Buzz cuts are timeless, and we have no doubt that they’ll be around forever. For those of us that are thinning on the top or aren’t genetically blessed with an interesting texture, it’s the perfect style to go to.
Whatever your aesthetic, whether it’s inspired by Shia Lebouf, Tom Hardy, Channing Tatum, or even English Footballer Phil Foden’s blonde buzz cut, that was the talk of all hairstyles this past season, the buzz cut hairstyle will never leave the spotlight.
Cutting your own hair will not only save you money in the long run, but you’ll also be able to cut it when you please, instead of having to line up your plans with your barber to get a fresh trim, you can instead cut your hair right before that job interview, night out, or holiday.
I’ll bear the bad news first. Frankly, buzz cuts don’t suit everyone. There, I said it so your friends don’t have to. How do you know a buzz cut is going to suit you before going all in and shaving your hair? It’s a game of genetic lottery.
To pull off a buzz cut, you often need a face with a lot of structure, this means a chiselled jawline, relatively sharp cheekbones, and a modest forehead. If you’re still reading this, it’s because you’ve won the genetic lottery, so congratulations to you. Otherwise, you might simply want to try the style for yourself, regardless of your bone structure.
The next step is to gather everything you need, and if you’re yet to purchase anything, don’t worry, we’ve linked everything you’ll need below.
The first and most common rule broken with buzz cuts is shaving the hair one length. Don’t do it. The best buzz cuts are those that feature a fade from the back and sides into a slightly longer top. This makes the top of the head appear slightly thicker and darker in tone, instead of a more bland shaved head.
It’s important to know that as with most things, DIY haircuts get better with practice, so don’t kick yourself if you make a botched job of it. And don’t forget, patience is your friend.
You Will Need
Large bathroom mirror
Smaller, handheld mirror
Hair clippers with guards (one, two)
A helping hand from a trusted friend (optional)
How to Give Yourself a Buzz Cut
Now you’ve got the gear, it’s time to get down to business.
1. Hop in the shower and make sure there’s no product in your hair. Freshly washed hair is best when it’s lying in its natural state and hasn’t been styled.
2. Set up a workstation, ideally the bathroom or somewhere with a solid floor surface, not carpet, so you can clean up the hair easily. Make sure you can see yourself in the larger mirror and lay out all your equipment within reach. Wrap the towel over your shoulders to keep the hairs from irritating your back.
3. Select the grade two length on your clippers, and starting from the front of your head, work your way to the back of your head, and make sure your clippers are flat, working against the grains of your hair. This ensures an even cut. Occasionally dust away the bits of hair as it can make seeing which bits you’ve cut difficult, so it’s best to use your towel to wipe it away.
4. Once the top is done, move to the upper sides that meet that curve over your head. Slowly, starting from the front, run your clippers upwards and over the edge. To be sure you haven’t missed any spots that’ll cause shadows, work the clippers in the opposite direction. The more firmly you hold the clippers, the neater your buzz cut will look. Barbers tend to clean their blade with a brush or by blowing into the blades to prevent them from clogging up.
5. With the clippers set on grade two, locate the occipital bone on the back of your skull, you do this by feeling for the pointy edge that’s located at the back of your head. Start cutting slightly above there working your way towards the crown. Guide the clippers in all directions as you go over the crown, as the hair follicles point out in different directions.
Now it’s time to work on the back and sides. The reason we take it down more on the sides is that most people’s hair tends to stick out more, so it will make it look much neater. It also makes the top slightly darker than the sides, which adds extra detail.
6. Attach the grade one onto the clippers and pull back the lever on your clippers to open the guard, this adds half a millimetre onto your blade.
7. Relocate the occipital bone and work upwards, to the top of your head, but do not go over the curvature of the head. The curvature of the head is the widest part. Instead, pull your blade away from the curve in a backwards motion, often described as a ski jump. You do this by feel more so than by look, as you can feel the curve of your head. If you go over the top of the curve, you’ll botch your hairstyle and give yourself a jarhead. Carry on as you did the back, but to the sides — stopping at the curvature.
8. Close the guard on the clippers by closing the lever, this decreases the hair length by half a millimetre. Starting from the bottom of your back and sides, work your way to the mark of where you just cut to, just below the curvature. And when you cut the back of your head, use the occipital bone as your guide on where to pull away with your blade.
9. Tidy things up a bit. This is where having a trusted friend is helpful. Now the hair is cut to length, it’s time to shape your hair. Take the clippers guard off completely and cut loose any strays that you have on your neckline and create a sharp edge. Do this around the ears too for a crisp finish. If you have facial hair, it’s a good idea to merge your sideburns into your buzz cut by laddering the grades.
10. It’s as simple as that, work your way down your head and take your time. If you don’t want your buzz cut to be this short, you can change your guards for a slightly bigger one, and apply the same instructions.
Remember: patience is your best friend, and practise makes perfect. Here’s what you’ll need:
Cricket Deco Styling Mirror, $9.95
Wahl Salon Series V6000 Cordless Clipper, $149 (on sale)