I think about hair a lot. I feel like we all do. It’s something that’s so intimate and so personal, but it’s also so expensive and so time-consuming when you’re going to a pro. Don’t you wish you could just do it yourself? I know cutting your own hair sounds intimidating, but so does moving out or filing your taxes. You really have to just get out there and do it.
Luckily you don’t have to go it alone. I taught myself to cut my hair a few years ago, so I might as well coach you through your first trim. It may get tense, it may get frustrating, it will get messy. I just want to reassure you that there’s hope in the least helpful way possible.
On Cutting Your Own Hair Unprofessionally*
You can’t just start cutting your hair willy nilly! It’s a slow process. Figure out your Dream ALH by staring at one too many tumblrs of naked ladies with sweet ass haircuts. Make sure to peruse frequently “for research.” Hunt down a hairstylist that perfectly executes said style. As they work their magic, become increasingly aware of your inability to engage in small talk. Make up for your perceived social awkwardness by tipping more than financially advisable. Set up a follow up visit for eight weeks from now.
Visit said hair dresser for at least six trims. This will give you enough time to memorize their movements and become overly confident in the simplicity of your ‘do. Set up a follow up visit for six weeks later.
Hem and haw for weeks on end about starting to cut your own hair as you realize your addiction to hair perfection has taken its toll on your budget. Set up a follow up visit for four weeks from now.
Check your account balance and sigh. Cancel your next appointment.
Go to a beauty supply store and cautiously circle the clipper aisle for the next hour. Finally wave down a sales person to explain the differences between the models since you are not a professional hair stylist. Become simultaneously incensed and embarrassed as they learn that you, a lady, are planning to shave off more of your own hair. Quickly purchase the model your hairstylist used. Slink away.
As soon as you get home, ensure that no one else needs to use the bathroom for the next hour or day.
Lock the bathroom door. Create your haircut game plan: leave the fringe on top and create a graduated fade wrapping from temple to temple. Everyone will assume you wanted to be Miley. But don’t worry, that accusation won’t come up for at least three years.
Construct an inception type situation by propping one mirror across from another. Lay out your supplies: clippers, guards, bobby pins, comb and scissors.
Open your new toy and take the time to play with all of the gadgets and guards. Turn it on and imitate its whirring noise while making airplane motions. Stop when you remember that you are no longer five.
Contemplate making a sweet cape-poncho out of garbage bag for 30 seconds. Dismiss this idea since you’re home alone. Derobe.
Underestimate how far away you need to set your clothes to keep them out of the hair spray zone.
Pin your fringe/bangs/mohawk/mullet/rattail back with more bobby pins than you thought humanly possible. Make sure that one of the pins is missing its rubber cap so you jab it into your scalp, ensuring you’re alert enough to continue.
Snap on a guard and flick the power switch. Take a deep breath and set the clippers to your temple. Narrow your eyes and grit your teeth as you make the first pass. That wasn’t that hard! Breathe a sigh of relief.
Look down. Nothing’s there.
Realize that the shears weren’t short enough to actually clip your hair. Switch to the next shortest guard. Same deal. Curse yourself for having bought a professional version with a limited number of lengths instead of the at-home kit with 16 different guards and a sweet ass cape.
Try again. Marvel at the difference between your newly shorn stripe and the rest of your hair. Marvel at the fuzziness of newly clipped hair.
Keep circling around your head in vertical swipes. Pause as you decide how to tackle the back of your head. Cautiously shear the back by training your eyes on your reflection’s reflection. Contort your arm in a way you didn’t think possible. Settle on “good enough” and make a note to even out your neckline once you’re done clipping the rest.
Start to smile as you realize how awesome you’re going to look and how much money you’ll save in the long run. Switch to a longer guard as you continue circling. Feel a sense of accomplishment! Resist the urge to kiss your clippers.
Rub your head as you celebrate your new found talent!
Discover that newly cut strands of hair can embed themselves in your skin making your fingers resemble patchy porcupines. The more you know! Spend the next five minutes removing your hair shrapnel.
Onto the bangs. Suddenly recall that your hair dresser would rotate your chair towards themselves (aka away from the mirror) whenever they cut your fringe. Go for it anyways. Pull a lock away from your face and snip your way down it. Feel each clip tug your hair as it gets caught in the scissors’ dented blades. You can’t stop now! Reach for another piece. Snip. Grab a handful. Chop. Continue shearing wildly. Tell yourself you’re adding “texture.”
Remember that you still have to deal with your neckline. Riding high on the heady feeling of accomplishment, situate yourself between the bathroom mirror in front of you and the one propped behind you. Examine your neckline and decide you want to start from “the left”. Start to move your clippers but immediately become confused with which direction you should be moving your hand. After a few false starts, you’ll manage to create a relatively straight neckline. Confidence level: high.
Feel the back of your newly shorn head and realize you’d prefer if the hair below the base of your skull was tighter to your noggin . Switch to a shorter guard and start to make slow vertical movements. Cockily speed up.
Look around wildly to see what that was. Nothing. Remain perplexed. You always sucked at identifying mystery sounds. Finally look directly behind you. Ohhh. That’s the sound of the guard slipping off allowing the clippers to eat an inch-high bald patch into your neckline before falling to the ground!
Panic slightly and realize you can’t go out looking like this. Mentally nix your evening plans.
Wrap yourself in a towel and tiptoe into the hallway leaving a trail of hair clippings à la Hansel and Gretel. No one’s home but the cat? Right, you had made sure that the house was empty before you started cutting. Stupid panic induced amnesia. Return to the bathroom.
Sheepishly text your roomie asking when they’ll be home to “remedy your situation.” No answer. Oh yeah! No one’s home because it’s exam week and you had the bright idea to cut your hair as a way of productively procrastinating.
Start to sweet up the clippings as you debate what to do. Make the witty observation that hair shavings are pretty much organic glitter when it comes to tidying up.
Fuck it. You can’t spend all day locked in your bathroom wrapped in a towel and a cloud of hair! Your hairline’s gonna be an inch higher, but so what? Pick up your clippers and soldier on. Contort once more so you can cover the back of your head with one hand. Attempt to align its edge with the top of The Patch. Guide your clippers against the edge of your hand, praying for a relatively straight neckline. Check the front of your head for evenness, clipping or tucking away any errant hairs. Refuse to survey the damage to the back of your head.
Step outside. Be prepared to tell people “you wanted it that way.”
Leave a tell tale trail of hair clippings on any human/surface you encounter for the next 24 hours.
Warily receive a compliment. Are they telling the truth or merely being polite? Receive another one. Relax.
The third compliment will quickly mutate into a request for “just a trim!” when they realize you did it yourself. Protest loudly. You don’t know what you’re doing so you’ll ruin their lovely hair and they’ll never look at you in the same way, irreparably ruining your relationship!! Receive a reassuring hug and a whispered, “Please?” Reluctantly give into their puppy dog pleas. Mentally make an appointment with yourself as you start to buzz their hair.
* If you really want to learn to cut hair, you should probably talk to Katrina.