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How To Cut Your Own Hair For Men: The Ultimate Guide

You’re either about to do something very brave or very stupid. Maybe both! Learning how to cut your own hair for men can be exciting – you know your hair better than anyone else, so obviously you should have complete creative control. Just don’t screw your hair over by going in blind.

Table of Contents

Is It Possible To Cut Your Own Hair?

It is possible to cut your own hair, whether it’s long or short.

Just keep in mind, if it’s your first time cutting your own hair, the results probably won’t be as exciting or good-looking as what your barber pulls off. The first time I cut my own hair, I was pleasantly surprised by the results, but definitely not overjoyed. 

I’m not a barber myself, but I have cut my own hair long and short, and I’ve been known on occasion to help a friend clean up the sides of their hair. So take it from me, a fellow non-professional: your hairstylist will always do it best, but it’s still possible to cut your own hair.

How To Cut Your Own Hair For Men

Choose The Right Tools (Or Get Ready For So-So Results)

One of my deepest regrets in life is using a pair of desk scissors to cut my own hair the first time I tried it out.

The problem with bad tools (tools that aren’t made to cut hair) is that they inevitably give you split ends, breakage, fly-away hairs, and, in my case, a bad case of frizz. Some of my worst hair days have been the result of using bad scissors to cut my hair.

You’ll want a nice pair of clippers for short hair, or actual hair cutting scissors for long hair. Guys with the short-long look may need both.

Prep Your Hair

Guys with straight hair have it easiest. You can go ahead and start cutting, and you’ll have a good idea of how it’s going to look as you’re trimming.

Guys with curly hair (like me, believe it or not from my profile photo), have a harder job. Personally, I like to cut my hair wet so that it stays straight and I get an even trim, especially when I’m sporting a longer hair look. If you’re just taking the split ends off an afro, or if you never, ever wear your hair straight, getting your hair wet might not be a necessary step for you.

There’s no “right” answer for whether you should cut your hair wet or dry. Just think about it in advance, and consider what you’re more comfortable with.

Use Clippers For Short Hair


• A pair of clippers with a set of clipper guards

• An extra mirror so that you can face away from your bathroom mirror, and use the second mirror to see the back of your head.

• A good idea of what kind of haircut you want.

• A dustpan to brush up the hair once you’re done.

• If you’re going bald, here’s how to clean your electric shaver afterwards.

Before you start getting creative with the clippers, here’s my biggest piece of advice: start with the largest clipper guard size that you think you want. Maybe even a few quarters of an inch longer.

You can always cut your hair shorter if you start with a large guard, but you can’t take it back once you start cutting.

For a buzz cut, go ahead and choose a guard size and go at it. It’s not a fan-favorite hairstyle, but if you’re utilitarian and just want to get the hair out of your face fast, it’s effective.

How To Cut Your Own Hair For A Fade

For any style that’s long-on-top, short-on-the-bottom (a fade, crew cut, or whatever else you want to call it), visualize sectioning your hair into tiers. You’ll want to eventually use the shortest guard you choose along the bottom of your hair, but you’ll also want to preserve the longer hair on top.

Do this by starting with a large guard, and working from bottom to top. Use a rolling motion with your hand so that the clippers cut off more hair along the bottom and less hair on top. You might section off the top of your hair in a ponytail, if you want to leave your bangs the same length and trim the sides and back.

Then, grab your next lowest guard size and start trimming the next lowest layer of hair, using that same rolling motion with your wrist so that your hair doesn’t look like it abruptly changed lengths in one section.

Remember to do the back while you’re working on the sides. Use a second mirror to see a reflection of the back of your head.

When you’re finished with the sides, consider using a pair of hair cutting scissors to take some length off the top – unless you also want a short top, then go ahead and choose a guard size for the clippers.

“Tips for Clips” on YouTube has one of my favorite “Easiest Self-Haircut” videos for men. If you need a demonstration with the clippers, look them up for some extra guidance. Reading it and seeing it are two very different experiences.

Use Scissors For Long Hair

There are a few different ways to cut long hair, but whichever method you choose, remember this: you need to start with straight hair. So either blow-dry it straight, or cut your hair while it’s wet and combed. 

Use one of the best shampoos for oily hair if you’re worried about your natural oils curling your hair while you’re trying to cut it.

My two most reliable options:

How To Cut Long Hair Straight

You’ll need three hair ties for this and some sharp hair cutting scissors.

Starting with clean, combed hair, part your hair the way you usually do, and pull it back into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck with the first hair tie.

Secure the other two hair ties just below that first hair tie. Then, drag them both downwards until you reach the length that you want to cut off. You can pull the ponytail over your shoulder so that it’s in front where you can see it (if it’s long enough)

Start cutting in between those two hair ties. The bottom hair tie will keep the hair you trim off together so that you have less to clean up. The top hair tie (technically the middle hair tie) will act as a guide. Cut just below that one so that you get a straight cut.

Once you’re finished, take out the ties and see if you like the results. If you don’t leave an angry comment below 😉

How To Cut Long Hair Into Layers

I’ve done this one a few times back when I had longer hair. It takes nothing but scissors and a comb.

Flip your hair over your head and fold your body forward so that your head is upside down and you’re staring at your hair in front of you. Comb it so that it’s all straight from the nape of your neck forward.

Then, take the scissors and cut straight across. You can put a trash can underneath your head so that it falls right into the trash. When you stand up straight again and flip your hair back, you’ll have even layers, the shortest hair on top and the longest on the bottom.

There are fancier ways to do it using a ponytail tie, but I found that just cutting it straight into the trash is easiest and most effective.

Is It A Bad Idea To Cut Your Own Hair?

I’ve never regretted cutting my own hair, but it’s not something that I brag about either.

Usually, the results are passable but mediocre. I’ve only had one or two at-home haircuts that I really enjoyed. Luckily, I’ve also only had one or two at-home haircuts that I hated.

There are usually two types of guys when it comes to cutting your own hair: you’ll either become a convert and only cut it at home ever again, or you’ll realize it was a terrible idea and leave it in the hands of a barber in the future. 

Honestly, in my case, I feel like I’ve gotten better at cutting my own hair with more practice, but I also don’t like to do it myself every time. Sometimes, that fresh and snazzy feeling of walking out of a salon is just too tempting.

I’d describe it as the kind of experience that’s worth having at least once, perhaps for the sake of building character, or for that mini-adrenaline rush.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.