Everyone has a home-hair-cut horror story. Sometimes the desire to attack your split ends while standing in your bathroom is too strong to let go. If you insist on cutting your own hair though, here are some professional secrets to make sure you look your best when all is said and done.

Use The Right Tools

Do yourself a favor and use good scissors for your at-home do. You don’t want to use the pair that’s been sitting at the bottom of a kitchen drawer for years—you know, the pair that can barely open the wrapper of a frozen burrito—don’t use that pair.

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The best haircuts require really sharp scissors—and nice scissors are a really good investment. Just think of how much you’ll save skipping the salon? When buying scissors specifically for cutting your hair, make sure they aren’t too big, though. Smaller scissors are easier to maneuver and cut with.

Stay “In The Box”

It’s always a good idea to keep home haircuts consistent with your current style. An attempt at a new and drastic look is a recipe for disaster. Even if you have help from a friend, you’ll most likely end up unhappy with the results when you go “wild” at home.

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So, what sorts of haircuts should we leave to the professionals? For starters, you should probably shy away from layers.

When you’re cutting your own hair, stick with basic maintenance. Only cut what you can see. Don’t even try to get anything done on the back of your head.

Do The Twist

It takes serious courage to cut your own bangs. So many things can go wrong, and when they do, it’s bad. There’s no good way to cover up a baby-bangs hack job. If you’re going to attempt this on your own, at least try to use a foolproof technique. “The Twist” will save you a lot of time and grief.

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The secret behindThe Twist is that it keeps your hair even and close together; this will make a neat trim much easier. You don’t want the hair to move around or to lose the predetermined length line in the middle of cutting. “The Twist” will prevent those almost-disasters from happening.

Keep It Dry

Almost all stylists agree that it’s best to cut your hair when it’s dry, not wet. It’s easier to get clean lines on dry hair. Besides, dry cuts are better for your hair. Individual strands are more susceptible to stretching and breaking when you comb them wet.

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Dry cutting is also a more individualistic way to approach a haircut. Vanessa Ungaro, the co-owner of a New York salon Lauren + Vanessa, described the benefits of dry cutting in a piece for Harpers Bazaar:

“When hair is cut wet, many stylists are just following a formula and doing the movements that they were taught in school. But when you cut dry, you are creating a completely individual, custom haircut especially for the client sitting in your chair.”

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The next time you’re standing in front of your mirror with scissors in hand, make sure you remember these tips. Otherwise, you might have to take a very embarrassing, and potentially expensive, trip to the salon.