As our time spent in coronavirus -induced quarantine grows, so does our hair. Short hair with mustache.
Gov. Phil Murphy closed barbershops and hair salons March 19 to help combat the spread of COVID-19. While we’ve only been self-distancing for a few weeks, many people are already wishing they had hit the barbershop one last time before locking down.
Soon enough, everyone in New Jersey is going to look like a roadie for Van Halen. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But some of us are definitely starting to gaze longingly at their scissors and wonder how they can cut their own hair.
If you are bold enough to try such a hair-raising feat, we have some tips for you straight from of the best barbers in New Jersey. We talked to Jason Webb of Webb’s Barbershop in Somerdale, Zane Keyes of V. Sosa Grooming Bar in Montclair and John Huhn of Father’s Mustache in Spring Lake to make sure you don’t come out of quarantine looking like your hair lost a fight with a buzzsaw.
NOTE: These tips are primarily for people with short hair. Though some tips apply to all home hair-cutters.
If you’re going to take the plunge and give yourself a trim, don’t do it with typical office scissors. They’re designed to cut paper, not hair. And if you don’t have hair-cutting scissors, good clippers (from companies like Wahl or Andis ) are affordable and much more first-time hair-cutter friendly.
“There are good clippers you can get it on Amazon or in the store for between $20 and $40 depending on the quality of it," Huhn said.
But you’d be wise to invest in a self-cut mirror which will show you the front, the side and the back of your head all at once. It won’t be cheap, but can you put a price on avoiding a terrible haircut?
“As as far as attempting to cut your hair,” Keyes said. “The three-way mirror would be great.”
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Really bent on giving yourself a trim? Spring for the clippers. You’re not trained to use scissors, and clippers are much more first-time barber-friendly.
“I’d rather they use a buzzer like on the side of their head if they could, rather than just try to use scissors, because that’s not gonna turn out well,” Huhn said. "It’s not easy to do that by yourself, like scissor-over-comb work. It’s a lot easier to put a guard on the on the clipper and then just go over the hair and keep it close to the head. It’ll take hair off and even out, so that’s definitely the best way for someone to do it at home.”
Don’t be afraid to get your hair a little damp with a few spritzes from a spray bottle, and be sure to comb it out.
“You should always comb your hair the way that it grows all around, from where it starts in the back of your head, at crown,” Keyes said. “And out from the crown you should comb into the way grows and then start to cut from the bottom up.”
Don’t go right at the top of your head. In fact, a few of the barbers we talked to suggested leaving the top alone. Start on the sides, and work on blending the top to match.
“I would take the sides to one level and focus on trying to blend them in around your parietal ridge, which is where your head starts to curve on both sides of your head,” Keyes said. “I would recommend to anybody who has clippers, a No. 2 guard (a quarter-inch length), that will be good for your sides....When you want to blend into your parietal ridge on the sides of your head, you need to do a bit of a rocking motion out while you’re going up with the clipper."
It sounds simple. But reattaching earlobes isn’t simple! And if you’re not used to cutting hair, you’re much more likely to snip more than just hair as you trim the sides of your head.
“Let’s say you want to just draw up around your ears and you’re not paying attention to what you’re looking at in the mirror and you nick your ear?" Webb said. "Now you got to go to the hospital get your ear stitched.”
This is another check in the clippers column. You’re much less likely to cut your ears with them than scissors.
If you’re cutting your own hair, there’s a good chance you’re quarantining alone. But you have a roommate, family member or significant other, you should at least trust them to do the back of your neck. Doing that effectively on your own is almost impossible.
“Ask for a little help from somebody else you’re quarantining with to kind of get the back," Huhn said. "that’s what my uncle did. He had his wife shave around the back of his neck and he FaceTime me, it didn’t look too bad!”
So you have the clippers and the mirror, you even have a friend to help with the back. The last step may be YouTube. There are plenty of general guides on cutting your own hair to watch that will make sure you’re not just going into it completely blind.
“Everything’s on YouTube now," Huhn said. "So if anybody’s unsure, just YouTube self-haircuts you’ll get the steps on what to do as.”
You can always cut more hair. You can’t put hair back on one you’ve cut it. So not only should you be going for a simple, subtle cut, but you should take your time with it. Cut a little bit off and then reassess.
“I would just start off longer, and then go shorter," Huhn said. "Don’t start right down to the skin and then you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s way too short.’ At the end of the day, you can always come back to it.”
All three barbers we talked to agreed that now isn’t the time to be experimenting with new styles or being too ambitious. If you’re going to cut your own hair, you should really just be looking to clean things up a bit. Anything more extreme than that, and you’re not just risking a bad haircut — you’re making more work for your barber when this is all over.
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“Fixing home cuts isn’t easy,” Webb said. “Maybe a bald spot, maybe it’s too short in certain areas and you just, can’t really blend it in. I can hide some mess ups. I’ve had plenty of children come in who’ve decided to take scissors to their hair.”
You may not be a child, but you risk the same result. You’ve been warned.
If reading all this didn’t scare you off, then more power to you. But the bottom line is an overgrown legitimate haircut is better than a fresh makeshift one. Your hair grows an average of a half-inch per month, so it’s not gonna get that bad anyway. And even if it does, no one is judging your hair during your Zoom meeting.
“I would wait, what’s the hurry?... When you try to give yourself a home haircut, and you mess it up, will that make you feel better? Make you feel worse?" Webb said. “It took me a long time to learn what I do. It’s not easy to do on yourself.”
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