How To Cut Sideburns: Good Sideburn Trimming Is An Art, And You Can Get Better

(This carefully researched, thoughtful advice is from a real person. Posts may contain affiliate links.)

If you’re like me, you notice things like how sideburns are trimmed. Sloppy, untrimmed or uneven sideburns are a big turnoff — and can make you think less of a person. If they don’t know how to cut their sideburns, imagine what else they may not know.

There are so many guys who do sideburn trimming wrong these days that some people actually think the wrong ways are right ways. But sideburns shouldn’t be thick or unruly, and they shouldn’t be combed forward or left to fall however they will.

According to most people’s taste, they should be trimmed straight across horizontally — level, and not crooked. They shouldn’t look like Star Trek pointy sideburns or point toward your eyebrows unless you’re dressing up for Halloween or a sci-fi convention.

If you want tidy sideburns that enhance your look, you need the right tool and the right approach.

First, you need a good sideburn trimmer. If you don’t plan to have a beard, goatee or mustache, your sideburn trimmer doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple, inexpensive one will do.

Then, you have to take care to use it correctly.

Here are three things to NEVER do if you want to look great:

1. NEVER cut your sideburns above the top of the ear. This was trendy in the 1990s, but it looks terrible.

2. NEVER try to get them completely even with each other — because everyone ears are a bit out of alignment anyway.

3. NEVER rely on a razor to do your sideburns. Multi-blade razors don’t do sideburns well, and no razor can thin sideburns to keep them in check.

Getting Your Sideburn Trimming Right

So how do you trim your sideburns correctly? Here’s how I suggest doing it:

Comb your sideburns before doing any cutting. For best results, comb in the direction of growth. For most guys, that’s straight down.

Take care to position your sideburn trimmer parallel with the floor. Stand up straight, and don’t lean in toward the mirror. You need to make sure your sidies are perfectly straight and perfectly level. Pull the trimmer down slightly as you cut to make sure all hairs are cut.

Comb and check again. When you re-comb, you may find stray hairs that didn’t get cut. Trim again.

Special Note for Stubble Wearers: If you like a bit of stubble or want trimmed sideburns with your closely cropped beard, trim your sideburns carefully without moving the trimmer downward. This takes some practice. If you move the trimmer downward as you trim, you’ll ruin your stubble, and this looks weird. If you don’t have stubble, moving downward as you cut your sideburns is a good idea.

Comb your sideburns forward to look for stray hairs. Trim off any hairs that shouldn’t be there with scissors or your sideburn trimmer, being careful not to disturb the natural hairline at the front of the sideburns.

Do the index finger test. With your sideburns combed into their normal position, place the tip of your index finger at the bottom of each sideburn to see if the two match. Most of us don’t line up perfectly because our ears are asymmetrical, but choose a point on your ear to use as a guide, and perhaps split the difference between the two if necessary.

Pay attention so you can duplicate your results. When you get them just right, take note of the position of each sideburn relative to your ear so you can recreate the perfect sideburns every time you trim.

A Few Final Thoughts

Good sideburn trimming can help you look great between haircuts. But I must say a word about barbers: Many of them are terrible at sideburns. So specifically tell your barber not to trim the length of your sideburns if you’re concerned that he or she might mess them up. It’s better to risk offending the barber than to live with uneven, crooked and improperly angled sidies.

There’s no right or wrong way to trim your sideburn to make them look great, but you have to establish a way of doing it that looks right for your unique face. Then strive to duplicate your perfect results every time you trim.

Sure, sideburns are an art. But every guy has an artist inside him — and good sideburn trimming proves you care about your appearance and take getting ready to meet the world seriously.

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