How to Cut Boys’ Hair Like a Pro, part 2: Clippers

Continuing on from yesterday’s post please welcome again Cheryl from Moms in Need of Mercy as she guests posts more about cutting little boys’ hair!

As moms in need of mercy in all walks of life, when we can find ways of doing things ourselves instead of paying someone else to do them for us, we can save lots of money. Replacing a $10 haircut a month with one at home will save $120 dollars a year–and that’s just for one son. How’s that for inspiring!

When we talk about cutting our sons’ hair ourselves, I find clippers less intimidating and more forgiving than scissors. Stick the guard on (I use a longer one for the top and front, a shorter one for the back and sides), slide it carefully through the hair, blend with scissors, voila–you have a fairly decent haircut. But since my friend Liz is the trained cosmetologist and I am just the amateur, let’s go with what she says when it comes to clipper cuts!

Whereas with a scissor cut, you start with damp hair; with a clipper cut, the hair needs to be perfectly dry.

In Liz’s professional opinion, using a guard higher than a number four (or a half-inch) is just about worthless. She says the clippers will miss so many hairs that you might as well just use your scissors and follow those angles that we talked about in yesterday’s post.

So plug those clippers in, and let’s get to work!

As you can see, Liz is starting in the back at the base of the hairline. It may look like there is no guard, but Liz is using a #4 (1/2″) snap-on metal blade. This is definitely not for the faint of heart!
Look closely at this picture. You can see that she uses her finger to hold the hair down. This way you won’t leave behind any stragglers. She is also “scooping” up with the clippers (like a plane pulling up for take-off) to start putting an angle on the hair for blending.

So we work around the head this way and wind up with that “dog at the groomer’s” look. Wonderful, isn’t it? Depending on how your son is behaving that day, you could stop there, or do the right thing and finish it. :) Making everything even is the art and science of blending, which comes later.

Once you’ve clippered the back, you will move on to the sides. The highly trained pro that she is, Liz continues to use a half-inch snap-on metal blade (for safety, I use the plastic guard that came with my $30 Wahl set from Walmart). Remember to tuck the ear down as you cut or clipper around it.
Ok, so we’ve gotten rid of a lot of hair! Now we move to the front and switch to using scissors. Here Liz is figuring out how much to take off the top so it will blend well with the back and sides. Once that’s decided, you will then pull the hair straight up and cut across horizontally to your desired length. These cuts don’t have to be perfect. In a minute, you’ll go back through and even everything up.
Do you see all the various hair lengths in this picture? As we talked about yesterday, you always want to include hairs from the last cut you made in the section of hair you are currently cutting so that they function as your guide. You can see that Liz is cutting the hair to match the shortest lengths (from the previous cut she made). She is also angling the hair toward the crown to compensate for my son’s cowlick at his crown. Continue to work through the crown this way, using the short hairs as your guide as you pull new sections and cut parallel to the head.

The next step is to blend the sides and back by pulling the hair straight out and cutting it parallel to the shape of the head, as the pictures below illustrate.

Ready to try advanced techniques? Use your clippers to blend the haircut. You will use your comb to pull out the hair and then clipper along the comb. A key for success here is to position the blade of your clipper in the middle of the comb and work up (or over). Move your comb down to get hairs below the mid-point. Otherwise you will end up with tell-tale clipper marks in your haircut.

As the cut becomes more blended, you can see that Liz is using a 45-degree angle toward the neckline to blend the back. Depending on the length of the top, you may need a tighter angle (closer to the head) or a wider angle. Think of putting a pen vertically against the back of the occipital bone. You would want the hair to blend nicely to that line.
If you don’t feel comfortable using clippers for blending (I don’t!), feel free to use your scissors. Again, Liz is using the 45-degree angle to blend the back, as you can see here.

Now for a few final notes:
When boys are wiggly (when are they not?!), use a firm hold on the hair. This way, if you’re holding the section you want to cut tightly enough, your little (or not-so-little) bundle of testosterone can move around like he’s on a mechanical bull, and you’ll still be able to make a precise cut without cutting him.
Finally, Liz said the biggest mistakes she sees in home haircuts are 1) leaving the sides too bulky and 2) cutting straight across the neckline (and the forehead too). To remove bulk, you can use your clippers with a guard and follow the techniques we described earlier (using your comb, clippering along it). Here are a few pictures of Liz taking extra hair out of the neckline and sides:

And one last picture of “point-cutting” the forehead (cutting small points on the ends so it breaks up the “straight-across-the-forehead” look):

Now that you’re armed with hair-cutting know-how, do you feel like you’re ready to get to work?
Remember, practice makes perfect! I hope you found these tutorials helpful and that you feel confident enough to give it a try. Think of what you could do with all that money you’ll save. Go give it a try!
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” –Philippians 4:13
Head over to Moms in Need of Mercy and give Cheryl a BIG thank you for guest posting all of this wonderful information!!!


  1. Hezzielee says

    Ooooh! Good tips. Looks a little more complicated than I thought it would with all the blending, though. My 6yo gets a 3/8 on the sides and a 5 or 7/8 on the top, depending on the time of year! I think maybe I’ll skip a few cuts and give this a shot once it’s longer- (might be more forgiving and fixable if I goof!)


  2. Bessers says

    Thanks. This looks great. I usually give my son a clipper cut with a size 5 or 7/8″ all over. If he’s fairly still, I follow up with a shorter length on the sides & back and try to blend. What I like about this cut is that it can be longer on top and a greater difference between the top and back. I may try it, but it definitly looks harder than what I’m doing now!

    With both cuts, I would love to see an overall “after” photo.


  3. Courtney says

    This is really helpful information.

    My boys like their hair super-short, so I just use the 1/4″ blade all over. They look like little Marines when I’m done!


  4. says

    Wow, this seems quite complicated. I think I’m sticking with the #2 (summer) or #3 (winter) all over – in other words, the military buzz. With all of my boys’ cowlicks, it’s about the only cut that actually looks decent. I hope they don’t ever start wanting it longer.

    Funny story about haircuts. I refuse to cut my dh’s hair, although he’s asked several times after he’s returned home from the barber and I’ve said, “it isn’t short enough.” Well, the last time he went to the barber, he told her #1 all over. She told him that was too short, so he came home with a #2 on top and #1 on the sides. He walked in and I started talking to him without really looking at him. (I was making dinner). I was mid-sentence when I looked up and saw his him. I couldn’t help but laugh. It was definitely short enough that time! And, once I got used to the new look, it really looked great on him as well.

    Only down side, now he’s really after me to do his hair. How about a how-to on the correct way to cut the neck line, ears, and sideburns on a buzz cut? Please!


  5. says

    Both of these posts are great! I have tried scissors and clippers with my son, but it has been hard to find a good tutorial. The only thing that I am wondering now is if she has any tips for cutting curly hair for boys. I stink at hair cutting so my saving grace has been that his hair is so curly that it hides all my mistakes! LOL! My son just turned three and I am starting feel that he is getting old enough for a good haircut to matter more. As time goes by I need some tips to work with his curls and do the cut right. What is recommended for curls… scissors or clippers. Also, I think it looks better when curls or not so tapered off at the neck…. does she have a suggestion for that? Thanks!


  6. Jackie says

    Very nice tutorial. I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to use scissors on my boys. Usually me or DH just uses clippers but they’ve decided they want it longer. I would like to see more info on the “point cutting” technique. I’m not sure I really understand what she is doing there. A video on Youtube would sure be great!


  7. Jessica says

    Thank you so much for the photos and drawings! My son has really thick curly hair and it was difficult, but after 2 times now I feel like I am getting the hang of it. My husband is really into saving $ these days and said I could try once or twice before going back to his normal stylist. He gave the cut a thumbs up and I didn’t have to buzz it after! hahaha Thanks so much!! Your ideas have already saved us at least $30. :)


  8. Karen S. says

    Thankfully, my son liked the buzz cut; it was much less intimidating. I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for about 15 years. Now, that first hair cut was really stressful; there was a lot more at stake.


  9. says

    Hi Laura, great post. The pics make it so much easier to follow your tips. I regularly shave my 4 year old’s hair and it can be a challenge but what I do recommend for the more younger kids is;
    Buy a hair clipper which is as silent as possible. I used to use a professional hair clipper which unfortunately made tremendous noise because it had such a large motor, but this terrified him.
    Use a cordless trimmer. The younger kids tend to move around alot and you don’t want the cord to keep tangling up around them as this may get pulled and cause an accident.
    I also take a garbage bag and cut a hole at the bottom to put it through his head. This way the hair does not go under his shirt and cause irritation while I’m shaving his head.


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