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How to cut men's hair: Techniques and ways to avoid mistakes

January 27, 2022

Cutting men's hair can sometimes be straight forward but most of the time there is a real art to it. After the world has been through many lockdowns due to Covid we noticed that there has been a lot of new at home hairdresser's that are cutting their family's hair. Through this blog we will go through the tools and steps on how you can achieve that in salon haircut at home.

Tools you will need

Clipper set: Clippers take the bulk on the hair out and you you can clean up all you line with them to make a haircut look clean and tidy

Barbering Scissors: These are used for techniques like scissor over comb and blunt cutting or club cutting. When choosing a barber scissor they are traditionally 6 inches or longer.

Comb: You cannot cut without a comb because when you're cutting or clippering the hair it needs to be combed before cutting. 

Thinning scissors: These scissors are great to use at the end of the haircut to take bulk out so the hair is easier to style.

Texturizing Scissors: These are great to use for a textured haircut for ideally men who wear their hair messy. But be careful because they can leave holes in your haircut if not used correctly, so always go in and cut on and angle with these.

Mirror: This is an obvious one because you need to see what you're doing when you're cutting. and you need to check if both sides are even when looking at yourself or client through the mirror.

Hair clips: Clips are used in barbering to hold any hair out of the way when cutting shorter hair next to longer hair.

Cutting cape: to make sure hair doesn't fall all over your guest's clothes.

Spray bottle: for wetting down the hair when needed.

Steps on a standard men's short, back and side.

Step 1: Set out tools

Get all the tools ready you will need to perform your haircut. Put a cape around your client and lay out your scissors, comb, clippers (and attachments) and the spray bottle.

Step 2: decide together on your goal haircut.

Have a discussion with the person you are about to cut their hair. run your hands through the hair and have a good look how long some areas are while the hair stands up.

Ask them questions like, 

What hairstyle are we going for today?

Are we using clippers on the side and back? If so, what number?

Are we using clippers or scissors through the top? (depends if they want it kept long or short)

Have a really great conversation with each other before you start because I guarantee, if your guest has had a haircut in a salon before they will be able to help guide you and help you cut their hair.

Step 3: Start with cutting the sides

When using the clippers on the back and side we always start first. but if you're using the scissors on the short back and sides you cut the top first.

Firstly, using clippers on the sides and back is a faster and easier way to cut the hair. by using the clippers on the side you are taking most of the bulk out at once and you are getting better cut than the scissors.

Always start with a longer number then desired first that way you don't accidentally cut the hair too short and have that short too high up the side of the head. by using a longer number then desired first this will help it blend easier in step 5.

Start on your right side of the guest head, and start at the bottom of the sideburn.

Get your clippers in the position at the bottom of the sideburn and travel in an upward motion cutting very slowly and don't cut any higher than the highest point of the client's eyebrow level.

When reaching the highest point of the eyebrow level the is called the transition zone. When reaching the transition zone you wanted to either flick out your clippers in a C motion (the C flicking towards yourself). The reason you do this is so you don't dip into the transition zone and make a large gap that will be harder to blend out later on.

Continue this technique over and over and step by step around the head, going very slowly and carefully until they reach the opposite side of the head.

If you desire to go shorter than this on the side, change out the clipper attachment to the next shortest number that you are using and use the same technique around the head but this time leave an inch gap from the highest point of where you shaved up to last time.

After you have done this you may notice a line between the 2 clipper lengths. This is when you look at your clipper you will notice a lever near the blades that open and close them. keeping the same clipper attachment on, open this leaver and this will take you attachment from say for example a 3 to a 3/12

go around the hear one more time but this time focus on blending out that line but don't cut any high then say 1/2-1 cm above the line.

You can go even shorter again below if you are wanting that real tapered look.

Once you have got your desired length on the sides, clean up all the edges of the haircut.


Step 4: Cleaning up the edge's

with the side edge of the clippers, Start the edges at the front and shape the top part of the hairline on an angle and moving down the middle part of the face hairline shape that in a curve. Square off the bottom of the sideburn.

Follow the rest of the hairline around the ear and clean up and straighten up the line from the bottom of the ear to the back of the neck.

To make both sides symmetrical do the same on the other side.

square off the bottom of the neck.

Step 5: Cutting the top

Get out you spray bottle and wet the hair completely at the top. 

Comb all the hair from the back to the front and com it all onto the forehead.

Starting from the from comb the first section up with your comb into a backward C motion towards you and use your other hand to hold the hair firm between your index finger and middle finger.

Practice this motion a couple of time to get the hang of it.

Now you are familiar with this motion, (Starting at the front) bring the hair up between you finger and ask you guest how much hair they want cut off.

Do the next section at the same spot (down the middle but 1cm back from the first. Continue small cm apart section until you reach the back on the head.

Once you have finished the middle section, start at the front again, but this time start the right hand side and continue back.

Then obviously continue to the left side of the head.

After you have cut those 3 sections you can go in and cut a 4th and 5th section by cutting the transition zone.

Grabbing the hair between your fingers on the transition zone, angle your finger downward along the head this time and cut in cm gaps all around the head.


Step 6: Scissor over comb blending

Now if you have got this far understanding our instructions well done! 

But for this step I recommend going on youtube and typing in "how to Scissor Over Comb Blend"

By learning how to do this correctly it can completely finish off and blend out all your hard work.

Be careful not to over cut! and go slowly.

Your hair can be wet or dry for this step.

Step 7: Using your Thinning or Texture hair cutting scissors

For shorter length always use your thinning scissors if you need to, this is because mistakes with texture scissors can really show on shorter hair..

For longer lengths you can use both your texture scissors or your thinning scissors, depending on what look you want to achieve.

Scissor over comb the top when using these scissors will give you the best result.

And cut the hair dry with these see you can actually see how much hair you are cutting out, and comb out any loose hair after each cut so you can see how much hair was removed.

Common Mistakes

  • Less is more so don't go in and cut off too much first, because if you cut it too short there's no going back.
  • Wet hair shrinks when it dries so dry the haircut off at the end to see the end result, then assess whether you need to cut more off.
  • Lower your expectations, this haircut will not be the same as a professional haircut.. but it will do the job.

Congratulations you just completed your first Haircut! finish it off with a hair product and style that hair like your a celebrity hairstylist. Worse Case scenario? just shave all the hair off with a longer clipper attachment and call it a day (if you have a cruisey guest). Happy cutting!

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