The Problem with Haircuts

I’ve had maybe 3 haircuts in my entire life (I’ll be 30 this month) that didn’t make me want to wear hats until it grew back out. Yes, most end up being okay after 2-4 weeks, but some were terrible until the next haircut adventure (when it’d usually just turn into some new disaster).

I’ve long thought that I’m just bad at telling barbers / hair stylists / people who cut hair how I want my hair. I still think that’s true, but today’s experience has shed additional light on the situation.

My hair was really long. I hadn’t gotten it cut in almost 6 months. I figured I could lose 2 full inches of hair and still have enough left for a pretty good mop on my head. I thought wrong… or did I?

See if you can spot the problem:

  1. Haircut person cuts off 2 inches of hair.
  2. Haircut person proceeds to trim and make sure everything is even.
  3. Repeat step 2 until all sides are even.

I’ve long thought that step three was the real issue here. I’d watch my hair go from unsightly mess to approximately what I want, and then the haircut person would continue chopping more off. I never stopped them because I figured if it’s uneven, it needs fixing. But it just gets shorter and shorter and shorter as they trim one side, then the other, then the other again because they cut too much off the other side, then the other again, then the other again, and on and on until they’re cutting hair that hasn’t grown yet.

No, the real problem is step one. If the final result should be start value minus two inches, then cutting off two inches at the beginning is a bad, bad idea. More is going to come off in the process of evening everything out, thus making the end result about 1 inch shorter than it should be.

I should add that the woman I’ve had cut my hair the last several times has done a far better job than all those that came before. But I still don’t get why this phenomenon happens. Why chop off the full 2 inches at the beginning if that’s what the customer says they want cut off? Maybe they don’t anticipate how apparently difficult it is to make my hair even? Whatever the reason, next time I’m going to tell her to cut off half of what I think it should be.