Hey, Men: It's Actually Possible to Cut Your Own Hair Without Screwing It Up
This is Winging It, where we're helping you master your favorite salon treatments and looks without having to leave the house.
With hair and nail salons being forced to shut their doors for the foreseeable future, many of us have had to learn to do our own at-home treatments — men included.
For many guys, going to the barber is like a weekly ritual of sorts. And according to my male friends, there's no better feeling than leaving with a crisp lineup. However, with barbershops throughout the country closed, the boys who would love nothing more than a fresh cut are hurting.
That's why I turned to celebrity barber Marcus Harvey, whose clients span from Nas to Chris Webber and Grant Hill, to get his expertise on how men can successfully cut their own hair, perfect their lineups, and keep their beards in check while under quarantine.
To avoid getting annoying razor bumps or nicking the skin, Harvey recommends men take skin prep seriously before shaving. "Razor bumps come from improper prep," he exclaims. "You must clean your skin of all bacteria. I like to start by washing the face using Bevel Face Wash and then using a hot towel to remove the residue. The heat from the towel can help to soften your skin while not causing any irritation on the skin."
To prevent nicking the skin while shaving, he says to use the brand's Priming Oil along the hair and beardline prior to following up with the trimmer. After the cut, always rinse your face with cold water.
What Are the Best Cutting Tools to Use?
Harvey is personally a fan of using Bevel tools for cuts — a brand that has become a household name in the male grooming world in only a matter of years. "They have a real professional feel to them," the barber shares. "They are the perfect tools that are built for a professional but made for you to use with ease."
For those who want to keep some length, Harvey recommends grabbing a pair of the brand's trimmers. As for those who prefer to go bald, Bevel's Safety Razor will do the trick.
However, if you don't already have those exact tools at home, feel free to use whatever razors, clippers, or trimmers you're most comfortable with.
What Guards Do I Need?
That all depends on the current length of your hair and the type of cut you're going for. "It’s better to get a full set of guards that go with the clipper that you are using," Harvey says. "That way you always have what you need, when you need it."
If you can't find any for your specific pair of clippers, opt for a universal guard set.
How Can I Do a Proper Fade or Tapered Cut On My Own?
First off, you'll want to grab all the mirrors you have in the house, because you're going to need them. "Being able to see at multiple angles will help to keep all lines consistent and crispy, while helping to avoid any mistakes," Harvey says.
You'll also want to make sure you have the proper lighting before you get started. "If you have an LED ring light, use it or any other bright light to eliminate shadows, which can cause most of your mistakes," he explains. "Try to eliminate any blind spots that may cast a shadow on where you are cutting."
Before you start the cut, make sure to first wash your hair and let it fully air dry.
Once you're ready to begin cutting, start by combing the hair in the direction it grows. "You want to follow the same pattern and go with the grain, so it’s not choppy," says Harvey.
Next, use your trimmer to create a guideline for the lowest part of the cut (aka level 0). Then repeat these same steps, adding in guards 1 to 4 (or the maximum height you want for your hair) and blending the hair as you go.
"Start off with your guidelines, gradually going up ½ inch with no guard," explains Harvey. "Open guard and then do another ½ inch. Open all the way up ½ inch then add 1 guard with clipper closed to fade the hair. Repeat those steps from 0 to ½ inch until you get to all the way open. Repeat with each guard 1, 2, 3 until you get the desired length."
When it comes to cutting the back of the head, Harvey admits that this will be challenging for beginners. But proper visibility can be a huge help, as well as asking for assistance if you live with someone. "This can help you bond or you’ll have someone to blame if the cut doesn’t work out right," he jokes.
But most importantly, as you cut — especially if this is your first time — remember to take your time. "It’s okay to go inch by inch as you are cutting to make sure that everything is even and you’re not taking too much weight off," Harvey says. It also may be a good idea to get your regular barber on a video call as you attempt the cut. They can help to guide you through the process and show you any areas to pay special attention to.
Watching fade tutorials can also help you get more comfortable with performing the cut on yourself.
How Do I Keep My Hair Feeling Fresh in Between Cuts?
Two words: Maintenance and moisture. Harvey recommends co-washing any time you get in the shower (especially if you have curly or coily hair), and shampooing three times a week.
Once you're out of the shower, the barber is a fan of using Bevel Hair Beard Balm, which doubles as a pomade, for short cuts, or the Multitask Leave-In Lotion from Form Beauty if your hair is on the longer side.
Which Liner Should I Use?
If you have a liner at home that gets the job done, go with that. Otherwise, Harvey says Bevel's Trimmers work great to lineup both the hairline and beard. "You are able to adjust the blade sharpness between actions which is really important because your beardline might be more sensitive than your hairline," he explains.
What Are the Best Techniques for Creating a Crisp Lineup?
You'll first want to start off by washing your face to remove any grease or buildup on your skin. Next, comb the hair in the direction of growth.
Afterwards, you want to figure out where the middle of your hairline is, and start there. A great tip Harvey offers is to simply use your nose as a marker. Then, start trimming using a tap-and-go technique, starting from the bottom, little by little, so you are only shaping up the natural hairline, not pushing it back.
For the curve, use the tops of the eyebrows as a guide for where the tips should be, then use the tap-and-go method. Make sure to continuously check for symmetry on each side as you go.
VIDEO: Is Blake Shelton’s New Haircut an Homage to Joe Exotic?
What Cutting Tools Should I Use?
While Harvey uses Bevel's Double Edge Razors on his clients, sticking with a trimmer is probably your safest bet when you're maintaining your beard at home. I think we all can agree that having a less polished finish is better than ending up with a bloody face.
How Can I Trim Down My Beard?
Use a pair of trimmers you are comfortable with, and a guard, depending on how long you want your beard to be. You can also use haircutting scissors to lightly trim the area if you are only looking to get rid of stray hairs.
How High or Low Should My Beardline Be?
"It’s always the client’s preference, but I have always liked to make the line as natural as possible," says Harvey.
What Lineup Technique Should I Follow for My Beard?
Unlike when you're lining up your hair, you're going to start off going against the grain to clean up your cheeks. As you cut, slightly pull your skin upwards to get the closest shave. Around the mustache area, carefully trim the hair in a downwards motion, stopping at the natural line. For the harder to reach areas around the mouth, close your mouth and fill the area between the bottom of your nose and top of the lip with air. Also do this with the sides of the face to get a better cut. Harvey refers to this as "blowing bubbles."
For the neck area, use the Adam's apple as the guide to create your line. Next, pull the skin down and go against the grain to remove hair below the marker.