Demise of a Home Haircutter

by Katy on September 4, 2009 · 27 comments


I have written before about my secret home haircutting skills which have literally saved my family hundreds of dollars through the years. But the particular boy’s cut that I have perfected looks fabulous on a two year old, even good on a ten-year-old, but unfortunately not so fab on a 14-year-old.  Which is why I finally marched my sons over to Barber-Q, the local barbershop/salon for their back to school haircuts.

My older son has been rocking the long hair over the past couple of years, but lately it’s has gotten completely out of control. His hair is bright platinum blond and is as thick as thieves. He’s not a big fan of putting brush to hair and usually showers at night, which means he wakes up with a wild mane of hair the likes not seen since Gilda Radner’s classic Rosanne Rosannadanna character.

I had last taken him in for a hair cut in January with a friend whose gentle hairdressing skills would not put my son’s weird haircut paranoia into hyperdrive. Unfortunately, she did more thinning than actual cutting. Plus, her prices were waaaay more than I usually pay. (I want to support local businesses, but not at the expense of my budget.)

The woman whose runs Barber-Q around the corner from our house charges only $7.99, and actually does a pretty fantastic job. I had taken my younger son there for her opening day $2.99 special and been greatly pleased. Not only was her cut pretty damned good, but she related really well with my son. Sooo much better than battling with a whiny child at home. THAT is $2.99 definitely well spent!

The end of this story is that both my sons got terrific haircuts, my 14-year-old looks better than he has for years and I feel perfectly fine having spent $20 for two haircuts. I supported a local small business, (literally small — the space used to be a garage!) and made another nice connection in my neighborhood.

Will I ever cut their hair again? I’m sure I will, but I do not want them to not be laughing stocks in middle and high school. I will continue to buzz cut my husband’s hair and get free haircuts for myself from the Aveda Institute of Portland.

Their complete disinterest in how they looked was great while it lasted, but that era has ended.

Are you a home haircutter, closet or otherwise? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@The Frugal Girl September 5, 2009 at 4:12 am

I cut 75% of my children’s hair. lol Joshua is not old enough to care greatly yet (he’s 10), and Sonia and Zoe have fairly thin hair still. Also, their hair has waves, so an imperfect cut is not so noticeable.

Lisey has ridiculously thick hair which is also ridiculously straight. This means that it takes mad skills to cut her hair in a way that looks halfway respectable, so I take her to my friend, who gives her a lovely salon-quality razor cut for $10 (the same friend who cuts mine for $15. Oh yes. Because I am NOT going to cut my own hair!).


burgundyhaze September 5, 2009 at 8:54 am

I don’t like going to salons so I have been wanting to trim my own hair for a while now, but haven’t had the guts. Last time I had my mom do it. Then soon after I found Feye’s self trim method. I think next time I need a trim I’ll take a shot at it myself :).

Here’s the instructions to Feye’s method if you’re interested.


Louise September 5, 2009 at 9:30 am

I cut both my husband and my own hair with a pair of Wahl clippers. We both have buzz cuts and it is super easy. The only part I can’t do is my neckline, so he helps with that.

We originally bought the clippers to be frugal, but the real advantage is logistical. We live on the road full time in our RV and looking for a new hairdresser every 3-6 weeks was the biggest pain. Several times a year, I got a really, really, REALLY bad haircut and finally decided that I could butcher my own for less money. Turns out it is pretty hard to ruin a buzz cut and all my lousy experiences before stemmed from hair dressers who refused to believe I “really” wanted it short.

I love having super short hair. It looks exactly the same right after I shower, after I get up in the morning, and after I remove my motorcycle helmet or any other hat. 30 seconds to wash it and no combs, brushes, mousses, sprays or gels necessary. I can go about 5 weeks between cuts as it grows from crew cut to pixie cut.

I get lots of compliments from other women who wished they “had the courage” to cut their hair short. Only my 12-yo niece with hair to her waist hates it, but her parents are doing a lousy job teaching acceptance of diversity and that age isn’t known for tact. (When I was 12, MY aunt said insulting things about my hair, so I guess there is some sort of weird tress karma going on here? Sigh.)


Sue September 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

My son is autistic and is not fond of being touched by strangers. (common trait of many autistic children) So several years ago I started cutting his hair. I was not very good at first but my skills continue to get better and his hair looks as good as his classmates now. I love that I am saving dollars as well. If I could only cut my own hair too.


Diane September 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I confess, I’m “cheating” this year. Instead of cutting my hair, I’m growing it out to donate to Locks of Love. The donated ponytail has to be at least 10″ long, so it’s still going to be a while until I need a haircut. They will accept hair that is up to 10% gray, so this could be my last chance. I am inspired by my young red-headed nieces, who have donated 2-3 times each!


marzapan September 5, 2009 at 12:30 pm

7.99 is a great deal but I wonder how she makes a profit charging so little.


Evie September 5, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I absolutely have to have a great haircut, and I know I’m not the one to do it. I used to cut my hair when I had a simple bob in high school and college. I also used to get my hair cuts at the SuperCuts and at the local hair academy, but, now that it’s short, I need someone to cut it for me, or I’ll look like a dork. I think it’s worth it. It requires more than just being able to cut straight across.


Karen September 5, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Yeah, that 7.99 price issue makes me wonder too. People do need to make a living wage at what they’re doing. I trim my own bangs but get my hair cut by a lovely single mom who charges me 25 bucks (incl tip). Since I don’t go more than maybe 3 times per year, i am still spending way less on my hair per year than almost everyone I know. She spends a good hour with me, so the cost seems reasonable and I feel good supporting a tiny local place.


Kristin @ klingtocash September 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm

I barter services with my stylist. I haven’t paid for a hair cut in a really long time.


HeatherS September 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm

I would never attempt my sons hair as it looks really bad if not cut just right. Some pros have even left him with strange looking hair that will stick up in odd directions. There is one particular barber my husband has been taking him to recently who does a great job and if fast (a must for a boy who at 9 still can’t sit still for a haircut.) Worth the ten bucks it costs us.

I do cut my daughters hair but it is pretty easy as it is straight and she will sit still even at 3 for this. I realize this won’t last forever though and soon she will want a particular cut and I will have to have a pro do it, but for now she is just happy if I trim it and agree that she looks just like Ariel the mermaid!


Kris-ND September 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm

No 🙁 sadly, we have had 2 very ugly child hair cutting incidents, so we now avoid any future therapy bills and/or appearances on any Geraldo Rivera show by taking them to get professional

We bought clippers and tried to cut our son’s hair when he was younger, but I screwed it up, handed him off to my husband who screwed it up even more and then we had to cut it so short and stubbly, he looked like a skinhead! thankfully it was fall so he could wear a hooded sweatshirt on his poor skinhead head, and he was homeschooled, so no teacher telling him he needed to take a baseball hat off or push back the hood on his sweatshirt.

I cut my daughter’s bangs so short once, that I thought she would never stop weeping, gnashing of teeth, yanking on her bangs, as if they were stretchy bangs you could just pull right down.

This is an area I spend willingly 🙂


Gail September 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I have cut both of my children’s hair since they were born, one boy and one girl. About 2 yrs. ago I started cutting my husband’s hair and we both agreed that I did a better job than the chain he usually went to. The day after I cut his hair for the first time all his coworkers commented that they loved his new haircut and when he told them that I cut it they were shocked. It’s not difficult. I can’t cut my own hair, though. I go to a mid-priced salon for my cuts, but I color it myself at home.


Judith in Ky September 5, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Oh Children, this is an ole timer speaking. I cut my hair about a month ago. Aggh! I take a sleeping pill that has some rather odd side effects. I cut my hair while asleep. I had been planning to get it cut so it was on my mind. So, I did it!!! You can imagine my surprise the next morning! It is growing out now and not so awful bad but I will sure get it cut nicely before It happens again. I hope!


ksmedgirl September 5, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I used to cut my son’s hair until about jr high, then I couldn’t do it “cool” enough. I have no real skill, as I just used a Wahl trimmer on him. I used to go to a beauty school to get my own hair cut, but I got tired of the waiting and the mediocre cuts. I have decided that a good haircut is one of the things I will spend money on, as well as occasional highlights. My husband goes to a barber and won’t even discuss any other arrangement. I have found a great stylist that I met at church who works out of her home. She is very affordable, and I feel good about supporting her business. I just wish I had something to barter with!


Rhonda September 5, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I went to beauty school (more than 2 decades ago) but do not practice the craft. I cut my own hair and I cut everyone else’s. I use a clipper on my son but since I never learned that in cosmetology school, my skills are lacking. So I did spend $14 at the barber for the start of the school year… but I am going to learn to use them, it was his first paid haircut and it was an ouchie!


Jennifer September 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Hey, my husband cuts his own hair and our two boys’ hair. Such a blessing and many dollars saved!!


tammy September 6, 2009 at 6:18 am

I have waist length hair and it is the simplest thing in the world! I shampoo and let my hair air dry. Once a year I have four or five inches trimmed off the bottom.
I never cut my children’s hair when they were growing up. I was lucky enough to be friends with a stylist who would cut the boys’ hair in funky ways they loved!
Once a month, my local Hair Cuttery has free cuts. The offer appears on and runs for three days. It’s a great way to get free cuts especially for back to school!


Jana September 6, 2009 at 8:05 am

I’ve been cutting my own hair for years — very short, slightly choppy the way I want it but could never get a hairdresser to do. I keep scissors in my bathroom and snip away at bits every day or two. It requires no styling, blowdrying, or fuss.


Pat September 6, 2009 at 9:07 am

My husband buzz cuts his own hair every week and I trim up the neckline for him. To save on haircuts I also trim my own hair at least twice before heading back to the salon for a reshape. This saves me alot. I wish there was someone local who cut hair here. The more I read your column the more I want to move to Portland!


Sierra September 6, 2009 at 9:25 am

Since I began cutting my hair short a few years ago, I’ve had it cut by about a dozen different stylists, and paid anywhere from $15 to $60 for a cut.

Last week, a friend cut my hair in my driveway while our kids played around us. It is, without question, the best haircut I have ever had. And it didn’t cost me a dime.


Miss Blueberry September 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm

I’ve been cutting my husband’s hair for twenty years, through a stint in the Air Force and into civilian life in the airline industry. We’ve had only one minor mishap. After revving up the clippers, I made a nice straight row up the back of his head and realized that I had not put the guard on. My frantic “Oops” and subsequent tears have become family legend. Our dilemma was whether to shave up to where the stripe ended or just leave him looking like a skunk (his hair is black). Now before each cut he asks, “Guard on?” and I answer, “Guard ON!”


Angela September 7, 2009 at 12:39 am

My husband has hardly any hair so it’s very hard to screw it up. He buzzes it and I shave the neck and trim anything he missed.

I did used to cut my brother’s friends hair back in high school and I remember once leaving an unfortunate bald spot in one boy’s hair. At least it grows back fast.


Clean Simple September 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

My DH would love it if I would cut his hair (he has clippers) but I won’t. I’ve tidied it up and I just HATE doing it. He goes to the local beauty school and gets good cuts for cheap. I go there too. I hate going to a fancy salon but I refuse to go to places like Super Cuts, I hate the attitude there and after two bads cuts decided it wasn’t worth it. The beauty school takes longer, but they do a good job and the instructor always checks to make sure it looks good and is what the client wants.

My little one does her own every once in a while. i take my older DD to the beauty school for a trim every six months, since she’s growing her hair long.


Carla September 8, 2009 at 7:09 am

In all the years I have known my husband (we’ve been married over 36 years) he has had a haircut by someone else once. I admit that my skills have grown over the years but he has extremely curly, forgiving hair and he, too, was forgiving of my less-than-stellar cuts early on. For some years now we have had picky friends to ask where my husband gets his hair cut, so I must be doing a pretty good job. I wore my perfectly straight hair in a bob for many years and always used a professional for it. Now it is long enough to sit on and I use the aforementioned Feye’s Method, always asking my husband to check for a straight hemline, and he does.

It works for us.


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