The Upside: Cost cut your haircut

I'm not a hairdresser, but I am gay, which is similar. So I can say with some authority that you can cut costs by cutting your own hair.

The easiest way is to be born male. Then you just shave your head with clippers. It's sleek, cheap and strangers will rub your head for good luck.

Marc Matsumoto of New York City started cutting his own hair to save money while pursuing his ambition of being a food writer. "It actually looks better," he says, "because now, instead of having it get shaggy at the end of the month before my next haircut, I just cut it myself once a week." Even the New York Times recently ran a photo essay of a laid-off project manager in Vermont shaving his own head, otherwise known as a slow news day.

So what is a woman to do? I consulted a fancy salon stylist and asked him if he had any advice for women cutting their own hair.
"Don't," he said.

"But there's a recession."

"Exactly. I can't afford to lose any more clients."

Hairdressers from around the country report customers waiting longer between cuts, looking for tips on home coloring (which stylists are loath to offer -- see above), and searching for their own cost-saving solutions. The owner of Vanity Beauty in LaCosta, Calif. even had a customer try to cut her own hair using the dreaded vacuum Flowbee of infomercial infamy, which ended, as the owner put it, in "tragedy."

If you do try it at home, recommends going for an overall color, stating, "Now is not the time for highlights. As they grow out, the roots will need to be corrected at your salon."

At, where you learn, y'know, how to do things, I discovered that the easiest cut to manage is all one length, though you run the risk of looking like Marcia Brady. And a frizzy-haired friend told me that women with curly or wavy hair have more freedom because it's harder to tell if you cut it crooked. "When in doubt," she said, "just toss your head a lot."

Home hair-cutter Maria Canul of San Jose, Calif. recommends buying a decent pair of hair-cutting scissors at a drug store. They can retail for as little as $20, but even an expensive pair pays for itself once you've skipped a salon visit.

And according to my local barber, more women are coming to him, instead of their regular stylists, for military cuts, particularly cost-conscious seniors. "Their stylists won't use clippers to get it as short as they want it," he says. How short? "The Marines wouldn't take 'em, but the Air Force would."

Yesterday, I treated myself to a crew cut from my local barber, saving $40 off my usual salon visit. Not only did he vacuum my head when he was finished (though not with a Flowbee), he offered me this tip while I tipped him: "Cut a little at a time. You can always go shorter, but you can't go back."

And that, my friends, is the Upside.

Have you tried cutting your own hair? Share your horror, or success, story in the comments section.
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