to follow according to length:
If you have short hair:
When you've got short hair, Hardges says you'll want to get it trimmed more often to maintain the shape and make styling short hair easier. Expect to see your stylist for a good trim as often as once a month.
If you have medium-length hair:
On the other hand, the changes in medium-length hair as it grows out are a little less noticeable, so this length can make it a bit longer between trims. Hardges says you can go the recommended six to eight weeks (with bang trims or face-framing pieces shaped up in between cuts).
If you have long hair:
Hardges says the same goes for long hair as medium hair. This length can usually last the recommended six to eight weeks before needing an all-over trim, but you might need to refresh your bangs or any layers around your face in between.
If you have bangs:
When it comes to cutting your bangs though, it's a little more subjective. Hardges says you should plan on reshaping your bangs whenever you feel like they need a refresh. Generally speaking, certain bang types will need more upkeep than others (think: super-short bangs, like baby bangs, will likely need to be trimmed more often than, say, curtain bangs, which tend to grow out pretty nicely).
BTW: If it's been a while since your last trim, you might need a whole new haircut altogether to give your look new life and bring back your style. Hardges says short, precision haircuts like pixie cuts, undercuts, mini fringes, and other short lengths will require much more maintenance (we're talkin' as often as every two weeks), but longer haircuts, especially with layers, will require the least maintenance.
How often should you cut your hair if you want it to grow?
I know it sounds counterintuitive to cut your hair when you're trying to grow your hair really long, but regular trims are super important for maintaining healthy ends and avoiding breakage. So to prevent broken strands from ruining your long-hair dreams without cutting off all your hard-earned length, Hardges recommends only going three months between trims when trying to grow your hair out.
And if you're terrified to go to the salon because you're afraid that your hairstylist is going to cut off more than you want (why does that always happen?!), ask them for just a hair dusting, which is when only the split ends are cut off and nothing else.
How often should you trim your hair to avoid split ends?
Since breakage usually starts in the form of splinters as a result of damage, you're gonna want to prevent those split ends from happening in the first place, or at the very least, trim them as soon as they come up. Hardges says if you regularly use thermal tools for styling (think: curling irons and straighteners), then you'll want to go in for a trim every six to eight weeks.
If you never or rarely use any heat tools, Hardges says you can stretch it to eight to ten weeks. Generally speaking, fine hair tends to be more prone to damage and split ends, while coarser strands are more resistant to ends splitting. But again, this is totally subjective and depends on the styling routines, product usage, and how much heat is applied to the hair.
What does damaged hair look like?
So how do you know if you have damaged hair and you're past due for a trim or haircut? Here are two telltale signs to look for: breakage and/or hair that doesn't respond to heat-styling. You know those little pieces of hair that break off during routine brushing or combing? Yeah, that's a sign of brittle, damaged hair. But if your hair doesn't even respond to thermal styling, Hardges says that's a sign of extreme damage.
If either of those sounds like a regular occurrence in your life, make a note for your future self that damaged hair needs to be trimmed every six to eight weeks. And while you're at it, make sure you're using heat protectants to avoid further damage.
How often should you cut curly hair?
If you're thinking, "Okay cool, I now know what to do for my hair texture and length, but what about my hair type?" Hardges says whether your hair is straight or curly doesn't really make a difference. "Hair type is not really a determining factor for how frequent the hair should be trimmed," Hardges says. What's more important is your daily care, deep conditioning, styling regimens, and the use of straighteners, curling irons, and blow dryers. Word to the wise: Pick up one of these conditioning hair treatments to help your hair out.
How do you trim your own hair?
It might seem easy enough to trim or cut your own hair, but unless you absolutely give zero @#$%s about how your hair turns out, it's best to leave the cuts and trims to the pros. And if you can't get in to see your stylist right now, up your deep-conditioning treatments and hot oil treatments and lay off the heat-styling for a bit to give your hair a break. Might I suggest air-drying your hair or trying one of these wet hairstyles in the meantime?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.