How to Cut Your Own Hair for Men

So, you’ve decided you want to cut your own hair…

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Whether you’re trying to save money, interested in the challenge, or simply can’t get to the barber’s — this guide should help you achieve a haircut you’re happy with.

The classic haircut for many men, a short back and sides, is hugely popular for its versatile and stylish look. It works well for any occasion and requires minimal upkeep, a great all-rounder.

Ready to learn how to cut your own hair in this classic style? Read on.

man with long hair

But First — The All Important Tool: Hair Cutting Scissors

When it comes to scissors, you really want to make sure you’ve got a good tool. Everyday scissors that you might have in your kitchen drawer or pencil case are a bad idea.

You should use dedicated hair shears that are sharp and include a finger brace that gives you more control over the process. Using old or blunt scissors will give you a jagged cut and may damage your hair cuticles.

The good news is that hair scissors are not at all expensive and you can easily get some online or in stores.

man holding scissors

How To Cut Men’s Hair

Step 1: Prep It

Before we begin it’s important to prepare your hair for the cut. So, jump in the bath or shower and wash your hair, then afterward, comb or brush out any knots and tangles. The ideal condition for your hair to be when cut is damp, so towel dry your hair so that it’s neither soaking wet nor dry.

Next, location. You want a place where you won’t have to worry about making a mess and where you have access to running water – a bathroom or kitchen is likely your best bet. A mirror is a must-have too. Ideally, find a way of setting up a second mirror behind you that lets you see the back of your head as you cut.

You’re almost ready to begin learning how to cut your own hair for men. First though, use a comb to section your hair into parts. Comb your hair through to where your head curves, then comb the hair between the ear and part downwards on both sides of your head.

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Step 2: The Back and Sides.

Now that you’ve washed, combed, sectioned your hair and chosen your home-barbershop locale, it’s time to begin.

Set your clippers to a low guard setting and begin on the sides. Trim from the bottom of the sides, upwards. Tilt the clipper at an angle so you can create a gradual fade as you go.

clippers how to cut your own hair men

Repeat this process with the other side of your head, and then do the same on the back. Go against the grain of your hair, as this will help to give you a more even cut.

To make the transitions between lengths less drastic, go over the lower half of your back and sides with an even shorter setting. Remember, go slow. Gradually lift the clippers as you get to the temples and earlobes.

Step 3: The Top

Now grab your hair scissors (not paper scissors!) and begin on the top. With your scissors in one hand, use the other to grab ¼ inch sections between your middle and index fingers. Pull the hair upwards, parallel to your hairline and snip the hair above your fingers. The amount of hair that sticks out of the top of your fingers is the amount of length you will be cutting, so adjust according to your desires.

man with short back and sides

Bear in mind that cuts to the top of your hair are more noticeable than on the back or sides, so proceed with caution. A good rule of thumb on how to cut your own hair for men is to cut a little at first, then a little more. If you cut too much – there’s no going back!

If you have bangs or a fringe, brush a comb through it and snip the ends, taking care to ensure that it’s even.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Use a mirror to check your sides are totally even. Do this by holding a horizontal section of your hair at the same point on each side of your hair. If they’re not even, gradually trim away small bits until they are.  

Cut your sideburns to the desired length. It’s up to you really, but a good rule of thumb on how to cut your own sideburns is to feel for the depression below your cheekbone and cut the burns to there. 

Make sure the top of your hair blends nicely with your sides. Do this by combing your hair down towards your sides. If anything sticks out, cut it to shape using your shears.

Finally, use your clippers to taper the neckline by cutting very short at the bottom and gradually leaving more length as you move upwards.

How To Fade Hair

For a perfect fade, start by shaving from the neckline up to around an inch above the ears on your clippers’ lowest setting: 1.

Use a mirror to make sure that you’ve cut a straight line that goes around your whole head. Go over the parts you’ve already cut several times with the clippers to ensure there are no missing patches of hair.

Now change the clipper to setting number 3. Lightly shave across the line, moving upwards, and across. Shave about two inches higher than the line, with each motion moving the clippers away from the head the higher you get. You’ll start to see the hair fading into the hair on the top. Have a brush on hand to use for checking for bits of hair that stick out.

barbers hair cut tools
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You should still be able to see the point where the hair transitions from setting 1 to setting 3. Change your clippers to number 2 and shave across this line. You should start to see the fade forming.

The last step is to use the lever on the side of the clippers to set your clipper length to 1.5. Then shave across the bottom of the line once more. Take off the clip and use the metal setting of the clippers to shave along the hairline around the whole head, giving it a polished look. Et voila! That’s how to cut your own hair for men.

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