Long ago, while living on my sailboat, I came to the conclusion that I really hated going to the barber shop. I was working ashore of course, and had to wear a suit and tie every day for that’s what people in management did.
Out of my (then) L.A. office, I got to bitching about it to a colleague (Michael Salv. we’ll call him) and he revealed something remarkable. He’d lived on a boat for a while, too.
“I cut my own hair, and have for almost 30-years now. Never go to a barbershop. Complete and utter waste of time.”
You would never know it from looking at him. Handsome, of Italian extraction, he had thick, wiry dark hair and it was perfectly trimmed, all around. Not a hair out of place.
Right then, and there, I decided “As busy as I am, I can’t take time out for a haircut every month to look sharp.”
It’s About Personal Economics
Even if you go to a “low-end” salon, a/k/a a “clip joint”, you’re still looking at somewhere on the order of $20-bucks for the haircut. And let’s say you go every other month. That’s still $120 bucks a year.
Since I’ve been (mostly) cutting my own hair for 15-years, now, I figure the savings is more like $1,800-bucks.
That money isn’t the only saving. There the little matter of time.
See, out here in the woods, it’s an honest half-hour each way to get into the city to the area (near Wal-Mart) where the local “clip joint” is. Got that? One hour of driving. Now, there’s still the matter of the haircut wait. Invariably, even with an appointment, there’s “someone just finishing up” which pisses away 10-minutes of my life. No thank-you!
What was the total return on my 2004 $20-buck hair-cutting rig?
$1,800 in cash (haircuts were cheaper then, but I tip, so that balances off about right). PLUS 1.5 hours for each of those six clips per year. That’s 135-HOURS of my life gained-back.
Money and time? What the hell else could you ask for?
More honest accounting? OK, toss in (somewhere) the $30 beard and mustasche trimmer. Big deal.
One of my few regrets in life is that I didn’t latch onto this when I was 20. The numbers get really big. Started at age 20, I’d have been $6-thousand bucks up, less maybe a new hair cut rig about year 25. Plus I’d have gained 450-hours of useful life – 11 work weeks screwing with your hair…can you believe it? Numbers don’t lie, Unless you’re talking to someone in sales.
Elaine is equally practical. She has always done her own hair, except for special occasions. Two come to mind.
One was a local salon that did a great job. She was gone 4-1/2 hours, though and it was a little north of a hunsky with tip. Yee gods.
Other time on a cruise ship a few years back, their idea of what she ought to look like and mine were so far apart, I didn’t recognize her getting off the elevator. No kidding.
Most times, a scissor trim around the bottom and that’s it. Her “highlighting” color can be done for less than $10 bucks and she keeps one or two on hand.
Americans don’t think much about how “personal grooming” is a huge monetization. What’s laughable, though, is people get their hair cut and then put on…wait for it………sweats! Or, something that looks like it was cranked out of Omar The Tent-Maker’s online shop.
I digress. But just a few notes in passing: I don’t piss away my life in lines and I try to do whatever I can for myself. If there’s a line at a resaurant, I will grab a burger or go super-upscale. Even when the upscale joints are full, Elaine and I have saved so much time by eating at the bar (and with no one smoking, the bar holds the food just as well as a table, right?).
One reason I don’t go to sports events (other than it’s a waste of time) is I don’t stand in line to pee, either. See how this “gret aggressive with life and take no bullshit attitude works? Hoo-rah, pup.
Back in 2004 when when I got into self-administered haircuts the clipper kit (with guides) was $19.95 at Amazon. Today, the Wahl Clipper Self-Cut Personal Haircutting Kit – Compact Size for Clipping, Trimming & Grooming Kit – model 79467 is $40 bucks, or chump change less.
Still one hell of a deal.
I am not an accomplished “self-trimmer” yet. Mike Salv. was expert at this and insisted that with an adjustable mirror behind him, it was only a matter of practice to get it right.
I don’t have any such mirror set-up. I simply use the guides that come with the kit. That doesn’t finish off the edges pedrfectly, but…Elaine takes my mustasche and eyebrow trimmer for the “fine lines” around the neck, ears, and sideburns.
OK, the mechanics of this:
Step 1: Get your gear out.
That will be the hair cutters with a straight guide on it. And two side guides, like so:
Step 2. Cut the Whole Head with the Even Guide
To do this, fine a place with an easy to clear floor (not in the house) for the cutting. I sit in an old office chair in my shop.
Once seated, and leaning forward a good bit so your head can drop hair down to the floor, hair cutter buzzing and the even guide securely attached, run the rig over your head as follows:
- Passes from front of head to back of head – as far as you can go.
- Passes from back of neck, up, over the top, all the way to the front.
- Passes from right to left.
- Passess from left to right.
- Repeat this process 3-4 times.
This sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not. Takes maybe five minutes. When you’re done with Step 2, your head should be even all over. No doubt, the sides will look odd, but we fix that in…
Step 3. Put one of the guides on and do a side.
OK, which way, right? Easy-pease. Just remember, the SHORT side of the angled guides always goes DOWN.
Let’s pretend you put on the guide where DOWN would be set for the right side of the head on the “front to back” pass.
Before going on to the other guide, use this one for the opposite side’s “back to front” pass.
As you are doing this, try to keep the guide’s lowest right at the hairline. Nice and even-like.
Step 4. Put on other guide and do the remaining passes.
If the first guide was right side “front to back” this one sure as hell ought to be LEFT side “front to back.” And, on the other side, it’s the right “Back to Front” passes.
Remember, in both of these, keep the first tooth of the guide (the shortest. smallest one) just on the hairline. Assuring an even taper all the way around.
Step 5. Have a “helper” cut the finishing lines.
Elaine takes the beard trimmer, eyes the line she wants, and makes one or two passes down at the line.
This is fine for around the neckline and the ears (holding at an angle is fine here) but on the sideburns, you’ll want to crisp it up a bit with your razor when you shave.
This whole routine, including a quick shower and shave can be shoehorned into 30-minutes because that’s what I did this week on Wednesday between the end of breakfast and trading (from 9:15 AM) to paperwork prior to a phone call. I was in my office read to rock at 9:47, shorn, showered, and shaved. Obviously, I haven’t shaved today, but the hair is even, done, and off the table for another two months:
If you are looking for a “fashion” haircut, this may not be Ure ticket, but it is mine.
Short hair is not just for “old men.” It is long enough to filter some of the sun, but being short almost means your head doesn’t sweat as fast working outside.
In the winter, if I have a LOT of work today, like in February/March when it’s still cold, but the hunting season is closed, I might go four months between haircuts. Still, with short hair and an orange (“Don’t shoot me”) hat on, there’s no discerable difference, short hair or long, until well under 25- degrees.. In which case, wasn’t there something I needed to get done in the shop?
Write when you get rich,