Grooming

How To Cut Your Own Hair (Or The Question You Never Thought You'd Have To Ask)

With barbers appointments on hold, it's time to cut your hair at home.
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The wiry-haired, the thin-haired, the thick-haired, and the curly-haired—the red-haired, the glossy-haired, the limp-haired, even the no-haired: united we fall. For as the coronavirus trudges onwards, and our local barbering joints remain indefinitely closed, we're all taking a slow swan dive into the same abyss: bad hair days, every single day.

Of course, you can buzz it all off. The apocalypse favorite, which worked for Charlize Theron in Mad Max and kind of works for your mate who can be a bit scary after a beer, is à la mode. But what if it isn't your mode? Or indeed, what if you don't have the facial symmetry to pull it off?

Then, you peer into the bathroom mirror, nail scissors in hand and repeat "how hard can it be?" thrice over. Candyman doesn't appear. But something worse does: a lopsided, angular mop that looks like it's been cut with a knife and fork. Because it is that hard, the art of barbering. This is why we go to professional barbers.

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Which, sadly, isn't an option right now. So we spoke to the experts, to get the inside line on how to cut your hair at home without accidentally giving yourself a Geek Pie.

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First, Get The Right Kit

Photo by AMAZON.

Haryali London Professional 5.0 Scissors, amazon.co.uk

"You need a decent pair of scissors, to start," says Jason Fairbank, barber at Ruffians Shoreditch. "And if you’re wanting short hair then clippers are a good call as well."

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All of which you may have lying around the house. However, 'decent' is the operative word here. The best hair clippers boast several guards to mix-up length, while scissors that you put near your hair should be able to cut more than butter (and also should never have been used to cut butter). We're not saying you need a pair of professional shears in Japanese steel, but aim for purpose-built options north of the £15 mark.

Give Your Hair A Good Old Wash (And Dry)

"When cutting your own hair, I'd suggest starting with freshly-washed dry hair," says Fairbank. It's part of the barbering ritual, but they don't just do it because they like to see that face you pull when someone else's hands are shampooing your head. "The main reason for this is that hair stretches when it's wet. So, if you cut to a certain length, you may be surprised when it shrinks up as it dries."

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Photo by LOOKFANTASTIC.

Aesop Equalizing Shampoo 500ml, lookfantastic.com

Should I Ask For Help?

"There are two schools of thought here," says Fairbank. "First is, yes: it is much easier for someone standing behind to cut your hair in a more balanced manner."

Though consider the circumstances that caused this DIY Toni & Guy to occur in the first place. "Remember: you're in isolation with this person, and this could be a pressure cooker if you don't like their handiwork." Choose your barber wisely. Your steady-handed, trusted partner? Greenlight. Your housemate who offers to cut your hair in the bath at 3 a.m. on the back of a Waitrose wine delivery? Absolutely not.

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How To Get A Classic Short Back & Sides At Home

"Section your hair off so you're only cutting the stuff that needs to be cut," says Fairbank. This can be achieved with any old clip or hair grip. "Then, start at the hair nearest the ears. Hold a section between your fingers, grip tight towards the ear, and elevate out at an angle as you reach for the top of your hair."

From there, you're to work around the head towards the back, maintaining the same angle throughout. This ensures the cut remains even, says Fairbank. "This is a classic natural taper. It's harder with clippers than scissor, but can be achieved if you keep it tight, and run up the head."

Photo by Caitlin Cronenberg.
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And if you're unsure of a guideline, follow what your genetics gave you. "The curvature of the head – also the widest part – is your best way to follow round. This is the area you want to pull out from."

Then, on top, comb the hair up at a 90-degree angle to your head, and always go a little longer than you think, says Fairbank. "Keep your head straight when doing this, as an angled head will end up with each section being a different length. After that, reshape the hair so everything is laying flat, and take a section of the hair that includes both the longest length of the sides and the overhang of the top, and cut from the shortest sections out, removing the heaviness."

How To Cut Your Own Fringe

"Dry your hair flat and forward so it covers the forehead," says Fairbank. Yes, that does mean Lloyd-like from Dumber & Dumber. "Start in the middle. Small sections maybe an inch wide, and you can either blunt cut—the risky version—or go for a softer cut which is less likely to go wrong."

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To do the latter (and yes, do the latter) point the scissors upwards on a slight angle and cut into the hair. "As you work towards the sides of the forehead, change the angle so you are working out to slightly longer hair, essentially cutting a shallow arc." Then, you simply damp your hair, dry it off, and chase-up any stragglers you've missed.

Photo by RUFFIANS.
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Ruffians Original Conditioner, ruffians.co.uk

How To Give Yourself A Buzzcut

All off, job done, time to build a bunker in the garden.

Not so fast, sapling desert raider. Buzzcuts take technique, too. "Wash your hair and allow it to dry naturally, and don't use any product," says Fairbank. "Once you've decided on the length you want, hold clippers flat and tight to the skin, and run against the direction the hair grows." This will remove bulk, and ensure an even crop.

"When you've cleared an area, run the clipper side to side following the head shape too." Following that, clean the neck of any baby hairs. Jump in the shower to remove any leftovers, and towel dry your freshly shorn head. Then, admire your naked globe as appropriate.

How To Thin Out Your Hair

The best way: don't. "Please do not try this at home," says Fairbank. "Please. Thinning hair is an art form that takes so much time to master."

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And What Are The Definite No-Nos?

In addition to reaching for the thinning says, Fairbank says to avoid a sudden urge of creativity. "Don't try a skin fade: it takes barbers a long time to learn that stuff." And don't cut while wet. "Your barber may wash then cut, but they understand the elasticity of hair and factor that in. When cutting your own hair, allow it to dry as this will give you a truer finished result."

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Murray Clark
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