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With salons and barber shops closed, you might be eyeing your scissors and thinking about giving yourself or a loved one a new ‘do.
And you might even need one. Unless you got a haircut right before Maine’s governor Janet Mills ordered all nonessential business to close on March 24 until further notice, then it could be awhile before you can get a professional trim.
“I’ve done some video chats and some video support to help people navigate what everybody’s going through,” Curtis said. “If [your hair] is affecting your daily life, I would say maybe it’s time to make some adjustments.”
Before you grab those scissors though, here’s what you need to know.
Gather your tools
Though you do not need salon-level equipment, Curtis said that using a few simple, specialized tools will make the haircutting process easier — not to mention safer.
“Hair cutting scissors are very important,” he said. “Kitchen scissors can be kind of dangerous. They’re clunky and not easy to control, and you want to be careful that you’re not cutting your hands.”
Curtis also said that you will need a comb. You might also need clippers if the haircut calls for it. Pharmacies as well as most big box stores will have these tools, so you can order them for curbside pickup. Hair clips might be helpful to keep everything organized if you are trimming longer hair.
Also, make sure you wear shoes.
“Especially if you’re doing a clipper cut, it’s really important to make sure you’re not stepping in the hair,” Curtis explained. “If you get [hair] splinters from someone else in your feet, which is a real risk, you can actually get a blood infection. I’ve actually had a couple that I’ve had to have removed.”
Set-up for success
Cleaning up stray clumps of hair can be a pain. Expedite clean up by draping a towel around shoulders and on the floor. You can also use old newspapers on the floor if you want something to just crumple up and throw away after you are done. Better yet, toss the hair (unless it has been chemically-treated) in your compost pile. Human hair is a rich source of nitrogen.
If you can, Curtis also recommended setting up your makeshift salon over a hardwood floor so you can easily sweep or vacuum cut strands without them clinging to carpeting.
And make sure your space is well lit. Generally, your bathroom is a good bet. If not, wait for daytime and set up by a window.
Prep your hair
Curtis said that the steps to properly preparing hair will depend on the cut.
“If you’re doing an all over haircut, the easiest way to keep that organized is on wet hair,” Curtis said. “It’s easier to see and keep track of what you’re doing on wet hair than dry hair when you’re trying to keep everything as organized as possible. Clippers are generally done on dry hair.”
Regardless of whether you cut your hair wet or dry, make sure you detangle it with a comb and wash out any product that you might have in it (though if you are using hair product in quarantine, I commend you).
Keep it simple
A quick trim or clean-up is probably the furthest you should go, unless (like the co-owners at The Noble Root) your partner is a professional stylist.
“Simple is best,” Curtis said. “James and I both used to teach beginning hair stylists and hair cutting is difficult. Be kind with yourself, don’t get over ambitious and know that it takes a lot of practice to get good at it.”
Curtis said to pinpoint problem areas in your current hairstyle and focus on remedying those.
This especially goes for if you are cutting your hair solo.
“I would, again, just keep it to the bare essentials,” Curtis said. “I can’t even cut my own hair.”
A few additional mirrors might help solo stylists see what they are doing, but Curtis cautioned that mirror images might throw you off.
“It will help you see it, but you also have to remember that in a mirror you’re working backwards so your right is your left and your left is your right,” Curtis said. “It will help you see it but it’s challenging because you want to move the opposite of what you’re seeing in the mirror.”
For certain hair styles, Curtis recommended letting them be until you can go to a salon again because they are so complex — pixie cuts, for example.
“Shorter, sculpted haircuts that are in that midrange between a bob and a clipper cut are really touchy and can be really complex as far as the angles go,” Curtis said. “If there is an area that was really bothering you like that front area was just long, you could just trim a little bit off that front area. Just leave the rest of it alone.”
Trimming your partner’s hair
If you are trimming hair for length, start cutting in the back at the center by combing a section of hair, bringing the ends through between two fingers until you have between half-an-inch or two inches of hair and cutting straight across. Use previously cut pieces as a reference as you are cutting around the sides to keep the trim even.
Once you are finished, come to the front, and bring the hair from both sides between your fingers to see if they are the same length. Trim as appropriate.
For curly hair, trim a little less than you think you need to.
“Be aware that curly hair is going to shrink up more than straight hair,” Curtis said. “If you trim off an inch, it will quickly become three inches once it’s dry.”
Shaving is also a simple cut.
“I would use a guard that’s longer than you think it should be and dial it back from there if you need to,” Curtis said. “Make sure as you work up the head that the clippers go in an arcing out motion, which leaves the top section longer and gives you a way to blend [it in]. Clipper cutting is kind of like sculpting because it’s not just the guard that is creating the blend, it’s actually the motion of the clipper.”
For those who don’t want a full buzz, use a pair of clippers to clean up around the ears and the back of the neck. Comb all the hair around the ear, then down and in toward the ear. Next, use the trimmers to clean up any hair that hangs past the outline of the ear. Finally, clean up any hair growing down the neck at the back hairline.
“Brush everything down [and] trim around the ears,” Curtis said. “The razor that you use on your face, you could have your partner just do that on the back of your neck.”
Also, be careful not to take off too much from the front.
“It’s really important not to get that area too short,” Curtis said. “That seems to be a general bone of contention with a lot of clipper cuts is that that front area can be too short.”
Trimming your kids’ hair
With children, the rules of home haircuts are the same (please, please resist the urge to give your child a bowl cut) but Curtis said that in his experience, it’s best to make sure kids are occupied during the process so they don’t wiggle around.
“For kids, the most helpful hint would be to give them something to do,” Curtis said. “Give them a tablet or a book or something to keep them distracted while it’s going on and happening so they can stay as still as possible.”
Watch a video
If these instructions or other online written instructions aren’t clear enough, or if you are a visual learner there are endless YouTube videos that will guide you through the process of cutting hair. No matter what you want to do, from cutting your own natural hair to giving your boyfriend the perfect fade, there is a video out there for you. For example, Curtis and Riherd recommended a YouTube video from Tips for Clips – Haircutting for men looking to cut their own hair.
“There are a lot of great videos on YouTube already that have that information in them,” Curtis said.
Have a sense of humor
Look, we’re all a little bored right now. Gather a few friends on Zoom to watch the haircut experience, or have a haircutting party. It will make the whole experience more fun, and your evening a little brighter.
And if something goes wrong during the process, Curtis said not to panic.
“Remember that hair grows and it can be fixed, so no added stress,” Curtis said. “One of the things that I have really worked in the salon as a team to kind of create the impression that there’s no shame at this point. Give us a call and we’ll figure out what to do.”
Watch: Nirav Shah thanks everyday Mainers for staying inside