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Should you ever cut your own hair?


Man Scape

A journalist for 20 years and a man for longer, Richard Hughes would never, ever use canned shaving foam.

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Are times so tight that you'd consider the DIY look?

Are times so tight that you'd consider the DIY look? Photo: iStock

Times are hard. Taxes (or levies, in Abbott-speak) and bills are going up. It's time to tighten our belts and look for ways to save.

What can you do? Putting pre-tax dollars into super is smart, though a bit boring, as is taking a flask of coffee to work each day and quitting expensive vices (like buying coffees). What else? Well, how about cutting your own hair?

It makes sense – it can't be too tricky, surely? You might miss the free drinks and chit-chat that goes with a regular trip to the barber's, but think of the expense. It all adds up. And there are lots of fancy clippers out there that look like they could cut your hair and make you a decent latte into the bargain.

But maybe haircuts, along with the rest of the way you present yourself, are something we should be spending more on, not less. No one wants to look like dead wood when the next round of corporate tree trimming begins.

As one hair expert put it, “Sewing machines are cheap enough, too … why don't you buy yourself one of those and make yourself some nice shirts for work?” Good point.

But just how hard can it be to do your own hair? Not very, say some. Mrs Man Scape was admiring the very on-trend side-swept style of a friend's 12-year-old son, which had superseded a longish flick.

“I did it last night,” confessed the lad's mum. “Neither of us could be bothered going to a hairdresser. I just kept chopping and trimming till it looked right. There was plenty of hair so there was room for mistakes. And actually, it wasn't difficult.”

So it can be done and, the people at electrical goods maker Philips tell me, you can do it yourself. They proclaim their most advanced clipper provides “even more styling choices and control for the modern man” with titanium blades that cut hair twice as fast as regular clippers.

More to the point, the HairClipper Series 7000 is $130 and comes with a five-year guarantee. If you got yourself one (or one of many similar devices), a comb and some scissors, you could wave goodbye to barbering expenses for the rest of the decade.

But the hair professionals of Australia tell me it's not that simple. One top barber was, his people told me, “not comfortable encouraging people to cut their hair at home”.

They've obviously got their livelihoods to think of. But it's not just business talking - they just don't think you'll end up looking as good.

American Crew's education manager, Phoenix Thomson, doesn't pull any punches when I ask her about DIY cuts.

“I don't think any man should cut their hair at home,” she says, bluntly.

“Clipper technology is definitely advanced. But unfortunately they haven't created a clipper that can actually create a lean, tall and masculine shape on your head for you.

“A professional knows what they are doing, and that is the difference. A good barber is skilled enough to blend and tweak the problem areas of your hair and give you a long-lasting, sharp-looking finish.”

Surely there are some styles that lend themselves to a DIY approach? Bald all over, obviously, but are there any other cuts that can be pulled off by a gifted amateur? “A buzz cut, maybe? That really is all,” Thomson says.

“DIY haircuts are never going to exaggerate your cheek bones and jawline. And you can't get to the bottom of your neck to create a tapered hairline, or shave your own neck with a cutthroat razor to create a nice, clean hairline.”

She concedes clippers can be used in other hairy areas – the chin, for instance. “A good barber and hairdresser can give you some strong pointers to help guide you through your DIY beard trim at home.”

So get some clippers if you like and use them on any of your wiry hair areas. But when it comes to your crowning glory, it might be best to stick with the experts and hang the expense.

Do you cut your own hair? Would you, if times got tighter? Or is this one area of the household budget that won't ever take a haircut?


  • Hey now, hey now, now HEY! Look here, I have been cutting my own hair for the last 20 years and I have a very good technique. Which is to say I let my hair get so shaggy and scruffy that people look at me and wonder what the hell I'm doing in a corporate job, then I use the clippers to great effect by going short, short with a little on the top and BAM! People can't beleive it when I tell them that YES I did it to myself.

    Date and time
    May 13, 2014, 9:36AM
    • I've been doing on my own haircuts with clippers for the past 10 years- it is easy-peasy and the suggestion that you can't do a clean neckline is rubbish. One thing I miss though is being pampered for that 20 minutes or so but after going to a barber last year while on holiday and being charged $15 for a 5 minute buzz and another $15 for a beard trim I reckon I am good for another 10 years.

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 11:20AM
    • I wouldn't suggest cutting your own hair unless you have a three strand comb-over.
      Find a good barber like Fiore at the Curtin shops, for $18.00 your hair will look a million bucks rather than a victim of Edward scissor hands.

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 11:25AM
    • Way to go Dusty! Abuse *and* a commercial plug in the one post! I hope you get a good discount for trimming that comb over.

      For men who aren't too vain or perhaps are follicly challenged then doing your own hair makes commercial sense and can give you that "just cut" look more often.

      I do my own with a No.1 because I'm worth it!

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 11:56AM
    • I've been doing my hair with clippers for 20+ years now too. I don't want a 'style' I just want it short and neat. The Mrs cleans up the back, no drama.

      All these overly processed men who believe spending bit $ on a haircut will stop them from getting the chop at work., as implied in the article - make me laugh...

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 12:02PM
    • I give myself a buzzcut but I drop into the hairdressers' every couple of months to tidy up the edges (and, if I'm honest, to enjoy a wash and scalp massage from one of the girls).

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 12:16PM
    • @Kangavik...I'm glad you look like a freshly minted crim or some person who has the talent of a No.1 comb cut.
      A three strand comb-over has more style than a No.1 crim cut.

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 4:32PM
    • @kangavik...And, Get those hairs in your ear holes trimmed to No.1 so you can hear what I 'm saying on the internet, if I had a three strand come-over I wouldn't need a shearer.

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 4:44PM
    • @kangavik...Correction...It's your long eye lashes that need trimming so I'm told, that way you'll see what I mean.

      Date and time
      May 13, 2014, 4:53PM
  • Been cutting my own hair for years now, and whenever anyone finds out they cannot believe it...I get the length/ look I want and by trimming it every 2 or so weeks, always looks neat, as I got sick of going to hairdressers asking for XYZ and getting ABC and then paying for it!

    Date and time
    May 13, 2014, 9:38AM

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