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Mastering the Home Haircut During COVID-19

February 05, 2021

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COVID-19 has taught us lots of things, and how to cut your own hair is probably one of the most useful. But if, like many folks, you haven’t quite mastered the art of the self haircut, here are a few tips to help you out.


Get the Right Tools

You’ll have to get a pair of scissors. A good pair. And by "good pair" we don't mean the best you can find in the supermarket aisle with the school supplies. Technically, you don't want scissors at all, you want shears, the preferred term of hairstylists. Shears have sharper blades that are designed specifically for cutting hair, and won't leave the ends of your hair frayed the way regular scissors do. You can find a good pair of shears online for about $25, and sets for not much more. Yes, that may be more than you've ever paid for scissors, but they'll last for years, and consider the money you're not spending on regular haircuts these days.

It's also probably a good idea to get yourself some hair clippers. Both men and women who like to keep their hair short can make the job a lot easier with nice electric, or battery-operated, clippers. Don't go the cheap route and think you can buzz your hair with a beard trimmer; invest in something with the proper power. Clippers prices have a wide span, but you can find a decent clipper kit in the $50 to $100 range. Again, think of it as an investment that will pay off over years. And, of course, you'll need a comb.


Make Sure You've Got a Good View

Mirrors can really help. You can go online and buy a three-way mirror with three folding panels for a few bucks, and that's a fine option. But a great do-it-yourself way is to just make your own two-mirror setup by positioning yourself in front of a big mirror and hanging a smaller mirror on a piece of string stretched behind you. Or just use a hand mirror to continually check the progress on the back of your head. You can also use your phone as the second mirror.


Best Done in the Bathroom

Consider the cleanup. You're going to get hair all over the place, so the bathroom is probably the best spot. And you really need the good bright light that most bathrooms have. Plus, you'll probably want to hop in the shower right after you're done to rinse off any hair. Be sure to put the stopper in the sink, and some toilet paper over the shower drain as you don't want to create clogged pipes.

You also don't want hair all over your clothing. Now you can strip down and go au naturel, but the hair that falls on your shoulders is likely to itch like crazy. So, consider making your own barber cape out of pretty much any fabric. Laminated shower curtains work particularly well, fastened with a clothespin around the neck. Barely a hair should fall to your body. 


Let the Cutting Commence!

Although you can cut your hair while it's either wet or dry, you'll get sharper edges if you cut damp hair. However, if you've got curly hair you probably want to do it dry, as it'll be harder to shape your hair into the final form you want when it's wet. In either case, make sure your hair is freshly washed before you start.

Chances are you're pretty much going for maintenance with the hairstyle you have. But if you're feeling bold and decide to give yourself a new look, best to have an idea of what you want. YouTube can show you pretty much every haircut in existence with a simple search like "different haircuts."

Okay, no more prep—time to start cutting. A good tactic for an even cut is to begin with one side of the head. When that looks good, do the other, then the top, saving the back for last. Start small. If you're using clippers, go with the largest guard and work gradually as you follow the cut you already have. Progress may feel slow, but that's better than buzzing in too close and then having to cut the rest of your hair to that short length. Switch to a smaller guard and continue the slow methodical work. Then go in with scissors to do some shaping.

If you're starting with scissors, just snip the ends of your hair. And make them small snips, holding your hair straight out from your head with one hand with scissors in the other. Again, progress will be slow, but that's a good thing. If you're cutting bangs, twist them, up or down, and then cut. If you twirl them you'll end up with uneven ends. And cut bangs in small vertical sections, as trying to cut them straight across is likely to leave you with a crooked cut that looks like a bowl haircut your mom may have given you way back when.

That’s it! After you’ve showered off and fluffed your hair into shape you should be pleased with the results. But if your self-cut didn’t go as planned—take comfort in the old joke: What’s the difference between a good haircut and a bad one? About two weeks.

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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