Put down the feather duster. This type of dusting works on your tresses, not on your furniture. Hair dusting is a cutting technique that maintains the length of your hair while removing flyaway split ends. It’s a way to keep your hair looking healthy while you’re trying to grow it out. It can also smooth out hair that’s developed a life (and split ends) of its own.
You can ask for hair dusting at the salon, but if you’re brave, you can DIY hair dusting. You can pull your scissors out and start (gently) attacking those pesky split ends.
Hair dusting originally involved burning split ends with a candle… but hair en flambe isn’t exactly on most people’s to-do lists. Plus, the smell of burnt hair isn’t very appealing. Luckily you can get the same benefits without the candle or burnt hair smell using a (very) sharp pair of scissors.
How often you need to dust depends on your goals, general hair care practices, and hair type. People who frequently style their hair with heat will need to dust more often because their hair is more likely to get damaged. If you’re more of a let-it-air-dry, c’est la vie kind of hair owner, you may only need to dust every few weeks.
Dusting is trimming’s more time-consuming cousin. Stylists trim hair when their clients want to refresh the shape of their cut or remove dry, brittle ends.
Dusting removes less length than trimming
A typical trim takes off about 2 inches of length or less. Dusting, on the other hand, may only take off a quarter inch. Or, it might not take any overall length off at all. This method targets those little split ends at the very tips of your strands.
When deciding between the two, consider your goals. Are you trying to add length or bring back bounce? If your hair is looking limp and listless, a trim can take off extra weight and reinvigorate those trailing tresses.
Keep in mind that frequent heat styling can cause split ends unless you use protective products. And even with these measures, your hair can only take so much. Dusting split ends as they arise can help you stretch the time between trims and full-on haircuts.
Dusting is typically less expensive than trimming
Dusting can often save you a few dollars over a full trim, but it’s a good idea to ask if it’s right for you. Your stylist may recommend a (tiny) trim if that’s what’s best for your hair. Getting a professional opinion that’s tailored to your hair and goals is the best for your long-term hair health.
Pro tip: Only use sharp scissors designed for cutting hair. Duller blades (like those on regular scissors or kitchen shears) can do more harm than good.
You need to see the split ends in comparison to the rest of the hair before you can trim them. Start by using a wide-toothed comb or brush to remove tangles. Your hair should be dry when dusting.
2. Divide and conquer
Divide the hair into roughly half-inch sections. Section size will depend on the texture and thickness of your hair. Each section should be small enough to easily handle with one hand (and scissors in the other).
The stylist will tightly twist the section of hair. If you’re doing the dusting, hold this section firmly in place.
Here’s the fun part. It’s time to trim the ends of the hairs that stick out of the twist. Don’t worry about the hair toward the roots. Focus the ends of the hair. Go slow, and take your time clipping these flyaway ends. You don’t want to get scissor happy. The trimmed hair should only leave a light “dusting” of hair on your shoulders.
5. Twist in the opposite direction
Take the same section of hair and twist it in the opposite direction. Carefully trim it as you did step 4. Remember: Stay toward the ends of the hair.
6. Do the next section
Repeat the process until you’ve done every section of hair. Then, you’re done!
Generally, you can get away with dusting every 6 to 8 weeks unless you’re going heavy on the heat styling. In that case, keep an eye on those ends and dust every few weeks. However, if most of your ends look fried, it’s time for a trim to maintain the health and shape of your hair.
Hair dusting isn’t for everyone. Hair type makes a huge difference in how effective (and tedious) hair dusting is. It works best on straight or slightly wavy medium to thick hair. It can work on thin, fine hair, but it could leave your ends looking a little sparse if your locks are few and far between.
For coarse and curly hair, dusting is probably a no-go. When you prep the hair for dusting, split ends don’t show up as easily in hair that’s prone to frizziness. In theory, you could straighten your hair and then dust it, but straightening causes the split ends you’re trying to remove and prevent, so it’s prob not the most effective way to manage your hair.