In pandemics past, a lot of guys decided to give themselves a buzz cut. For some, it was a totally temporary thing. But for others, they were into it, so much so that it’s stayed the lid of choice all these years later. And we don’t blame ‘em either. From blowout tapers to Edgars, the humble buzz cut is one of the most low maintenance styles that you can get. But just because it’s easy to do, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to do properly.

Buzz cuts have been around for hundreds of years. In the early 1800s, they were worn by dudes in the army. In the late 1900s, they were worn by punks and rebels. And, now, they’re worn by absolutely anyone. David Beckham had one. Tom Hardy, too. And if you want to give yourself the perfect buzz cut, big city barber TJ Hunt of Ruffians is here to impart some wisdom on what to do and what not to do when getting one.

How to get a buzz cut

#1: Look in the mirror

When giving yourself a buzz cut (or any haircut, for that matter), you need to remember that it’s not only about how it looks from the front. Sure, you can’t see the back of your head, but everyone else can. And if it looks a post-apocalyptic scene from Fallout, people are gonna notice.

“We’re so used to looking at ourselves straight on into the mirror that we think this is how everyone else see us,” says Hunt. “Unfortunately, everyone else will notice if you’ve made a dog’s dinner of the back of your swede. For this reason, I’d recommend using two mirrors so that you can look into the one in front of you and see what’s going on behind. This takes a bit of trial and error, but will make all the difference if you want to avoid the wrong kind of party at the back.”

#2: Go cordless

There are two main reasons why dudes want to buzz their hair from the comfort of their own home. Firstly, the ease of doing it whenever you want without having to make the trek to the barbershop. And secondly, it’s better for your bank balance. While it may seem a little counter productive, you should probably invest in some fresh gear. Hear us out!

“The cheapest hair clippers are corded, and they’re a right pain in the ass,” says Hunt. “The cord is often too short to be practical and, even if it is long enough, it’ll wrap around your ears and get caught as you work your way around your noggin. Go for a pair of cordless clippers that you can just plug in and recharge after every trim-up. You’ll thank me later.”

#3: Keep it simple

Just in case you didn’t already know, the buzz cuts that you might see on the runway and on big billboards are actually a lot more tailored than you might think. Even at the shortest of lengths, the back and sides will often be shorter than the top to give off a more flattering and masculine profile and help avoid the dreaded mushroom effect as it grows out.

“Achieving this look requires a bit of expertise, as there will be weight where the sides meet the top if it isn’t seamlessly blended,” says Hunt. “To avoid this eyesore, and to make it look less like you’ve shaved your thatch yourself, opt for a ‘one’ all-over vibe and just do it more often to keep it looking sharp and well-maintained. Be warned though, if you get used to the very shortest of buzz cuts, you may be reaching for the clippers weekly.”

#4: But the details still matter

But just because you’re keeping it simple, it doesn’t mean you should just completely ignore the details. If you’re going to spend the time, effort, and money to give yourself the perfect buzz cut, there’s not much point if you’re not going to bother with the finer things.

“The difference between a rubbish haircut and one that looks like a professional job can often be seen in the edges,” says Hunt. “Once you’ve achieved the desired length throughout, remove the guard from the clipper and clear all of those pesky hairs on the neck and around the ears. Be careful though, one foul move and you could end up trying to rebuild a botched hairline, and this rarely goes well.”

#5: Go against the grain

So you’ve got an extra mirror, a decent set of clippers, and you now understand the basics of keeping it simple while caring about the details. Good – now it’s time to get to work. If this is your first rodeo, it’s always worth remembering that you should play it safe. You can always trim more, but you can’t add anything back. So if you want a ‘three,’ start with a ‘five’ and take it from there. Keep it slow and keep it steady.

You also want to go against the grain when you’re tackling the sides of your head. It’s more effective at tackling longer strands, and it’ll keep everything nice and uniform. No patchiness here!

#6: Keep all your equipment clean

When you’re at your favourite barbershop, you never see scissors and clippers just lying around. That’s because every single piece of equipment gets cleaned and disinfected regularly, and while you might think you can avoid this step just because you’re the only person using your kit, you should still keep everything clean and well-maintained.

“The benefits of keeping your clippers fresh are twofold,” says Hunt. “Firstly, it’ll protect your investment and keep those beauties running smoothly as the blades won’t get blunted and clogged up with hair. Secondly, it’ll keep them sanitary. Think about it; when you run the clippers over your head, it removes not only hair but also disrupts some skin from your scalp. You wouldn’t want historic scalp matter mixing with the fresh stuff, even if it is your own, right? It’s as simple as brushing off the blades after every use to remove any little hairs before spraying with some clipper spray and wiping dry. Easy peasy.”