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Nine Tips for Cutting Men Hair

Cutting hair is an art form and there's really not a right or wrong way to achieve great results with a hairstyle. Each approach will vary by stylist, but there are some basic principles that all barbers and stylists can implement to improve speed and quality when cutting men's hair.

  • ⦁ Wet or Dry?
  • ⦁ Cross-Checking
  • ⦁ Anchor-Pivot-Suspend
  • ⦁ Blending: Blending Shears
  • ⦁ Blending: Clipper-Over-Comb
  • ⦁ Blending: Haircutting Razor
  • ⦁ Texturizing
  • ⦁ Necklines: Blocked or Tapered?
  • ⦁ Finishing

  • Wet or Dry?

    It is better to perform the clipper work and blending when the hair is dry. When the hair is wet, it can be difficult for hairstylists to see lines and hard to tell exactly how the hair is going to lay when cut. Most shear and razor work should be done when the hair is wet.


    Cross-checking is an essential part when performing a haircut, which can make sure the cut is even and proportional. When doing a short haircut, check for blending and tapering in the mirror or stand back a few feet. Usually, you can see things from a distance that you will miss up close. Also, make sure to have proper lighting from all angles. Dim light and shadows will make it hard to check for quality in the cut.


    Avoiding lines of demarcation in the first place is the first step in good blending. There are three steps with each stroke when performing clipper work. Starting with the clipper anchored with the entire flat surface of the blade touching the head, and then moving upward, pivot the clipper so only the heel (back) of the blade is touching. Next, suspend the clipper freehand as it moves up and out of the hair. These three steps can create the smoothest transition possible.

    Blending: Blending Shears

    One method of blending between clipper and shear work is blending-shears-over-comb. Use the comb to lift up the hair and cut the last 1/4" of the hair with blending shears. When lifting the hair, it is important to slightly over direct before cutting for creating a smoother blend. Remember to only cut the last 1/4’" to 1/8" of hair. Never thin hair close to the scalp as this will create a fuzzy look by causing very short hairs to stick out through the longer hairs. Use a thinning shear with over40 teeth since shears with larger teeth will produce lines. Do not use the regular shears to blend because the blades will give the hair a very blunt cut and leave lots of small lines of demarcation.

    Blending: Clipper-Over-Comb

    Another method of blending is to use the clipper-over-comb. For this technique, use a detachable blade clipper with a large blade (#1 1/2 or higher). The larger blade will give the client a smoother blend because the hair will be cut a uniform length with a feathered end.

    Blending: Haircutting Razor

    A standard straight razor without a comb attachment can also be used to create a blend. The angle of the blade is very important. If the blade is held in a more flattened position, too much hair will be removed. If the blade is held more upright, it will damage the cuticle. So, to make sure the hair is raked with the razor at a 45-degree angle. Do not attempt it until you have received hands-on training by a barber/stylist who is skilled in the technique. For razor blending, it is essential that the hair be very wet.


    The shear-point techniques or a razor (with guard) can be used to give the haircut texture by cutting the ends of the hair in obvious, varying lengths. Texture is desirable in haircuts that are worn spiked or disheveled. The shear-point technique is used to cut the ends of the hair at an angle (or even snipping out alternating pieces) to add texture. Perform these techniques only after hands-on instruction from a qualified instructor. The razor (with guard) is used to strip the ends of the hair between the blade and the thumb to create the varying lengths. When pulling the hair between the razor and thumb, hold the razor at an angle and use a scooping motion.

    Necklines: Blocked or Tapered?

    Some stylists and barbers will take the shortcut of blocking the client’s neckline which is not a good choice for client. On a blocked haircut, the hair at the neck will grow out below the block and the client will have a line in the hair on the back of his head. A tapered haircut will give a wide neck a slimmer appearance and will look neater as the cut grows out. A tapered haircut can blend well with the hair as it grows out. When blocking, the hair should be blocked as low on the neck as possible so there will be less hair below the line as the cut grows out.


    Many stylists and barbers will take a great deal of time to make sure a haircut is well blended and even, but skimp on the finishing. A great haircut can be completely destroyed by poor finishing (a bad haircut can also be made respectable with good finishing). It is important to make sure that all lines, include the arch around the ear and the neckline, are clean and neat. Most haircuts will also benefit from slight tapering or beveling around the bottom edges. When doing sideburns, stand in front of the client and look him directly in the face to ensure evenness. Check to make sure bangs are straight as well.