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How To Cut Hair With Clippers

Are you looking for a way to keep your hair presentable in between your trips to the barber?

Well, hair clippers are the way to go. They’re cheap, easy to use, and will keep your hair length in check so you don’t have to go out with a mop on your head.

Now, having a pair of hair clippers is one thing but how do you use them?

In this article, we’re going to cover what hair clippers are, how to use them, and some other important info to bear in mind when cutting your own hair with your corded clipper.

What Are Hair Clippers?

Hair clippers are perfect for maintaining a buzz cut, shaving in your short back and sides, or even detailing your beard and hairline. Some of the best hair clippers come from the leading brands Braun and Wahl, so if you see this name you know you’re probably getting a higher quality product.

Corded Clippers – These hair clippers are plugged into a socket and are the type you’ll see your barber using as they’re more reliable and are consistent at cutting hair due to not running on limited battery life.

Wireless Clippers – Wireless clippers, as the name suggests, aren’t connected via a cord and run on a battery. This makes them a little more versatile in terms of where you can use them however, there is always the concern that they run out of battery and some models can take hours to charge.

Know Your Guard Sizes

Before you start cutting you need to choose the right guard size. If you’re a beginner and haven’t cut men’s hair before or your own then choose a guard that leaves you with longer hair than your desired length as this will allow you room to make changes and mistakes.

Remember you can always cut your own hair shorter but you can’t make it longer again. At least not without waiting a few weeks.

As a rough outline, lower numbers like a 2, 3, and 4 cut shorter and work better for a shaved head (check out our article on how to shave your head for more tips) or short hair, whereas larger numbers like a 6, 7, and 8 are better for longer hairstyles like a crew cut.

If you want some more advice on men’s hairstyles and what hair length is required for them then check out our guide to the best men’s hairstyles.

Here are the numbers and guard sizes:

  • Number 1 – one-eighth of an inch
  • Number 2 – one-quarter of an inch
  • Number 3 – three-eighths of an inch
  • Number 4 – one-half of an inch
  • Number 5 – five-eighths of an inch
  • Number 6 – three-quarters of an inch
  • Number 7 – seven-eighths of an inch
  • Number 8 – one inch

How to Cut Hair With Clippers: A Step By Step Beginner’s Guide

  1. Guard Size – First, choose the guard length that you want. Remember, if you’re starting out then choose a length longer than what you actually want until you’ve mastered the art of cutting.
  2. Wash your hair – You should always wash your hair before it’s cut so that it is easy to comb and doesn’t have any extra bends or waves. We’d recommend checking out how to properly shampoo men’s hair if you’re unsure of how to do this step. There’s some debate over whether cutting wet or dry hair is better so you may want to try both and see which you prefer.
  3. Cover your neck – Get a towel or some kind of sheet and wrap it around your neck so you can catch any falling hair. This isn’t necessary if you plan on showering after but it saves you making a mess either way.
  4. Start long – If you need to remove a lot of hair then you’ll want to start with a longer blade guard and buzz off all the hair so you can start with a shorter base. this will only apply if you have long hair and want a shorter hairstyle.
  5. Sides to the top – You can begin hair cutting from anywhere you like but you may find it easier to start with the sides, work around the back of your neck, and then finish with the top. This is the way most barbers cut your hair as it ensures you won’t miss any areas.
  6. Cut against hair growth – Similarly to how you shave your face, you’re going to want to cut against the grain (the direction your hair grows in). This means you should shave in an upward motion towards the top of your head.
  7. Scoop it out – When you cut with the trimmer, start by moving inwards close to the skin with the clippers. As you come up, scoop outwards as this creates a softer cut.
  8. Top – When cutting the hair on top of the head, you’ll want to start at the front and run your electric clippers towards the back. Unless you’re shaving it all off, you’ll always want short hair on the sides with longer hair on top even if it’s only marginally longer, so use the appropriate guard size for the proper cut.
  9. Neckline – Run the trimmer in an upward direction on the back of your neck. Use a mirror for this to make sure you haven’t missed any areas.
  10. Sideburns – Comb them when you have wet hair and use your trimmer or clipper, in an inverted position with the blades in the closest setting, and gently apply it to your sideburns. Then simply cut in a downward direction into the shape you want.
  11. Ear-arch – Now you need to tidy up the area above and behind the ear. Bend your ear downward so you can access the area behind it and then shape the hairline with a singular motion carving the arch shape around your ear.
  12. Blend – This one takes a little practice but if you’ve been changing between blades you’ll probably notice very distinct lines where the length in hair transitions. To counter this you need to fade by using a blade guard that sits in between the two or three you’ve used. For example, if you used a number 4 and a number 6 then you’ll want to use a number 5 to help blend the two lengths together which will give your hair a more natural and full look.
  13. Practice – You’re done but chances are, your first attempt will be pretty bad so start by making only minor adjustments to your hair. As you build confidence by knowing how your hair works and looks with certain lengths, you’ll be able to venture into full haircuts and implement all of the steps above. You may even find that you prefer the way you cut your hair to how the barber does.
  14. Shower – It’s always best to hop in the shower after you’ve shaved your hair to wash off any remaining strands that have decided to stick to your body, neck, and face.

Hair Length And Hair Products

You’ll probably want to style your hair after trimming it so knowing which products to use for which length and hair type is always handy to know.

Using the wrong product will botch any hopes you had of achieving your desired hairstyle and could potentially damage your hair.

if you want some suggestions for hair products then check out our guide on the best hair products for men.


This is ideal if you have longer, curly, or wavy hair. Wax can be greasy and has thick viscosity but provides a solid hold. Wax will give you a high shine and a strong hold providing a wet but sleek look.


Use this one if you have sense, coarse hair. Styling pomade has a matte finish and tends to be more clay-based giving you a drier, lived-in texture. Short to medium styles will benefit most from pomade as it will help you achieve a low to a high shine with a firm hold.


The great thing about hair spray is it can be used effectively by anyone with any hair type whether that’s curly hair, straight hair, or fine hair. Hair spray is more of an afterthought though and should be used as a finishing touch to keep everything where it should be. It will give a medium to a high shine, as well as a medium to strong hold.


This is the one to go for if you have wavy or curly hair. It’s especially effective for curly hair as it can set the curl without it getting frizzy giving a more finished look. Once applied you’ll have a light, low-shine, natural-looking hold.


Hair gel can be used for a wide variety of hair lengths and types. Shorter hair lengths can benefit from a messy or spiky style whereas longer hair can be styled into a pompadour. Hair gel usually has a very strong hold and high shine with a drawback being that it’s very hard to make amendments once it’s set. We’d recommend checking out our article on how to use hair gel for men.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I trim my privates?

Trimming your nether regions can be risky if you’re not careful. For an in-depth guide on how to safely trim downstairs look at our article: “Best way to shave your balls” and if you’re looking for suggestions on pubic trimmers then we also have a guide to the best pubic hair trimmers.

Is a trimmer the same as a shaver?

While both are used to trim or shave the hair on the face or head there is a difference. In short, trimmers help you cut or maintain a beard while a shaver is better suited for a clean shave or very short haircut. Take a look at our article: Electric shaver Vs. Razor to find out more about shavers and their benefits.

Can a trimmer cut you?

A trimmer does not make a major cut on the skin as the guard protects you from the blade. You would have to go out of your way to cut your head or skin with clippers.

Does shaving make your hair grow quicker?

This is a common myth that many still believe but no, shaving your head hair, beard hair, or body hair will not make it grow back any quicker, thicker, or darker. If you want to find out more then check out “Does shaving make your hair grow thicker

Should I sharpen my hair clippers?

Sharpening your hair clippers is a sure-fire way to boost their performance and you’ll see the results as your shaving will be much finer and clean. Check out our article on how to sharpen hair clippers for more info.

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