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How to Cut Your Own Hair at Home During Quarantine

Man cutting own hair

Now that we’re a year into quarantine life, we are probably used to socially distancing from our barbers. Even with hair salons and barbershops slowly reopening, not everyone is willing to take the risk. If you’re one of those people, then you’re still probably figuring out a way to efficiently deal with wildly grown manes. While it may be a humblebrag to complain about your voluminous hair on Instagram a la Stephen Colbert and Kyle MacLachlan, eventually, you have to deal with it before it grows completely out of control.

But if you’re thinking about cutting your own hair with scissors or a sword Mulan-style, barbers like Hung Nguyen beg you to put down your weapons.

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“Unless you’re a trained barber, you should never touch your hair with scissors,” Nguyen, who works at Fellow Barber in New York, tells The Manual. “You could ruin all the work that your barber put into your hair, and you’ll have to redo your hair from scratch the next time you see your barber. Also, the scissors you buy online may not be the same grade scissors professionals use in a shop. The best thing to do is to figure out styling options to maintain your hair as it grows.”

Still dead set on trimming your hair? Nguyen recommends buying clippers with an adjustable lever, which fills the length gaps in between clip guards so you can buzz your hair at different lengths. Make sure to use your bathroom mirror and a handheld mirror to track your progress.

Before you start, analyze your head shape by running your fingers through your scalp to determine the direction of your hair growth, and for any bumps, bruises, or indents that your clippers should avoid getting too close to. Then wash your hair without any product to remove gunk and tangles. Once you’re ready, take cues from these three barber-approved cuts and styles you can try at home.


Buzzcut haircut

The easiest option is to just go full-on GI-Jane with a buzzcut.

  1. To determine how short you want to go, we recommend starting off with a higher clip guard like a #5, which will cut your hair down to half an inch. “This will give you a bit of wiggle room with length because you can always go shorter with your hair,” Nguyen says.
  2. With your clippers, start at the top of your head, running your clippers against the direction your hair grows, and stop at the parietal ridge of your head, which is the widest area of your noggin and begins at the temples. If you want a simple military-style cut, lower your clip guard to No. 1 and mow it around your head.
  3. But if you’re looking for a simple fade, decrease your clip guard by one level, and begin running your clippers against your hair growth at the top of your parietal ridge, working your way down to the bottom of your crown, which is about an inch above your ear lobes.
  4. Decrease your clip guard by one more level, and run the clipper through the rest of your uncut hair.


Undercut haircut

For guys with medium-length hair who don’t want to lob off all their locks, try a Peaky Blinders-style undercut which leaves your hair on top untouched, while the sides and back are buzzed.

  1. Determine the top section of your hair that you want to keep untouched. Hung recommends cutting just below the widest part of your head.
  2. Using a high clip guard, run your clipper underneath the top section of your head to test the length, running it against the direction of your hair growth. Lower your clip guard to decrease length.
  3. Once you’ve settled on a length, run the clippers through the rest of your head beneath the top section. Eyeball to make sure both sides of your head are cut evenly.


If you’re not planning on buzzing your hair, Nguyen recommends you leave your hair uncut, but you can clean up your sideburns with hair trimmers, slightly shaving off any strands that touch the earlobes, and adjusting your sideburns to your desired length.

When it comes to trimming the back of your hair, enlist a roommate or family member to run a trimmer through the edge of your hair just above your neck for a neater appearance.

Support Your Barber

Paying for a Zoom consultation with your barber for one-on-one advice is a great way to receive more specific tips for your desired hairstyle. It’s also a great way to support barbers, many of whom work on commissioned-based pay and are considered freelance contractors, which means many of them are struggling to find work since barbershops have closed, and they can’t perform in-home services due to social distancing.

To provide assistance, check to see if your local barbershop has created GoFundMe pages for their employees, like Fellow Barber, which launched an Employee Relief Fund last month, where 100%  of donations will go to aiding their workers. You can also Venmo your barber advance tips for future cuts.

“If you’ve already budgeted for your monthly haircuts, try paying your barbers in advance, since once we go back to business, people are going to be rushing to get back into barbershops,” Nguyen says. Plus, these additional funds can help hold them over during these trying times.

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