Tools and techniques for a tolerable at-home haircut
Before taking matters into your own hands, sharpen your snipping skills with this stylish how-to guide
Since mid-March, 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 scissors? 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.’
For cutting the perimeter edges of the hair Mulhall strongly suggests using scissors with stright, 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.
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.
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 hairdresing tools since the 1980s and offers the perfect pair of thinning blades for those looking for a natural, lighter look.
‘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.’ §