Week 5 of the Circuit Breaker, and all the male members of the household are starting to resemble shaggy durians and disheveled mops. Barbers and hairdressers have been closed for weeks (though hair-cutting services will resume on May 12).
But in the meantime, what's a guy who's supposed to look neat for an imminent Zoom job interview to do? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. Said guy got his sister to cut his hair. Except that she's not a hairdresser, but an 8days.sg writer. Like we said, desperate measures.
So here's what went down. The lucky thing is, before the haircut, we got some great tips from professional hairstylists, including a quickie WhatsApp tutorial. Also, fortunately for brother, we own hairstyling clippers, which made the job much easier. It's not impossible to do it without clippers, but it will take longer (see what another 8days staffer did for her son with only craft scissors, below).
So basically, if you have clippers, the first thing to do is to mentally divide hair into three segments: area above the ears, area between the ears, and under the ears (see pic below). Dampen hair with a water spray so that it’s easier to see and handle. The area under the ears should be the shortest (usually it should be set on clipper No. 1) while the area above the ears can be cut with No. 3 or 4. The area between the ears should be blended with the top and bottom areas — use clipper No. 2 or 3, depending on what looks the most natural.
To get a neat outline for the hair at the back, remove the plastic head from the clippers before using it to shape the outline of the hair — you're basically using it like a shaver to completely remove all hair from that area, so be careful and go slow. when shaving around the ears, hold the ears down. Sideburn length should be shaved this way as well — shave off an outline, then work on blending it later.
It's possible to use a facial hair shaver instead, but this will take longer. And if you don't have that, you can try using a pair of scissors and a flat comb, and estimate the length using your fingers. Hold hair in between your second and third fingers next to the scalp, and cut whatever is sticking out from under the fingers. This one finger length usually works for where hair should be shorter, like above the ears or at the nape of the neck. Nearer the top of the head, leave hair longer, like two or three fingers' length, and blend the area in between. Make sure that your hair is pulled taut when cutting so that you get an even length all around.
Another 8days staffer cut her four-year-old son's hair, which is significantly less consequential than cutting your brother's hair when he has a Zoom job interview, but this mum was tired of her son's mushroom head and was armed with itchy fingers, courage, craft scissors, and the knowledge that the good thing about hair is, it grows.
One Youtube tutorial later, we were ready. We didn't have clippers (though we've since ordered a set online for under $30), only a bottle of water spray, a flat comb and a pair of sharp craft scissors. Basically, the principle is the same as with clippers, except that you're using your fingers to measure length instead of the clippers' settings doing it for you, which of course takes longer (thrice or quadruple the fun!).
Step one: Pop kid in front of a screen. Or if he or she is older, just ask them to stay and not move. For this first timer barber mum, a couple of episodes of Peppa Pig were necessary. Wrap a towel or if you're more pro, a hairstyling cape around test subject. Spray water onto hair. Start with the back of the hair, and at the bottom. Hold hair in between second and third fingers as near the scalp as possible, and cut off whatever hair is sticking out through the fingers with scissors perpendicular to fingers.
After area below the ears is done (see first pic on how to divide hair into three sections), take the top section, hold it two or three finger lengths from scalp and snip off the extras perpendicular to fingers. This is, we're guessing, to ensure the cut isn't too blunt. If it's still too long, adjust accordingly and snip shorter bit by bit. Use flat comb after each cut to comb down to check length.
For the middle section, hold hair with fingers vertically about two fingers wide (see pic below), and snip perpendicularly. Adjust length accordingly to blend with bottom and top sections.
For the sides, use the same method of gathering hair with fingers and cutting off the parts sticking out of your fingers perpendicularly. At the ear, press ear down, and use scissors to carefully cut the outline you want.
For the fringe, if you have thinning scissors, hold the hair taut and snip twice, once in the middle once near the top. Don’t cut near roots. If you don't have thinning scissors, use the same finger measuring method to pull the hair the desired length with two fingers, then snip off the extra length in a perpendicular way.
At some point, you will realise you've done enough, and it's time to stop. Try to get things as even and balanced on both sides as possible. If your test subject is under 5 years of age, they are unlikely to complain. For girls, we say just let the hair grow out and wait for a profesh job when hairdressers reopen. For ladies, we say definitely do not try this at home. You're welcome.