RSS Feed

I Cut My Own Hair

            I kept seeing ads for an at-home haircutting kit in my Facebook feed, in those “five hundred things on Amazon that you obviously need” type of lists that pretend to be articles. I am addicted to those lists, which is probably why they come up so frequently on my feed.

            Anyway, the kit included two plastic guard clips and a pair of scissors, so you could cut your hair at home. If it had cost five or ten dollars I would have ordered it immediately, alas it was more expensive than that, and I was skeptical that it would be worth the money.

            But…I hate getting my hair cut. I hate sitting in a salon and listening to all of the inappropriate personal conversations blossoming around me, and I hate feeling pressured to talk to the hairdresser, and I hate feeling like I’m being stared at and judged the whole time (Did you see her nails? I bet she only gets her hair cut every few months! She’s not even wearing makeup!!). I start to feel like I have a sensory processing disorder with all of the smells and noises and lights, and I’m on the edge of running out the door screaming the whole time. And the haircut itself always takes so long! And it’s so stressful trying to guess how much hair I should ask her to cut off, and inevitably I guess wrong and when she’s all done I realize I wanted it two inches shorter, but I’m too embarrassed to say anything.

“I’m not embarrassed. I’ll say it for you!”

            For years, Mom and I went to a small salon, behind a beauty supply store that was never crowded, and the hairdresser was low key and liked to talk about dogs. The haircuts themselves were still anxiety producing, but I could handle it. And then the store closed, a few years ago, and we had to go to go back to a real hair salon and my anxiety blew up.

            And then came Covid. I left my hair to grow very long at the beginning of the pandemic, unwilling to risk a crowded hair salon, even while wearing a mask and with each cubicle separated by a plastic divider. I finally went back, but each time my anxiety got worse, and I put off the next haircut even longer.

“My hair is fine the way it is, Mommy.”

            But recently, my hair had gotten so long that I had to wear it up every day, because if I left it down it was as if I had a hundred paint brushes attached to my head, getting into everything. And that silly haircutting kit ad just kept showing up on my Facebook feed, taunting me, telling me that I’d either have to put on my mask and get a real haircut, or buy the dang thing and take a risk. The turning point came when Mom got into a snit one night, after I fell asleep, because her hair had gotten stuck in her glasses for the thousandth time, and she decided to chop off her bangs on her own. When I woke up the next morning her hair looked very much like the way mine looked when I was five years old and my best friend cut my bangs with a pair of safety scissors.

“Ive seen worse haircuts.”

            I showed Mom the home haircut kit and she said, eh, why not? So I finally ordered it, ready to blame her if it turned out to be a waste of money.

            The kit arrived not too many days later, but I just stared at it, in its packaging, for a few more days. And then I risked opening it, and continued to stare at it. Then I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube of people using the clips to cut their hair, to trim bangs, and even make long layers. And then, finally one day I decided to try it. I waited for my hair to be dry (which takes a long freaking time lately), and combed out the knots, and then I layered paper towels over the bathroom sink to catch the hair as it fell, and I took a deep breath. I’d decided to try doing the long layers, because that way I could gather all of my hair in front of my face and actually see what I was cutting (instead of trying to cut my hair behind my back). Miraculously, the guard clip stayed in place as I hacked away at my hair (there are a lot of teeth in the guard clip to keep the hair from moving around as you cut). The scissors that came with the kit were surprisingly small, but I thought I should at least try to use them the first time, in case they had special powers (they didn’t). It took a lot of chopping to get through the mass of hair, but then I was able to even everything out by snipping as close as possible to the edge of the guard clip, after the masses of hair were out of the way. And when I flipped my hair back to see how the hair cut had turned out, the layers looked really good, as if I’d gotten an actual haircut! I went ahead and used the smaller guard clip to trim my bangs, and went a little shorter than I meant to because it was harder to judge the right length than I thought it would be. But then I was done. And it was, relatively, easy. I will need to try again pretty soon, though, because my hair is still too long. Except, I’m anxious about cutting my hair too short; it has become kind of like my security blanket during Covid, keeping me safe, somehow.

Oh, and after all of that time spent cutting my hair with the tiny scissors, I remembered that I actually have an electric clipper in the closet (from back when I was naïve enough to think I could groom Cricket at home) that I could have been using to cut my hair much faster. I had to give up on my grooming attempts with Cricket way back when, because even after a year and a half of diligent effort, I could still barely brush one swath of her hair without running out of chicken treats. Even sweet Ellie starts to grumble when I try to comb her hair or, god forbid, clean her ears, so the clippers have stayed in the closet and have probably rusted through, though I should probably check.

“Nooooooooo!”

As long as I don’t suddenly decide that I need to have short hair, or a Mohawk or something, I should be able to use my little haircutting kit for the foreseeable future, or at least long enough to forget exactly how awful it feels to go to the hair salon. In the meantime, the dogs still have to go to the groomer, because there’s no kit in the world that will make them tolerate me cutting their hair at home, let alone their nails, without risking life and limb. So while I can now avoid the expense and anxiety of going out for haircuts, the girls will still have to go to the groomer regularly, each haircut costing about as much as it would cost for a human woman’s haircut, and requiring a lot of drugs (for Cricket) and treats (for Ellie) to make it worth the horror. Fingers crossed that neither of them decides they need to dye their hair or get a perm, because that could get prohibitive.

“Would I look good as a redhead?”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

84 responses »

  1. great 👍👍

    Reply
  2. My wife was in the same boat for hair cuts during Covid and managed with the help of Google to trim it up. I on the other hand have it easy, shaving my head twice a week. Hopefully some day we will all be back to “normal” Rachel. Hope all is well with you. Allan

    Reply
  3. I had to cut my own hair when money was tight–nothing crazy or dramatic, just a plain old cut–and it was fine. I bet yours looks great!

    Reply
  4. My husband got a very elaborate hair-trimming kit (clippers with guards to trim hair at various lengths) and hasn’t been to a barber since before Covid. He gets me to help with the back. He’s mostly bald on top, which makes it a lot easier. I let him tackle mine a bit before my stylist finally got back in business, but now I’m happier to go to her monthly and have it done right!

    Reply
  5. I’ve only had one hair cut since December of 2019! I have many of the same concerns and discomfort at getting it done as you do. I may have to take a look at the kit. My one cut was last May. With Omicron over-filling the hospitals I am not leaving the house except to visit my Dad until things calm down a bit.

    Reply
  6. Even though I’m a dog groomer, I can’t seem to be able to cut people hair. Every time I go to the hairdresser, I say, “I didn’t cut my bangs even though they were driving me crazy.” She always sighs in relief and says she’s really glad, LOL! I was hoping you’d show a picture, even if of just the back. Anyhow, congrats on finding a new talent, cause believe me, not everyone can do that! Amy

    Reply
  7. I’m relieved the story has a satisfying ending and you’re not going to use the kit on Cricket. I cut my hair because I was never satisfied with what the barber did and figured I could save some money and blame myself for mistakes (and I have done the blaming). Curly hair is odd to cut since it’s not the same on both sides of the head and it kinks after washing (after cutting), so I don’t know about results. I hadn’t thought about missing the shop or salon experience, which sounds just fine.

    Reply
  8. Well done for taking the chance and getting it right!

    Reply
  9. When we had two mini schnauzers I used to clip both of them. It used to take me TWO hours! Such small dogs but so time consuming. The clipping part was easy but the hand cutting was slow work on the legs, ears, eyebrows and beards. Now we have just one and she goes to the groomers! Good for you cutting your own hair. I did that during the Covid lockdown but not now. My husband however does not want to go back to the barber and so I am clipping his head. Luckily he just likes it short all over!

    Reply
  10. If you’re that anxious about going to hair salons, the home hair-cutting kit was a godsend. You must feel very lucky to have it.

    Reply
  11. I just let mine grow. I finally got it cut in the summer – it was sooo long, but felt good to get rid of some of it!

    Reply
  12. The good thing about living with a do-it-yourself haircut is that with Covid we are all going out less often.

    Reply
  13. Great that the haircut kit worked so well for you. Pays to be brave.

    Reply
  14. I laughed at the idea of the girls getting a perm or change of colour.

    Reply
  15. I shave my head every day, it makes ‘hair care’ so much easier. Not suggesting it for mind you 😊

    Reply
  16. I have cut my own hair for 25 years now, as I didn’t have enough left to justify the expense of a barber doing it. (They seem to charge the same however much hair you have left)
    I have used various clippers, and recently settled on a rechargable cordless set that work really well. Your clippers will need oiling before use, and it is easy to buy the thin oil required. (Just type WAHL hair clipper oil into Amazon) But after that, they should work fine.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Reply
  17. Covid motivated me to learn how to trim my own hair, too. I used to always trim my beard with a Wahl clippers. Then I watched a few YouTube videos about how to cut one’s own hair. Now, I’m getting somewhat good at doing this. It just requires cultivating coordination with using mirrors and orientation.

    Reply
  18. I loved this!!!! I am also the lady at the salon with no makeup or manicure! Glad it worked out!

    Reply
  19. I’m the total opposite – I love the experience of getting my hair cut at a salon. I even admit going during COVID (I was interviewing for jobs and was not willing to attempt home haircutting on self pre-interview). But kudos to you for learning a new skill! Glad it worked out

    Reply
  20. I’ve been cutting my own hair since the pandemic started, with the kitchen scissors and a woolly hat to act as a guide – I just cut round the bottom of the hat, and it seems to work!

    Reply
  21. I recently went to a new salon, the one I went she was too busy talking and cut my hair too short! So here I an into a new salon, hairdresser and busy talking and what she did cut my hair too short and totally different that ever worn! It took me a year to grow my haircut now I’m back to that! So I ordered a scissor and razor to cut my own hair fro now on…

    Reply
  22. Great writing! The anxiety that the thought of a haircut triggers can be immense. I went from Feb 2020 to Sept 2021 without a trim, so I can sympathise with your situation.

    Reply
  23. I’ve been cutting my own hair for years as it was just too expensive. It’s long anyway, so I just brush it all forward and trim off the ragged ends. I tie it back as I hate having it flapping in my face, but if I had it short, it would take a lot more maintenance and to be honest, I begrudge paying the exorbitant amounts being charged which is more than week’s food shopping. If I wanted a shaggy perm, they now charge by the inch apparently, so I could be looking at about £200……… more than a month’s shopping! Good for you doing your own. Can you do your Mum’s too?

    Reply
    • I actually tried to help my Mom, after she chopped off a few inches on her own. Now She has an appointment with a real hair cutter to fix my mistakes.

      Reply
      • oops. Hubby bought himself some hair clippers with attachments and keeps his very short. The first time I ‘helped him’ with the back of his neck, I went up and there was no guard on it, so he had a reverse mohican and had to wear a cap for three weeks!

  24. Your Amazon hair cutting kit sounds like something I could use. Because of covid, I stopped getting my hair trimmed at the beauty salon. My hair grows fast, so my white and gray curly mane was soon longer than my waist, almost long enough for me to sit on. I trimmed a few inches off last September, and was happy that my shorter hair was no longer getting caught in things like cabinet doors and drawers. Ouch! But now, it’s almost down to my waist again.

    It’s been too long since our small poodle was groomed. He looks terrible. I was thinking of trying to trim him myself, but what you said here… yeah, no. Back to the groomer he goes. As soon as my husband recovers from his recent surgery.

    For some reason, your blogs stopped showing up in my WP reader. I’m glad I found you. Why WP randomly unfollows me from blogs, I don’t know. Others have told me they have the same problem. I’m following you again. Your posts are too good to miss. ❤

    Reply
  25. I think that’s awesome! I should look into something like that, because my daughter cuts my hair now. But she can’t forever.

    Reply
  26. Way to go Rachel! Years ago my husband decided he was going to save the money he spent every 6-8 weeks going to the barber by purchasing a Flowbee. However, that nifty device only took off the longer hair on the top of his head. I was employed to shave the back and sides with a hair clipper and guards. It took me at least a year to get over the fear of cutting a bald spot, but with his encouragement I’ve mastered my fears and the clippers. Needless to say the Flowbee has more than paid for itself. I’ve never been one for salons either. I always feel so plain and out of place (plus they’re usually pressuring me to dye my hair to cover up the ever increasing white hairs. I prefer to keep a natural look) that I avoided going. My hair would get so long that I was tempted to use the Flowbee on myself but always chickened out. Fortunately, we discovered a hairdresser who comes to our home to cut my hair and my girls’ hair. The added bonus is that she loves dogs and NEVER pressures me to color my hair. As a matter of fact she is complimentary of my natural cinnamon sugar hair color. Why does hair have to be so stressful? Adi has it easy. She blows her coat once a year and a new one grows in as glossy as ever. No visits to a groomer or hair salon. Oh to be a Labrador.

    Reply
  27. I didn’t have anxiety about going to the hair salon until Covid. I never wear make-up and rarely do nails so those things don’t bother me. Because of Covid, I have only had 2 haircuts in 2 1/2 years. Both times I was the first appt of the day. I’ve always disliked getting my hair done because of the physical pain of sitting in those chairs. I admire you getting the tool and learning to use it. I’d love to be able to do that.

    Reply
  28. I used Beetley Pete’s recommendation and taught myself to cut Charlie’s hair for over a year. I will say that it made him Zoom ready! However recently he was able to get a haircut from Marisa–a real hair dresser. She does it better! As for my own hair, no way. It just got so long I needed barrettes again. Fortunately I still had some plastic bunny barrettes from my granddaughter. No fashion statement, but I am retired and didn’t need to Zoom for work. Our dog just needs a lot of brushing, no haircut.

    Reply
  29. I cut mine, my daughter’s and my son’s hair. It’s not always the best cut, but it’s good enough! I should check into a kit to make it easier.

    Reply
  30. I hate going to a hairdresser too. Actually, I e been cutting my own hair for a few years. It’s pretty long, so I just wash it, comb, part it down the middle and pull it in front of me then snip. Works for me, and saves me a lot of money. I’m not a fussy female. Good for you.

    Reply
  31. Since Covid mine has grown twice to just above my waist lol 2nd haircut coming up next week boy this is getting old. I always did my springer spaniel grooming which they loved but my border collie hated water unless it was the cold Atlanta salt water which I had to clean off after and brush and blow dry which she hated but grew to love.

    Reply
  32. I cut and colour mine these days. The money I’ve saved is spectacular and so are the results now I’ve mastered it! Well done with yours!

    Reply
  33. I also don’t find the salon relaxing at ALL. Love this post!

    Reply
  34. I cut my own hair. I used to get my haircut religiously, but the stylist would never do exactly what I asked and I’d end up coming home and taking the scissors to it. After a few years (I guess I am a slow learner) of that I realized I should just cut my own dang hair. They never did it like I wanted it and I would spend $75 and then end up coming home and cutting it. So I started just cutting it myself. First I started with nail/cuticle scissors because they were the sharpest scissors I owned. After a few years of that I realized that I could probably be done faster if I had “real” scissors. Hair cutting scissors . . . not professional ones ($$$$), but professional-ish ones. Dang that made a HUGE difference. Get good scissors. If you are going to continue to cut your hair, get good scissors. I bet the ones that came in the kit are not as good as you can affordably get. GET GOOD SCISSORS. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to cut with good scissors. It sounds like you have a lot of hair and I know that more hair is more difficult, with practice you will get better. Also, if you have the set up for it, you might want to get a mirror you can attach to a wall so you can see the back of your head. Anyway . . . . good for you for cutting your own hair! Yay. You know the BEST thing about hair? It grows back. It never takes as long as people think (“Oh, if I have a bad hair cut I won’t be able to go out for weeks.” – No, it doesn’t take that long to grow out enough to be ok.) !

    Reply
  35. Would you get a better result if your mum did your hair and vice versa? Would the dog groomer do it?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: