Darling, You Should Go and Cut Your Hair
Hairstylists think they’re recession-proof. Their prices, ridiculous styling methods, and strange hair goop seem to ask, “Who would be dumb enough to cut their own hair?” Well, I would — and no one is the wiser. With the right tools, a dash of bravery, and a liberal pour of whiskey, you, too, can avoid paying $80 for a haircut every six to eight weeks.
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Long-haired hippie friends, please skip this section. A complete set, including clippers, comblike attachments to vary the length, and sometimes such delightful bonuses as combs or hair clips, costs as little as $15 on Amazon. Err on the side of caution; you can always switch to a shorter attachment and take off more. Generally, begin at your hairline, and move toward your crown. If you don’t want to look like you should be “reporting for duty, sir!” try fading: Press the clippers against the bottom of your neck. As you approach your crown, gradually lift them away. Then use shears or a razor to work on your bangs and cowlick.
Hair shears are necessary for getting around tricky spots, such as your ears. DO NOT use ordinary household scissors because everyone will know it and make fun of you, and they should — a pair of shears costs less than $10. If you have short hair, with the scissors open, gently scrape one point against your skin along the line where you want to cut. This will pick up any hairs sticking to your neck. Then, make sure your fingers and ears are out of the way, and cut. Keep trying until you look passable.
If you have long hair, work in at least three layers, and pin up what you’re not using. Once you’ve established the style you desire and how to achieve it (PROTIP: Pay attention to what your stylist does before you dump him or her), take a deep breath, and start cutting! However, if you merely cut in a horizontal line, you run the risk of looking like you cut your hair with an orange-handled pair of goddamn Fiskar safety scissors. That’s easy to avoid: Use your index and middle fingers to hold a 1″ wide chunk of hair straight out from your head, keeping your fingers completely vertical. Cut against the side of your fingers farthest away from your scalp. Sometimes, cross-cutting is also an option: Cut with the point of your scissors toward the root of your hair. Beware: These things are sharp. But what’s a fingertip or earlobe when you’re SAVING SO MUCH MONEY?
Not the Mach89 or the Venus kind. Frequently called “hair shapers” or “razor stylers,” these bad boys are the most important tool in my tress-tinkering arsenal — and cost around $10 apiece. Thanks to the staggered guards, they’re great for layering and for when you’re not sure exactly how long you want a particular chunk of hair to be. Hold the ends of a 1″ wide chunk of hair when you use the razor. A light scraping down the grain, away from the root, will only take off a small amount and won’t leave a blunt edge, so you have much more freedom to experiment. Twisting a lock and scraping around the base helps thin out a poofy section.
– You’ll have an easier time if you can convince a friend whose caution and motor skills you trust to follow these instructions on your head.
– Use a handheld mirror to preview the back.
– Wet hair is easier to cut, but it also looks longer. Play it safe the first few times.
– The asymmetrical look is so hot right now. So if you make a couple of mistakes, relax, and bust out the Aquanet. It’s just hair; it will grow back. You’ve got more exciting things to offer than a crop of long, silky, dead protein.
– If you really fuck it up, wear a hat, a strategically placed hair clip, a headband, or a ponytail. Keep your eye on Craigslist for salon candidates needing haircut models (N.B. No requests, you get what you get with this route). You could also head to a local beauty school, where instructors supervise students as they clean up the mess you made.