So the rumours and the title of this piece are true: I cut my own hair. And I don't just mean the dead ends. No, my precious baby angels, I mean the real deal. I've cut shoulder-length hair into a blunt bob. I've cut bangs. I've got layers. I've cut some weird "longer in the front, shorter in the back" thing that was actually an atrocity because my hair was also black at the time and, well, some things aren't meant to be. Just me, my bathroom mirror, and the kitchen scissors. I'm like Marie in The Bourne Identity without actually being on the run from the government with my boyfriend, Matt Damon. (But one day… one day.) And I'm not changing for anybody, ever.
It didn't always used to be this way. When I was little, I went to the same hairstylist every couple of weeks, and then graduated to a full-on salon in the middle of high school. By that point, I was already dying on my own (actually — I dyed my hair bleach blond thanks to a highlighting kit and my two best pals who took seven hours (SEVEN HOURS) to help make it happen), but cutting layers? By myself? Madness. So I went to the same hair stylist from age 14 to 23-ish — but then I got poor.
I have never been rich. In fact, I am what I have come to define as a "true poor," but when I was a teen and early 20-something, I wasn't totally tapped into that reality. I had two jobs. I was a student. I lived at home. But then I became a writer, and wouldn't you know: your income is $0 to a couple hundred bucks every few weeks until you rack up some business.
Which is par for the course. I wasn't about to spend $60 on a haircut every few weeks when that was exactly as much as a paycheque could be. So I figured, "Ah, what the hell." And one day, in February of 2009, I cut my bangs. And then I dyed my hair brown. And then, whenever I wanted to change my hair, I just cut it off. And I still do. And do you want to know why? Because a) it's fun, and b) I haven't screwed up that badly yet. Will I at some point? Absolutely. (I am a human person, AND I am Anne T. Donahue, so the odds are not exactly forever in my favour.) But considering I'm usually cutting blunt bobs for myself 0.0392 inches at a time, any error can be masked with making my hair look "wavy." Also, now it's a habit — and I don't trust anybody else. (Even though, may I remind you: long-in-front-shorter-in-back-black-bob-with-bangs of 2010 was my own doing and my own doing alone.)
So just in case you've been reading this and thinking, "I SHOULD TRY THIS" here are some tips if you are also on a budget or just very adventurous. In the words of Montell Jordan, this is how we do it. (And if you are horrified at everything I just said, you might as well stop reading now. But also, how did you make it so far already? You're a brave person, and I'm sorry this was probably very trauamtic for you.)
1. Cut your hair dry
If I learned anything from the hairstylist I went to when I was a kid, do not cut your bangs wet. They shorten as they dry, so what could've been a Zooey Deschanel-inspired masterpiece will become a third grade class picture day disaster. "But Anne!" you argue. "My stylist cuts my hair wet all the time!" Correct: but they also went to school for years to know how to do that. This is a kitchen scissors experience: we are basic 101 DIYers.
2. Cut "up"
Are you cutting your own bangs? Terrific, so PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT CUT THEM ACROSS. Oh my GOD, no. Are you thinking about doing that? Stop it immediately. Put the scissors down. LOOK AT ME. (If you do that, your bangs will flick outwards, and honestly it's a disaster none of us will ever be emotionally or mentally prepared for.) Instead, cut up. Tiny bit by tiny bit at a time. That way, your bangs will fall naturally, and you will also make sure to avoid any grave errors.
3. Cut "up" pt. 2
This also goes for ends or layers. Err on the side of making no difference. Never ever just "go for it." (Even I didn't do that, and again, may I remind you: black weird inverted bob thing, and seven-hour dye job.)
4. If you're going blunt, make sure those scissors are sharp
So you've decided to cut your hair into a blunt bob. Congratulations! Get the sharpest scissors you have (otherwise your hair will tear, and oh boy is that ever damaging/traumatizing/not recommended for anybody), and go bit by bit around your head. I usually use a mirror to get the back, and feel for any spots I missed (so I don't look like I have some strange, "I cut my own hair!" look you'd normally see in kindergarten), and I cut so little as I'm cutting that it's a matter of a few centimetres of difference. Never just cut your ponytail off or grab a section and cut it dramatically ala Hallie to Annie in The Parent Trap. It will be dramatic, but when I say "it" I mean "the emotional breakdown you will have." Just be patient — and not nervous! Hair grows back.
5. Except if you want to cut yoursel a pixie: ignore all of this
Because I'm sorry, nobody but somebody trained to cut a pixie can cut a pixie. Do not try and cut yourself a pixie. Even I wouldn't cut myself a pixie. And you guys: black inverted bob thing of 2009. (#NeverForget) Meaning? Never, ever cut your own hair into a pixie.