Keeping your hair short means having to maintain regular trips to the barbershop at least once a month. But now that the prospect of getting up close and personal with your neighborhood barber is a bit up in the air these days (#socialdistancing), you might be thinking about taking matters into your own hands by cutting your own hair.
Let’s be honest: Cutting your own hair isn’t (pardon the pun) as cut and dry as you think; there’s a reason people train for this professionally. That’s not to mean it isn’t impossible, though, as armed with the right tools and knowledge, it’s a skill that you can definitely learn the basics of given some time and patience. Read on for a tool breakdown as well as some simple steps to learning how to cut your own hair that, hopefully, will serve you well in a hair emergency:
How to Cut Your Own Hair: Men’s Edition
What you need:
- Medium-sized towel to wrap around your shoulders
- Scissors or cutting shears
- Hair clippers
- A broom or vacuum cleaner for cleaning up
How to prep:
- Allow yourself at least 30 minutes to an hour—don’t rush!
- Place the towel over your shoulders to avoid hair getting all over you while you cut
- Stand in front of a large mirror for maximum viewing
- If you have one, use a smaller shaving mirror to help you see the back of your head
- Be careful while using the scissors!
How to Cut Your Own Hair
Step 1: Start on clean, damp hair. Detangle hair with a comb.
Step 2: Using your non-dominant hand, take a section of hair at the top.
Step 3: Slide fingers from the root to the ends to measure how much you want to snip off. Aim for 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Step 4: Use your scissors to cut the ends.
Step 5: Repeat on the sides, but snip slightly longer than the length you took off the top to create a shape.
Step 6: Select your preferred hair clipper length (more on that later!).
Step 7: Finish by using the clippers on the sides and sideburns. Takes practice.
Step 8: If you’re one to shampoo after a haircut to clean up, try a clarifying product for a truly refreshed feel. We like the formula of Bed Head for Men by TIGI Clean Up Daily Shampoo and Clean Up Peppermint Conditioner—as the name suggests, the duo is infused with peppermint for a tingly-fresh feeling, while also helping remove stubborn gunk and product build-up.
Good to Know: Hair Clipper Guards
Clipper guard sizes, a.k.a. clips, go by fractions of an inch starting from 0 (for buzzcuts) to 8 (1” of hair). The longer the comb size of the clip, the longer the hair.
Guard #0 (zero) = 1/16 inch, best for buzzcuts or a “zero all around.” Any shorter or for a total skinhead look, and your barber will use a razor.
Guard #1 (one) = 1/8 inch
Guard #2 (two) = 1/4 inch
Guard #3 (three) = 3/8 inch. #3 is usually the guard limit in shorter styles. Fade haircuts typically have a #3 on the sides.
Guard #4 (four) = 1/2 inch
Guard #5 (five) = 5/8 inch. #5 and #6 guards are normally used for longer, subtler tapers, as well as when trimming the neckline.
Guard #6 (six) = 3/4 inch
Guard #7 (seven) = 7/8 inch
Guard #8 (eight) = 1 inch
Click on our complete guide to barbershop terms to learn more.
The D.I.Y. Route
As we mentioned, the art of proper haircutting takes years of training and experience and is a skill that shouldn’t be practiced off the cuff, if you can help it. That said, when doing it yourself in a pinch, we recommend going for a simple, foolproof style (maybe use no shorter than a #3 guard?) especially if you’re attempting this for the first time. Good luck!