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Self-Barbering: It Can Get Hairy


How many times has this happened to you: There's something big tomorrow, a job interview, a party, a best friend's wedding. You're between haircuts, with bangs that hang a little too low or a flip that rises a little too high.

You're too busy to get to your favorite haircutter, so you open the bathroom drawer and see temptation--a pair of scissors. After you're done giving yourself a trim, you find that it looks OK, but not much different than before, or you're frantically calling your stylist to see if he or she can fix your quick fix.

Cutting your hair is a tricky operation, one that requires a little nerve and a lot of courage.

"Most hair stylists have tried cutting their own hair," says stylist Mary Hillerman of Laguna Hills. "It doesn't work very well, which is why most don't do it more than once."

The biggest problem with self cutting is the perspective.

"A mirror will tell you if your bangs are straight, but it won't tell you how the back looks, or if you're about to cut a little too much from the sides," Hillerman says.

"Trimming a little curl in the wrong place is one thing; doing more than a few snips is something else," says hair stylist Carrie Alvarez of Placentia. "At least once a week I see someone who's butchered their hair."

If you're going to try it, use sharp barber's scissors and not the scissors in your sewing box.

"They need to be sharp to make even, clean cuts," Alvarez says. "With dull or blunt-ended scissors, the cuts will be jagged and your trim will look like you've done it yourself."

Don't wet your hair before you snip. "When you try to trim your hair when it's wet, you may end up cutting off more than you had planned," Hillerman says. "It's harder to trim dry hair, but you're less likely to make a mistake."


Patience is a virtue, but when you're doing a self trim, it's a necessity.

"If you're trying to trim just as you're going out the door, you're risking a mistake," Hillerman says. "If you're committed to doing this, lock the bathroom door and don't hurry."

Even if you're careful, mistakes can happen. If you're not totally sure about what to cut, a call to your hairstylist may be in order.

"If you're a good customer and you just need an emergency trim, most stylists can fit you into their schedule," Alvarez says. "If it's an important event, it may be worth the extra effort."

But if you're pressed for time, it may be worth it to have a trusted friend do the job. "Another person can usually give your hair a better trim than you could," Hillerman says. "They have a better perspective on where to cut, and someone else is less likely to cut your hair shorter."

* Do you need an antidote for a wardrobe problem? Write Closet Rx at The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or fax to (714) 966-7790.

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