How to cut your own hair men: How to cut men's hair with clippers

How to cut men’s hair with clippers at home: Step-by-step guide on how to fade your own hair

Knowing how to cut men’s hair at home has become a necessity during lockdown. If you’re now looking to master the art, or this is the first time searching for how to cut your own hair with clippers, let our expert guide you


W  hile women can largely get away with missing a trim or two, it’s much harder for guys with short men’s hair styles to rock months of regrowth.


During lockdown many have taken DIY approaches to cutting their own hair and – if our Instagram is anything to go by – have mostly ended up with buzz cuts to undo the damage. If this is you, you’re attempting to do it for the first time, or want to master the art, we’ve spoken to stylist Sandy Wood to get expert avice.


Sandy is the owner of Sandy Wood Hair Specialists in Buckhurst Hill. She’s spent 27 years cutting men’s and women’s hair, shaping beards, trimming men’s eyebrows. And she specialises in natural hair. She’s also spent a large part of her career teaching hairdressing in Kent’s largest colleges. Suffice to say, she knows her stuff!


If you have lighter hair, don't go too short because lighter hair reflects more of the scalp. This can give the impression the hair is shorter than it is


“When starting off cutting your own hair with clippers, take your time,” Sandy tells MBman. “Once the hair is cut short, that’s it. You can’t magically glue the hair back on.


“Think about the colour of your hair too – if you have lighter hair, you may not want to go too short this is because lighter hair reflects more of the scalp and can actually give the impression that the hair is shorter than it is. Darker hair doesn’t reflect this. If your hair is on the lighter side don’t go too low on the grade of the clipper.”


FURTHER READING: Best hair trimmer for men: How to choose a decent hair trimmer for your nose, ears and beyond


How to cut men’s hair with clippers

The reason we’ve concentrated on how to cut men’s hair with clippers, rather than scissors is that Sandy advises against the latter. “I really wouldn’t suggest cutting your hair at home with scissors. I’m a professional hairdresser and I wouldn’t attempt to cut my own hair. It’s rather tricky to cut the back of your hair with scissors!”


Hair clipper grades in MM and inches

The best men’s hair clippers come with a range of guards, from grade one to grade eight. If you’re thinking of clipping your hair at home, it’s worth knowing what these grades mean so we’ve explained more below.


In summary, the numbers refer to the length of the guard used on the blades, and therefore the hair length each one creates.


How to cut your own hair with clippers

Sandy says the best way to cut your own hair with clippers is to start with a preferred grade all over – usually a grade longer than the final look you’re going to go for. Then gradually reduce the clipper size until you’re happy with the overall length.


If you have afro/natural hair always clip your hair dry, adds Sandy. Natural hair has shrinkage and the curl pattern is different when it’s dry and wet. If you need to wash your hair, do so but let it dry thoroughly and use a hair pick to shape your hair. For other hair types, you can get away with your hair being damp or dry.


How to fade hair


Step 1


Think about how long you want the top of your hair to be and use the corresponding grade, this will usually be a grade 8. If you’re looking for something a little more dramatic, and particularly if you want to have a skin fade, start off with clipper size 4 and work your way down to clipper size 1/0. Remember, stick with longer styles first before cutting it shorter. 


Step 2


Take a clipper size that’s half the length of the top of your hair – usually, a grade 4 if you’ve started with a grade 8 on the top – and clip the hair from your temple to halfway down the head. For natural hair, always clip up from the temple to the top of the head. Hold the top of your ear down so you can see where you’re clipping.


Step 3


Use the next clipper size down (3) and clip the area from the bottom of your ear to the neck. This is called tapering.


Step 4


With the next clipper size down (2), tidy up the edges. Follow the natural shape of where the hair is growing. If possible, Sandy suggests getting someone to help with the back of your hair.


Step 5 (optional)


If you want super sharp edges, take the guard off and follow the natural shape of your hair once more. Take your time with this as you could end up taking the bottom hairline shorter than it needs to be.


Step 6


Admire your handiwork! If the top of the hair looks a little long compared to the rest just use the next size clipper down from the original size you started off with and slowly work around just the top. The video below shows how you can also incorporate scissors into the routine.