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How to Use Hair Clippers For Beginners (Step-by-Step)

black clipper and clipper guard

As a beginner, it's not unusual to believe that clipping your hair is a difficult task. But with the advantages like having the ability to save time and money, wouldn’t you rather learn?

This is why you’re in the right place!

Everything is hard at first, but with a bit of practice, you'll be able to flaunt your trendy, professional-looking haircut in no time.

We supplied you with step-by-step instructions on how to use hair clippers like a professional!

We'll attempt to answer all of your questions, such as how hair clippers work and how to handle them smoothly, so you don't have to figure them out all by yourself.

Take a few moments to read on to learn how!

How To Use Hair Clippers

First-timers mostly ask about how to use a hair clipper and where to start.

Well, you need to familiarize yourself with its features first.

Try holding the machine and measuring its weight. Is it too heavy for you? Is it too light? Or is it just right? Knowing the answer to these will help you more than you think.

Take some time to find the most comfortable grip for easy maneuvering. There are many ways to hold a clipper; it all depends on the size of your palm.

Once you’ve found your grip, turn the clipper on and let yourself feel the vibration. Is it too much? Too less? Or just right? Does the noise agitate you? And does its functioning alter your grip?

Finding the right tools and guards and attaching them securely to the clipper is crucial for accuracy.

Make sure to plan on what you will be doing to your hair ahead of time, may it be fading, layering, or trimming different lengths.

Tools You Need To Cut Your Hair


If you’re looking for clippers to invest in, there are various choices to choose from depending on your skill level, budget, and the style of cut you want to get. There are a wide range of the best clippers for black men, quiet hair clippers, and even shape-up clippers depending on your needs.

Plus, get a good quality; the mid-range clipper will surely be more than enough as a beginner.

High-quality clippers will definitely be worth the investment and will keep you from contemplating how to ask for a haircut from your barber.


man holding a hair cutting scissor and a comb

Good quality scissors are a must.

You may be thinking that you don’t need them since you’ve got your clipper, but you’re definitely wrong. Scissors provide a more manageable process and allow you to achieve a stylish and professional finish.

Comb/ Guard

A comb is undoubtedly a must-have as it ensures an even level cut as it guides you along the way.

Similar to other products mentioned, different types of combs produce different types of finish. Hence, you want to invest in good quality and affordable one that is easy to glide through the hair without causing discomfort.

Hair Salon Cape

A salon cape or any alternative for this is essential if you’re cutting your hair at home.

This prevents hair from sticking to your clothes, chairs, towels, etc. A salon cape can last years at most with proper care.

If you want an alternative for one-time use, you can use a garbage can liner by quickly cutting a hole in the middle for the head. It may not be as presentable, but it serves its purpose.

Prepping Hair Clippers Before Use

Now that all of your “how do hair clippers work” and “how do I use a hair clipper” questions have been answered, it is now time to start preparing and give it a try. 

Guard Sizes

Provided below are the haircut numbers and their clipper guard sizes in inches of hair length.

  • Number 1 – one-eighth of an inch
  • Number 2 – one-quarter of an inch
  • Number 3 – three-eighths of an inch
  • Number 4 – one-half of an inch
  • Number 5 – five-eighths of an inch
  • Number 6 – three-quarters of an inch
  • Number 7 – seven-eighths of an inch
  • Number 8 – one inch

Hair Cut

Before making any move, you must first have a goal in mind of which haircut you want to achieve. Listed below are the haircuts you can perform.

Number 0 Haircut

This is the shortest buzzed haircut possible due to the lack of guard attached to the clippers. This is also a shaved head or a bald fade making it the easiest haircut you can get on yourself.

Number 1 Haircut

Just longer than the 0, this is used for faded sides or very short buzz cuts.

Be mindful that if you use this all over your head, your scalp may be exposed. I only used this for faded sides.

Number 2 Haircut

This is the most commonly used for faded sides and buzz cuts.

Being only a bit longer than number 1 allows you to achieve a short haircut, but it doesn’t overexpose your scalp, unlike the previous one. This is recommended for you if you want to go balding.

Number 3 Haircut

This haircut is popular as it goes well for people with thick and thin hair. This is also the highest number for maintaining a fade haircut. It is short but let no scalp show.

Number 4 Haircut

This is a middle-length haircut used for conservative styles. This may be known as brush or crew cut.

Number 5 Haircut

This haircut does not produce short length and can be styled and brushed. This is perfect if you want to have a haircut on the side without creating too much of a contrast.

Number 6 Haircut

This is commonly used for tapered sides of the hair, making it similar to a crew cut.

Number 7 Haircut

This is the result of how to use clippers on yourself. Being an excellent crew cut haircut is best for buzzing without the need for scissors. You just have to use the smaller clipper sizes for the finishing touches of faded sides.

Number 8 Haircut

This is ideal for trimming longer hair on top of your head; then, you can fade the sides for a good cut shape, contrast, and balance with smaller sizes.

Steps On How To Use A Hair Clipper Properly

man holding a clipper for hair cut

Step 1

You should have the tools you need by your sides, such as clippers, comb, neck duster brush, cape, vacuum, neck shaver, and any lotions or oils you prefer to use.

The 3-2-1 technique is a typical clipper cut. On top, a number three, two on the sides, and one around the ears and lower neck. I recommend a 4-2-1 grade haircut because it gives a bit extra height on top to play with.

You can check the numbers and guard sizes if you scroll for more information.

Step 2

If you’re going to perform cutting with another person and you’re wondering how to cut hair using clippers, you need to make sure that they’re seated comfortably first. Use a towel or cape around their neck to keep strands from sticking in their clothes.

If you’re at home, it is recommended that you put a plastic sheet beneath for easy cleaning as it can catch the hair, then shove it outside or in the trash.

A vacuum cleaner is an ideal partner.

Here’s a tip...

Clean up as you go along, cutting the hair with a handheld vacuum for less hassle.

To avoid being hunched over for long periods, always use a pillow or raise the chair for a better position.

Step 3

Having the correct comb attachment is vital to determine your desired length.

Commonly, others start with the lowest attachment up to the highest. But if you’re a beginner learning how to use clippers to cut hair, it is ideal for you to start from the highest guard setting up to the lowest.

Starting at the base of the head and working up to the top is the best way to cut hair with clippers.

Place the clippers on the back of the head and tilt the head forward slightly. Start by turning on the clippers and applying firm pressure as you work your way up to the top.

You should keep a tight grasp on the clipper to avoid damaging it if you drop it. Repeat on the back and sides of the head, all the way to the top.

Start at the front of the head (the forehead) and work your way backward from the hairline to the top and then the rear of the head. Continue until you get the required length and an even finish.

Essentially, you'll begin by chopping off all of the hair with the highest guard length. You don't have to be concerned about detail or size.

For a more efficient and uniform cut, work against the direction of the hair. Run a comb over your hair to provide an equal finish, and check for any places you may have missed.

Step 4

You should now have a number (or whatever you choose to call it) all over the place.

You may stop there if your hair is short enough. You've just made a buzz-cut, so congrats!

You may, however, choose a hairstyle that is longer on top and shorter around the sides and ears.

This is referred to as hair blending. If that's the case, you'll need to switch to a shorter guide comb for the sides and back. Reduce the length of your first guard by one or two sizes.

Finding your ideal mix and transitioning from the sides to the top is all that matters.

If it’s your first time, then you must be mindful and be cautious. You can use one numbered comb down from the highest, and if it’s still long enough, you can drop down another size.

You can either start at the sides or back of your neck. Now, you must only cut down the hair up to where the bone line is slightly visible around the side of the head. This is known as a parietal ridge.

For a more accessible guide, you can use your fingers.

Now, using the clippers, maneuver them until you hit the ridge with the help of your fingers. Then, use a scooping action in an outward direction, away from the head.

This gives a better blending. You should also do this at the sides and the back. Pull the ears down to better expose the hair around it, ensuring a clean cut using clippers.

You can continue this procedure until you’re satisfied and until it has an even length.

This demonstrates how to use clippers to cut hair and achieve a decent-looking haircut.

Step 5

Now, you should sharpen the ear and base of the neck area. However, this may be tricky for people just starting to learn to use a clipper, especially if your guide comb is a number 1.

It is recommended that you start from the sideburns and slowly work up to the area around the ears.

Now, here’s how to trim hair with clippers. Trim about an inch up from the base of your neckline to the side of your ears. Keep scooping in an outward motion with the clippers as a finishing touch.

Step 6

Lastly, carefully use the hair trimmer to trim the hairline such as the forehead, side of the ears, and neck for you to achieve a symmetrical and even finish. Learn more about the differences between trimmers and clippers.

Using the clippers without an attachment, remove stray hairs from the back of the neck beyond the hairline. Because the naked edge is quite sharp, proceed with caution and care.

Then, check if there are left-out stray hairs by combing the hair through. You just have to keep in mind the length of the comb used to guide.

This is something I would recommend doing throughout the cut, especially if you're just starting.

The more you use clippers to trim hair at home, the simpler and faster it becomes.

Just like that, you just did a cut on how to use clippers on hair, and you've just saved yourself $10-$50.

Here's a guide on how to use clippers:

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Are Hair Clippers?

Professional hair clippers cost more than a home-use budget electric clipper. This is because they feature good quality that is worth investing in. They range from $5 to $100 though there are also plenty of great electric razors under $50.

How Do You Use Hair Clippers At Home?

It is vital to wash and dry your hair for easy maneuvering. You may start at the sides, move onto the back, and lastly, on top of your head. Of course, you need to prepare not just the tools for cutting but also cleaning your electric razor afterward. Again, you must familiarize yourself with the product. After that, you must prepare a space for cutting. 

What Direction Do You Use Hair Clippers?

It is best to use hair clippers against the direction of the hair’s growth. You must begin at the bottom, then move in an upward motion. If it’s necessary, you should pass over the same area to have the perfect length.

Is It Better To Use Clippers On Wet Or Dry Hair?

No, it's not. It is a must that you must have dry hair. It is nearly impossible to cut wet hair using a clipper. This also prevents the clipper from rusting, making it last even longer.

How Do You Use Hair Clippers For Beginners?

First, you should start at the side, maneuvering the clipper in the opposite direction of the hair growth. If you wish to achieve a fade, then you must use a blend of two guard sizes. Second, move onto the back of the head using the same upward direction. You can use a mirror to check if it’s evenly cut.

Third, the top of your head. If you’re not balding, then you should trim your hair with the help of a comb. Afterward, you can neaten the hairline with the use of a clipper.

The Bottom Line

There is no need to think twice when purchasing high-end professional clippers; they’ll be worth it as time passes by with their features.

With time and practice, it will be easy for you to learn and produce satisfying results. You’ll improve in terms of accuracy, patience, and skill if you never give up on it.

Invest in a good hair clipper, and it will be easy for you to achieve a detailed cut with a professional finish.

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