First, I’d advice not cutting your own hair unless you a) are in college b) are on vacation c) are a telecommuter d) you’re a hijabi….or basically you the time to get it repaired and a way to keep people from seeing it. I cut my own hair once in college and it turned out beautifully but I now look back and wonder: “What was I thinking?”
If you cut your family members’ hair, it can be a good way to save money. As a kid, I had long, straight hair (poker straight!). So my dad asked a hairdresser to help him perfect the art of cutting straight across. He did quite well at it for years, I didn’t want a different hairstyle, neither did my mom or sister.
Since it was such an easy style to maintain, that made a lot of sense.
I still haven’t figured out what I want with/from my hair. I like it between two lengths and layered. Once it hits a point where I have 10 inches+ to donate (because I like doing that) I’m going to go somewhere and get it cut to the shortest length I like. I’d cut it again myself but I’m scared of not being able to duplicate the last time. I’ll probably get it cut in July.
I just cut Micah’s hair this last week. He wears it just past his ears with a bit of wave and flip and whatnot. Fortunately, his mom had a great method for cutting it perfectly and I’ve been doing that for the last 5 years or so. She was flexible enough to handle his transition from the shorter hair of his teens to the slightly longer look he adopted in college.
As someone who’s been on the giving and receiving end (and once at the same time!) of at-home haircuts, here are my dos and don’ts:
1. Have a plan. Choose a style ahead of time. It can be a trim, a repeat of whatever they already had, whatever. Just know what you’re doing. The last thing you want is to change your mind mid-haircut. If the style is new to you, spend some time working out (in your head or on paper) how you plan to do it. See #1 & #2 of the don’ts for more on this.
WET THE HAIR!
2. Use sharp scissors (or buzzer). My dad invested in a left-handed pair of hair-cutting shears and kept them quite sharp. I use my sharp sewing scissors because I feel comfortable with them. Whatever your instrument, don’t neglect it. You’ll save money better by using good tools. If they’re dull and spoil the cut, you’ll likely have to pay to get it salvaged anyway.
3. Schedule plenty of time. This one’s a two-parter. First, schedule enough time to get the haircut done. Don’t rush it.
Second, allow several days between the haircut and anything particularly important. As a general rule, Friday nights are a good idea unless there’s something big that weekend. If so, use the previous Friday night. If something goes horribly wrong, you want time to get to a professional who’ll fix it.
(I just broke the latter by cutting Micah’s hair much too close to an important presentation he’s doing this afternoon. Fortunately, I have 5 years experience with this cut and it went fine.)
4. Have a backup plan. If something goes horribly wrong in a salon, there’s probably another stylist who can fix it for you (even if your own can’t). If you’re at a beauty school, there should be a supervisor on call for that. If you’re at home there might not be anyone else to give it a go, at least not with the skill required.
It helps to have a plan ahead of time, such as knowing the local beauty shops/schools and getting recommendations from friends about skill (and whether they take walk-ins!). In an emergency, you’re not just running to the first place in the phone book, you know you’re getting quality.
5. Have a cleanup plan. Cut hair gets everywhere. While cutting, I try to direct all the falling hair into as small an area as possibly. Micah sweeps it up, then uses a wet paper towel to try to get the rest. He also takes a shower right afterwards to get the little hairs off his neck.
1. Give up style. My sister is going for the young professional look. Since her hair is an important part of her wardrobe, she needs to have it cut in line with that look. I don’t think that my dad or I could cut her hair to her satisfaction. She’s still pretty smart about what cut she gets so she doesn’t have to go back too much. And she’s good with money, so it’s not a drain on her finances.
2. Force it. Some people can’t cut hair. My mom is convinced she’s one of those people. I don’t want her touching my hair while she’s convinced of that, since whether or not she has the potential she’d probably be nervous. I don’t want a nervous barber.
If you can’t cut hair, then this solution isn’t right for you. Try a beauty school for cheaper cuts.
3. Do it while under the influence. Rather self-explanatory here. Impaired judgment and sharp objects are never a good combination.
4. Do it on the spur of the moment. This one isn’t set in stone, but it’s a good idea. Do you really want it in this style? Can the person with the scissors actually do it? Do they have a plan? Do you have a backup plan? Is there anything important coming up in the next week?
I’ve had nothing but good experience with at-home haircutting. Take it seriously, stick to the dos and don’ts and I hope you will as well!