“Don’t worry, it’ll grow back!” a friend of mine assured me before I finally decided to take the plunge. I would cut my own hair for the first time. I’ll admit, I was nervous.

Learning to cut your own hair, long or short, is an excellent skill to have. And it doesn’t have to result in disaster! You just need to know the pitfalls to avoid and the little secrets that will help you effortlessly create a perfect cut every time. Time-tested high-quality tools also go a long way.

For most people, cutting their own hair at home actually doesn’t mean they’ll never treat themselves to a professional cut from a hairdresser — it may, however, help them stretch the time to their next appointment. And that really adds up!

Do you want to join them? Why not save some money and have fun doing it?

In this guide, I’ll explain my personal techniques to cutting hair. We’ll delve into secret tips and sometimes unusual tricks that helped me and many others maintain a smart hair cut for 0 dollars.

Should you just get a buzzcut? Don’t say “no” before reading these 6 reasons for it.

Checklist: cutting your own hair

checklist cutting own hair

This guide takes you through the following:

  1. Prepare everything you’ll need in an easy-to-clean environment (like a bathroom). Don’t forget the vacuum cleaner.
  2. Start by cutting both sides. Cut hair with clippers against the natural growth pattern.
  3. Then do the back by using two mirrors. You can use a belt as a guide to get the hairline right. Carefully blend between lengths.
  4. Cut the top. The top is typically where hair is the longest, so you’ll probably have to use scissors and a comb.
  5. Clean up the edges — go around your ears and clean up your neckline.
  6. Wash your hair and clean up the space. Then you can style your hair with gel or leave it as it is.

The rest of the post will explain in depth how to take each of these simple steps with pictures and videos. We’ll also take a look at how you can cut long hair.

Why should you cut your own hair?

Here are a few reasons …

  • It saves a ton of money
  • you can get a haircut anytime you want
  • hairdresser’s ideas won’t be forced down your throat
  • no small talk with the barber
  • etc.

I have saved a lot of money using the techniques in this guide. It’s simple math — a men’s haircut, depending on where in the states you live, will run you for anywhere from $15 to $35. That adds up. Short hair grows pretty fast so you’ll need it cut every 3 weeks. Every year, you may be paying nearly $600 just to look decent!

I can think of better ways to spend 6 Benjamins, can’t you?

It’s also a useful skill to have to also some pocket money on the side. You’ll be able to cut your friends’ and family’s hair. Once you have some practice under your belt, you’ll be able to tell your barber exactly what you want without unpleasant surprises.

Not everyone is happy to wear a simple buzzcut. Guess what? You can get a fashionable clipper haircut and the best part is — it’s free! I’ll teach you how to cut hair with clippers in just a few paragraphs.

Self Hair Cutting Tools

It starts with the tools. Naturally, you won’t get very far without a pair of hair clippers, unless you plan to do your haircut with scissors. I must warn you though, it’s a lot harder!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • good-quality hair clippers with different-sized guards and blades
  • scissors (unless you want a very short haircut)
  • hair thinning scissors (if you have very thick hair)
  • razor blade (again, optional)
  • 2 mirrors (one in front of you and one in your hand)
  • a comb
  • a hair cutting cape

It’s also a good idea to keep a sweeper or a vacuum cleaner close by so you don’t get your entire house covered in hairs while walking to get it. Unless of course you get the Remmington’s vacuum clipper.

Here’s our guide to helping you select the best products.

Now remember, you’ll be able to save a lot of money with cutting your own hair. It might be a good idea to spend more upfront to get good, long-lasting equipment. We’ve reviewed and compared quite a few hair clippers on this site. Here’s an updated guide to what new tools you can use to cut your own hair.

These 3 clippers are the best tools to cut your own hair at home:

Conair Even Cut Rotary Hair Cut Cutting System Remington HC6550 Cordless Vacuum Haircut Kit Remington HC4250 Shortcut Pro Self-Haircut Kit
Conair Even Cut Rotary Hair Cut Cutting System Remington HC6550 Cordless Vacuum Haircut Kit Remington HC4250 Shortcut Pro Self-Haircut Kit
The main issue with regular hair clippers is that they are awful to work with if you’re cutting your own hair. Conair is attempting to fix this with this weirdly-shaped clipper that cuts in all directions. What really sets this one apart is its unique vacuum feature. The feature simply sucks all the hair that’s cut into its reservoir which really cuts (get it?) the clean-up time. Another thing that people rave about is its amazing battery life. Our third recommendation has earned a “#1 best seller” ranking and with a good reason. Its curvature makes sure you hit all spots of your scalp, and the rubberized exterior makes sure the tool will stay in your hand.
Buy online Buy online Buy online

Best on the market

These three are the hair clippers that stood the test of time, like Oster Model 10 or Andis Master. They are sturdy and high-quality, but typically more expensive and often harder to work with as they’re meant for professional barbers.

Get these if you value quality, have a lot of heads to take care of, and want to give the clippers to your grandkids when they’re old enough. Do not get them if you want something portable and lightweight.

Oster Classic 76 Oster Model 10 Andis 5-Speed
Oster Classic 76 Oster Model 10 Andis 5-Speed
Buy online Buy online Buy online

For more thorough best hair clipper reviews, head over here >

Additional tools

You should be standing up in front of the big mirror, close enough to the power outlet so it doesn’t hinder you working with clippers.

You may also need hair scissors or hair thinning scissors.

Self-Cut System

Featured on Shark Tank, this set lets you easily see all sides of your head. While I will recommend some hacks to get the back of your head just right, nothing beats actually seeing what you’re doing. This 3-mirror system is a simple product that will solve this problem for you. It’s also highly portable and adjustable, and that’s the reason it got really good reviews on Amazon.

This highly popular product runs out quickly. Find out if the Self-Cut System is on stock today!

How to cut your own hair short

Be sure to print out or redraw the diagram of the haircut you want so you can always check if you’re not sure about guard & blade sizes.

If this is your first time cutting your own hair it might be a good idea to have a ‘backup’ haircut that you can fall back on in case something goes wrong. So, always start with longer guards than you think you need – you can always cut shorter, but never longer.

Face shapes

Always take into consideration the face shape.

  • If it is round face, use a taper fade haircut that offers height and fullness on the top of the head. Make sure to shorten hair near cheekbones to give an illusion of longer chin.
  • Got a heart-shaped face? Then select a style that provides volume near cheek bones and for square shape go with delicate bangs and soft curls.
  • Everything goes with an oval shaped face.

You do not have to do everything with just your imagination. Check web pages of companies that manufacture hair products. They often have a few tips to share on using and styling with a particular product. Or, take the traditional route — flip through the pages of fashion magazines, especially the ones dedicated to hair.

First of all, get familiar with the words that hair professionals use. Read and understand what each term being used by expert hairstylists means. Learn about razoring, graduation, layering, elevation, cutting angle, the products and specialized tools or instruments used. This will help you understand exactly what you need for the chosen haircut.

Buzzcut Styles

Here are 6 of the clipper cut taper haircuts tutorials we have currently on Buzzcut Guide. Here you can find exactly how to create each one at home >

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Preparation

Start with basic preparation, take a mental survey of the instruments you have and the ones that you might require. Keep everything ready including the hair you will be working on.

Wash the hair properly with the right product according to the hair type. If the hair you are handling is prone to tangles and knots, use a detangling product before combing.

Now, if you are going to work on straight hair; in most cases you will want to wet them while cutting. Use a razor and pair of scissors to cut wet hair.

On the other hand, if you are dealing with curly or wavy hair, just keep the hair a little damp. Waves or curls when wet tend to lie flat and do not show their actual curling pattern, ending up in an uneven texture.

General Tips on How to Give Yourself a Haircut

Get familiar with your hair clippers before touching your hair, turn them on and off, change speeds, clip guards on and off, change blades, etc. This is because you don’t want to go check the manual with half of your hair already shaved off.

You should always cut in the opposite direction of your hair growth. This varies from person to person, as well as on different parts of head – run your hand through your hair and find the direction in which you feel the most counterforce. Jot it down if you think you’ll forget.

hair growth direction
This is how hair normally grows

Especially if your hair is pretty long at the moment, you should first buzz your entire head with the longest length setting of the haircut; after you’re done, change guards to the shorter size and buzz the part with shorter hair in the haircut.

While designing your haircut it’s a good idea to dampen your hair every once in a while. They will stick together and will be easier to cut.

Only after you’ve accomplished that general feel of the haircut, start designing the details like short sides, top, and back. Don’t go and start cleaning up the right-hand sideburn if you haven’t done the back of your head yet.

How to Cut the Sides

Common barbers’ workflow is to start bussing on one side of the head and proceed around the back to the other side. However, I recommend that you don’t follow this, but rather do one side, skip to the other side, and then do the back once you’re done. This is to ensure that you don’t accidentally forget what exactly you did on one side.

How to do tapered sides

Lower part of sides are normally at least slightly shorter if not tapered. That’s why best to use lower number guards around ears and for the sideburns (even if you’re doing a simple undercut, where the hair length is seemingly the same size).

How to Cut the Back of Your Head

Back is always tricky, even when using an additional mirror. If you can, get someone to do it for you or at least fix it. Anyway, what I do is lay my left hand horizontally on the back of my head and use it as a guide. Then I simply drag clippers through hair alongside my palm hand and fade the two sections of hair to blur out the transition.

For doing the back, it’s helpful to listen to the sound of your clippers cutting through hair as will help you determine where the hair is already short enough without even seeing the back side. If you don’t have the secondary mirror you can even take a picture or a video with your phone to see how it looks – this requires some more practice though.


How to Cut the Top of Your Head

Top is typically the longest part of any short haircut. Refer to our diagrams to see which guard size you need. Then just drag through hair like with other parts of your head. You can use a comb for guidance.

If your haircut requires a gradual size change from back to front (like mine), simply hold a part of your hair that is supposed to be longer (for example, with a hair clip) to keep it out of way and cut the rest of it. Repeat with a smaller strand of hair, continuing towards the front. If this is all too much, you can always just opt for hair scissor-length on top, but it might be better to get it done by a professional.

If you have strong, thick hair, use hair thinning scissors to thin the hair on top of your head so they style better. This part is easy – just snip a few times into your mane.

Blend the edges with a size between side size and top size. Here’s how:

How To Do a Taper and Fade

With exception of few very basic buzzcuts like the induction cut, most tapered hairstyles, even side- and undercuts feature more than one hair length. But the transitions between these length shouldn’t be visible, so you need to fade between them.

fade hairstyle on a man

To do a fade on your own head there are two options; first is only suitable for ‘longer’ haircuts (at least an inch) and is pretty easy to do. You just slowly lift the cutters after each drag through your hair. This will ensure there is not a visible line between two sizes, but you need to be pretty careful and work slowly.

The other method is the classic barbers’ one for a short taper. After cutting the area with longer size, cut a shorter size underneath and leave enough space for the in-between size. It’s easier to make sure it’s in a straight line because you should be able to see it. After you’re done with entire head, fade this line using an in-between number of blades.

how to blend hair

How to Trim Your Own Hair Men — Final Touches

Cleaning Up The Neckline

It’s not required to do the hairline, but if you do, it’s highly recommended to use a hair trimmer. You can alternatively just use clippers and (optionally) a shaving razor. What you do is simply follow and clean out the natural hairline.

types of neckline fades

Work slowly! If you happen to have facial hair, style it as well. The most important rule that you must consider is making both sides symmetrical.

Be careful to make your arches (parts above your ears) low enough but still clean.

The hard part is styling the back. Here is a small hack to cut straight: use a belt (yep, a leather one) as a guide. Simply wrap it around the back of your neck, line it up, and clean up your neck with clippers, stopping where the belt begins.

You could optionally even use scissors for cleaning up and putting finishing touches on.

Styling Your Hair

For shorter cuts use a small amount of gel to spike your hair up or add texture. For longer cuts (more than an inch / 2,5 cm) use hair blower to make hair stand up.

You do that by directing air upwards towards wet hair. When it’s dry, your hair should stick up like they just drank 12 cups of coffee. If you want, you can still texture them with some wax or cream.

Let the hair dry itself naturally, till 70 to 80%. Set the dryer on the lowest possible setting and at least 6 inches away from the hair.

Take a final look and even out any fullness and trim any uneven hair.

How to cut your own hair (Women / Long Hair)

If your face is wider or round in shape, a short hair might not be the best choice. In this case, you may look better growing out your hair and then cutting it in long layers. Long hair work great for any gender, and it’s becoming one of the most popular men’s hairstyles.

Are you lucky enough you don’t have to wait for your hair to grow? Amazing! Here’s how you cut your own long hair: you’ll need a simple ponytail holder and a pair of quality hair cutting scissors.

Comb your hair and then do a tight ponytail. Place a ponytail holder a few inches from the bottom of the hair, just above from where you want to cut.

Now carefully cut off the excess hair in a straight line. This is where really sharp hair cutting scissors come in handy as the regular ones will very likely screw up the results. You could even use hair clippers and use it to glide along the edge of the ponytail holder.

This product may help you with this (loads of people swear by it):


Conclusion

And there you go, the ultimate guide on how to cut your own hair using clippers and scissors. Whether you’re going all-in and will be cutting your hair all-year round or just touching up on your haircut to extend its lifetime, you can save a ton of money with these techniques.

Even for those who wouldn’t want to cut their own hair all-year round, learning how to touch-up a haircut will help save a lot of money. You can save at least 50% by knowing how to cut hair at home. This will extend the life of a haircut for 3 more weeks and keep looking good in-between the trips to the salon.

Buzzcuts and cutting own hair is not only for the 20-something punk-fans. It’s for anyone that wants to save some money on haircuts!

I hope this tutorial helped, please consider sharing it!

This article is available in Brazilian Portuguese here.

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