prevent mistakes when cutting your own short hairHow to prevent mistakes when cutting your own short hair at home. I understand that not everybody who may be down to DIY their short hair when it comes to styles, is down to take the clippers to their hair. It’s a scary thought. It was one of the last things I tried when I learned to maintain my own short hair at home.

RELATED: Why I Learned To Maintain My Short Hair At Home

However, for some of the brave ones, I know there’s a learning curve involved. So even when you’re ready and you try cutting your short hair at home, you will have some slip ups. And the thing is, it may not happen the first time you cut your own hair. But trust, there will be a time when you will make a mistake. Some mistakes are easily camouflaged, while others, not so much.

I’ve taken straight up chunks out of my head before. When that happened, I had to go down to a low fade. Then there have been other times, when I just went a little shorter than I intended and I was able to cover it up and take note.

What happens is that eventually, you learn your head. You learn how to not make the same mistakes and you learn what works for you. Tools, your hands and how well you’re able to replicate what works will determine if cutting your short hair at home is something you want to do for the long run or, if it’s something you want to leave to the professionals.

For those of you who do want to master this skill, let’s talk about the types of mishaps and how you can avoid them.



There are slips ups that involve shears and ones that involve the clippers. I use both to cut my hair and I’ve messed up my hair with both. For me, the shears are little more forgiving, so I prefer to cut my hair that way.

With shears, you usually cut the hair too short. This can be obvious, but usually the hair will grow out in a couple weeks to a length that covers your error.

You always want to cut the hair and leave it longer than you actually want it to be. This allows you to go back and fix your errors and go shorter. You can always cut more hair, but you can’t put it back, boo.

Look and feel at least 3 times before you snip. This will give you ample time to make any adjustments you need to make BEFORE you snip.


When you make a mistake with clippers, you are pretty much screwed. If you go too short, the hair is usually cut to the skin. There ain’t no covering that up and it will take a lil minute to grow back out. Depending on where you make the mistake, you may be able to pull hair from another section to cover it while it grows back. Think a combover by a balding man.

The difference between clippers and shears is that the shears don’t cut as close to the scalp. So, even though you can go too short with shears, there’s still usually peach fuzz at the very least.

With clippers you want to start with the largest guard possible and with the clippers NOT fully open. This will give you an opportunity to see exactly how much hair you’re taking off. Then you adjust little by little. Take the guard down to the next smallest size, but keep it closed. Then take it down to the next sized guard and so on.

If you get down to the smallest guard and you still want your hair shorter, go BACK to the largest guard and open the clippers. Then start to work your way back down with the guards – the same as before.

This gives you the best chance of finding the settings that work without going in and ending up with a complete bald patch.


The other mishap with cutting your own hair is that you end up with an uneven cut. Unless you’re going for an asymmetrical style, this is not the desired outcome. You have one dominant hand and this is what leads to uneven haircuts. You favor one side and you pull the hair from the other side over to reach your dominant hand. This is technically called over directing and it’s a purposeful and very useful technique.

The problem is that when you don’t know what you’re doing and overdirecting isn’t your intent, you just end up looking like a crazy person.

For this one, what I do is to cut one side and get it where I want it. Then, I go to the other side and cut it. I use the first side as a guide. I’ve even gone so far as to take out a measuring tape and measure the first side and then cut the second side to fit the measurements.

From there you want to go to the back, then the top. This ensures that your sides are even. You can take the back of a pixie cut shorter and still have it look really nice. Even if you didn’t initially intend to take the back down as far as you end up having to.

The same goes for the top. There’s much more room to play around and still end up with a pretty, wearable style.

DIY short hair cheat sheet


Below are some takeaways that apply across the board. Before you cut your own hair, make sure you follow what’s listed below. It will help tremendously. You can also watch both videos of me cutting my own hair with clippers and with shears.

MIRRORS (one large bathroom mirror and 2 hand held mirrors)

how you hold your hands (get comfortable and learn what position allows you to get the firmest grip on your hair)

BE STILL (hold you head steady)

PICK A STRUGGLE (learn to use the clippers or learn to use the shears. Pick one and master it)

SHAPE (study the shape of the cut you like best on your own head. No one sees your head, they just see the hair. Remember to keep the shape of the cut intact.)

You can watch the two videos below for a visual of cutting your own short hair.

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RELATED: How to cut short hair with clippers

RELATED: How to cut short hair with shears