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DIY haircuts- Bring out your bowls!

September 16th, 2006 at 02:21 pm

Mention "home haircut" to a group of people and someone is bound to make some crack about getting a Bowl Cut. The Bowl Cut is ubiquitous; my Chinese friends and I figured some witty fool added "rice" in front of the phrase and suddenly it took on the Asian meaning- but, seriously, Bowl Haircuts can cross all cultural and ethnic boundaries. The Beatles had something akin to it. That creepy kid in The Shining (redrum....) looked like he had a bowl cut. Some of my coworkers call it the Peter Pan haircut. It's even on friggin wikipedia.org.

The simple theory is that you slap a bowl onto some poor victim's head, then use the edges as guide for your scissors/trimmers. This is assuming you have blurry vision, have really trembling hands, or are perpetually drunk and/or otherwise incapable of judging whether you took off one inch of hair from one side of the head vs three from the other.

My sister and I thankfully never had to wear bowls on our head. Our mom did cut our hair for us, shaped it into the standard "bob" style. Sometimes it looked fine; other times, one portion of our hair ended up curling in, another curled out. My sister and I have discussed this thoroughly and concluded that the inconsistent results were not due to the fact our mom was a horrible hairstylist, but that a) she cut our hair when it was DRY, not even slightly wet, and b) she used the same shears, it turns out, as those she used to cut fabric, yarn, paper bags (the utility scissors).

The bottom line is, home hair cuts are not "bad." I started cutting my own hair back during my starving student period when I was pursuing my graduate degree and world domination and all those idealistic dreams (heh). I haven't stepped into a salon in four years and thank you, my hair looks fine, nobody has laughed at me-yet- and my coworkers say my hair looks healthy and ask where I get it done (surprise!).

Here's my advice. If all you need is a maintenance trim, then there's no reason why you can't do the 1/4-1/2 inch trim yourself. DO buy haircutting scissors and use them ONLY for haircuts. DO wash your hair first, squeeze out the excess, then cut the damp hair. DO work in front of a mirror (duh). DO frequently comb hair out straight to catch any hair you may have missed. Also in the case of DIY haircuts, less is more. You can always decide to cut off more, but you can't repaste hair back onto your head.

If, however, you have short hair, I'd advise you go to a salon, as mistakes are MUCH more noticeable in short hair. In my words, you don't have much "starting material" to work with, so why risk any messups? If you want professional work done- highlights, coloring, perms, or a fresh, new style- then a visit to the salon is in order. In a future episode, I'll write about ethnic salons: yay or nay?

7 Responses to “DIY haircuts- Bring out your bowls!”

  1. snakeflake Says:

    I have also been cutting my own hair since grad school. I am a male and not as vain as I was when I was younger. I use a wahl trimmer with the guides for different lengths. I use the 1/2 in guide on the sides and back and the 1 inch guide on the top. I do have to get my wife to even out the neckline in the back. It turns out pretty good if I say so my self. The 19.99 trimmer I bought in 1997 has paid for itself many times over.

  2. jodi Says:

    Someday I want to screw up my courage and try to cut my boys hair (and dare I say my hubbys?). I should try it now when they are toddlers and won't care! I am just certain I will screw it up - maybe I'll get motivated to try after reading some of these tips. $10 a pop, every two months for haircuts - ouch. That should be motivation enough for me!

  3. Carolina Bound Says:

    I remember getting a bowl cut from my mom when I was a kid. She called it a "Buster Brown" cut.

    Then there was the "instant shag" in the seventies. Bend over, comb long hair over the top of your head; form a pony tail and trim 3-4-5 inches above your scalp. Instant shag!

    I wish I could cut my own hair, but it's short and very layered. Works best for my slightly wavy hair.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    I cut my son's hair all the time until he was about 4. I've cut my daughter's bangs a few times and once a few years ago when she was really whining about her long hair and wanting it short, I cut it to the base of her neck. I cut off at least twelve inches. It turned out really cute, though I was evening it up a snip here and there for a week. I never would have thought I could do it so well, and of course, if it had been a disaster I would have taken her in to a shop to get it fixed. Sharp scissors are paramount.

  5. snakeflake Says:

    I also trim my wifes hair. She is from Thailand and has long straight hair (duh). About once every couple of months she has me cut a couple of inches of of the length. I am getting pretty good at it. I have no idea what that would cost at a salon but just cutting my own probably saves at least $10 a month. I also have a beard, so that include beard trimming. I also trim my beard with the wahl electric trimmer, same one for hair. I just use the 3/8 inch guide. Shave the neck with disposable razor and trim the mustache with scissors. All that ads to the retirement savings. Since I have already written so much aboput cutting my hair and saving money I think I will just post it all on my blog on a way to save money. Maybe Ill save it for a day whaen I cant think about anything to write about.

  6. CindyM Says:

    I LOVE cutting my own hair. I think the trick is to stick with a simple style and keep it trimmed. I have good shears but out of curiosity used a pair I picked up at the dollar store; they were remarkably sharp and did a good job (though probably not for long). Actually, I found out the less fuss I make overall, the better it looks, which means in my case using my old faithful White Rain shampoo and some of that clear frizz serum stuff, no blow drying, no hot rollers. If I want curls, I actually still use the plastic rollers you can get at the dollar store. Truly, I have expensive overperfumed shampoos and conditioners I'm now using in the bathtub to get rid of them, and I really don't need the deep treatment routine I used to.

  7. Steven Says:

    Three weeks after I gave my first haircuts to my boys. I am looking at the boy’s hair and see it is touching their ears. I left it a little longer on the sides because I did not want them looking like NAZI skinheads like they did leaving the barbershop.

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