I like getting good haircuts. Until the pandemic, I was getting a cut every 3 weeks, like clockwork.
This fondness for haircuts would baffle Me of the Past. Haircuts were unpleasant as a child. I often had to be bribed with sweets－an effective incentive, because I wasn't ordinarily allowed any.
I am now a person who wants to enjoy the way my hair looks. So, thanks to having excellent barbers and stylists, cutting my own hair never occurred to me as an option. I stuck to the same professionals and only switched when they moved, or I did.
And then came the coronavirus pandemic. And I cut my own hair for the first time, ever.
My reasons for making the leap were part pragmatic, and part exerting control over what I could control.
- There was no way to know how long the pandemic, and our efforts to solve it, would restrict my activities. I wanted to replace those activities, because pausing stuff indefinitely is impractical.
- Physical distancing I can learn to handle, not eating out just means I'll enjoy it all the more when I can treat myself again, and remote work is nothing new to me. But unmanaged hair was asking too much.
- I aspire to some self-sufficiency. I don't grow my own food, but I can cook and clean after myself. Why not hair too?
My partner would raise eyebrows about calling my food preparation methods "cooking", but that's a different story.
And the financial calculus is positive. I estimate that the money saved means an extra $10k stays in my pocket, over the next decade. The time spent is roughly the same. The amount of time I spend cutting is about 30 minutes, followed by cleanup of the bathroom floor and my trimming tools. This time is roughly as long as it takes to walk to my barber's and have my hair cut for me.
Of course my barber does a much better cut. They're professionals. To be satisfied with my handiwork, I need to have lower expectations. But, I don't have to compromise much to be satisfied. Turns out I'm halfway decent at personal care.
After the barber shop reopened, I didn't have to self-cut anymore. I stayed on course, because I felt that the benefits were worth keeping haircuts in-house. The upside of being able to visit a professional meant I got barbered every few months to reset the compounded mistakes of my amateur cuts. And to maintain my relationship with my regular barber.
I now cut my hair twice as frequently as I got barbered pre-covid. But I'm also faster than I was at the start of this effort, and my cut is more consistent.
I stopped going again when covid variants became dominant. Guidelines had been relaxed, but covid variants are more contagious. My goal is to avoid being in closed spaces for more than brief amounts of time. A half hour haircut fails to let me do that.
I'll restart going to the barber's when the pandemic is under control. A few times a year should be enough to treat myself and have any mistakes fixed by a professional.
Bringing haircuts (mostly) in-house has been a win.
I enjoy the feeling of being self-sufficient in this way. I can now do all my personal care anywhere I am. I will no longer need to time a haircut right, before I go out of town. While I'm away, my hair will not slide. As with shaving my beard, I can now easily handle my scalp too. Assuming I have a broom handy, and a decent mirror.