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Should I cut or color first men?

Deciding whether to cut or color your hair first as a man can be a confusing decision. Both cutting and coloring your hair change your look, so the order you do them in can really impact the final result. Here are some tips to help men decide if they should cut or color their hair first.

Cut First Pros

There are a few advantages to cutting your hair before coloring it as a man:

  • Allows you to see the cut clearly. When your hair is freshly cut, you can really see the shape and style of the cut. The length, layers, bangs, etc are all very visible when the color is uniform.
  • Less risk of uneven coloring. If you color first, the new cut could take off more color in some places than others. Cutting first means the color will be even all over.
  • Cut can be adjusted after coloring. You may decide you want to tweak the cut slightly after seeing how the color looks. It’s easier to fine tune a cut than to re-color.

Color First Pros

Coloring your hair first as a man also has some advantages:

  • Color can inspire cut. Seeing your hair in a bold new color may inspire you to go shorter or longer than you originally planned.
  • Less damage to colored hair. Cutting hair causes damage, so coloring first avoids applying chemicals to already damaged hair.
  • Hair can be sectioned for coloring. Hair that is freshly cut all one length can be sectioned into layers/levels when coloring for a more meticulous application.

Other Considerations

Here are a few other factors men should keep in mind when deciding whether to cut or color first:

  • Type of color change. Subtle highlights or lowlights have less impact on cut appearance than a drastic overall color change.
  • Current condition of hair. Damaged hair should be cut first to remove split ends before coloring.
  • Order of past cut and color. Stick with what worked best for you last time in terms of cut enhancing the color or vice versa.
  • Time between cut and color. You may want to cut first if coloring immediately after, but can color first if waiting a few days between cut.
  • Stylist’s recommendation. An experienced stylist can guide you on achieving the best results with the cut and color you want.

Recommendation for Men

For most men, cutting the hair first before coloring generally works best. Here’s why:

  • Fades and short sides need clear definition. Men’s cuts often incorporate fades, undercuts, and very short sides. These details are best cut before altering the hair color.
  • Masking cut lines with color is difficult. Color typically doesn’t hide lines from razor/clipper work as the cut goes down to the scalp.
  • Maintaining cut with regrowth is easier. As color grows out, the cut lines are still visible for easy maintenance.

However, it’s not a hard rule. If going for a very bold color change, you may want to color first so the cut complements it. Discuss options with your stylist.

Example Men’s Cut and Color Plans

Here are some examples of cut and color sequences for popular men’s hairstyles:

Style Cut First Plan Color First Plan
Short sides, long top
  1. Cut sides and back close with clippers.
  2. Cut length off top.
  3. Blend top and sides together.
  4. Color top an accent shade.
  1. Color top an accent shade.
  2. Cut sides short with clippers.
  3. Layer and texturize the longer top.
  4. Blend lengths evenly.
Buzz cut
  1. Cut hair down to desired buzz length all over.
  2. Color buzzed hair if desired.
  1. Color hair.
  2. Buzz all hair down to desired uniform length.
Layered style
  1. Cut layers and texture into hair.
  2. Add subtle highlights/lowlights to complement layers.
  1. Add subtle highlights/lowlights.
  2. Cut layers, being mindful of color placement.


Determining whether to cut or color first depends on the individual and the desired look. For many men, cutting the hair first provides the clarity needed to cut very short layers and fades, and makes maintaining the cut growth easier. However, coloring first can allow more creativity and freedom when cutting for some styles. Discuss your hair goals thoroughly with an experienced stylist. They can recommend the best order of services to achieve the end result you want.