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How to Cut Men’s Hair with Clippers

Investing in a decent set of hair clippers can help avoid frequent visits to the barber’s. Many shorter hairstyles for men can require “tidying up” as often as every two weeks to keep them looking neat and sharp.

If you can master cutting men’s hair at home with clippers, then you’ll not only save the family a lot of extra cash, but you’ll also save the other men in your household time and hassle of having to keep bi-weekly or monthly appointments at the barber’s.

Having acquired some clippers, the next step is working out how to use them like a pro. In this article, we explain what the different blade guards are for, as well as how to cut men’s hair with clippers from start to finish, so you’ll never have to leave home for a haircut again.

Clippers Explained

When you buy your clippers, make sure that they come with a range of blade guards. Good clippers will also come with a brush to help you clean them after use, oil to keep the blades in good working order, and a comb.

Grab A Good Set of Cordless Hair Clippers

Another option which you should consider is whether to invest in a corded or cordless clipper set.

On the one hand the corded ones might have more power however nowadays a good set of cordless clippers will give you enough power to manage any type of cut including fades and skin cuts.

If you want to see our choiuce of the best cordless clippers on the market check out this post.

Blade Guards

The blade guards will help you cut hair into different lengths neatly and evenly. Each blade guard will have a number on it, with the lowest number denoting the shortest cut.

Using the clippers with no blade guard at all will essentially give you a “0” cut, which results in the shortest (barely-there) hair that you can achieve with clippers and without using a razor.

Each blade guard will then add an eighth of an inch until you reach a number “8”, which will cut hair to an inch long.

Blade Guard Measurements

  • Number 1 – ⅛ inch (3.2 mm)
  • Number 2 – ¼ inch (6.3 mm)
  • Number 3 – ⅜ inch (9.5 mm)
  • Number 4 – ½ inch (12.7 mm)
  • Number 5 – ⅝ inch (15.9 mm)
  • Number 6 – ¾ inch (19 mm)
  • Number 7 – ⅞ inch (22.2 mm)
  • Number 8 – one inch (25 mm)
hair clippers guide lengths

How to Cut Men’s Hair With Clippers

Once you’ve established what lengths you want your subject’s hair to be (and, therefore, which blade guards you need to use), then you can follow this step-by-step guide to creating the cut you want.

If you are unsure where to start, you can ask your local barber what he uses for the back and sides, as all blade guards work to universal measurements.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have anyone to ask about which numbers to use, always start with a longer length than you think you might want. Remember that you can always go back over it with a lower number blade guard if necessary, but you can’t undo it if you make it too short!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting Hair With Clippers

This guide will produce a classic men’s cut that is typically described as “short back and sides”, and you can choose how long to leave the hair on the top.

A popular cut uses a number 2 on the back and sides, and a number 4 on the top. The bigger the difference between the two numbers you choose, the harder it will be to blend in at stage five.

Step 1: Wash Hair

Always start with freshly washed hair. Whether you prefer to cut the hair while it’s wet or dry is down to personal preference. When you’re starting out, it may be worth giving both a try to see which you are most comfortable with.

If your subject has curly or wavy hair, however, then it will be easier to cut while wet, as it will be tamer and easier to cut all of the hairs evenly. Your subject’s hair is likely to dry more quickly than you will be able to cut it, so keep a spray bottle of water handy to damp it down again every few minutes.

Step 2: Cover Shoulders

You’ve probably seen many hairdressers and barbers do this over the years. Covering the shoulders of the person you’re about to give a haircut to will save them having to shower again immediately afterward.

In addition to this, you may also want to wear something to protect yourself from all of the flying hairs as they tend to get everywhere.

Step 3: Use the Longest Blade Guard First

Start by clipping the whole head of hair down to the largest blade guard size (for example, the number 4). You should shave in the opposite direction of hair growth.

At the top of the head, this will generally mean moving the clippers from the front to the back, and at the back and sides of the head, you will be coming from the bottom upwards.

Step 4: Scoop the Hair

Next, you would want to take the shorter blade guard (for example, number 2) and shave from the bottom upwards until you reach the area just above the top of the ears.

To do this, start with the blade close to the head and then gently scoop it outwards as you reach the top of the shave line. This will give you a softer cut.

Step 5: Blend the Hair

Once you’ve gone all the way around the head with the shorter blade, including behind the ears, you need to take the blade guard that falls in between the two you have used (in this case, it will be the number 3).

Use this blade guard to blend the hair between the number 2 and number 4 all the way around the head.

Clipped to Perfection!

Learning how to cut men’s hair with clippers isn’t as difficult as it might seem at first. However, familiarizing yourself with the different blade guards and choosing which numbers you need for the result you want will take a bit of getting used to.

If you don’t know where to start, then all it takes is one haircut at the barbers and ask them which numbers they have used. This will save you the trouble of having to test them all out at home!

Follow our simple guide, and you can cut men’s hair at home as often as you please, saving a lot of money in the long run. Just remember to use the clippers in a room where you can sweep up easily, or you can even do it outside to save time when it comes to cleaning up afterward.


Hi I'm Vincent, the editor of this website. I consider male grooming as a lifestyle choice. If you're comfortable with letting mother nature take care of your looks, then that's cool, however for those of you who want to make sure they look their best, I provide guides and tips for your male grooming needs.

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