If you need hair trimming tips for women, check out our tutorial.
Cutting your own hair isn't just a frugal man's routine. It's a meditative process, a sign of independence, and a way to remain perpetually groomed in the face of any challenge or circumstance. To master the art of self-sufficient grooming, you'll need to learn the step-by-step basics of cutting your own hair. Fortunately, some of the most versatile and easily-maintained cuts are possible with a set of clippers and a little direction. Once you feel more confident with your haircutting abilities, try out a few tricks of the trade to create a more personalized look.
While cutting your own hair doesn't require an arsenal of professional gear, it entails more than just a pair of household scissors and a steady hand. You'll want to invest in a decent set of clippers with a range of attachment guard lengths, hair shears, and a handheld mirror. A cutting cape and hair thinning scissors are optional but helpful. Next, choose your perfect haircut. If you're worried about maintenance, go with short, tight cuts and simple fades. For styles with a bit more personality, keep the length on top and try a high fade.
Choose your workspace wisely before setting up your tools to prevent headaches along the way. The kitchen and garage work well because the hard flooring makes an easy job of cleaning discarded hair, but the bathroom is ideal for most DIY barbers, and likely the best spot for beginners. Here, you can use a handheld mirror to see the back of your head in the wall-mounted mirror while you work, then jump into the shower to rinse off any stray hairs. Whichever space you choose, make sure it is well-lit and that there's a trashcan nearby.
A quick rinse in the shower is inevitable post-cut, but you should also wash your mane before using the clippers. Not only is clean hair much easier to work with, but washing before a cut gets rid of grease, dirt, and dry skin in your strands, which could otherwise clog your tools. The same is true for hair styling products, so it's best to wash with regular shampoo and conditioner before every cut. Remove excess water with a towel and comb out any tangles before you get started.
To begin cutting hair, attach the appropriate length guard to your clippers and set any others you'll be using close by. Starting at the bottom of the head with the shortest guard, trim the hair in an upward motion against hair growth. Cut upward on each side of the neck and around the ears, pulling them down to get an even trim. Stop the clippers at the point where the haircut will lengthen, most likely at the rim of the head. Work toward the back of the head, making multiple passes, until the sides and back are even.
With the bottom half of your hair taken care of, switch out the clipper guides for the longer length on top, unless you're going for a buzzcut. Starting from the hairline at your forehead, run the clippers in smooth, straight strokes from front to back. Cut across the top of the head and up from the back against the direction of hair growth. Cutting against the cowlick is a trick of the trade to keep the hair from awkwardly standing up when styled.
The top and bottom halves of your haircut should now be two distinct lengths separated by an unkempt border. Using the same attachment guard from the top of your head, move the clippers in an upward rocking motion along this line. Work your way around the back of the head with a handheld mirror as your visual guide. Blend the two lengths until the line disappears, creating a gradual fade. Keep in mind that the style of choice determines where the fade should begin. A low fade will curve from the temple to the neck, while a high fade sits well above the temples.
A finished trim should be symmetrical, with no distinct lines or stray hairs. Clean up any errors with a pair of hair shears, using them to even out your fade or cut. To trim longer hair at the top of your head, hold the scissors at an angle and snip the ends at spaced intervals. Adjust your fade further with clippers by using an attachment guard size longer than the bottom and shorter than the top half of the haircut. Use the upward rocking motion to blend the faded line away.
Once your fade is sharpened, and your crown, perfected, you'll have to clean up the hairline around your ears and neck. Remove the attachment guard and flip the clippers over, so the blade is facing downward. Clean up stray hairs and draw straight lines around the ears. Work your way around to the temples, cleaning up facial hair in the process. Finish the back of the head with a tapered bottom, and shape the edges to your liking, either rounded or squared off. To create a block effect, use a leather belt or plastic guide to form a hardened hairline.
To keep hair long on top, try running the clippers from back to front, in the direction of hair growth. This method gradually shortens strands without cutting too much too quickly. Freestyle your bangs with the attachment guard still on by combing the hair forward and flicking the clippers in an upward motion. If you want to keep your mane longer than the attachment guards allow, try using the clipper over fingers technique. Pinch small sections of hair away from the head between your pointer and middle fingers, and carefully move the bare clippers along your fingers to trim. Angle the blades and cut the hair at intervals to create a choppy appearance, keeping the overall length even throughout the section.
After you've finished your DIY haircut, jump into the shower to rinse off any residual hairs. Blowdry your hair and use a hand mirror to inspect the back of your head. While dampened hair is better for the haircut, you'll need your hair dried to decide if it needs thinning. Use a pair of thinning scissors to remove extra volume from your hairstyle, so your hair falls flat against your head. Now your haircut is perfected. Style as usual, and enjoy bragging rights the next time someone compliments your new 'do.
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