Friday, November 1, 2013

How to: Cut your own hair

Call me crazy...but I cut my own hair.

This isn't a big deal if you have long hair and can see what you're doing, but I don't and can’t. My hair is very short. To make matters more complicated, this time I needed to cut the back even shorter. These obstacles made it a bit tricky figuring out a plan of action, but I finally came up with this solution:

See my glamorous luxurious slightly-decorated-more-functional-than-pretty bathroom? Do you like the builder grade brass doorknob and chintzy wooden towel racks? Hey, it's a rental and I'm content. Let me say that one more time: I'm content. And for good measure: I am content. It's hard to be sometimes, but really, it is easy to clean and usually stays this tidy. I only had to clean beard hair trimmings (my husband's, not mine) out of the sink for this shot (you're welcome). Also, please note my awesome vintage train case (the blue thing under the webcam). I love that thing! :)

I don't have a picture or video of me actually doing the haircut since I did it in an old scrubby shirt and didn't wear any, er, support, which isn't very photogenic. Besides that, it was incredibly awkward and would probably have been more entertaining than useful to watch. I did however capture the end result.

Here I am real-world style: it's 11:30 at night, I have no makeup on and there’s baby snot on my shirt. Plus, I’m not smiling because I'm not very good at taking selfies when I concentrate.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I didn't do much to the front, just trimmed my bangs a little. But the back was turning into a mullet and I had a little curl over my collar (sadly, I didn't think to take before pics). I took quite a lot off the very bottom of my hair in the back. Next time, I will do a more in depth photo tutorial when I cut my hair so you can get a feel for exactly how it's done. This time I had no experience and no technique to share so I was just trying to figure it all out. I do have one shortish spot where I angled the scissors the wrong way, but you can hardly tell it's there.

I love getting my hair cut, but because I like it so short and it grows so fast, I usually have to get it cut every 4-5 weeks, which gets really expensive. By cutting my hair myself now, I can get it cut by my hairdresser every 3 months (to keep it in a reasonable shape) until it's long enough for me to cut by myself all the time. I will still probably get one professional haircut every 9 months or so, just to keep some good layers in my hair and because I'm not willing to give up haircuts altogether.

Total savings: $33 ($28 for the cut plus $5 tip).

For those who want to try this, here's how I did it:

You'll need a laptop and a USB webcam. The built in camera won't work because you need to be able to see the back of your head while also looking at the laptop. Don't try to put the laptop behind you while looking in a mirror. It's dangerous for your laptop; and it's hard to see anyways. Maybe if you had a tablet, but still, don't risk a $500 device to save $33. Common sense, people.
You'll also need a small chair, a table (like a movie tray) and height adjusters (aka books or a train case) like you see in the picture. And a large mirror. My bathroom mirror happens to be big enough that I can see myself sitting down, if yours isn't, maybe prop a smaller mirror up behind your laptop so you can see yourself over the top.

First disable the built in webcam if you have one. I'm using Windows 7, so it might be slightly different for other operating systems, and probably completely different for Mac. In which case, Google it. Go to Control Panel > Device Manager > Imaging Devices. Once you get to your webcam, right click on the device (it's probably the one labeled with the same brand as your laptop; mine is "TOSHIBA Web Camera" because my laptop is a Toshiba) and click "Disable." If you get a popup, read it and click the appropriate answer. Mine asks if I'm sure I want to disable the device, because it'll stop functioning. I click “Yes.” This might require a restart. If that's the case, bookmark this page and restart your computer.

Once you're back, plug in your USB webcam device. It should now default to the USB device since the built in one is disabled. If you don't already have a program to watch yourself (I tried Skype, but the picture was too small) you can download the VLC media player. Only download from reputable websites since you can easily infect your computer by not being careful. I like to use or

Next, set up your chair, laptop and webcam so you can see both the front of your head in the mirror and the back of your head on your computer screen at the same time. A little tip... keep a small towel draped over your keyboard so you don't get hairs in all the little cracks. They're very hard to get back out. Trust me on this one, I know.

Now start cutting, but very carefully. Make sure you position your scissors the right direction before you make a cut. Since I only wanted to cut the very back part of my hair, I pinned up all the hair above my ears (make a line from ear tip to ear tip across the back of your head). Once I was done trimming, that hair fell down and covers up most of the newly trimmed section so any mistakes were minimally noticeable. To make the actual cuts, I used a comb to separate out the section I wanted to cut, transferred it to my other hand then cut with my right hand, very carefully. Remember, you can always cut more off, but you can't put it back. It's very scary at first, but it's also very rewarding!

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