What's the best way to learn just a little about cutting hair?

I don’t want to get my cosmetologist’s license or anything, but whenever I get my hair cut I think it’s so interesting - why do they do it that way, how does it work, etc. I’d like to be able to do simple haircuts - not mine, but on my boyfriend and similar. It’d be a nice skill to have if I ever have kids, for example.

How do you learn? (I don’t mean “how do you hack somebody’s bangs off” - how do you learn to do a decent “Great Clips” or “Hair Cuttery” haircut?) Do cosmetology schools have a one day “consumer level” class? One assumes you’d want to learn from a real person - I’ve learned a lot of stuff from books, but none of it involved hacking other people’s hair off. I let my boyfriend cut my bangs once and it was… unwise. I know somebody (nowhere near me at this point, unfortunately) who backpacked through Europe with nothing but a Eurail pass, a plane ticket out of Paris, and a pair of scissors. She gave a billion backpackers haircuts in hostels and never went hungry.

So, how do I learn? I don’t have kids to ugly up for a few weeks just lying around to practice on.

Do not practice on yourself!

You could get a book from the library, although if it’s anything like reading descriptions of how to style hair, that wouldn’t help me at all!

I’ve practiced enough on my own head to be able to cut my own bangs, but few people have ever allowed me to put scissors near their heads.

You could just watch other people get their hair cut. It’s a shame you don’t have kids for this! I took the boy to get his hair cut the other day and sat there thinking, “Oh yeah, I remember that! I could do that.”

I agree the how and why is very interesting.

ETA: Never mind the book part, I see you’ve done that. :smack:

I cut both my husband’s and son’s hair. I have zero training.

My son started out as a relatively simple clipper cut when he was small. I watched the girl in the salon do it a couple times, paid close attention to how she held the clippers, what guards she used, etc. Then I bought my own clippers and took a whack (literally) at it. It wasn’t great the first couple times, but most clippers come with some basic instructions that help out some, and practice does eventually make perfect.

With my husband, I just went with him to the salon a couple times, noticing the way the girl held the scissors, the angle she held his hair at to get it to fall right and how she trimmed the nape of his neck and sideburns.

The best advice I can give is to start small. The first few times, cut off much less hair than you think you should. You can cut more later, but there’s no putting hair back on once you’ve taken a big chunk out. Also, don’t jump in and try a whole new hairstyle on someone. Try just giving someone a trim, and follow the lines of the haircut they already have. It is much easier to follow what someone else has done than to blaze a new trail yourself, especially in the beginning.

Also, try to cut different types and textures of hair. You will learn how they lay differently. My son has poker straight, very thick hair. If I don’t cut and blend it just right, you can see every single snip. My husband’s hair is thick and wavy. It hides a lot of not so perfect cuts, but I also have to cut some pieces shorter and others longer to make it appear the same length, due to the wave pattern.

I think that there are some hair-cutting magazines out there that have basic hair-cutting step-by-step directions. Some of the hairstyles are wacky, but all haircuts are variations on a theme, and you just need to look for some that are symmetrical. If you’re good at following written instructions and pictures, you should be able to give a simple cut pretty easily.
Also…I bet your regular beautician (if you have one) would give you pointers for basic cuts. They generally understand that everyone can come in regularly for cuts, and that you might need to keep up in between salon cuts.
My mom is a beautician, and I learned by watching her. I’ve been cutting hair and giving perms all of my life. Mostly it’s just hit and miss…I just keep cutting until I like it. (Luckily we aren’t a picky bunch!)

Maybe you could buy one of those practice heads that beauty school students use. E-bay, maybe?


I cut my husband’s and kids’ hair–it’s not too hard. Start simple, get a book and a clipper, and find someone who will let you try it! Husbands are ideal for this.

Have you tried Googling “how to cut hair” or “how to give a haircut”? I found these:

How to Give a Man a Simple Haircut

Men’s Clipper Cut (video)

Haircutting DIY (lots of styles, some step by step pics)

Marry someone in the military:

  1. You’ll move, and lose your job, and money will be tight (motivation).
  2. Your spouse will need a haircut about every 20 minutes. (necessity)
  3. A bad haircut is ok. Hell, some of the on-base barbers I’ve been to think “bad” is a style, as in “How do you want it cut?” “Bad(ly), plus could you nick my ear? This is a new shirt.”

Seriously, buy some scissors & clippers, google “how to cut hair”, and practice. Fear not: the tools will pay for themselves in about three haircuts, and the not-so-good cuts… are just haircuts. They’ll grow out.

Your Boyfriend May Vary (YBMV).