Cutting hair at home

Adventures in Home Hairdressing

by Rachel Muller


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I thought my husband was joking the first time he asked me to cut his hair. He wasn't. "I've added it up," he said. "We could save almost two hundred dollars a year if you replaced my barber." Bern's argument was sound, at least from a financial perspective. We'd just made the transition from two incomes to one and were in the process of cutting our expenses any way we could. But did he really want me approaching his head with a pair of scissors? Aside from trimming my own bangs occasionally and one disastrous self-inflicted haircut as a young teen, I had no hairdressing experience. And Bern wasn't a construction worker who hid his hair under a hard hat; he was a seventh grade teacher. Come Monday morning, my handiwork would be on display in front of the most merciless critics imaginable!

"Are you sure?" I asked a few minutes later, as I held the electric trimmer we'd inherited a few inches from the nape of his neck. My husband is nothing if not brave. "Go for it," he said calmly. I swallowed, said a silent prayer, and began.

That first haircut took me about an hour and a half. When I was finally done, I let out one very relieved sigh. Bern didn't look half bad! I was more than a little proud.

He'd already been cutting our daughters' hair for years, so I was only slightly anxious when my husband got off the stool and immediately offered to cut mine. What could I say? I figured I owed him access to my hair at least once. Besides, if the cut turned out badly, I'd just wear a ponytail until I could get an emergency appointment with a real hairdresser.

That was almost three years ago. I'm still cutting Bern's hair, and he's still cutting mine, and coloring my hair, too. He also cuts our teenagers' hair most of the time. Some of our haircuts are better than others, but that was also true when we were getting our hair cut professionally. I have to admit that my hair was a little brassy-looking for a few months, but only until I got smart and called the 1-800 number on the hair color box. I was given step-by-step directions to fix the problem, and my hair has been a flattering color ever since. Successful home hairdressing requires the following things:

  1. The right equipment - At minimum, you'll need a pair of professional haircutting scissors and a tapered comb. An electric trimmer is a bonus for cutting hair at the nape of the neck. With the right attachments, you can also taper the hair above the ears or perform a no-fail buzz cut. We inherited our "barber kit," but I've also seen them in thrift stores. Even purchased new, quality haircutting equipment is a worthwhile investment if you're going to use it.

  2. Basic know-how - I'd never taken a hairdressing course, but I had watched hairdressers at work many times. If my first haircut hadn't been so spur-of-the-moment, I might have enrolled in a "family hairdressing" course or, at the very least, studied a "how-to" book. I've seen a few excellent ones since at my local library.

  3. A back-up plan - I do not recommend cutting someone's hair for the first time immediately before a big event, or even the night before work or school. I cut my husband's hair on Friday evening, knowing that he could get my handiwork "fixed" on Saturday if necessary, and no one would be any wiser.

  4. A good relationship - A little courage and a sense of humor don't hurt either! Both people must be committed to the process, or the experience will just be too stressful. Be patient with each other, and don't expect perfection the first time out. If you can't live with that, stick with the professionals!

My family of five has saved close to twenty-five hundred dollars in hairdressing services in the last three years. And honestly, you'd never be able to point to us in a crowd as the family that cuts its hair at home. Home hairdressing may not be for everyone, but it's worked for us. It just might work for you too!

Take the Next Step:

  • Consider investing in a "barber kit".
  • Save Time, Money, and Tears! Click here
  • Check health and beauty products at Cheapism.com before making a purchasing decision.
  • Get to your local library and see what books they might have to help you along the way.
  • Sign up to recieve Dollar Stretcher Tips E-zine. It's full of money saving tips like this one.

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