How to Trim Men's Sideburns

Tips for doing it yourself.

@jordan_rand | Design by Julie Bang.

Whether trimmed conservatively to mid-ear, or grown to the bottom of the ears or beyond, sideburns exist for a reason: they help balance facial features. Trimming the sideburns is an important part of any good haircut, but they might need a bit of cleaning up in between visits to your barber or stylist. Proper trimming gives you a more polished appearance. Learn how to DIY.

When to Trim Your Sideburns

Everyone's hair grows at a different rate, so there's no rule of thumb about how frequently you should trim your sideburns. If yours are thin and tapered, you probably need to trim them up more often than someone with wider and fuller sideburns. If they start to look fluffed out before it's time for a haircut, give them a bit of a trim to maintain a neat and well-groomed look.

Longer, thinner sideburns make your face look longer, while thicker ones give it a wider appearance. Shorter sideburns give a more balanced look to an oval-shaped face.

Tips for Trimming Sideburns

You don't necessarily need to wait till your next haircut to maintain your sideburns. But before you take the clippers to your face, here are a few factors to keep in mind.

  • Never cut the sideburns higher than the point where the top of your ear attaches to your head; it looks weird.
  • Trim sideburns so they're even with one another, not with your ears. Most people's ears are a little off balance, so using them as a guide can make sideburns look lopsided.

When trimming sideburns, it's helpful to use a trimmer such as the Wahl Groomsman Beard Trimmer ($23) to let you shape the bottom clearly before shaving. The Gillette Fusion ProGlide ($8) is also a good choice; it has a single blade on the backside of the razor's head, which is perfect for creating a clean line at the bottom of the sideburn.

How to Trim Your Own Sideburns

Ready to trim? Here's how to do it right.

  1. Start with clean hair that has no product in it.
  2. Comb the sideburns neatly, following the direction of growth, which is normally down.
  3. Use a trimmer that has guards so you can choose the length you prefer.
  4. Hold the trimmer in a vertical position facing you, and trim the sideburns in a downward motion.
  5. Comb the sideburns forward and trim off any hairs that extend beyond the natural hairline.
  6. Trim the bottom edge parallel to the floor.
  7. Look straight into the mirror and place your index fingers at the bottom of each sideburn to check for evenness. Adjust the length as needed.

Awkward sideburn phase averted. That should keep you covered until your next haircut. Get really good at trimming your own burns, and your barbershop visits might become few and far between.

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