Haircuts are fun, but annoying.
Fun, because you get to create a different look for yourself every time.
Annoying, because it happens too bloody often. Assuming you’re not growing it out, maintenance usually happens at the 3-4 week mark.
It then comes down to making time out. The entire process is tedious at best.
- Make an appointment with the stylist/barber (optional).
- Travel. This means driving out.
- Sit and wait for your turn.
- Sit and wait to have your hair done, and make polite conversation.
- Pay up.
- Travel (again).
A mechanical, boring procedure. And hooray, you get to repeat the entire sequence again in about a month’s time! In a word, it’s inconvenient. I have to sacrifice weekend time to get this done, and it’s not something that can be ignored for long, before one starts looking unkempt.
My earlier years in Melbourne involved a steadfast willingness in ignoring the way I looked. I would wait five, even six weeks before I got a haircut each time, in a bid to put it off as long as possible.
When Simon suggested cutting my own hair last year, I was a little skeptical at the skill level involved. People actually make a living off this, could it be that easy? I might very well turn my own hair into a disaster zone, and end up shaving it all off.
I didn’t give up on the idea though. It got to the point where I told myself, fuck it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. In the worst possible circumstance, I would waste a bit of money on the clipper purchase, and a month or so of injured pride.
And so I got started on the project. I got myself a Wahl Colour Pro (easy starting point), and watched some YouTube videos to get the hang of things. I also recruited my brother to the cause, because I wasn’t ready to cut my own hair right away – it was more of trying the DIY approach.
Given how low my expectations were, I was really surprised that our first session turned out decently enough. Granted, we were really cautious about it, and went slow.
It got a little easier as we got more reps, and it really helped that we would pass on feedback immediately if we needed something fixed. Depending on your relationship with the barber, it’s something that might feel awkward. After all, the barber is a fellow who has a finite amount of time, and is likely keen to move on to his next customer.
My brother and I on the other hand, were happy to spend as much time as we needed to get things right.
While we started off together cutting our hair every month or so, I gradually shortened my cycle to three weeks. It was around that time, when I began experimenting with cutting my hair myself – watching even more YouTube videos helped. Turns out, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, so I continued doing it myself.
I then became the de facto barber in the house, and it stayed that way for a while, even when he moved out. He eventually got his own clippers earlier this year, for the same obvious reason: convenience.
I got more equipment as we went along: some thinning scissors, a better pair of scissors (the one that came with the Colour Pro was rubbish), and a cape. Having a spray bottle also helps a lot.
Cleaning up is easy: just use the vacuum cleaner to suck it all up afterwards.
These days, I usually go with a high slope using number 3, then 2 on the sides and back. I also use a number 1 at the edges, and trim the top with either the straight shears or thinning shears, depending on how short/long or light/heavy I prefer it to be.
The hard part is getting to the back of the head without another mirror – I need to get that soonish, but it’s not a high priority item. My guesstimation is getting pretty good these days, so I usually finish 95% of the job and get V to look it over, then snip stray bits as needed.
I’ve been relatively lucky on this front. I’ve been cutting my own hair for ten months now, and have only managed to snip myself twice – both times, when cutting someone else’s hair. Damn scissors are too sharp for their own good, but it’s all about being careful.
Instead of spending something like two hours outside, I take twenty minutes or so. At home.
The process for getting a haircut used to go like this:
- Random night: “Damn, I need a haircut.”
- “Got to remember to drive out on Saturday or Sunday.”
- Makes note on calendar.
- Wait for appointed day to happen, drives out to the nearest barber.
These days, things are less complicated:
- Random night: “Damn, I need a haircut.”
- Walks into bathroom and starts haircut, finishes off with shower right after.
The same convenience applies to the kids as well. They obviously aren’t used to the thought of having someone unfamiliar handle a loud device that buzzes menacingly near their head, and being able to do it at home just makes things easier.
Can’t say I’m a world-class stylist, but no one’s pointing to their hair and laughing their heads off, so that’s a win in my books.
An average haircut used to cost anything from $16 to $20 for me. By cutting my own hair alone, I was saving that much every month. Add the fact that I was cutting my brother’s hair as well, and that effectively doubled the savings.
That’s not even counting the kids yet. The savings have already repaid the cost for my equipment.
Is DIY hair cutting for everyone?
- like the experience of kicking back and letting someone else do it for you
- are really particular about the way you want it to look
- have someone who can do it your desired way consistently
- do not mind the hassle of travel
Getting out to the barber/stylist is probably the way to go.
DIY hair cutting is a fun experiment, and in hindsight, a life skill. It doesn’t take much to pick the basics up, and is relatively low-risk. For me, it’s checked all the boxes, and made my life easier. #gamechanger