Style/ Beauty

Here’s how to cut your boyfriend’s hair without ruining his life (from someone who very nearly did)

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If you’re self isolating with a boyfriend, particularly one who prides himself on keeping his hair slick and trim, chances are you’ve had the discussion already. With barbers forced to remain shut for the foreseeable, their ever-growing locks are becoming less of a fun experiment and more a source of serious insecurity. And seeing their reflection for hours on end during daily Zoom calls isn’t helping…

While some are relishing in the opportunity to see what they’d look like with a slightly more undone, rugged ‘do, others are anxious to get their hair back to its tidy roots (geddit?) pronto – with several looking to their partners to step up and perform.

But how (HOW!) do you trim short hair? Even if you have a super short cut yourself, performing such precise work – particularly when armed with the tools and your natural scissor-happy instinct kicks in – feels surprisingly daunting. After all, a couple more centimetres snipped off our own tumbling tresses by our hairdresser feels like a betrayal. A centimetre too much on this already barely-there bonce could spell disaster.

According to Larry King super colourist and all-round hair hero, Harriet Muldoon, the most important tip to heed is that ‘less is more’. “You can always take more off. Also make sure to do it in front of a mirror to use as a guide, and pull the hair our with your fingers each side simultaneously to ensure it’s even.”

In light of this burgeoning national fear, I decided to take one for the team – or, rather, my boyfriend did – and trial the at-home isolation cut in order for you to learn from our mistakes.

Admittedly, this wasn’t how I sold it to him. But halfway through the procedure (and boy was it a procedure), when the electric razor seemed to clog and break, he came to terms with the fact that my confidence 30 minutes prior might have been misplaced, and that this was nothing more than an experiment. Thankfully, we turned it around.

Instagram / @charlieteather

Here’s how our first cut went down, and everything we (I) wished we’d (I’d) known before embarking… Oh, and check out the recommendations for the best hair clippers for men at the bottom of this page!

Disclaimer: I am (absolutely!) not a professional. Please seek professional advice if you doubt your own capability.

N.b. This cut was a ‘fade‘. The most complex cut, no less. For a regular trim you just need a comb, a sharp pair of scissors and, well, a smidge of common sense. A buzzcut, the simplest of them all, requires nothing more than a pair of clippers and some nerve.


Decide the gradient. It’s a good idea to choose between three and four different gradients, depending on the desire height of the fade. If he likes to keep more length on top, you’ll only need to opt for three.


Starting with the shortest gradient (lowest number) first, run the clippers through the hair from the neck to the top of the ears, not forgetting the sideburns. Sweep in an upwards motion, and once you reach the ears lift the clippers away from the hair with an upwards, outwards flick. This will give the slight, opening gradient and avoid any blunt edges.


Ensure you shake the clippers every so often to remove any hair lodged between the blades, as this could cause them to clog and malfunction, resulting in an awkward ten minute recharge whilst your partner’s hair looks like a mushroom.


Begin your second gradient (second lowest number) and continue with an upwards, outwards flick 2-3cm higher than your previous, ear-height line. This is your first look at the ‘fade’, so keep an eye on the graduation and make sure there’s not an obvious line. If there is, go over it again with this gentler blade length.


If you’re going for a higher fade, continue Step 4 with your third choice gradient (third lowest number) for another 1-2cm.


Select your final gradient (highest number) and blend the most recent section with the fuller top. This blade length will be very subtle and will serve only to thin and blend the bulk on top with the previous level.


Ta-da! Depending on the result, either apply for your salon apprenticeship immediately or run and hide from your partner for the reminder of isolation.

So now that he’s sorted, are you tempted to insist he repays the favour? HA. Kidding. Here‘s how to cut your own hair from home… And here are the best hair clippers for men to help you do a good job…

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