Co-authored by Laura Martin
Last Updated: April 7, 2020 References
Being well-groomed is important, but you don’t have to go out and spend money on a haircut. With some practice and the right tools, you can learn how to cut your own hair from the comfort of your home and without spending a fortune on an expensive salon service. Trim carefully with a pair of clippers or styling scissors as you work your way from the sides to the back and top. With patience and an eye for detail, you’ll be rocking a sleek and stylish new ‘do in no time!
Getting Ready To Cut Your Own Hair
Wash your hair before you cut it. Hair is easier to work with if it’s clean and snarl-free. Get your hair wet under running water and use shampoo and conditioner, rinsing both out after you’ve worked them through your hair.
Detangle your hair with a comb. Run the comb through your hair and work out any knots with the comb or with your fingers. Ridding your hair of tangles beforehand will result in a cleaner, more even cut.
- If your hair dries out while you comb it, spritz it with water until it’s damp again.
- Use a detangling product or a natural remedy to tackle particularly stubborn snarls.
Towel dry your hair. The best time to cut hair is when it’s damp, but not soaking wet. If your hair’s still dripping, dry it off with a towel. Comb your hair again to get rid of any tangles made from drying it.
- If you cut your hair while it’s still wet, it may not lay the same way it does while it’s dry.
Find a comfortable place. Cutting hair can take up to several hours, especially if you’ve never done it before. Choose a spot where you can sit down and work without worrying about making a mess.
- The best place to cut hair is the bathroom, where you’ll have access to running water and a mirror.
Position yourself near a mirror. You’ll want to be able to see what you’re doing as much as possible. A large-sized mirror on the bathroom wall or medicine cabinet will help you see what you’re cutting in front or on the sides.
- If possible, set up a second mirror so you can see the back of your head, either hanging from the wall opposite or as a hand mirror held by someone else.
Section your hair into parts. Run the comb back through your hair right about where the head curves, then comb the hair between the part and the ear down. Do this on both sides to section off both sides.
- You can use clips to hold the top section away from the sides.
How to cut your own hair with clippers – sides
Use clippers on a small guard setting to cut the back and sides. Clippers are the best for the back and sides for beginners or those who want a basic haircut. Set the clippers’ guard, which controls how much hair you can cut, to 1 or 2 to make conservative cuts while you work.
Cut one side of the head at a time. Use a low clipper guard around sides and, with the blade’s edge, trim from the bottom of the sides to the top. Tilt the clipper blade at an angle as you work to create an even fade with the rest of your hair. Then, repeat this process on the other sides before moving to the back, making sure to transition between lengths at the same point on both sides.
- Going against the hair’s grain will result in a cleaner cut.
- Some clippers come with ear tapers, which help you cut above and around your ears. Use these, if available, to make cleaner cuts around the ears.
Move to the back of your head. After cutting the sides, trim the back from the bottom to the top as you did with the sides. To make sure you’re cutting evenly, have a friend hold up a mirror or position a mirror behind you so you can check progress as you cut.
- Use the same guard length on the back and sides when performing basic, at-home haircuts.
Go over the lower half with a shorter setting. To even out fades between cuts, go over the lower half of your hair with clippers set to a shorter setting. Lift the hair as you approach temples and earlobes.
- Work slowly while using clippers to ensure as even of a fade as possible.
How to cut your own hair with scissors – top
Use styling scissors on the top. Using styling scissors instead of clippers will help you make more precise cuts and give your hair more texture. You can buy styling scissors online or at most hair care stores.
- Do not use household scissors, as they aren’t sharp enough to properly cut hair so you’re more likely to make mistakes.
Trim the top in sections. Use your fingers or a comb to raise the hair. Work slowly and carefully in 1/4 in (about 6 mm) sections. These should be parallel to the front of the hairline. As you trim, pull a little of the previously cut section into the new section as a traveling guideline.
- Cuts to the hair on top are more noticeable than cuts to the hair on the sides. Always start with conservative cuts. Remember, you can always cut more, but you can’t add back lost length.
- When you’ve finished with this area, you can check your guideline by holding up a section of hair that is perpendicular to your hairline. Hair should be the same length across the entirety of this section.
- Be gentle while cutting the crown, which is usually more tender than the rest of the head.
Making Finishing Touches
Trim bangs, if applicable, with styling scissors. If you have bangs, section it into small parts. Brush the comb through each section the amount you want to cut pokes through the end and trim it off with scissors.
Even out the sides. Use a mirror to check the sides and make sure they are even. Comb hair straight out and grab a horizontal section from about the same point on each side. Check to see if these sections are the same length. If they are not, trim away any extra length and bumps, taking off small amounts at a time. Remember, it’s always easier to cut a little and touch up more later.
Cut your sideburns to the desired length. You can trim the sideburns with either a safety razor or with clippers. If you want long sideburns, trim from the bottom of your ears. If shorter, you can use the depression below your cheekbone to determine where the bottoms of the sideburns should be.
- Place your fingers underneath each sideburn to check that they’re even after trimming.
Blend top with your sides. Comb the top of your hair down toward the sides. Holding the sheers vertically, cut into the corners to remove bulk.
Taper your neckline. Use clippers or a beard trimmer to cut the hair growing on the nape of your neck. Start with a grazing cut at the top of the neckline, then cut progressively closer as you work toward the nape of the neck.
- Use a handheld mirror to examine your neckline after tapering it to make sure it looks neat and even.
Style your hair immediately after cutting it. After cutting, rinse it in the shower to remove any strays. Towel dry, then, part it with a comb and style it as you usually would. Decide whether you’re happy with your new style and, if not, either cut it again or visit a hairstylist to make extensive changes.
- If you notice any mistakes or uneven areas while styling, trim these areas again as needed.
Common Questions & Answers
How do you trim around the edges?
Flip the clipper over and hold perpendicular to the skin. Carefully trace along the edge of your hairline
What clipper do you need to get zero on sides or do you use the open blade?
If you want a skin fade you should use an unguarded clipper for the edges.
What do I do if I mess up my hair when cutting it?
Either cut it shorter, shave it off, or get professional help. Several hair stylists specialize in repairing haircut mistakes.
What if I have only one arm?
You can use electric or battery-powered clippers that fit in the palm of your hand. (Remington and other brands sell this kind of product.)
How do I use the clippers to trim up the back and sides?
Use a comb to section what you want to cut off the back, then determine how low you want to cut with the clippers by using a handheld mirror. Start clipping, but look in the handheld mirror often. Feel the back of your hair every so often to make sure it’s even.
How to cut your own hair when you mess up?
There are many stylists specialized in repair haircuts. Reach out to one of nailit stylists and ask whether they can help.
How can I section parts of my hair?
To section parts of your hair, first use a comb. Decide what parts you want to divide into sections. Then, with the comb, divide it. This works best when hair is wet.
How do I shave the side of my head?
Using a comb, make a part between where you want the shaved area to be and where you will not shave it. Comb the hair above the part so that it is as far as possible away from where you will be shaving, and comb what you will shave in the opposite direction. Then, shave as you normally would.
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