And if you completely botched things, Krieger says, who cares? “You have room to mess up, you will have enough time in isolation for it to grow back.” At that point, you can always buzz it all off, throw on a hat for your daily Zoom meeting, and pray it’s long enough for your barber to work with when we’re done with this.
The Look: Going Long
Guys with longer hair are going to be rightfully reticent to try a DIY cut—scissors could spell doom to long or medium length hair, especially the curly or kinky kind, where precision is of the utmost importance. If that’s you, stay focused on a series of regular touch-ups performed once or twice weekly. “The small details can make a big difference if you’re too scared to do your own hair or shave it,” Krieger says.
Krieger points out the tell-tale signs of overgrown cuts: hair laying over the ears, bushy sideburns, and the long, wispier hairs that grow at the bottom of your neck. “It’s nice to keep those areas neat with your clippers,” he says. This part most guys already know how to do at home, but if you’re wary of taking clippers to your sideburns, start with a #4 and work your way down until you have a desired result. Precision trimmers like the Philips Norelco Cordless Electric Shaver come especially in handy for around the ears and the bottom of the neck. At the tops of your ears, you want to slice into the hair gently, tracing the shape of the lobe—be gentle here or you may risk an unsightly bald spot.
Beards generally follow a similar enough rule of thumb, just with different areas for clean up: the cheeks, around the lips, and your neck. “Once you have some stubble, you can make personal decisions, like leaving your cheekbones or neckline natural or defined,” Bee says. Defined means you’ll show as little hair as possible there, even opting for a close shave of the cheeks and the neck—natural generally means a light stubble, or no hard lines.
Either way, all guys should use an electric precision trimmer around their lips to keep long hairs away from their mouth. How you clean up the rest is entirely your decision—but wiry rogue hairs all over the beard can be buzzed away by free-handing with your clippers or using a small pair of scissors.
No Barber Left Behind
Whatever you do, don’t forget that your barber can still be relied on for tips, tricks, and advice—even a FaceTime consultation guiding you through your at-home touch-up. This will give you an opportunity to send them a tip via Venmo or Cashapp, and ensures they have income during an unsteady time. “Social distancing is going to impact barbershops pretty hard—the social culture that is the backbone of our shop is taking a backseat as we prioritize the health and safety of our clients,” Bee says.
Many of our barbers and hairstylists are actually independent contractors, which can make things like filing for unemployment difficult or impossible. “As a longtime barber in the industry, this pandemic has brought to light how unfair the business-to-employee percentage split is,” says Carlos Palomeque, a stylist based in Brooklyn. “In moments of crisis, there are no relief funds available.”
That’s why, Palomeque says, “money transfers are important, if you can, just for the sake of supporting.” Black and Wheeler have both mentioned scheduling full payments to their stylists at the same cadence of their regular appointments, even though neither have set up FaceTime calls. Black is a patron of Fellow Barber, a high-end establishment that recently set up a GoFundMe for employee relief.