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How to Help Your Quarantine Buzz Cut Grow Out Properly

Unless you want to look like a hairball, you need to at least give your budding hair a little guidance

Widespread, frenzied head shaving has been one of many unforeseen side effects of these extended quarantines and shutdowns. If you fell victim to the crisis-inspired allure of the infamous Quarantine Buzz Cut sometime over the past few weeks, right now, as your hair continues to expand outward like a dampened sponge, you might be thinking, “Welp, where do I go from here?”

You really only have two options: (1) As hairdresser Desiree Eichelbaugh suggests, you could simply wait until you and your barber feel comfortable converging again, which is unquestionably the safest, most conservative approach. Or (2) you could take matters into your own hands yet again, while pleading to a greater power that you have some semblance of success.

Today, I want to teach you how to do the latter, but I also want everything you just read to be something of a disclaimer — if you have zero experience cutting hair and decide to cut your own, you may very well fuck up. Just keep that in mind.

Nevertheless, helping your hair grow in fashionably and tidily from a buzz cut is one of the simpler at-home hairdressing ventures you can take on. As hairdresser Cynthia Barraza explains, buzz cuts tend to resemble miniature mullets as they grow out. “The neck hairline and sides are going to grow faster than the top, so I’d advise you keep cutting the back and sides as the top grows out,” she says. In fact, you should probably avoid trimming the top altogether, since your hairdresser will want that length to work with when you finally decide to pay them a visit.

Hairdresser Catherine Akylas recommends tackling the back and sides of your burgeoning buzz cut with the same clippers you used to shave your head in the first place. One simple way to tackle the peach fuzz growing just underneath your actual neck hairline is to place your hand over the hair on the back of your head, then trim everything below your hand. As for the sides, simply comb any long, stray hairs over the tops of your ears, then use your clippers to carefully trim along the outsides of your ears. Finally, draw an imaginary line across your face and trim those sideburns accordingly.

You could stop there if your hair looks clean and manageable enough, which would be a safe call. But you could also do as my colleague Eddie Kim recently did and give yourself a full-on fade. Basically, starting with the longest guard available on your clippers, trim upward from the back and sides of your head toward the top of your head, frequently checking in the mirror to ensure you never venture too far up. Then, work down the head, gradually attaching shorter guards to achieve that faded look.

Generally speaking, your best bet is to be patient and to avoid trying anything too fancy. Remember, you just want the back and sides of your hair slightly shorter and more manageable until your barber can properly sort you out.

If you have a little more time on your hands and are feeling confident, Barraza recommends using scissors instead, which may actually be a safer bet: “Using scissors is the best option, because you have more control over what you cut, whereas clippers provide a more uniform cut and take everything off,” she says. “Take small sections, use the pointy part of the scissors and ‘chip’ into the hair so it looks softer and more piece-y, rather than straight and bulky.” If you do go this route, Akylas recommends using a comb as a guard, which you may have seen your own barber do, as to avoid accidentally removing too much hair.

If all of that sounds like too much of a risk, Akylas notes that some of her hairdresser colleagues have engaged in quarantine FaceTime cuts, “where they guided their clients through the process to help them out.” So if it makes you feel any better, maybe reach out to your barber and see if they might be interested in something similar.

Otherwise, just remember, your goal when guiding your budding buzz cut is to gently curb the sides and back of your hair. As for the actual cutting and styling, seriously, leave that to the professionals before you end up having to shave it all off again.