So your barber is posting on Instagram letting his clients know he thinks he’ll be back in his chair soon and you don’t need to worry – but you’re already overdue for a haircut and your fade is fading and your hairs are starting to lay flatter and wider than they normally do. You think you may be able to stretch it for another week or two, but you know you’re going to eventually have to make a decision about what to do about your newfound hair problem. You know you’re stuck and naturally come to two conclusions: “Looks like I’ll need to go either full Jason Momoa and grow my hair out or go all Fast & Furious and shave it all off à la Dwayne Johnson”. Fortunately there is a middle ground, and we’re here to let you know it’s not nearly as daunting as it sounds: give yourself a haircut.
In order to give yourself a decent looking cut at home, it helps to have a few basic haircutting tools on hand. There is a bit of an investment to make, but after giving yourself a cut, you will likely have the confidence going forward to do a little upkeep/trimming on your own without any hesitation. If you’re looking to use tools you already have around the house, you can use just a pair of scissors, but things will be much easier if you also have a set of clippers with guards. Your basic tool kit should include:
- A pair of haircutting scissors
- A set of clippers
- A second mirror
- A comb
- A broom to clean up all that hair afterwards!
A quality pair of thinning shears and straight shears are a worthwhile investment if you're thinking about trying to cut your own hair long-term.
For tutorials on specific types of cuts, we recommend heading over to YouTube to see how you’ll approach your cut from a technical perspective, but what we’ll focus on here are general principles that can be used to approach any type of cut.
PRO TIP #1: Be Confident
Recognize two truths when it comes to cutting your own hair 1) it’s likely not going to turn out as bad as you think it will and 2) it will grow back, so no matter how bad of a cut you think you’ve given yourself, time will correct everything you might do wrong on your first cut. Being confident in your ability to cut your own hair will play a huge role in the success of your haircut. Watching your hair fall off as you cut through it can be a bit shocking, but stay the course, stay calm and see it through. Since you’re cutting your hair at home, you’ll have the luxury of being able to make additional touch-ups hours or days later if you think some hairs need to be trimmed further.
PRO TIP #2: Stick With What You Know
Although it may be tempting, now is not the time to be trying out a new hairstyle. For your first time it helps to approach your selfie haircut as more of a trim rather than a just-stepped-out-of-the-barbers-chair look. Think to how your hair looks 1-2 weeks after your typical haircut with your barber and aim to get your hair to look like that. A slightly longer look will give you a little more breathing room when it comes to covering up any mistakes and will also shorten the re-growth time should you want to grow it back out to try and tackle things again.
PRO TIP #3: Study Your Hair Before You Cut
Studying your hair before you cut will help with determining how exactly you’ll need to cut your hair. You’ve likely picked up a few things watching your barber cut your hair over the years and have a general idea of how he or she typically approaches the sides, tops and back of your head. Grabbing your hairs in your fingers and taking a look at their current length can give you an idea of how your barber cut your hair last time and what you’ll need to do on your own this time. Don’t be afraid to take your time and go back over spots if you think something doesn’t look right and remember to take the same approach to cutting your hair as building a piece of furniture: measure twice, cut once!
Simply from observation over the years, you've likely picked up on how your barber tackles your haircut. Approaching your own cut in a similar fashion will make things easier since you'll have an idea as to how your hair is typically cut.
PRO TIP #4: Warm Up With a Beard Trim
If you have a beard, warming up with a beard trim is a great way to get comfortable with cutting your own hair. If you normally trim your beard with just clippers, try spending a little extra time trimming things up with a comb and scissors, as this will help you to get used to how it feels cutting hair with scissors. Not only will starting on your beard help ease the transition to cutting your hair, but it will also help with giving you a better indication as to your final face shape and how you’ll need to cut your hair to best suit it.
PRO TIP #5: Start Long and Work Your Way Towards Short
If you know your barber normally does a #2 guard with his clippers on the sides & back, don’t feel like you need to use the same number to start. Starting with a higher number for your clipper guard can offer you a “practice round”, allowing you to gain some experience without having to worry about perfecting things on your first go around. The same goes for cutting your hair up top too. Keeping things a bit longer and then working down a bit further can help with nailing down your hand eye coordination while holding scissors and getting a feel how your hairs will fall into place after cutting.
Starting things off with a beard trim is a great way to warm up to your cut and helps to accurately define the shape of your head so you can determine what length up top will compliment your overall look.
PRO TIP #5: Start With the Sides
Using clippers to tackle the sides of your head is the best way to start your haircut as it’s the most forgiving and visually it provides you with the realization of “Oh crap, I’m actually doing this!”. If you’re right handed, start with your right side as it’ll be slightly easier, and then head over to the left side to even things up. If you’re left handed be sure to do the opposite. After you’ve done this you’ll have already cut about 30% of the hair on your head so tackling the other 70% won’t feel nearly as daunting.
PRO TIP #6: Don’t Fret About the Back
We’ll be honest – cutting the back of your head is probably the hardest part about cutting your own hair. This is where the second mirror we recommended will come in handy, as trying to cut the back of your head using only the mirror in front of you is super difficult. If you’re working from home and spending the majority of your face-to-face time with co-workers and friends via your phone or computer, nailing down the back of your head is not nearly that important since no one will really see it. Before you actually make any passes with your trimmer along your back, first get used to the feeling of trying to use a clipper while looking into a second mirror as it will feel strange if you’ve never done it before. Holding the clippers, with the power off, above your hair and doing “floating” passes will help you get comfortable without actually having to remove any hair.
PRO TIP #7: Cut With Force When Using Your Scissors
It’s natural to want to slowly cut away your hair when using scissors in order to prevent and catch any mistakes before they happen. The slower the better, right? When it comes to cutting hair with scissors it’s a bad strategy though as doing so can cause the hairs to bend down as you slowly close the scissor blades, resulting in an uneven cut. When you cut with your scissors, you want to do it the same way your barber does it, using short and aggressive snips. Doing it this way will prevent the hairs from bending while you cut resulting in a more uniform hair length.
Cutting your hair at home isn’t as daunting as you might think. With a bit of prep work and planning you can successfully give your hair a trim and come out the other side looking pretty good. Believe it or not, you may be so impressed with your work, you may actually find yourself asking people what they think of your latest cut just so you can proudly tell them you cut it yourself.
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