Cutting Your Own Hair: A Primer For Men

Cutting your hair can be a daunting prospect.

My earliest memory of thinking I could be my stylist was at the tender age of 6. I’m not even sure what my motivations were at the time. All I recall was going to the dimly lit bathroom with a pair of blunt craft scissors in hand.

One quick snip to my fringe later, I was the laughingstock of friends and family. So for most of my life, I have been content to leave my hair in the hands of a professional.

But come last year, stuck at home for months in the middle of the pandemic, I grew a bit tired of my unruly mane getting into my eyes as I worked. Plus, it made me look a little unprofessional at weekly video meetings.

Armed with the power of the internet and online shopping, I managed to give myself a somewhat rough but presentable-looking haircut.

If you’re understandably apprehensive about taking a blade to your precious hair, never fear. The process is deceptively straightforward. Once you’ve done the research and made that terrifying first pass with the clippers, you’ll feel a lot more confident about the process.

Being able to cut your hair brings with it a few benefits. As mentioned, depending on where you live, a global pandemic, your local barbershop might be inaccessible for months at a time.

In addition, it might help you save money, in the long run, to be able to maintain your hairstyle by yourself. And if you’ve ever experienced how a fantastic haircut starts to look goofy as particular portions of your hair grow faster than others, you might be able to restore it with a bit of trimming.

This guide will cover how to start trimming your hair. More elaborate styles will be the purview of other articles. From tools to hair type to advice on specific styles, use the navigation menu below to find what interests you.

Summary Of Tools For Cutting Your Own Hair: A Primer For Men

S. No.ProductKey Features
1Evuioas 3 Way Mirror,360° MirrorThree-way mirror
2Wahl Color Pro Cordless Rechargeable Hair Clipper & Trimmer – Easy Color-Coded Guide Combs – for Men, Women & Children – Model 9649Grooming on the Go
3Equinox Professional Razor Edge Series Barber Hair Cutting Scissors – Japanese Stainless Steel Salon Scissors – 6.5” Overall LengthPremium Shears for Hair Cutting
4Kent A FOT Handmade All Fine ToothPocket and Travel Comb
5Mister Spray Bottle, 250ml Adjustable Spray Storage Container Simple to Use
6AIMIKE 6pcs Professional Hair Clips Non Slip No-Trace Duck Billed
Summary Of Tools For Cutting Your Own Hair: A Primer For Men

Tools

Hair Cutting Tools

Before you can start to cut your hair, a few tools will be needed. I will list the more essential tools first, and then some optional tools but might be helpful to you depending on your hair type.

1. Evuioas 3 Way Mirror,360° Mirror

A three-way mirror allows you to get a good look at your sides or back while cutting your hair.

As with any grooming endeavor, you were able to see yourself is crucial. For cutting your hair, you need to see both the sides and the back of your head.

If you can afford it, a three-way mirror is probably your best bet. This will allow you to see your hair from all sides easily. If you don’t have the space for it, find a place where you can tape a small mirror to the wall behind your main mirror.

Amazon USA

2. Wahl Color Pro Cordless Rechargeable Hair Clipper & Trimmer – Easy Color-Coded Guide Combs – for Men, Women & Children – Model 9649

Wahl’s Color Pro Cordless Rechargeable Hair Clipper & Trimmer

If you want anything more than a quick trim, clippers are going to be the star of the show for you.

There are a few things to consider when buying a pair of clippers.

First is size and weight. As you are probably using them only occasionally at home, weight isn’t too much of a concern. Assuming you don’t find cutting hair so enjoyable, you decide to change your profession, that is.

Size is a bit more of a personal choice. You want one that is ergonomic and fits your hand comfortably. This will help you maneuver the clippers easily and comfortably.

Second, you might want to consider the way the clippers are powered. One that needs to be plugged in will limit the location where you will cut your hair. A cordless one powered by physical and rechargeable batteries will give you more flexibility.

The third is accessories. Clippers come in the form of attachments or ‘rakes.’ Numbered from 1 to 6, which cut from longest to shortest. Depending on the style you want, you may need more or fewer attachments for your clippers.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you should consider the maintenance of your clippers. Even if you only intend to use them once a month, you don’t want them to be rusty on you. It’s worth spending a little more on clippers with titanium-coated blades, which last longer.

Amazon USA

3. Equinox Professional Razor Edge Series Barber Hair Cutting Scissors – Japanese Stainless Steel Salon Scissors – 6.5” Overall Length

Equinox Professional Razor Edge Series Barber Hair Cutting Scissors 

While clippers are going to do the heavy lifting, you don’t want to take them to the top of your head in most circumstances. That’s where shears or scissors come in.

I prefer to use the term ‘shears’ here to drive home that you don’t want to use your garden-variety scissors for the task. When it comes to hair-cutting, you need scissors that are unique to the task.

While there are many types of hair-cutting scissors in the market, I recommend starting with two in particular: the general hair-cutting shears, as well as a pair of thinning shears.

The general shears may look like normal scissors, but they excel at cutting straight edges. As you can imagine, this is essential in giving yourself an even cut.

The thinning shears are the ones you might have seen your barber commonly wield – the ones with one toothed blade and one solid one. When trimming your hair helps adds texture and volume to your hair.

Finally, if you are left-handed, do check out shears that are better suited to your needs. Those do exist!

Amazon USA

4. Kent A FOT Handmade All Fine Tooth

A humble, straight-toothed comb will help prep and guide your hair for the cutting process.

A simple broad-toothed comb will help get rid of any tangles or knots in your hair easily and (relatively) painlessly. While certain styling combs exist, they are only strictly necessary if you aim for a certain style. We will cover that when necessary in this article or future articles.

Amazon USA

5. Mister Spray Bottle, 250ml Adjustable Spray Storage Container

Mister Spray Bottle, 250ml Adjustable Spray Storage Container

A simple bottle with a spray nozzle you can get at the store will allow you to moisturize your hair and keep it easy to cut and style.

Amazon USA

6. AIMIKE 6pcs Professional Hair Clips (optional)

AIMIKE 6pcs Professional Hair Clips

While not strictly necessary, if you have medium to long hair, a pair of steel hair clips might come in useful. As we will see, partitioning your hair to focus on trimming one part at a time is important, and these clips can free up your hands to focus on the task at hand.

Amazon USA

Pre-Haircut Procedures

Before you start cutting your hair, there are a few procedures to follow. These hold true regardless of the length of your hair.

1. Choose a suitable location

Most people will opt to cut their hair in the bathroom, and there is a high chance that this is the optimal choice. But there are a few factors to consider.

You also want a place where your hair can be easily swept or vacuumed up. For the love of all that is good, DO NOT cut your hair over a carpeted surface.

You want to cut your hair in a brightly lit area. If your bathroom has dim, yellow lighting, it may not be the ideal place for trimming.

2. Wash and dry your hair

Washing your hair before cutting it removes oil and grease, making it easier to cut.  For best results, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner.

Equally important is to towel your hair dry after your rinse. If your hair is still dripping, it’s too wet to cut.

Your hair can dry out as your nearing the end of your DIY haircut. That’s why it’s important to have your trusty spray bottle on standby. Just give your hair a few spritzes, and spread the moisture out evenly with a comb or your fingers.

3. Comb your hair

After your rinse, your hair is probably more than a little tangled. Use your comb to gently tease out the knots and tangles in preparation for the clippers.

How to trim Short Hair

1. Partition your hair

Use your comb to separate your freshly tangle-free hair into different sections. You want to separate the parts where your hairline separates on both sides, leaving the hair on top of your head piled high.

If you have medium-length hair, you can use hair clips to keep your hair in place. Otherwise, you should be able to get away with holding your hair away from the side you want to trim.

2. Cut the sides one at a time

With most of your hair out of the way, it’s finally time to start trimming. Set your clippers to the #1 or #2 attachment, depending on how short you want the sides to be.

Now comes the terrifying part. Bring the clippers up to one side of your head.

Starting at the bottom, you should go against the grain of your hair, which will give a much more even cut. Trim your sides at an angle. You can make as many passes as you need to get the sides even.

Daunting as it may be, you’ll probably be surprised at how much your trepidation vanishes once you make the first past. I mean, hey, at this point, you’re committed. Once you’re done, give the other side the same treatment.

3. Cut the back of your hair

Cutting the back of your hair is very similar to the process for the sides. The big difference, however, is that it is much harder to see and reach.

Honestly, don’t be afraid to outsource this part to a housemate or family member. Another best does this job.

If you’re flying solo, however, once again, you want to work your way up from the base with the same clipper attachment you used to trim your sides.

4. Trim the top

Using clippers, while a little daunting, is relatively straightforward. This part with the shears requires a little more finesse.

For this part, you want to go slow and take your time. You can always cut more off if you have excess, but you can’t add hair back once you’ve cut it off.

Hold the shears with your thumb in the bigger ring while your ring finger goes in the smaller one. You should be able to feel in control of the amount of tension you apply to the shears.

The trick to trimming the top of your head is to divide it into individual sections from front to back. Each section should be about 6mm or ¼” long.

With your fingers or a comb, gently lift each section and hold it in place. If using the former, you’ve probably seen a professional barber hold your hair between two of their fingers to show the unevenness of your hair. You can do the same.

Once you’ve teased out that section of your hair, use the shears to snip off any uneven portions. Again, it’s important to go slow and minimize mistakes here.

Once the first section is done, proceed methodically down each section until you reach the back of your scalp. A neat trick is to lift a bit of the previously trimmed section to gauge how much to cut for the current one.

Now that your hair is mostly even on top, you can think about adding some texture to the thinning shears. With said shears in hand, look for choppy parts of your hair and trim the edges as you did with the general shears. You don’t want to cut too much with these shears, though – just enough to give your hair some definition.

5. Tidy up

Once you’re done working on the top, it’s time to put the finishing touches and clean up some loose ends. First off, you want to make sure the trimming around your ears is clean. If your clippers have a trimming or tapering attachment, that would be the perfect tool to use. Otherwise, you can apply your clippers carefully to achieve the same effect.

At any rate, fold your ear down and use your clippers to cut any stray longer hairs that might remain around your ears.

Next, now that you can see how your hair falls, it should be easy to spot any stray hairs on the nape of your neck. With the help of a mirror, remove these with the clippers.

Lastly, we come to the sideburns. Both your trusty clippers or a good safety razor are suitable for this task. To ensure you cut your sideburns evenly, take a reference point that appears on both sides of your face. The bottom of your ears, for example.

And with that, we’re done. Congratulations on your first DIY haircut!

Final Thoughts

There will probably never be a situation where we can do without professional barbers and hairstylists. Hair and hairstyling play a significant part in forming the well-groomed man, and most of the time, it’s probably best left to professionals.

However, there are times when a professional is inaccessible for various reasons. In those situations, it never hurts to be self-reliant and to be able to carry out a functional DIY haircut.

We’ll probably have more articles out on ways to cut and maintain some more elaborate hairstyles in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and stay stylish!

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