Ben Horton is a photographer who’s traveled the world capturing beautiful and captivating images for the likes of National Geographic. From covering a story on shark poaching on Cocos Island to illegal fishing in China and Costa Rica, he’s doing work that sparks what he says is “stewardships for the planet.” He’s also cut his own hair for the past 15 years and hasn’t stepped foot in a salon or barber shop for years. He also has the best hair ever. Very Good Light™ talked to Ben about his tricks, tips and just how you, too, can cut your own hair. Hint: It all has to do with practice! Follow him @benhortonphoto

Benjamin Horton, @Benhortonphoto

“There were so many reasons I decided to start cutting my own hair. And it had nothing to with saving money.

More than anything, it was time. The whole process of going to a barber shop waiting for them to open up a chair for me, and then trying to communicate what I wanted to them left me always feeling like I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. When I figured out it only took 5-minutes to do it myself and it would look exactly like I wanted, making the change was a no-brainer. 

I experimented for years and the process has evolved. At first, my friend showed me how to do it but since, the most education I’ve had was looking at a few photos online. I then try to mimic it. I hate when my hair looks like a Ken doll, so I’m okay with it not being perfect.

 It started with just using different guards on a buzzer, but as I’ve gotten better at it, my hair style has changed and now looks a lot better. With time, and a better skill set, I’ve gotten new tools to work with. These include special scissors that fade between where I buzz and where I clip and nicer gear that lasts me longer. It also includes a Wahl clipper. It’s not the cheapest but also not the most expensive of clippers. There are so many others out there but this brand lasts me a longer time than most. It’s worth it. 

For my own hair, I usually start with a #3 on the sides the Wahl clipper. Then I’ll go up or down from there depending on where I am in the process.  After that, I trim the top with the scissors and then fade the transitions. I usually just eyeball the fade, pulling the clippers away from my scalp as I go. Then I’ll use my fingers as a guard and thin it out in the fade. When it’s really close, I’ll use the fading scissors to finish up. Really though, it’s not necessary. 

Again, I don’t like the overly pampered Ken doll look, so I’m really into imperfection. It takes a lot of work to start out, I’ll admit, but once you get a hang of it, you’ll see just how easy it is to cut your own hair. So much so, that you’ll probably never go back to a barbershop ever again.”

Edited for clarity.