I perpetrated my first DIY haircut one night in my college dorm, in the grubby common bathroom. Some kind of hair-demon possessed me and whipped me into a frenzy that would not allow me to sleep or focus on anything else until I had less hair on my head. Instead of putting off the haircut until a more convenient time, making an appointment, or at least doing a quick internet search to learn what to do, I grabbed some hair from the center of my head, pulled it out to my nose, and chopped it off with what I assume were not actual haircutting scissors.
Only then, I realized my mistake and took to the internet. I forget if I Googled, or
This was accomplished with a great deal of mediocre pizza.
The lesson I took from my screw-up wasn’t that I should be patient and let a professional take care of things for me: it was that I should learn the skills Bonnie had.
I’ve now been cutting my own hair for fourteen years, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. My worst mistakes now have nothing on the hair-fangs of 2005.
People often cite money as a reason to cut your own hair. Do the math! Think of how much money you’ll save! Money has been a motivating factor for me, but after years of DIY haircuts, I’ve found other reasons as well. Here are a few to consider:
You are not a telepath.
How many people have a story about asking the stylist to “just take off an inch” and ending up with a drastic haircut? You can describe something to a stylist in detail, and you can bring pictures, but it’s hard not to lose something in translation. This happens even with pictures because a haircut on someone else must be translated to your own hair and head shape.
I’ve gotten more accurate with my descriptions since I started cutting my own hair. The last time I had a professional haircut, three years ago, I described what I wanted so well that I was disappointed: she gave me the exact cut I would’ve given myself at home.
You have long hair.
If you have long hair, you also have
Every inch of hair you have beyond that “just past the shoulders” point adds to your margin of error. Unless you truly love the feeling of a ponytail long enough to tie your shoes with, consider the extra length to be breathing room.
Or an easy haircut.
Again, this applies to long hair, or at least long hair cut to a single length, no bangs, no layers. It also applies to a straightforward buzzcut. If you have an easy haircut, why not give it a shot?
Be a fearless badass.
Fearlessness liberates you, and cutting your own hair is a safe way to practice it. I’ve heard people who jumped out of a plane say how exhilarated and free they felt after finally doing it.
That’s nice. I’m still not jumping out of a plane.
I have a number of anxiety problems, including obsessive-compulsive disorder. I overthink everything. I don’t need my hair to be yet another area of my life that’s ruled by anxiety. Eff that noise–if I find myself over-worrying about my hair, I chop it off.
Satiate the hair madness immediately.
Even if you don’t cut your own hair on a regular basis, if you learn how to, it’s always an option that’s available. Such as if you are possessed by the same hair madness I had that night in college and need to cut your hair immediately in the middle of the night.
Cut your hair in stealth.
Last year, I decided to go back to a pixie cut. I had grown out my previous pixie into an undercut with a long top–too long, falling onto my shoulders. In pictures, I don’t look like myself. The hair demon, it turns out, was part of me all along. Twist!
I didn’t want the “You cut your hair!” attention that a sudden, drastic haircut brings, so I decided I would cut little bits at a time and stretch the haircut out over several months. Usually, this meant setting a timer for three to five
Only three or four people noticed until I made it past the one-year mark, made a mistake, and buzzed off a bunch to even it out.
Part of the reason I did this was also as a learning experience. I hoped that by cutting less at a time, I might better learn how to deal with some of the awkward, in-between lengths. The stealth haircut (also known as the slow haircut) worked out well in that regard too.
I learned that if you only cut a small section at a time and don’t like the result, it’s easy to see where you went wrong.
If you wake up one morning and you’re not in a “having this stupid lock of hair on the side of my head” kind of mood, you can snip that thing off. When you cut your own hair, your haircut is more directly tied to your self-expression. Hair becomes another art form to explore. Your haircut can be a reaction to how you’re feeling. You can put away parts of your personality and bring other ones
Avoid small talk.
Are you too awkward to have a stranger cut your hair? That’s been my experience for most of my life. Cut your hair by yourself, cut the small talk.
Then you can free the rambling, singing deranged person you keep under that awkward exterior.
Increase your independence.
Despite the fear so many people have, cutting your own hair is like anything else where you have the option of calling a professional versus doing it yourself. I’ve changed my own oil, jumped a battery, and replaced my car’s door handle with some help from youtube.
If I wanted, I could do all my own oil changes myself. But I have a small, low car, and it’s a hassle to get under there. Also, considering the cost of oil itself, I’m not saving an enormous amount of money by passing that job off to someone else.
And ultimately, even after learning all the benefits of cutting my own hair, I’m more clear on when it makes sense to call a professional. Sometimes, you want to take advantage of how much easier it is for someone else to blend the hair on the back of your head. Maybe you like having your scalp touched. Maybe you want to get the fuck out of your apartment. Maybe you’ve calculated how many hours of your life it costs to make the money to get the haircut, and the haircut makes you happy enough that you don’t care. Or you hate cutting your own hair the same way many people hate vacuuming, and you especially hate cleaning hair scraps out of the bathroom sink.
For many years, my treat to myself on my birthday was a professional haircut.
There’s an attitude many people have that cutting your own hair is basically the equivalent of a sloppy chainsaw murder, especially if you’re a woman and your hair is supposed to be your crowning glory. I don’t like the assumption that you shouldn’t cut your own hair because you’ll fuck it up, and that you need to hand the job over to someone who’s had the proper training because under no circumstances should you ever set foot outside with a less than perfect haircut.
Even worse is the assumption that you can never learn to cut your own hair; hairstylists are not human beings who attend schools, start out knowing nothing, and learn through reading and practice. They’re, like, mythical spirits of hair, and you can never learn to do what they do
Instead of looking at DIY haircuts with fear, it should be seen as another area where we have a choice. There’s a world of difference between choosing to call a professional, and being helpless to do anything but call a professional.