How to Cut Your Own Hair for Men Who Are Total Beginners

How to Cut Your Own Hair for Men Who Are Total Beginners

Written by: Piers Le Moignan



Time to read 9 min

Not all of us have the barbering skills of a professional hairstylist, but that's not to say learning the basics of how to cut your own hair is out of reach.

Whether you just don't have the time to schedule in your regular barber appointments or you want to take up a new skill, learning to cut your own hair is a useful and practical skill to have.

And with the right tools, techniques and guidance, you'll be able to achieve a more-than-pretty-decent haircut at home.

Sure, you're unlikely to be a whizz with the clippers straight away (unless you're a born natural), but with patience and practice, you'll have the basics on how to cut your own hair down in no time.

So, with that in mind, let's start on those basics...

Can You Cut Your Own Hair At Home?

Cutting your own hair is most certainly possible, and it's become a lot more common for men to get their trim done at home since lockdown hit (remember all the slightly dodgy, lockdown DIY haircuts that did the rounds on social media?).

But there are a few things to consider before you go snipping away:

  • Time: Cutting your own hair will take longer than going to a professional, especially at first.
  • Tools: You'll need the right tools for the job: scissors, clippers, and combs are all must-haves.
  • Technique: It's important to learn and practise proper techniques for cutting hair in order to achieve a good result.
  • Patience: Cutting hair can be tricky for a total beginner, so it's important to have patience and take your time to avoid any mistakes (although you should be prepared for maybe a mistake or two when you're just starting out).

But, in short, yes, cutting your own hair is definitely doable.

What is the Easiest Way to Cut Your Own Hair?

There are several different methods for cutting hair, but the easiest and most practical for beginners is using clippers.

Unlike a razor, clippers are straightforward to use because they come with guards that allow you to easily control the length of hair being cut. This means less room for error and a more consistent result.

How to Cut Your Own Hair with Clippers

The first step of cutting your own hair is to get everything you need ready. You'll need:

  • A clipper with different attachments: As mentioned, clippers are the best tool for beginners to use. Make sure you have the right attachments for the length you want.

  • A comb: You'll need a comb to section and hold your hair in place while cutting.

  • A hand-held mirror: This will help you see all angles of your head while cutting.

  • Hair scissors: If you want to trim any longer hairs or add texture, hair scissors can come in handy.

  • Styling products: After cutting your hair, you'll want to use your styling products of choice to finish off the look.

Once you've got your arsenal of tools ready, it's time to get started:

Step 1) Start With Clean Hair

Washing your hair will ensure there isn't any leftover product or dirt in it, which can affect the way it looks after cutting. Plus, clean hair is easier to work with and will give you a more accurate idea of how your hair looks and falls.

Use a good-quality shampoo and conditioner which gently cleanses and nourishes the hair, such as our Thickening Shampoo and Thickening Conditioner. These formulas contain natural hair-caring ingredients, like Aloe Leaf and Vitamin B3, which help promote hair growth and smooth your hair.

Step 2) Towel Dry & Brush Your Hair

After washing, towel dry your hair until it's damp. Cutting hair that is still slightly wet is easier than trying to snip away on dry hair.

Rather than scrubbing your hair with the towel, gently pat it dry to avoid causing any frizz or tangles.

You should also detangle your hair with a brush or wide-tooth comb to make sure there aren't any knots that could affect the cutting process. At this point, you should part your hair where it naturally does so or where you usually style it.

Step 3) Use a Mirror to See All Angles

Stand in front of a larger mirror, like in your bathroom, and hold a smaller one behind your head. This will give you a clear view of the back and sides of your head so you can see everything you're doing while cutting.

Step 4) Start with the Clipper Attachment of Your Choice

Depending on how long you want your hair to be, start with an attachment that will give you the desired length.

If you're not sure what attachment to use, it's better to err on the side of caution and go with a longer length first.

The table below shows the different clipper attachments and their corresponding lengths:

Haircut Number/Clipper Grade Length of Hair (mm/inch)
0 1.5 / 1/16
1 3 / 1/18
2 6 / 1/4
3 10 / 3/8
4 13 / 1/2
5 16 / 5/8
6 19 / 3/4
7 22 / 7/8
8 25 / 1

You can also read more about different haircut lengths in our guide, which we recommend for beginners.

Step 5) Begin Cutting the Back & Sides

Now comes the fun part (or stressful, depending on your level of confidence). Start by trimming the sides of your head with the clipper attachment, working from the bottom to the top.

Glide the clipper upwards against the direction of hair growth. Make sure to keep the clipper flat against your head for an even cut.

Move slowly around your head, regularly checking in the mirror to make sure you're cutting evenly.

How to Do a Fade with Clippers

If you want to achieve a fade, use different clipper attachments as you move up the sides of your head.

Start with a lower-numbered attachment and gradually switch to a higher number as you move up. You may need to use multiple attachments to achieve a perfectly smooth fade.

When you switch guard attachments, position the clipper above the previous clipper line to create a gradual blend.

Step 6) Trim the Top of Your Head

Once you're done with the sides and back, you'll want to trim the top of your head.

The way in which you do this will depend on how much length you want on top.

If you're going for an all-over length, just use the same clipper attachment as you did for the sides.

If you keep your hair longer on top, use a higher-numbered attachment, or simply comb your hair upwards and use scissors to trim any excess length.

You should take sections of hair and place them between your fore and middle fingers to give yourself a guide for cutting, holding the hair up and away from your head as you trim.

Position your fingers so that the ends of the hair stick out between them, which will give you a guide as to how much you want to cut off.

Repeat this process until you've trimmed all the hair on top.

Step 7) Finish with Scissors for Texture

If you want to add some texture or take off any excess length, use hair scissors to do so.

Take small sections of hair and trim the ends at different lengths.

But if you're not confident doing this step just yet, it's best to skip it, otherwise you risk making the top look uneven or choppy.

Step 8) Clean Up & Style

Once you're happy with your cut, use your mirror to take a look around your head and make sure everything looks even. Trim any stray hairs or fix any uneven areas.

You might want to give your hair a quick rinse under the shower to get rid of any hair clippings or use a towel to wipe away any excess.

Give your hair a final comb-through and style as desired with your preferred products, like adding some texture with our Marine Mist or holding your style in place with our Compound Clay.

What to Do if You Make a Mistake Trimming Your Own Hair

The chances of you getting a perfect cut on your first try are pretty slim, so don't panic if you make a mistake. It tends to never be as bad as we think it is, and it might very well be fixable.

Some of the most common mistakes when cutting your own hair include…

  • Uneven sides: This is a common mistake for beginners, but it's easily fixable. Simply use the clipper with the longer attachment and trim the longer side to match the shorter one. This might mean you have to go shorter than you initially wanted, but it's better than having uneven sides. It can also help to have someone with you to check your work while you're cutting.

  • Too short: If you accidentally go too short, there's not much that can be done except waiting for your hair to grow back. However, it gives you the opportunity to try out a new short hairstyle, and you might even end up preferring it to your usual 'do.

  • Uneven lengths on top: If you've cut your hair unevenly on top, separate out your hair and trim any longer sections until it looks even. You can also use scissors to add layers, which will disguise any unevenness.

  • Uneven fade: If your fade doesn't quite blend as you'd like, simply go back over the area with a clipper attachment that is in between the two lengths you used previously.

If all else fails, you can always seek professional help to fix any mistakes or if you're not happy with your results. Or, you can wait for your hair to grow out, which shouldn't take too long.

Key Takeaways: A Beginner's Guide to Cutting Men's Hair

Cutting your own hair may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it's definitely doable. Just remember to have a little patience, take your time, and practice really does make perfect.

Over on our blog, you'll find plenty more hairstyle inspiration for men, including trending trims, styling tips, and hair care advice.


Should My Hair Be Wet or Dry When Cutting?

Damp hair is best when cutting, as it makes the hair easier to work with and gives a more accurate result. It shouldn't be dripping wet as this can make it tricky to cut evenly, and dry hair can be more difficult to cut, particularly if it's frizzy or fluffy.

Is Men's Hair Harder to Cut?

Men's hair isn't necessarily harder to cut than women's because they each have their own techniques and methods for doing so.

However, learning the difference between clipper guards, how to do a fade and blend different lengths can take some getting used to, so be patient and don't expect perfection on your first try.

Is it Better to Cut Hair Clean or Dirty?

Always cut clean hair. Dirty hair can have product build-up, which can make it harder to get an accurate cut and may also cause damage to your clippers or scissors. Additionally, clean hair is easier to comb and section, making it easier to work with.

How Do You Cut the Back of Your Hair?

Using a handheld mirror to see the back of your head while standing in front of a larger one is the easiest way to cut the back of your hair. You may need to move the mirror around your head as you're cutting to ensure you can see all angles.

Is it OK to Cut Your Own Hair With Regular Scissors?

You shouldn't use your regular kitchen or office scissors to cut your hair, as they're not designed for this purpose and may cause damage or an uneven cut. Invest in a pair of hair-cutting scissors for the best results.

Piers Le Moignan

Piers Le Moignan is the founder and CEO of Salt Grooming, an award-winning British luxury men’s haircare and styling brand. 

Founded in 2018, Piers has quickly grown the company into a global brand that has distributed to 43 countries and counting.

Headquartered in London, Piers leads an agile workforce of 10 employees and consultants, including the company’s formulation team which features some of the UK’s leading cosmetic scientists. Piers is responsible for overseeing logistics, supply chain, and performance marketing, and is the driving force behind Salt’s product innovation and brand/creative direction. 

Previous to foundership, Piers spent a decade at some of London’s leading creative agencies, developing global brands and communications for the likes of Adidas, Jaguar Land Rover, British Airways, and more.

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