Clippers and scissors for at-home haircuts

Before taking matters into your own hands, sharpen your styling skills with this how-to guide

Open pair of scissors and a side view of a man's face
Scissors by Dentsu London, Ernest Wright and Son, Jamie McLellan for Wallpaper* Handmade 2011; Hair by Matt Mulhall for Liam Hodges S/S 19
(Image credit: TBC)

For much of 2020, social media has resembled a hairdresser’s style book of home haircuts; mostly men, putting clippers to heads, setting grade lengths, and employing various attached guards, in the hopeful achievement of something approaching follicular normality. But the deft art of shears-over-comb, layering, cutting, trimming, thinning? That stuff, it seems, is for the professionals.  

Matt Mulhall, a hairdresser and groomer who has styled male heads for Dunhill, Hermès, Fendi, and Paul Smith, disagrees. He advises caution, patience, and a variety of cutting tools. ‘When using clippers don’t go as short as your normal barber would straight away,’ he advises. ‘Leave hair longer and take it shorter in stages, and take your time – your new style will be looking back at you in the mirror for at least four to five weeks…especially painful if all doesn’t go well.'

Matt Mulhall working backstage at Fendi S/S 2017

Matt Mulhall working backstage at Fendi S/S 2017

(Image credit: TBC)

When it comes to facial hair, Tom Dixon’s latest collaboration with Harry’s offers a high-design take on the traditional razor. The men's care brand’s ultra-sharp German steel razors are paired with Dixon’s sculptural handle, which is ergonomically designed for easy usage and made out of aluminium to avoid corrosion. 

For a multi-functional shaver option, Braun’s newly released Series 9 uses a combination of five synchronized trimmers and skin guards to create a shave that ranges from smooth to trimmed without any irritation. 

harry's and tom dixon razors

Harry's x Tom Dixon limited-edition razor collection 

(Image credit: TBC)

When touching up your locks, Mulhall strongly suggests using scissors with straight, sharp blades like those designed by Dentsu London, Ernest Wright and Son, and Jamie McLellan for Wallpaper* Handmade in 2011. ‘Cut a vertical, as opposed to a horizontal line cut, this will soften the edges and minimise ugly mistakes.' Even the most basic pair of hairdressing scissors is preferable to an expensive set of bacon shears purloined from the kitchen drawer, the sharper the better, of course.

A pair of open scissors against a pink background

Scissors by Dentsu London, Ernest Wright and Son, Jamie McLellan for Wallpaper* Handmade 2011

(Image credit: TBC)

For bathroom amateurs, ‘straight' scissors, rather than the more pro, ‘offset scissors' are easier to handle. Configured to a traditional, ergonomic layout with finger and thumb holes set in a straight, level line, straight scissors are popular with barbers. Invest in a pair with a convex edge for the sharpest, crispest and smoothest cut, like those by Milanese menswear brand Larusmiani. The brand's iconic store, once filled with hundreds of brushes, nail clippers and, most notably, scissors, is now closed but a selection of luxury grooming tools can still be purchased online. 

The Series 9 Wet & Dry Shaver by Braun 

The Series 9 Wet & Dry Shaver by Braun 

(Image credit: TBC)

Mulhall is also an advocate of thinning scissors. ‘They can really help to de-bulk hair and blend in lines and possible mistakes.' Japanese brand Y.S Park has been creating high-end professional hairdressing tools since the 1980s and offers the perfect pair of thinning blades for those looking for a natural, lighter look. 

Silver thinning scissors by Y.S. Park

‘Thinning scissors’ by Y.S.Park

(Image credit: TBC)

‘Professional hairdressers like to cut from wet to dry. But for novices, I would recommend washing hair then towel drying hair as much as possible so just damp, combing your hair the way it is usually styled and cutting starting there… little by little.'