After several weeks in lockdown, we’re willing to bet you’re more Jack Sparrow than James Bond. And with barbershops and hair salons around the world being forced to close their doors indefinitely, you’ve probably already toyed with the idea of cutting your own hair.
Rather than leaving you in the dark, we’ve teamed up with award-winning barber Liam Hamilton to help you master the art of cutting your hair at home. If you’re at your wits end with the swooshing fringe that now dangles in your face, then you’d better keep reading!
Before you brave the shave
Before you fill the sink with hair, it’s important to remember that barbershops will reopen. And when they do, they’ll need your custom. So, unless you’re absolutely sure of yourself, it might be worth letting things grow and maintaining your mop with some essential styling products instead.
“As your hair gets longer, you’ll need different styling products to keep it in place,” says Liam. “When it loses its shape and gets heavier, soft matt products aren’t likely to lock it down. Instead, you’ll need to opt for something stronger, with a little more hold. Pomades are perfect for this as they’re usually denser than pastes, clays and sea salt sprays. Their high-shine finish can also add real class to your lockdown look!”
“To make the most of pomade, apply a small amount to freshly washed and towel-dried hair. Work the pomade all the way through your hair from roots to tips. Next, grab yourself a vent brush and blow-dry your style into place, directing your hair backwards to create a classic slicked-back look that keeps your hair out of your face. If your hair is particularly unruly, you might want to add a little more pomade to finish. Keep a comb close by for touch-ups throughout the day too.”
Still want to pick up the clippers and cut your hair at home? Then let’s jump straight into it…
What you’ll need
The first thing you’ll need to get your hands on is a decent pair of clippers – a rusty set of scissors from the man drawer simply won’t cut it! There are many options here, but Liam suggests, “any clippers with numbered clipper guards for different lengths.” From his experience, he’d choose, “anything Wahl, Andis, Babyliss or Panasonic.”
Next, you need to make sure you can see the back of your head. For this, you’ll need access to two mirrors – most likely a larger bathroom mirror and a smaller hand-held mirror. You’ll also want to grab a towel to place around your shoulders and a hairbrush to keep things tidy. If you want to look really professional, Liam also suggests grabbing a barber gown: “these are great for keeping cut hair off of your clothes and reducing the chance of hair splinters – they’re a real thing and they hurt like a mother!”
How to cut your own hair
To start, make sure your clippers are fully charged, take your t-shirt off (or fasten your barber gown), slightly dampen your hair and brush it through. Then, you’ll need to decide what sort of style you want to create. Liam’s outlined two different approaches below: the first is a simple buzz cut – using one clipper grade all over – the second introduces a fade and will require a little barber know-how.
How to create a buzz cut at home
According to Liam, “the classic buzz cut is one of the easiest men’s hairstyles to maintain.” This simple, short haircut can be quickly created at home and requires minimal equipment and experience.
“The safest way to create a buzz cut is to choose a clipper grade you like the look of and run it through your hair without it being attached to the clippers,” says Liam. “This will give you an idea as to how much hair you’ll lose, before you commit to the chop. I’d always recommend starting with a longer grade as you can take more off, but you can’t put it back!” Once you’ve chosen an appropriate grade, fit it securely to your clippers.
“Starting on the sides, run your clippers evenly through your hair. Once you’re happy with how the sides look, grab your hand-held mirror and carefully repeat the process on the back of your head.” If you’re struggling with the mirror and isolated with someone you trust, ask them to sort the back out for you.
“Next, take your clippers and run them over the top of your head. It’s important to either work with or against your hair’s natural growth pattern here, but never across it – working across it will leave lines and marks that will tarnish your new look.”
Once you’re happy that the top, back and sides are all nice and even, that’s you sorted. If it’s still looking a little long, repeat the process with a shorter grade. Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for your barbershop to reopen!
If you’re looking to add a little more shape and style to your home haircut, you’re going to have to demonstrate some barbering know-how. Check out Liam’s tips on how to fade your hair at home below…
How to fade your hair at home
“Fade and taper haircuts are pretty similar in that they both style your hair to gradually get shorter on the back and sides of your head,” explains Liam. “The main different is that fades tend to go much shorter than tapers – often going right down to the skin.”
Creating a fade or taper at home starts with choosing a grade length you’re comfortable with, before clipping the sides of your hair as outlined above. However, because it’s likely that you’ll be leaving the hair on top of your head a little longer, Liam says, “you need to make sure you flick [the clippers] away as you reach the top.” This will help you to avoid creating any hard lines that won’t grow out well. Repeat this process on the back of your head before moving on to the next step.
Once you’ve finished putting in your base grade, it’s time to add a little more shape to the back and sides. “To add a taper to your home haircut, you’ll need to carefully work down the back and sides of your hair, using shorter clipper grades as you get closer to your ears and neck,” says Liam. This is also when you’ll need to know a little more about how to use the leaver on your clippers.
“The leaver on your clippers helps to add quarter, half and three-quarter variants to each clipper grade you attach,” explains Liam. “You can open and close this leaver to make the transition in your hair smoother between grades.” It’s an art that can take barbers years to perfect, so don’t expect to create the perfect fade first time.
“For example, you could start at the top of your sides with a grade three (closed), then work down a little and swap to a grade two (open) – which effectively creates a grade 2.5. Once you’ve used this grade to soften the transition, you could swap to a grade two (closed), down to a grade one (open), then a grade one (closed), and so on…”
How to shave the back of your neck at home
“No home haircut is complete without a decent tidy up around the back of your neck,” says Liam. This is the podium you display your masterpiece on, so don’t cheap out!
To clean up this area, use your hand-held mirror and position yourself so that you can clearly see the back of your neck. “Start by running your clippers over the back of your neck without a guard to remove the main bulk of hair. Then, grab a safety razor and fit it with a fresh blade.
“To reduce irritation, apply shaving cream to the area you’re about to shave, then shave in small, gentle strokes with the grain. Once the area is free from hair, wipe yourself down and apply a post-shave balm or moisturiser to rehydrate the skin and soothe any razor burn.”
And there you have it – a full guide to cutting and maintaining your hair at home! Make sure you share your efforts – good or bad – with us on Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtag #thebluebeards.
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