Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cutting little boys' hair in seven easy steps

Ok, so maybe not totally easy steps, but do-able, at least. We are talking boys here.

It's time again. Boys are simple in many ways, but that short hair just needs trim, after trim, after trim. When you've got five boys, that's a lot of time and money spent at the barber's. So a couple years back I learned to cut hair on my own. And you know, it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought. So, since it's haircut-day today I figured a "How-to" post might be fun.

Now, be warned, I've never taken classes on hair cutting, and I've only ever done this one crew-cut style, so if anyone out there has ideas or tips to add, put 'em up too. But over the years I've found a routine and a few tips that get cuts done quickly and (almost) painlessly, so here goes.

1. Start with one boy, preferably with clean, dry hair. First thing in the morning usually works best since attitudes are still decent. This is our two year old Peter, with his shaggy hair all ready for a trim. He's smiling for the camera, but don't let it fool you. The rest of the boys are really good about haircuts now, but Peter and John still hate them. The hollering doesn't start until the buzzer goes on though. Most of them protest at this age though, so I just smile and remind them about the Otter-pop they get afterwards. Babies are easier to trim while strapped into a highchair or sitting on Dad's lap, by the way.

2. Choose someplace over a hard surface or a sheet for easier clean-up.

3. Put on a really good kid's movie to help them keep their head still (and their whole selves still, come to think of it).
Plan to take thirty minutes per boy until you get the hang if it. I spend about ten minutes per head after six years of practice, but it takes a while. Be patient. Each time it gets easier.

4. Make sure equipment is laid out ahead of time nearby. I wear an apron (no sense in us all getting covered in itchy hairs!). A basic clipper from Target is fine, though you can buy much nicer ones at beauty supply stores. I like the Wahls. Look carefully at what's included in the kits because a lot of it will be unnecessary. All you really need is a clipper with high power, oil to lubricate the blades, and a few detachable comb guards.

The comb guards will be labeled either with a number or a measurement of length of hair it cuts. I only ever use a #7 (7/8"), #5 (5/8"), #2 (1/4"), and #1 1/2 (3/16").

A drape to keep clothes from getting all hairy is nice, but they are often poorly made and little kids most likely won't want to wear it. An old sheet pinned on works just as well.

Plug the clippers in using an extension cord. You don't want to be fighting a short cord to get that last side trimmed.

5. And now you're ready to begin. You need to choose two combs for the cut. A longer length for the top, and a shorter for tapering to the neck and ears. In the summer I use a shorter crew cut, with a #5 on top and a #1 1/2 to taper below. But for an adult, or a longer winter cut a #7 on top with a #2 below looks very nice too.

Snap on the longer comb (a #5 here) and buzz the whole head. Use short, even strokes going against the hair growth from the edges (neck and forehead) in. This makes for a lot of itchy hair flying about, so let him cover his eyes and mouth ahead of time.

You could leave the hair this length all over and it'd be a classic buzz cut, but I like the neater look of a shorter hair length at the neck tapered up to the longer length above.

6. Now we create a taper from the longer length on top to a shorter one at the hairs' edge. Change to the shorter comb. I'm using a #1 1/2 in the picture. Think about where a ball cap would sit on his head. That is about the line you want to clip to. Start just in front of one ear and clip in short, upwards strips (maybe an inch and a half long?) all the way along the neckline, and back up over the other ear. Lift the clippers slightly as you near the hat-line so the hair will gradually taper and blend. Use short, even strokes. Try to avoid any sudden changes in length or lines in the hair. I usually clip around once to get the basic shape and then go back over it a couple times to smooth things out.

Hang in there, he's probably itchy and squirmy, but you're almost done.

7. Final detail trim. This is last step, and it's short, but again it makes a huge difference in a polished look at the end. Remove the combs altogether for a really, really close cut. It's basically a shave. Trim the sideburn area in front of the ear.

Then do a careful trim up and over the arch of the ear. Be moderate here. No more than 1/8" above the ear or you end up with hair looking a little detached from the face.

Then even up the hair along the back and sides of the neck so the edges are straight. I leave it flat at the center of the back of the neck with matching angles upwards to the trimmed area above the ear.

And now you're done! If it looks a little uneven, don't be too discouraged. I've seen a lot of imperfect boy haircuts from salons too. Dust off the hairs, change his shirt, give him a hug and a treat and let him tear around for a while to let out the wiggles.

Later on if it's still looking a bit off, try wetting the hair and combing it with a bit of gel. Gel covers a multitide of mistakes!

And there you are. One trimmed boy.

How about you? Any other haircut tips or stories?

Article from site Almost Frugal with instructions for a longer scissor cut that looks pretty simple too.


Held Hostage By Boys said...

Okay you are cute! I never do that much work for my boys. They get 1/2in in the winter and 1/8in in the summer and that is what the get for their whole head. My boys have never given me problems except maybe them wanting their heads done again and again. :) I do the fine detail at the nape of their necks and around the ears and that is it. We probably take about 30 min every 2 months to do all four boys. We also bought a clippers that sucks up the hair while it shaves to make clean up easier and we do it right before bathtime so we do not have to go around with itchy hairs. That is what works in our household. I have a feeling though I might actually have to style their hairs soon. Yuck!! How's your pregnancy going? You are getting close. I have a friend out here due the same time as you and I can not wait to meet your boys. I am so excited!!

Faith Alterton said...

Hi Beth - I miss my haircutting buddy! Before baths is a great idea. And a trimmer with a vacuum? Who'd have thunk?

Pregnancy is going fine. No complications so far thank the Lord. But we just hit 33 weeks and I'm starting to feel tired a lot earlier in the day. You know - when the toddlers fight their naps while you dream of taking one yourself. :) Can't wait to hold him though!

Uncle and Auntie Hightower <>< said...

I LOVE ALL YOUR PICS!!!! Especially the one at the top of you with all your little men!!!! LOL Nick loved it too!!! =) Hope you guys are doing awesome!!! Lord bless!!!
Did I already tell you that I love your fun pics!!!??!!
Have you guys gotten to see Char and Hannah lately? Micah? Elly and Judah are growing soooo fast!!!!! They are so much fun! Nick and I moved to Sac for Nicks work and we don't get to see them as much and I MISS them soooooooo bad!
I hope to hang out with Grace and her family now that we are down here though, and your folks as well!!! THAT will be WONDERFUL!
well...just thought I would say hi!

Sue Metzger said...

Nice summer cuts!This blog could go in the packaging for clipper sets! Way to go Peter! Great job Faith

Chelsie said...

Thanks for the post. We have been giving Caleb bad haircuts for years... your instructions will help with the next cut...

We sure miss you guys!!

Greg Alterton said...

The Otter Pop helps with the process as well.

Faith Alterton said...

Otter pops help with just about anything!

SarahJane said...

Thanks for the tips! I have been cutting everyone's hair around here for a while, but my squirmy almost 4-year-old Ben, is, well, squirmy! The otter pop idea was a hit today, and the haircut went fabulously!

Krissy said...

Soooo glad I found your blog! I've been cutting my little guy's hair since forever but have never felt like I was doing it quite "right." Your instructions and pictures are a BIG help! Perfect! Time to go cut!!! (He's way past due...looks quite shaggy right now!)
PS. Did I read that Homeschool group name right? Do you live in the Valley? I grew up there, in El Centro! Think of that!
Thanks again for your awesome post! Your little fellas are so handsome!!

Rachel said...

I've been shelling out too much money for poor quality haircuts for my 2 year old. I finally decided it was time to try it myself. Thank you so much for the pictures, I'm going to try cutting his hair soon.

Susan In Buffalo said...

THANKS! For the great instructions! Have been takingmy two boys for haircuts and feel like I could save some money and time by doing it myself! Thanks for the selfless act of sharing.