Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Hairy" Situations; Superwoman's Guide to Grooming

When I was a Young Woman, I had to do some big projects in order to receive my Young Womanhood Recognition. One of my projects was to learn to cut hair. My mom had been a beautician and performed that service for our family. I practiced on my brothers and the missionaries.

This has proven to be a useful skill. In college, I sometimes traded haircuts for food. I had my own scissors and clippers. I did lots of hair cuts and even had a few "regular customers" at times. It was good practice and always seemed more like a hobby than a job. In fact, it was kind of fun.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like doing it. Not really. I hate having little hairs all over me. I used to cut my fingers with the scissors almost every time! I am not the kind of person who aspires to be a hairdresser. My own hair is usually in a ponytail. When I wear it down, my kids just stare at me like they are trying to figure out who I am!

My own feelings aside, I have found this to be a great blessing to my family. My husband is in the military, a job that has regulations on hair length. When we were first married, only 11 years ago, he could get it cut for 5 dollars at the military PX. Now it is 12 dollars! That might not seem like much but it can really add up if you have to do it every few weeks. We also have 7 kids now. I have given them most of their haircuts. (They have given themselves haircuts, too...but that is whole other issue!)

Practical Points for Cutting Hair
Here are a few things I have learned, either from my mother or my own experience, that will make your haircutting adventures a little bit easier.

1. Take Care of Your Tools
Whether you are using scissors or clippers, it is important to clean them after each use. I rinse off the scissors and comb then leave them to air dry in a safe place (That means out of reach of little hands). I also rinse off the attachments for my clippers. I take the blades off and clean out the hair from time to time, but not after each haircut. I don't usually wash the clippers at all, I just brush the blades and wipe it with a tissue if it needs it. (This is because the blades need to stay oiled...and it is electric!)

2. Location, location, location!
This is not just for real estate. Good places to cutting hair are the bathroom, the kitchen, or outside. I like the bathroom because then the person getting the cut can just get in the shower afterward and clean off all those little hairs.  My second favorite is outside. Then you don't have to worry about clean up.
3. Dressing for the Occasion
I used to have a cape, a plastic thing that wraps around your neck and supposedly keeps the hair off of you. I found it to be more trouble than it's worth for kids. My boys would complain about being too hot and sometimes wiped their faces with the hairy thing. NOT fun. I usually have my boys strip down to their underwear for haircuts. If they are shy, they can put a towel around their waist. The less hair I can send through the laundry, the better.

My mom has a kind of house dress that she wears when she cuts hair. I usually just change clothes when I am finished. Whatever you do, don't forget that you will get hair on yourself, especially if you are giving a really short hair cut.

4. Boys and Girls are Different
My girls don't get haircuts very often. I occasionally trim their bangs or cut a few inches off the back. I don't get fancy with their hair. I just wet the part I want to cut and give it a few snips. They don't usually need a shower or cape or anything. That might change someday!

5. Cleaning Up
Don't forget the the hair has to go somewhere.  The garbage, the toilet, the yard, these are all pretty good options. A few months ago, I tried having my boys stand on a towel, thinking I wouldn't have to sweep. I am still finding stray hairs in the dryer vent! I alos tried sitting the little ones on the counter and letting the hair fall into the sink. That was fine...until I tried to wash teh hari down the drain. NOT pretty. If you try cutting hair into the sink, wipe it out and put it in the trash. Believe me, it will save you in the long run!

*A word of warning: cut hairs can be kind of sharp. You can get a hair spinter from these and they can be difficult to remove. So be careful if you or your "customer" is barefoot.

6. Keep Some Perspective
My dad used to say the difference between a good haircut and bad haircut is two weeks. It's true. Well, it might be longer than two weeks. But the point is, if it is too short, it will grow back. So don't worry too much.

Once I was cutting my son's hair and I noticed a place that was a little uneven. I changed the attachment on the clippers and pulled it across his head, front to back. I was in a hurry and didn't notice that that attachment had fallen off when I got to the back. The next swipe across his head took off ALL the hair! I had to shave his head, which he thought was wonderful. But I have been more careful since then.

If you mess it up really badly, you can go to a barber or hairdresser, which you would have done anyway but now you have some experience. So it's win-win!

Cutting hair can seem like a scary task. If you are too worried about messing up, you probably will. But if you are feeling advennturous and want to save a few bucks, give it a try. You might be surprised.

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