After cutting my own hair during lockdown, I'll never go back to a barber

I’ve always been the king of bad haircuts.

At 16, I failed miserably in an attempt to dye my hair red and only managed to colour the tips. At university, I once had to ask a barber to shave my hair off as I was forced to abandon a terrible attempt to replicate a David Beckham haircut (please don’t ask which one).

The thing is, I don’t really like the whole barber experience.

Greeting a stranger, trying to be as clear as possible with my instructions and then sitting awkwardly as I wrack my brain to remember as many facts about West Ham United as I can (my closest barber is a big fan).

In fact, I’ve tried to avoid these conversations so much that I’ve even put off getting a haircut until I’m on holiday. The logic is that a language barrier prevents the risk of small talk.

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Of course, this presents its own set of challenges when it comes to asking for exactly what I want.

But as barbers are closed due to lockdown restrictions, everyone is reaching for the scissors. Meaning I, too, have been forced to improvise with a homemade haircut.

The responsibility was handed down to my mum and stepdad. But as someone who is used to being disappointed once I’ve had a haircut anyway, I was prepared for the worst.

Unsurprisingly, my mum and stepdad did not hold a cure for my haircut disasters.

Positioned on a small stall in our garden, my mum began to cut my hair. My handheld mirror was confiscated so she had complete freedom to cut as she pleased. I could only get the odd glimpse through the reflection of our bathroom window.

The fate of my hair was quite literally in my mother’s hands. I had given her the green light to try and reproduce any hairstyle she pleased. However once several large locks of hair had fallen over my right shoulder and a couple of significantly smaller tufts had floated down to the floor to my left, the clippers were handed to my step dad for some emergency action.

This hairdresser substitution meant I was now allowed to see what was going on via a mirror and to minimise damage, an agreement was made between my stepdad and I that a mohawk was the most achievable haircut.

Having shaved my head before, I was open minded about the results. I knew the worst case scenario and therefore I was excited to see if a more obscure hairstyle would suit me.

When I was shown the results I burst out laughing. My inner child was delighted at how much I resembled a stegosaurus.

The end result was a wonky mohawk. It looks like a skunk has been glued to my scalp.

Tufts of lengthy hair managed to escape the massacre of lockdown locks and now safely seek refuge behind my ears. The remainder of the hair on the sides and back of my head are uneven in length. I think my mum must have got bored halfway through and applied less pressure to the clippers. 

As someone who is incredibly impulsive, I thought the solution to my new do was to take further action. The plan was to dye the mohawk rainbow and see how it looked.

I soon realised that if my parents struggled to shave the sides of my head then maybe asking them to dye my hair was a step too far. So I cancelled the Hermes delivery.

Although some blue hair dye still sits expectantly on my desk. 

No matter how bad my hair looks now, I refuse to return to the barbers once lockdown is lifted. Despite its outcome, this DIY haircut experience has been incredibly enjoyable.

The awkward barber ritual has been replaced with laughter, photos, and family bonding.

There’s no pressure to look a certain way during lockdown so I can laugh as my mum recoils with horror that my hairstyle resembles that of her teenage ex boyfriend.

I no longer have to nod with muted acceptance when it is revealed what my hair now looks like, no matter what my real opinion is on it. I am finally in a safe space to ask for a little bit more off the top or to have the sides altered.

Since my parents know less about my hair than I do, I can now ask the ‘barber’ for whatever I please with no consequences. I can now finally break the ‘short back and sides and a bit off the top’ monotony and ask for something different.

It was liberating to entirely let go and accept I will never look like the hair models who pollute Instagram adverts. Changing my hair will not have a significant impact on how I look and more importantly it will not determine my personality.

Hair is simply an opportunity to further express ourselves. Our haircuts do not say anything insightful about us. Hair is just dead cells on top of our heads.

Usually, at the end of my trips to a barber, the hairdresser will sign off on their effort with enough hair wax to send you back to 2007. Avoiding this alone is worth a wonky haircut.

I refuse to return to a world where I no longer understand what numbers on a shaver mean. The number five should not change in quantity depending on which side of the high street you choose to get your haircut.

I will therefore be committing to home grown haircuts for as long as the enjoyment of having a family member cut my hair outweighs the pain of going to the barbers.

In lockdown, we are able to let our hair down (or use a ruler to determine where to start shaving the top of our heads). There is no pressure to look a certain way.

Instead I can enjoy the fact I’m the closest I will ever come to achieving Tin Tin’s famous quiff and begin campaigning for a barber free world.

It’s only hair and it’ll grow back.

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