In times like these, when so many businesses are shut down and people are locked at home, it might feel frivolous to worry about your hair. But keeping up routines, whether it’s walking the dog or getting a haircut, can help things feel normal.
Like anything that requires professional training, learning how to cut your own hair at home is no walk in the park, but with a bit of professional advice and the right products, you can learn to do touch ups and short trims all on your own.
To help give some guidance on where to begin, SPY spoke with Master Barber Ann Shim, director of education for GroomingLounge.com & Grooming Lounge Barbershops.
We based this list in part on her product and brand recommendations and sprinkled her advice throughout so by the time you’re through, learning how to cut your own hair at home might not feel so intimidating.
1. Cricket Shear Xpressions
Once you’ve figured out your look, Ann told SPY, you’re ready to think about what tools you’ll need to get the job done. There’s a good chance if you’re doing anything besides a buzz cut, you’ll need a legit pair of shears. “Scissors from your house drawer won’t cut it,” Ann said, but she recommended Cricket shears for someone looking to cut their own hair at home. They’re made from stainless steel and are sharp enough to cut through hair with minimal effort.
If you’re really looking to dive headfirst into cutting your own hair at home, the Cricket Shear Advantage Duo set comes with standard cutting shears as well as scissors for texturizing and finishing. This is definitely for those seeking a more advanced cut and the price reflects that, so buyer beware.
2. Oster Professional Fast Feed Clipper
The next thing you’ll want to consider adding is a nice set of clippers. Before we go further, we have to clear up a major misconception: Clippers and trimmers are not the same thing. Clippers tend to be a bit heavier and fit better in your palm. That’s because clippers are designed for bulk hair removal. On the other hand, trimmers tend to be lighter and skinnier because they’re designed to go around the edges of your head and handle detailing around the ears, neck and sideburns.
Now that that’s settled once and for all, Ann pointed us toward Oster’s clippers, the same brand your barbers probably use. We recommend Oster’s Professional Fast Feed Clippers. Though you should always use scissors on wet hair and clippers on dry hair, these clippers boast a motor powerful enough to handle both, and they come with additional plastic guards and oil for clipper maintenance.
If you’re looking for a value solution, Nicewell’s hair clippers will get the job done for a time. The clippers come with a full set of guards and they’re also wireless, which makes cutting your own hair a little less cumbersome.
3. Kent 16T Fine Tooth Comb and Wide Tooth Comb
You should already own at least one comb, but if you don’t, you should buy one with two sides, a fine side and a wide side, Ann told SPY. Having the two sides makes it easier to control your hair; you use the wide side for control and use the fine side when cutting. Thankfully, a decent comb doesn’t need to break the bank, so we recommend Kent’s 16T Comb. It features wide teeth and fine teeth to help you control your hair while you cut it.
4. Andis Professional T-Outliner Trimmer
You’ve successfully used your clippers to cut the bulk of your hair, but now you want to tidy up your ears, sideburns and perhaps any facial hair lines. For that, you’re going to need a solid trimmer. Ann recommended a few professional brands for clippers and trimmers, like Oster, Wahl and Andis, but Andis Professional Outliner/Trimmer stood out to us the most for its professional quality at its price point. If you’re planning on cutting your own hair at home for the long term, a properly oiled and cared for Andis trimmer will last you forever.
The best pick for trimmers may turn some people off due to its cord and lack of additional guards. If that’s the case, Andis still has a trimmer for you in its Slimline Pro Trimmer. It offers similar quality blades, it’s also wireless and slimmer than the top pick and it comes with additional plastic guards.
5. SELF-CUT SYSTEM 2.0 – LED Lighted Three-Way Mirror
You should already have at least one mirror in your bathroom. That’s good for cutting the front, but if you want to cut the back, you’re going to need an extra mirror, Ann told SPY. One product she recommended was Self-Cut System’s lighted three-way mirror. The additional lighting and viewing angles make touching up those tough spots a bit easier, and the mirror comes with a free app to help you learn how to cut your own hair at home.
If you’re not looking for the absolute, most useful product, any old handheld mirror will do. We recommend this basic black mirror from Protecle because it’s cheap and the mirror is tall and wide enough to help you cut the back.
6. YAMYONE Continuous Water Mister Spray Bottle
BEST SPRAY BOTTLE
You’ve probably noticed your barber constantly wetting your hair with a spray bottle and drying it with a hair dryer. That’s because, Ann told SPY, scissors need wet hair and clippers work best on dry hair. If you’re planning on using shears, a water mister spray bottle will help keep your hair damp, but not dripping wet, which is important for cutting hair length. YAMYONE’s spray bottle sprays a fine mist, perfect for wetting, but not soaking, your hair.
7. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Hair Dryer
BEST HAIR DRYER
If you’re planning on incorporating clippers into your haircut, you’re going to want a hair dryer, as many clippers can’t handle cutting bulk wet hair. Ann mentioned BaByliss hair dryers as an excellent option, and we recommend the BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Hair Dryer. It’s a little expensive, but you want something consistent, durable and high quality, because anything less will only make cutting your own hair at home more difficult.
8. EWIN(R) Hair Cutting Cloak Umbrella Cape
Capes are optional for home hair cutters because they’re handling all the clean up. But if you want to save some time and don’t mind feeling a little silly, Ewin’s Hair Cutting Cloak Umbrella Cape will catch all the hair as it gets cut.
9. EdgUp 2.0 – Neckline Shaving Template and Hair Trimming Guide
BEST NECKLINE SHAVING TEMPLATE
There truly is a product for everything, even just to help you shave your neckline. It’s not something you’ll see in a legit barbershop, but EdgUp’s Neckline Shaving Template can help you learn how cut your own hair from behind. It’s a silicone guard that straps to the back of your head so you can move trimmers along the guard in a line. Ann said, “It’s gimmicky, but a lot of guys who cut their hair at home might appreciate it as opposed to eyeballing it.”
10. Carlisle Duo-Pan Dustpan & Lobby Broom Combo
BEST BROOM AND DUSTPAN
The bathroom is a great place to cut your hair because bathrooms usually have mirrors, good lighting and tiles floors for an easier clean up. No matter where you cut, you’re going to have some hair on the floor to clean up. If you don’t want to clog your vacuum with hair, we recommend Carlisle’s Dustpan and Broom Combo for a quick clean-up. The closed dustpan will help stop hair from floating off as you sweep around.
11. In Conclusion
You don’t need all of this to cut your own hair; our managing editor cuts his own hair and he manages with just a handheld mirror, a trimmer, hair‐cutting scissors, and combs. But depending on your needs, all of these tools can help you learn how to cut your own hair at home, at least until you’re able to see a professional again.
And if you’re still a bit worried, here are a few general tips Ann shared with us so you can keep some professional advice top of mind:
- Start with defining and understanding your look. For the average guy just learning how to cut his hair at home, you’ll basically want to stick to the same look and make it shorter.
- Always start on clean, product-free, shampooed hair. Hair products can mess up the hair, making it difficult to get a comb or clippers through, and the lengths will be off.
- Pick a well-lit environment with easy clean up; think bathroom and tiles, not the living room with the shag rug.
- Anything electric, such as clippers, should be done on dry hair.
- Household scissors will not work, so you need real shears. Scissor work should be done on damp, but never dripping wet, hair.
- If you switch between scissors and clippers, be sure to use a spray bottle or hair dryer to properly wet or dry the hair beforehand.
- If you plan to cut hair often or all-year round, it’s best to invest in a pricier tool. If you only plan to cut your hair once or only a few times, it’s OK to go for something cheaper.
- Some professional brands sell consumer products with similar names but lower quality and durability. If you can’t tell quality well, a good rule of thumb is anything less than $60 (generally) won’t be professional quality.
- If you do seek professional quality tools, Sally Beauty sells more expensive, salon-ready tools to consumers.