Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Manual Arts Training: Splitting Hairs

I am a pretty serious do it yourself kind of person. If it isn’t extraordinarily dangerous (home dentistry) or potentially costly, I am game for just about anything.  There are plenty of things that if you are willing to spend some time in research, tools, and materials you can do yourself, save butt loads of cash, and learn interesting things. For instance, last week I learned how to hardwire a radar detector and install an ipod dock in my car (god bless youtube), saving at least 400 in labor cost. Now 400 bucks is pocket change compare to one basic DIY service that borderlines on criminal: Cutting your hair.

To me it seems ridiculous to pay someone to cut your hair on a regular basis. Granted my standards are fairly low (a step above flowbie), but with a little practice and a wiliness to look a little silly from time-to-time, there’s no reason that anybody can’t cut their own hair.
After four years of cutting my own hair, I'm fairly certain I can give Supercuts a run for it’s money (not hard). When you figure that one cuts their hair every 3-4 weeks and pays 15-60+ dollars per cut. No matter what end of the spectrum you are on that a lotta bucks over time. My dad has only paid for two haircuts in nearly 7 decades and those trims he strongly regrets. At some point, he ran the numbers and the total savings came out to 3% of the current U.S. dept. Well maybe not that much, but it was in the firmly in the butt-ton range.

I stopped paying for haircuts in grad school (my girlfriend gave awesome haircuts), but before I was fiercely loyal to my hairdresser-on-fire. So loyal that, I drove an hour to get my hair cut in Cambridge when I lived in providence) and I dropped more bucks than I care to mention.  After I moved to NYC I was had to fend for myself so I grabbed the scissors that came with a electric hair trimmer I had bought years before and took the first snip into the great unknown.

The first haircut was hilarious.
After about 45 minutes of snipping in the first pass, I had managed to de-nude the circumference of my head, but left a healthy smiths-era pompadour. I looked silly, but not quite knit-cap-in-summer bad. It took a couple more passes over the next day or two and I ended up with a half-way decent *cough* very short *cough* haircut.

Things I have learned so far:

1. Wash your hair, hippy!
If you cut your hair dirty it’s really hard to tell what’s actually going on. Also it may look OK at first, but you are in for a rude awakening after your first shower.
My hair is dead straight and when it is freshly cleaned, I can fluff up the sides and back and even out all the high spots hands free. Also dry hair falls away freely after it’s cut and can be really easily swept up or VACUUMED (it took me 3 years to figure that one out).

2. Get good scissors
I got a pair nice of 5.5” (2.25” blade) Dreiturm scissors from Solingen at a cutlery store for about 100 dollars. Unless I loose them, they will be the only scissors I will every need (unless I get some schmantzy texturing scissors). They are comfortable, fit perfectly in my hand, durable, and cut beautifully. They are also stainless so they don’t rust where they live my travel bag.

3. Take your time
You can’t put your hair back on without looking silly, so don’t get carried away at when you start cutting. Of course, I am somewhat hypocritical in this regard, as I always seem to cut my hair when I am late or in a hurry. I am happy to say and have mastered the 20 minute hack-job.

4. Divide and conquer
Work in sections. I start from the sides and work back, trim the top, cut the front and blend. I think the transition from the sides to the back can make or break a haircut, so I leave it to last. The front is also to be cut with care. When I try to cut everywhere all at once, I end up with a haircut that looks like I have been attacked by a British beaver.

5. Here be monsters (behind your ears).
One day we’ll evolve transparent ears, but until then you wont be able to see the long hairs you will inevitably miss when you cut your hair a week before. Also I should mention ear lobes are soft targets for stray snips, so stock little band-aids.

No comments: