Because of pronounced textural differences in the hair of blacks and other races, many non-black barbers butcher the haircuts of their black patrons. To properly cut a black man’s hair, you have to understand the hair’s texture and how it responds to being cut. And after you review some basic techniques in African American barbering, and a little practice, you can provide textbook-quality haircuts for even the most persnickety patrons of your black clientele.

Things You'll Need

Prep the hair for cutting. Use a pick to lift and untangle long hair or use a brush to straighten short hair. Brush in the hair along the flow of its grain.

Determine how much hair you’d like to cut, and then attach the appropriate guard to your clippers. Raise or lower the lever on your clippers to increase or decrease the height of its blades.

Place a towel around the shoulders of your subject or have him remove his shirt. Any unprotected shirt will need to washed after the haircut.

Turn on your clippers, then begin cutting. Work on each quadrant of hair individually. If you start trimming on the left side of your subject’s head, trim it down a level before moving to the back or top of his head.

Cut against the grain for lower hair cuts. You can cut in any direction for afros.Trim an afro’s level conservatively. You can even the afro out with shears later on, but you can’t regrow a close trim.

Level out any rough or uneven patches on your subject’s head. For close haircuts, be prepared to apply a bit of pressure.

Remove the guards, and then lower the clipper’s lever completely. Start at one side of your subject’s hairline, and then trim to the other sides. Try to avoid cutting more than two millimeters back from your subject’s hair line. Follow the curve of your subject’s head, as you cut, to get the hairline a round edge.

Trim the hairline along the temples so that they are perpendicular to the top of your subject’s hairline. Trim the back from the templates toward the ears in arcing manner and end your arc at the subject’s sideburns.

Edge the back of your subject’s hair. For the sides of the neck, trim along the edges in a straight line. Try to make both sides as congruent as possible, without taking away too much hair.

Even out the hair along the base of your subject’s hair. Start from one side and trim along a line that is level with the other.

Pour a few drops of after shave on your hands, and then pat down your subject’s head. The after shave will help prevent razor rash. Hand your subject a mirror so that he can review his cut.

Tips

  • 1/2-inch guards work well to trimming down afros, while 1/8-inch guards work well for low haircuts. Omit guards to get a faux bald cut.

  • While trimming, take pauses to brush away trimmed hair from the attention area. Blow trimmed hair away when cutting afros.