UPDATE: This post has been updated and improved – click below to view the new post with a better tutorial video!

How to do a Boy’s Haircut with Clippers

Over the past 10 years that we have been married, we have saved a LOT of money by doing my husband’s haircuts at home. How much money? In the past 10 years, I have purchased two clipper sets for a total of about $110. I have cut my husband’s hair once a month or more for 10 years. At $17 a haircut ($15 plus tip) that comes out to a savings of about $2,000! Once the boys came along, it was only natural for me to cut their hair as well. I am now saving $40-45 per month by cutting my husband’s hair and the older two boys’ hair at home. (Owen’s hair can’t be clipper-cut… it sticks up all over when it’s short! But thankfully, my next-door neighbor is a hair stylist. She cuts my hair and Owen’s in exchange for my husband mowing her lawn!)

I asked about kids’ haircut prices on my facebook page, and it sounds like many of you already cut hair at home! If you don’t, and you’re wanting to try it, I hope that this post will be helpful to you.

This is the clipper set that I have. It’s a Wahl brand purchased from Sally Beauty Supply for about $70, and it’s been going strong for 6 years! It cost a little more because of the small trimmer that came with it. You’ll see why that’s a helpful tool in a minute.

The guards are numbered (my set came with 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8). The numbers cut the same lengths of hair no matter what set you have.



#3= 3/8″, etc.

Here is Aidan’s hair before…

And the back before… Notice Aidan’s funky hairline along his neck – this makes cutting it straight a little more challenging!

Basically, my strategy is to cut the back and sides a short length, usually a 3. I do the top with a 4 or 6 in the summer, and an 8 (1 inch) in the fall or winter. Then, I use the #4 guard to blend the two lengths. This will (hopefully) make more sense in the video below!

When using clippers, it is generally best to cut with the hair dry. If their hair is too sweaty/dirty/oily it tends to stick together, and does not cut evenly. For this reason, we can’t cut hair outside in the summer – the boys are sweaty within 2 minutes!!

If you simply cut with the clippers and stop there, the haircut will still look a little “home done.” Touching up the ears, sideburns, and neck with scissors and a trimmer really help! Use scissors to trim any long hairs over the ears.

Then use the trimmer to cut a straight line on the “sideburns.” Looks much better! I also use the trimmer to trim the hairline along the neck.

Here is the finished product! The funky hairline is still not quite straight, but it looks much better than before!

What a handsome guy – I cannot believe that he is going to be 8 in three weeks!

A few assorted tips:

  • I usually cut hair in the kitchen because it’s too hot outside, and the bathroom is too small. I’ve never had trouble with hair on the counters/in food, but I do find that the hair is VERY painful if you get it stuck in the bottom of your foot! I usually sweep right away, and then sweep again an hour or two later. It seems like the static dies down by then, and the broom is able to pick up another round of hair.
  • Cutting hair in the garage is another option if it’s not a million degrees where you live!
  • Don’t ever cut hair when your child is wearing polyester pajamas. The hair will never wash out!
  • We purchased a cape for hair cutting from a beauty supply store.

Linked to Frugal Friday


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  1. Sarah Morgan Jul 3, 2011

    I have always done my hubby's and boys haircuts myself. I did take one of my boys to get his hair cut once just to see how they really did it... the girl used beard trimmers to do around the ears and back of the neck. She said it was a lot less scary for a little kid than seeing scissors coming at you!

  2. Crystal @ Intentional Homemaker Jul 5, 2011

    We do haircuts at home, too! It IS such a big money-saver, and my three boys like Daddy to cut their hair so much more than someone at a barber shop or salon!

  3. The Prudent Homemaker Jul 8, 2011

    We do this, too. My husband cuts my hair, though--with just scissors. I found the scissors in the kit I bought were not very good (though the trimmers were great), so we bought a separate pair of hair-cutting scissors.

    We cut our boys hair a little longer; 3/4" on the sides, and with scissors on top. My husband has curly hair, so I do the same on the sides, and 1" on the top.

    It's been a simple thing to cut our girls' hair as well. One of my girls recently decided that she wanted to have her hair bobbed, so I cut it short myself. She has had a ton of compliments on how cute it looks!

    We used towels for years for at-home hair cuts, but several years back I bought a child-size cape and an adult-size cape, and I'm really glad I did. It's just so much easier that way.

    Another savings: the cost of gas, and the time to get there and back!

    1. cheryl Aug 7, 2014

      Took the plunge this year and bought a pro grade Wahl clipper set. Will last decades, and it has paid for itself after three haircuts each for my boys. My boyfriend cuts my long hair, scissors only, thank you very much, lol.
      And after I had mastered doing my boys' haircuts the third time, he unleashed my wild spirit and let me cut his as well. I prefer short hair on my boys and my man. I admit I can be very adament about my likes, but he respects my preferences. He needs to look good for me, not any other woman. Not that I want him to look bad, just manly the way I like.
      I clippered the back and sides with the clippers with the proper comb attachment. I am still a bit nervous with the trimmer with no guard doing the neckline, but the results are as good if not better than the barbershop I used to take my boys to. He tutored me with the scissors over comb in the bathroom mirror. Scissors still scare me, but he is patient with me. We have done the haircuts outside and my older son loves using the leaf blower to clean up the trimmings. I was really tempted to video it, but the battery was low on my phone :(
      We set the boys on a lawn chair with a board acros the arms and we bought a child's cape for them, and an adult cape for me and him.
      Net amount NOT SPENT for the year will exceed $800.
      Worth it? Definitely...

      1. Len Feb 11, 2016

        Which model of Wahl clipper did you get?

  4. Becky Thomas Aug 2, 2011

    Any ideas for cutting a 3 year old's hair that screams and thrashes the entire time? lol I think he's afraid of the clippers. And yes, he does that at the salon too. Needless to say, his hair is waaaayyyy too long.

    1. Sarah Aug 2, 2011

      Ah yes, the screamer... we've had those, especially at that age! Then they sweat a ton, and it makes it even harder to cut the hair. We bribed with candy for sitting still. Also, if I know it's going to be a battle, I just cut the hair all one length with the clippers so I can get it over with quickly!!

    2. Shelly Aug 2, 2011

      We usually let the kids watch a cartoon that they like (like when my oldest went to Kids Hair) that usually has even helped with my boys that don't like haircuts as much.

    3. Julie Aug 8, 2011

      I always used to put on a movie for my son and strap him in the highchair. He was also a thrasher/screamer. It wasn't till later we realized he has sensory problems so that buzzing, vibrating thing coming at him was torture. Plus with all that flailing he did I nipped his ears once or twice with scissors. :( Poor guy.

      Anyway a year or two ago I found a kid's clipper set at Target I think. It's quieter than a regular set of clippers. http://www.amazon.com/Philips-Norelco-CC5060-Kids-Clipper/dp/B002C741NQ This looks like the one we got. It came with a cape and DVD, adjustable guides and scissors I think. My son was actually willing to have his hair cut after I watched the DVD and he saw the little boys on screen willingly get their hair cut. The DVD menu is a tad bit hard to navigate but I get through it. My son does way better with these clippers. Of course he's older now. He would've been six when we got it but maybe a quieter clipper would help with your little guy.

    4. Mandi Jul 15, 2012

      Sometimes it helps if they have a vibrating toy to play with (hold) at the same time you are using the trimmers (my son likes to hold a little 4x4 type truck that runs on batteries) and putting on a movie or cartoon for him to watch while you clip.

  5. rkessler Aug 2, 2011

    Bribe him!!!!!! :)

  6. Nancy Aug 2, 2011

    I cut my husband's and son's hair at home, and they both look great! It is so funny that you mention how painful it is to get a hair stuck in the bottom of your foot, because we thought we were the only ones that ever happened to! I have gotten hair, cathair, and even a cat whisker stuck in the bottom of my foot, and it is not only painful, but frustrating because you can't see it and have a hard time getting it out!

    1. Veggiemomof2 Aug 2, 2011

      My stylist is also my friend & she said it is very painful & can easily get infected if she gets hair stuck in her hand. Rough man hair is the worst.

  7. Megan Camp Aug 2, 2011

    I've been cutting my husband's hair since he was my boyfriend in college and couldn't afford a haircut. :) After we're done, I sweep up and then usually take a damp paper towel and wipe down the area which helps pick up any tiny pieces that the broom missed. I've tried convincing him to cut my hair, it's super straight and long so a very easy cut, but he refuses. I just wait until my mom or mother-in-law visits and then have them cut my hair. Can't be free! I've had friends who have spent upwards of $350 for one cut and color on their hair!! I can't even imagine spending that sort of money on a haircut.

    1. cheryl Aug 7, 2014

      I hope you have convinced him by now. Let him watch a few YOUTUBE videos first though. Long hair is so much easier to cut than short hair. And once he learns you will never get a bad haircut. Don't ask him to chop off 8-10 inches he will freak. Let him cut his teeth on a 1/2 trim using a tutorial. My guy came pre-trained in cutting a woman's hair. But I have seen him coach guys in giving their lady a trim for the first time, and it is not that hard. A couple guys were shaking like a leaf and told my guy, just cut their lady's hair and they will be happy. But he told them he could just do it, she will be happy, but you will never learn. And he guided them through it, yes he had to show them how to check the eveness and their was a second coaching session, but guys who use tools need to look at the scissors as a tool. It is a home project and let them do a manly grunt for a job well done. We can smile and laugh because we look good :)

  8. Jen Aug 2, 2011

    For younger kids who can't sit still. The trick I used was TV. It was nearly the only time they were allowed to watch TV, and they each got to choose what they wanted to watch. It worked well enough. That, and I learned to cut quickly. :)

  9. christine Aug 2, 2011

    traveled over from moneysavingmom.com. thanks for the tips!

    parents may want to buy vinyl apron to keep hair off top/pants too. buy vinyl tablecloth at $ store (party table wear section) to cover flooring and/or make a poncho in lieu of the apron.

    feeling intimidated ? start with highest # guard and work your way down

    1. Veggiemomof2 Aug 2, 2011

      Great idea about the cheap vinyl tablecloth! Thanks!

  10. Angela Aug 2, 2011

    Wahl makes over the ear guides. one for right and one for left. They are angled to cute shorter closer to the ear and longer out. then you don't have to use the razor or scissors and you can find them relatively cheap. http://www.wahl-store.com/product_detail.asp?T1=WAH%203105-050

  11. Melissa Aug 2, 2011

    If you need help getting bangs cut straight, put scotch tape on them and use it as a guide.

    1. sweetb2006 Jul 2, 2012

      I know this post is old but just had to say...

      That's actually a so simple & yet so awesome of an idea! Thnx!

  12. Susannah Aug 2, 2011

    We use baby powder to brush the hair off the boys after hair cuts. I will try your method next time...I've been using the same guard for the whole haircut.

    1. Sarah Aug 2, 2011

      That's a great tip about the baby powder! We'll definitely have to try that! And then they'll smell good too!

  13. Dee Aug 2, 2011

    I have been cutting my families hair for many years also. My youngest son had a hard time sitting still for his hair cuts when he was really young, so, I would have him sit on the edge of the bathroom counter, put his feet in the sink and watch what I was doing in the mirror. He held still, watched what I was doing and talked to me about everything little boys talk about.
    My oldest son has crazy hair around the neckline as well as a few wild pieces towards his crown. It looks better longer, but when he wants it cut short I use a #2 on the very base, extend the guard about 1 1/2" from the bottom and then a #3 a little higher (including the sides). It blends nicely and the crazy hairline is not noticeable.
    As for trimming over the ears, I have found a little beard trimmer works the best. I am always afraid of cutting the skin above the ear. Ouch!!
    The swiffer works great to pick up the little hairs that are left behind.
    Does anyone know of a video that I can watch to learn how to give a perm? My mom usually has the hairstylist give her a perm a couple of times during the year and I just keep it shaped and cut neatly. The problem is her stylist is retiring, so, no more perms. Suggestions?! drjumper4@gmail.com

    1. Veggiemomof2 Aug 2, 2011
    2. Sarah Aug 2, 2011

      I hadn't thought of using the swiffer to pick up the little hairs - great idea. We have a swiffer, but haven't bought refills in a long time. I could probably just use my microfiber dust cloth attached to the swiffer!

  14. naomi Aug 2, 2011

    We bribe our littlest ones with a sucker, it works great!We do our haircuts on the toilet seat and vacum up after their done and they then jump in the shower for their bedtime. Easy clean up.

  15. Julia Aug 2, 2011

    This is just in time for many who are going back to school - thank you for helping us keep our budgets in check!

  16. Alicia Aug 3, 2011

    Thanks for those tips. I've been cutting my husband's hair for 4 years since we were dating (scissors on top, clippers on the side), and more recently doing my 2yo's hair with his pesky double crown. I do it similarly to you and we just got a cape which will help.

    Isn't it so weird how a little hair can get into your foot and cause pain? That happened to me just last week after my son's haircut.

    That is a good tip about the polyester, I didn't know that.

    We started by letting my son feel the vibration of the clippers on his hand and then arm, instead of putting it to his head right away. We put Thomas on Netflix the first couple times and now we don't put anything on.

  17. Amanda Aug 3, 2011

    That's great. We brought our cutter at Bed Bath and Beyond for like $25 dollars after the 20 percent off coupon. I have been cutting my husband's hair for almost 2 years (no kids yet). My husband was paying $25 a hair cut before so it's was a great investment for us. It paid for itself in one use!

    Now that he is joining the military (he leaves in a few months) he likes to keep it real short! So now we cut it at least every 3 week! Plus it's real convenient. No appointment, no waiting in line, etc.

    Thanks for the post.

  18. Jennifer Aug 3, 2011

    I also cut my husband and son's hair at home. My son just turned two and has always had a lot of hair, needed his first cut around one. I found a great kid's clipper set at Target that we use for him. It is much less noisy than daddy's and he's not so intimidated by it. We let him watch daddy's hair get cut, then sit on daddy's lap (in the bathroom - easy to vacuum immediately and then jump in the shower) for his haircut. It has been great. I think it's less intimidating for a little guy than going to some stranger for a haircut too. I use fairly long settings on his mostly straight hair and it looks great. With soft baby hair you kind of have to guide it through the clippers, but it works.

    I actually had to go to the doctor to get one of my husband's hairs out of my foot once. I'm glad I'm not the only one this is a problem for!

  19. Rachel Aug 3, 2011

    Any ideas on how to do a longer boys hair cut for a 3 year old? My husband likes it longer and shaggy. I still want to keep the bangs out of the eyes and keep the hair off the collar.

    I cut my husband´s hair similar to how you do your boys.


    1. Sarah Aug 10, 2011

      My youngest son's hair is much longer than the other boys, but thankfully I don't have to cut it myself! My next-door neighbor comes over and cuts it for free! She just trims around his ears and around his neck to keep it neat. We discovered that if we cut his hair with clippers, it stands up straight! He won't sit still at all for me, though, so right now it's easier to have our neighbor help us. Sorry I'm not more help!

  20. Candy Aug 4, 2011

    My 6 year old STILL freaks out about haircuts. He was a screamer after a relative cut his hair with dull clippers (making it pull). Always check that the clippers are sharp. I check on my forearm hair. I've been cutting hubby and 2 sons hair since last year when I lost my job.

  21. Alisha Sep 23, 2011

    I love the videos! I have always had a tough time cutting my son's hair. Now that I kind of have an idea of how to do it, I am hoping it will get better. I noticed in your video, it looks like your son has a patch of lighter blonde on the left side of his head? I think that is so interesting, my fiance has a similar patch in just about the same spot. Anyway, thanks for the tips!

    1. Sarah Sep 25, 2011

      I wondered if anyone would notice his blond spot! It's actually pretty white. He was born with it, and it's never gone away! A friend told me that it is a type of birthmark, and can sometimes have skin issues that go with it. All he has is the white spot.

  22. Carly May 9, 2012

    I just started using clippers on my son's hair so your little tutorial is perfect for me! I've been doing my husband's hair for the last ten years, but I love my sons hair and didn't want it clipped lol! So for five years I gave him home cuts, and it was great till he made a new friend and wanted his friends hair! I gave in once but honestly hated it. Now it is growing out and he wants me to do it again, but this time I'm going to try it the way you did it, see if I like it better.

    The trick I use to get him to sit still and not to break my back is putting a kids chair on our coffee table. We have those little blue plastic Ikea chairs, the chunky looking ones. I put a dvd in, the chair on the coffee table and go to work. All the hair then falls on the coffee table and is easy to clean up, plus I can move his chair where I need it for better angles lol. Oh, and we have tiled floors, so I don't know if I would do that with carpet. But it does save my back, I don't have to bend over a chair.

  23. Diane Feb 18, 2014

    I think some of the posts are funny but share some great tips. My hair is long, I want it to reach my waist. My boyfriend trims it for me and does a fantastic job. He uses a salon grade pair of hollow ground shears, a cape, the clips and i sit on a backless stool. Usually takes about ten to fifteen minutes. I sit tight while he sweeps up the clippings off the floor, so I have not had the hair sliver problem. He cuts his own in the bathroom mirror with a hand mirror to do the back. I was dating him for over a year, getting great haircuts before I asked him who cuts his. I asked him to teach me to cut his, and that did not go so well. He walked me through the steps, but I got creative with the scissors and left it a little shorter on one side of the back. He was patient with me and fixed it in the mirror afterwards. He said it was a good thing he went longer waiting to let me try so he had room for error. So he cuts mine and last summer we started on my two. He does my daughter's hair like he does mine. She sits on the stool and he trims her hair. She watched him cut mine first so she was not afraid of getting too much cut off. My son is more difficult as I want his kept short. He squirms and throws fits. I did the movie thing with him during the haircut and it helped. For cleanup with my son, I have him hop into the shower afterwards to wash off the short hairs. My sister buzzes her husband and her son's hair. In the summer she does it on the patio with their shirts off and uses a leaf blower to clear the clippings and then uses the garden hose to wash off the clippings on their neck and back. Her husband refuses to cut hers though. He thinks it is somehow unmanly. She has hinted lately that she would like to watch how my guy cuts mine and my daughter's hair and maybe get hers cut too as she needs one. I told I'll let her know but that she would have to leave her leaf blower at home.

  24. Ashley Mar 11, 2014

    Mostly hair clippers are being used by guys because of the guards sizes which it make it easier to cut desired length. What do you recommend for the best hair clipper to do fading style?

  25. Erika Apr 18, 2014

    I got a really nice Wahl clipper set for free with some forgotten Thankyou/credit card points that we never, ever paid a fee or interest on, so that is good frugalness. I hope to soon attack my DH's curly hair and not screw it up.

    I LOVE how you "grab the client's head for stability and leverage" (image #6). I'll remember to do that if things get rough.

    Thanks for the helpful post - I'm not so afraid to do this now!

  26. Angel Jun 20, 2014

    Awesome page! I was searching for pics of different lengths related to guard size. Yours were VERY helpful but would love to also see pics for the #6 and #8 lengths. :)

    1. GOODESY Aug 24, 2014

      I cut my sons hair when they are a sleep

      Because they hate getting hair cuts

  27. Cheryl Jun 26, 2014

    Well I did it! Today I gave both of my boys a haircut. Last time I took them to the barber I was not happy with the results. The hair was not cut evenly and I asked my boyfriend who cuts my hair to fix them. So earlier this week I looked at the boys and said, “This week you are getting haircuts”. I wanted to wait until they were out of school before I tried doing it myself. My youngest went first. I was a little nervous as I put the 1/2″ attachment on the clippers and turned them on. My boyfriend coached me on technique and supervised, giving me tips along the way. Well it was not hard. I wanted the younger one to have it shorter for the summer, so it was pretty much same length all over. Afterwards I took the attachment off and trimmed the sideburns and neckline. Scissors around the ears. It looked great. Then the older one, he wanted to keep it longer on top, so I clippered the sides, and then did scissor over comb cutting on top. My boyfriend did most of that. I did the sideburns and the neckline like my younger. OK, both were done. Brushed each off and then into the showers to rinse off the loose hair. After their hair dried I followed up to inspect my work. A few stray hairs needed attention, but I was extremely pleased with the result. My older son’s hair looked great, better than what he got at the barber shop. My younger one kept looking in the mirror and saying he looked handsome :) I did it, no mess ups and I saved $30 for the two haircuts, plus time and travel. The results were great and I figure at roughly 10 haircuts each a year, I will save $300 a year plus time and fuel costs. Afterwards my mother saw the boys and complimented how nice their haircuts looked. She was surprised when I told her I (with a little help) did them. Needless to say I will not be taking them back to the barber anytime soon when I can get better results at home :) .

    1. Sarah Jun 28, 2014

      We have also found that to be true - when my second son was a toddler, I wanted a good haircut so I took him to an expensive haircut for kids type of place. They did a terrible job! Glad your haircuts turned out so well, and enjoy the savings!

  28. เพิ่มความสูง Jul 5, 2014

    Yes! Finally something about how to do a high and tight haircut.

  29. Brock James Oct 14, 2014

    Very informative, thank you!! I used it on 5 of my boys the other day, I think I did a decent job. They have been getting clipper-cuts for several years, but the older ones wanted to be able to style their hair a bit, so they wanted longer on top. I used this video with decent results, and I'm sure it will be better next time. :)

  30. Emma Nov 27, 2014

    Tried once, never again.You have a very steady hand.

  31. emmy Apr 13, 2015

    I have a 2 year boy with a dobble crown I have used the clippers . Not sure if I have mest his hair up

  32. beard trimmer 8 May 13, 2015

    Hello my family member! I want to say that this article is amazing, great written and include almost all significant infos.
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  33. Brandon Oct 8, 2015

    Karmin, Karmin, Karmin!

  34. Christhoper Dec 1, 2015

    Karmin for sure

  35. Alejandro Dec 1, 2015

    Karmin makes the best in my opinion

  36. George Feb 10, 2016

    Karmin is my preference

  37. Chloe Mar 9, 2016

    For younger kids who can’t sit still. The trick I used was TV. It was nearly the only time they were allowed to watch TV, and they each got to choose what they wanted to watch. It worked well enough. That, and I learned to cut quickly. :)


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