How To Cut Your Own Hair With Clippers [tutorial]
I’ve been cutting my hair for years now and it is not nearly as hard as many people think. So I decided to write this long, information-packed guide to help you start buzzing your own or someone else’s hair.
I have saved a lot of money using the techniques in this guide. On average, it costs about $18 to get a men’s haircut where I live. Considering that I am cutting my own hair for about 5 years now, and that short haircuts need to be refreshed every 4 weeks at minimum, I had saved over $1000 until now – and not to mention how much more money will I save in the future.
I’m giving you this blueprint so you can start saving too. Enjoy!
I have already written about reasons to get a buzzcut. It saves a ton of money, and you can get a haircut anytime you want. It’s also a useful skill to have to try and earn some pocket money on the side. And also once you have some practice under your belt, you’ll be able to tell the barber exactly what you want without unpleasant surprises.
But not all people -including me- would be comfortable walking around without any hair on their heads, and luckily, there are more than a single buzzcut (or clipper cut) out there. You can get a fashionable haircut (like the undercut) made with hair clippers and the best part is – you can DIY it!
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 extend the life of a haircut for 3 weeks or so and keep looking good in-between trips to the salon.
Buzzcuts and cutting own hair therefore is not only for the 20-something punk-fans. It’s for anyone that wants to save some money on haircuts.
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!
You’ll need good-quality hair clippers with different guards and blades (these are normally already included with the clippers), a comb, scissors (unless you want a very short haircut), hair thinning scissors (optional), hair trimmers (like hair clippers, but for outlines – these are optional), razor blade (again, optional), 2 mirrors (one in front of you and one in your hand), and something to cover yourself with to protect your clothes from hairs (or just be topless).
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, so it might be a good idea to spend more upfront to get good, long-lasting equipment, but you can always get started with a $20 clippers from Wallmart 🙂
Best Hair Clippers
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.
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 corded clippers (unless you’re working with cordless clippers of course).
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 sizes – also refer to this guide we have for different hair clipper brands. 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 (for example an induction cut) in case something goes wrong. So, always start with longer guards than you think you need – you can always cut shorter, but never longer.
Here are a few haircut styles you can try besides the tried-and-tested clipper cuts below.
Here are 6 of the clipper cut tutorials we have currently on BuzzCutGuide (there are more to come). Click on the chosen haircut to get some additional tips on how to cut a particular clipper cut – with relative hair lengths and hair clipper sizes.
Here’s the full tutorial with tips that I use personally every time I cut my own hair with clippers. Be sure to read it thoroughly before you start cutting. But before that, be sure to get our ebook with extra tips:[Newsletter box]
General Tips for Cutting Own Hair With Clippers
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. 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.
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 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.
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 advice, 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.
Lower part of sides are normally at least slightly shorter if not tapered so it’s 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).
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, the best technique I invented was to lay my left hand (I’m a righty) horizontally on the back of my head to prevent myself from cutting too high or unevenly. Then simply drag clippers through hair until you hit the edge of your hand and use the ‘simple fading technique’ (read “Fading” chapter of this guide) to blur out the transition.
Here’s how you should cut your hair on the back of your head:
For doing the back, it’s helpful to listen to the sound of your clippers cutting through hair; this 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 requres some more practice though.
Top is typically the longest part of any short haircut. Refer to our diagrams to see which guard size you need and then just drag through hair like with other parts of your head. You can use a comb for guidance. If your headcut 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 beam of hair, continuing towards front. If this is all too much, you can always just opt-in 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 randomly snip a few times into your mane.
After you’re done with approximate length of your hair, you can blend the edges with a size between side size and top size.
With exception of few very basic buzzcuts like the induction cut, most haircuts, 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.
To do a fade on your own head there are two options; first is only suitable for ‘longer’ haircuts (at least half a centimeter or 1/4”) and is pretty easy. What you do is you 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 – you will have to use about a hundred different blade sizes. Well, not exactly hundred, but it’s quite advanced, so if you can, get somebody else to do it for you. Either way it goes something like this: 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. Here’s a video if you’re interested:
Cleaning Up The Hairline
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, modifying it where you want. 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. If you can’t get someone else to do it for you, that’s alright too, just work slowly and patiently. There is a trick that I read somewhere – 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 trimmers, stopping where the belt begins.
You could optionally even use scissors for cleaning up and putting finishing touches on, but I’d rather have someone else do it.
For specific tips on this refer to instructions for haircuts, but generally these are the rules: for shorter cuts use a small amount of gel or wax on top 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.
And there you go, the ultimate guide on how to cut your own hair using clippers. 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, there is a lot of money to be saved with these techniques. I hope this tutorial helped, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, wherever, so that more people can benefit from it.
Thanks for reading! Click here to read a couple more tips on how to cut your own hair.