Macy Leonard scheduled an appointment with her beloved hair stylist, Dana, just two days before she decided to shave her own head.
Leonard, who lives in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, typically likes her hair to be easily manageable, dying it "funky fun" colors so frequently that she jokes she doesn't remember her natural color anymore.
So when stay-at-home orders kept the 28-year-old from going to see Dana for the pixie-cut she initially envisioned — she took drastic measures to ensure that she'd have some control over her hair.
"I shaved away the ‘old me’ and welcomed this new version of me, the version that quarantine was teaching me to be," she said. "I felt empowered. I felt determined to stick to my guns and do what I said I was going to do."
Leonard's not alone. Searches for "buzz cut," according to Google Trends, have skyrocketed in recent months, reaching an all-time high in the United States and worldwide.
"The one thing that people don't want to let go of," said James Axl, head stylist at Canale Salon in Beverly Hills, Calif., "is themselves."
Fortunately, Axl, who's worked as a stylist for 24 years, says the process of doing an at-home buzzcut is "as easy as you think."
"A lot of people are so intimidated," he said of people buzzing their own hair for the first time. "When the guard is on, you can't mess up — it's bowling with bumpers. Once that's on there, as long as it doesn't pop off, it's great."
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No matter how short you plan on going, Axl has some basic ground rules for how to buzz cut your own hair.
Never start at the front of your head, he said. In case you change your mind at the very last second, you don't want to be stuck with a shaved-off spot in the front.
"Start behind the ear and see how short that short is really gonna be," he said, "especially if someone's hair is a little bit longer."
Otherwise, he cautions, "it would look like you're taking off everything."
For the simplest buzz cut — a Captain Picard cut, joked Axl — you can forego a clipper guard and just buzz your head all the way around.
"If that's OK with you, then go for it." That's what Leonard opted to do, and she preferred it over shaving with guards on.
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But if you're looking to give yourself a fade in the back, using multiple guards is preferable.
Begin with a larger clipping guard and shave all around your head, said Axl. "That way, you know that it's already cut the longest you want everywhere."
Then, to tailor it up, switch to a shorter clipping guard — but make sure it's not more than two sizes smaller. That may make the blending process more difficult.
"Start at the nape of the neck, but not following the round of the head, and use your neck as a ski slope and go up the occipital bone — where the head meets the beck of your neck," he said. "That's when you want to start sloping out and moving up and out and that will create a more gradual shave."
Axl suggests practicing the up-and-out motion to ensure the cleanest shave. He also suggests having someone hold a mirror behind you.
But even if it's not the perfect cut, Axl can relate.
"Even I myself got a little screwed up and this is what I do for a living!" he said of a recent trim he gave himself. "If someone doesn't do this for a living, that's OK."
If you're afraid to bite the bullet, Leonard suggests just taking the risk.
"If the thought of shaving your head has crossed your mind, just do it!" she said. "Hair grows back. If you hate it, wigs are a thing!"
Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: How to give yourself a buzz cut, fade at home right way