Since Marines have to get a haircut every week, learning how to do it yourself is a great money-saving and time-saving tip, that can make Sundays go a little smoother for everyone. Like many Marine couples, we started considering this option shortly after we were married. The only problem? I had never used a pair of clippers, or cut anyone's hair. So of course my husband was hesitant to let me experiment on him! The first few tries did not go well. He described to me what the barber did. I followed his directions, but did NOT get the same results! He ended up with a line on the back of his head that earned him ridicule from his buddies for the next week. So I wasn't allowed to try again for a while. I tried to watch the barbers, and read about military haircuts online, but there were very few step-by-step directions. So, after a lot of reading and a few more experiments I finally figured it out, and have been cutting his hair for years now. Here's a guide for anyone who was in my shoes:
1. Start with a good pair of electric clippers. You don't need to get the most expensive ones, especially if you aren't sure how often you will use them. But you can't get good results with the cheapest models, and they won't last long enough to save you much money.
2. Start with the bare clipper, which is called 0. You are going to make a line around his head, from one ear to the other. Some guys like it just above their ear, others an inch or even 2 higher. It depends on whether they want a low-reg or high-reg cut. But there should be some kind of line visible from their last haircut. Follow this around and make sure it is even on both sides of the face. Everything below the line will be shaved bare with the 0. You now have a half-bald man. Congrats!
3. Put the #1 comb attachment on the clippers. Holding the clippers upright, you are going to start at the bald line, and go straight up. Don't follow the curve of his head, just go straight up into the air. This will not change the line, but will trim the hair on the upper sides of his head. Don't mess with the hair on top yet.
4. Fading is the hardest, but most important, part. Switch back to the 0. Again, start at the bald line, and move straight up into the air. Do NOT follow the curve of his head. Keep the clippers straight up and down. What you are doing is "erasing" the line by trimming the hairs closest to it the most, and then only slightly as you go higher up on his head. The area of the fade is about 2 inches wide. It's a little bit of an art form and will take some practice, but anyone can do it.
5. Finish the top. Each guy has his own preference for the top hairstyle, so I can tell you how to do this. If he has shorter hair, he may want you to buzz the whole top with a #3 or #4. If he has longer hair that he actually combs, you will need to use scissors to trim. You probably don't have to do this every week. My husband lets his grow out for a month or 2, with me just trimming the sides, and then goes occasionally to the barber to get the top trimmed and shaped.
I really hope this is helpful to someone! Let me know if you try it!