How to Shave Your Head Into a Cool Buzz Cut at Home

When New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo declared all nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and other personal-care businesses across the state as “non-essential” in March, my heart sank a little. Why? During times of uncertainty, many people lean into beauty and self-care as an antidote to stress, anxiety, or fear.

But, of course, social distancing has to be prioritized to reduce the deadly spread of COVID-19. Even before any statewide mandates, many beauty businesses voluntarily closed their doors until further notice to protect their clients and staff. And, with little information on a timeline for re-opening available, folks at home are taking matters into their own hands (literally) by cutting their own hair.

Buzz cuts, which were already favored by celebrities like Amber Rose and Adwoa Aboah, have become a popular option, at least in part because they are the hardest to mess up. However, successfully buzzing your own hair isn’t as straightforward as simply taking a disposable razor to your head. Most hairstylists I’ve interviewed about at-home cuts used to suggest leaving it to the experts, but with this new normal, the pros are offering tips on how to confidently cut your hair in their absence.

Buzz cuts..

Getting started

“The key to giving yourself a good buzz cut is [to] have patience doing it and keep going over it to make sure there are no areas untouched,” explains hairstylist Ken O’Rourke who counts Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Lily Collins, and Rooney Mara as clients. “Most textures are appropriate for the buzz cut but if you have extra-fine hair, I’d personally avoid it. The problem with buzzing very fine hair is it can tend to make you look bald because there isn’t enough hair to cover the scalp,” O’Rourke explains. “The best option if you want really short hair with this texture is [to] opt for a short, gamine crop — a longer version of a buzz cut.” This is, of course, unless bald is the look you’re going for.

Buzz cuts require minimal equipment: all you need is a pair of clippers with multiple guards. Stylist Vernon Scott, who works with Danai Gurira, Cynthia Erivo, and Idris Elba, recommends the brand Andis as “they have a full line of professional and personal products perfect for everyone from the novice to the expert.” You can easily order online to avoid making a trip to the store.

However, don’t get creative and reach for beard trimmers instead — make sure to use and/or purchase clippers made specifically for hair on your head. Beard trimmers and hair clippers are quite different. “Beard trimmers are smaller in size and power and the blades are designed to cut closer to the skin as far as shaving and lining,” explains Scott. “[On the other hand], a hair clipper is larger in power and blade size has more increment adjustment, detachable guards, and the ability to cut hair styles at longer lengths. However, it’s not designed for lining and shaping intricate areas.”

Pick the right guard length

If you are new to the world of buzz cuts, the science is simple. “The higher the number guard, the less amount of hair it will cut,” explains Scott. “The lower the number, the more hair it will cut.” So, you have to make a choice about if you want a super close crop or something with a little bit of length.

O’Rourke recommends picking a guard that doesn’t go brutally short on the first go. “Remember, you can always choose another one if you want to go shorter. That way, you’re in control.” Typically, guards will have the inch length listed on each attachment. Make sure they are on securely before you start cutting. If they are loose (or pop off), you risk getting a bald patch or uneven cut that can only be fixed by going even shorter.

Start cutting with caution

First, take a shot. Just kidding, liquid courage is definitely not something we’d advise before picking up a buzzer. However, hair should be 100 percent dry and without any product so the blade doesn’t get clogged or blocked. In terms of technique, “you can start at any point — the key is to go against the grain, so that the haircut is even,” explains Scott.

If that method seems a bit intimidating (totally get it), O’Rourke suggests starting with the sides and back first. “Then, you have the choice to leave the top a tiny bit longer — but again, take your time and don’t rush it,” he cautions.

Buzz cuts

Make it your own

Most people go with the popular 3-2-1 buzzcut, for which you use a No. 3 guard for the top of your head, No. 2 on the sides, and No. 1 around the edges. “A good way to make the buzz cut a bit more feminine is to leave a little length somewhere at the nape or around the hairline,” explains O’Rourke. Or, if you want an even cut all around, you can opt for the same guard number all over. Be prepared to touch it up every two to four weeks or so, pending on the style you select.

Scott shares, “Since the hair is already low, keeping the scalp clean and using minimal product is optimal — Shea Moisture’s extensive hair-care line can maintain and moisturize your new buzzed perfection.” I’m personally a fan of their Argan Oil & Shea Butter Waves Pomade for Men for adding some additional texture.

It’s OK if you mess up

Though most of us aren’t going out in public at the moment, you can always cover up mistakes with a hat or a chic turban (like this one from Loza Tam) during your video conference calls. “There is no way to mess up a buzz cut other than cutting it too short,” shares Scott. “Luckily, it will grow back in a week and you can try again!”

Another option? At-home color. “If you get fed up with [your buzz cut,] why not try coloring it? When the roots come through, it will look edgier and give you a chance to see how fast it’s growing,” adds O’Rourke.

Shaving her head

-Allure