User Input

User Input: Professional Shearing

Tell me you wouldn't go there.

Tell me you wouldn’t go there.

I’ve spoken before about my love for a straight-razor shave. It’s getting to be that time of year again — I try and get one twice a year — and I’m looking forward to it, probably more than I should be. Since I talked about it before, I’ve since found a barbershop right near my house that does them, so there’s no hassle, no fuss. I can have one any time I’d like. Now I just have to deal with the fact that they are rather expensive, even if they are completely worth it.

I’ll actually pick on my barbershop for just a moment. They insist on calling themselves a barbershop, not a “hair salon”,  or “hairdresser”, because they are exclusively for men. Yes, they’re part of a chain of hairdressers, but they’re very well-run as men’s stores. They specialize in straight razor shaves and men’s haircuts and grooming, and they’re worth a few dollars extra. Also, they exclusively hire women who are absolutely stunning. Hey, that helps.

Some of my friends, however, think I’m nuts for even going to a barber at all. Granted, a few of them don’t have a lot of hair to speak of, and it’s possible that when I start to lose my hair I will not partake of this experience as much either. But others insist that I shouldn’t be doing anything more than a simple buzz or brush-cut, and it’s silly to spend my money on such an indulgence. And, try as I might, I can’t convince them that it’s worthwhile.

Since we seem to be on a grooming kick this week, what say you? Do you go to a barbershop, do you let a professional cut your hair? Or do you simply take a weed-whacker to it yourself and call it done?

  • I just go wherever is cheap and convenient, usually Great Clips. #3 on the sides and back, just long enough to lay down on top (no flat-top).

  • Number_Six

    I could never have someone else shave my face, never mind with straight razor – it would be 1000X more terrifying than dental surgery.

    One of my vices is that I waste a buttload of money getting my hair cut at a men's salon which totally overcharges for the #3 bizzer I usually get. But the young woman who cuts my hair is a laugh riot and it's within walking distance of my place.

    • Mr_Biggles

      My mom called them bizzers. I think this may be the only other time I have ever seen/heard that word used. Good on ya.

  • skitter

    My ears are fairly level, and my finger is fairly straight.
    And only once have I missed a patch so blatantly that someone gave me a hand mirror.

  • I go to a ladies' salon, the kind that sells jewelry and hip clothing on the side – I've never seen another guy in there other than me and my son. She cuts my hair better than anyone else, ever, and she barters my haircuts for my wife's services as a florist. Free haircut is best haircut.

  • pj134

    I have this place near me:

    I just haven't been able to sack up the 75 for a shave and a haircut or the 45 for a shave when I just go to great clips normally for a 12 dollar haircut. #3 and finger length isn't really worth 30 bucks to me and 45 for a shave is definitely hard to swallow. I need to do it for the experience though.

    • Deartháir

      That's actually why I like this place. Great Clips is about $14 here, and this barber shop is $20. The girls working at my barber shop are all to-die-for gorgeous, and they're carefully trained to be conversationalists. They are basically trained to flirt with the guys, and even though I know that's just a sales technique to earn them tips and repeat business, I don't care. It makes for a fun conversation with a stunning girl in very tight pants or a very short skirt.

      Meanwhile, the last few times I went to Great Clips, all of the pretty girls were busy, and instead I got this tiny little Asian guy who seemed more interested in massaging my scalp than in actually cutting my hair. He was quite fabulous, almost to the point of leaving a cloud of sparkles and sequins behind him when he walked. He had a very thick accent, and when I asked him for a #3 clipper on the sides and back, he squealed in excitement, and spent the rest of the haircut carefully rubbing my head as he clippered away, repeating, "Ahhh, lumbah feeeeee…. Lummmmmmmmbaaahhhhh feeeeee…." (Number Three). I'm pretty open minded, and am not bothered by gay men chatting with me in the slightest. This guy was just creepy.

      To the barber shop I go!

      • pj134

        "He was quite fabulous, almost to the point of leaving a cloud of sparkles and sequins behind him when he walked."


        • Reminds me of the salon I used to go to. Jimay, the owner, was pretty discreet and controlled. However he had two hyperactive, flamboyant Asian stylists who were prone to to giggling fits. He called them his "gaysians".

          • zaddikim

            Definitely got a giggle from "gaysians".

      • Vairship

        I go here, for about $21 it's hard to beat and nice and old-timey decor:
        <img src="'s+Barber+Shop+DSC03319.JPG&quot; width="500">
        Winn's barber shop in San Diego

  • Instead of trying to convince them that it's worthwhile, why not just tell your friends to go suck eggs? It's your hair and your afternoon and your disposable income.

    Dayton Duncan, in his survey of underpopulated corners of the USA, "Miles From Nowhere", points out that every tumbleweed town he went to had either a video store, a hair salon, or both. Clearly this is a staple of American culture.

    Personally, clippers and a mirror. I used to have a bi-hawk haircut that I managed to cut and color myself, but it took three hours and at least 4 PBRs, and a second mirror. Honey Bunny helps me now

    • Deartháir

      You may have noticed I tend to be slightly opinionated. As does Techie. He and I have been friends for about two decades now, and much of our group of friends has been constant for that whole time. After that much time with a strong-minded, stubborn group, we're well past the point of "think what you want", and well into, "I MUST CHANGE YOUR OPINION TO AGREE WITH MINE."

      Basically what I'm saying is that it's just for the sake of the argument, not the actual opinion.

  • OA5599

    There is a place my parents used to take me when I was about 6 years old. It was a short drive from our old neighborhood. I don't remember much about the place except that they had Playboy magazines in the waiting area, and sporting events (usually college football) on the TV when we'd go on Saturdays (my usual day).

    We moved across town a few years later, but now I'm back on this side again, and for a long time passed the building every day on my way home from work. The demographics of the area have changed since my childhood, and more than likely the shop has changed hands since then, but it remains a barbershop, probably with the same barber pole out front. I've been tempted to go back to see what the place is like today, but always forget about it on days when I'm particularly shaggy, and I keep winding up getting my hair cut by a place that is store #137 or whatever of a big chain of hair places.

  • jeepjeff

    Woooo! I get to be That Guy™ again. After I quit the job with the grooming policy, I went back to my default haircut policy of "meh, don't bother". I stopped shaving back in September, so back into Unix Admin territory for my facial hair. Trying to figure out when I'm going to shave next.

    • zaddikim

      I keep a VanDyke going as a default unless the job requires me to look somewhat human/presentable.

      At one point I did have a full-on ZZ Top going on, but got frustrated trying to trim it (I was single, and only had a slum-pit bathroom mirror to go by) and shaved it off once I had gotten it to roughly 2" long.

      The girls in the office threatened to tie me down and shave me if I grew one again. Evidently chest-level beards don't suit me as well as chinnies.

      • jeepjeff

        I'm at 2-3" and 5 months in to growing it. The longest I've ever grown one out was 6 months, and it was about as big as mine is now. I'm considering sticking it out for a whole year to see how long it will really get, and if there's a chance I can get into Viking Braid territory. Because that would be totally metal.

        I get frustrated with mustaches, so I tend to go for mutton chops if I'm keeping any of it around. (Alas, my wife hates the Captain Ahab look, which would totally be my favorite for just growing it out.)

        • zaddikim

          I'm wracking my brain trying to remember who said (I think it was Douglas Adams) that mustache-less beards made one look like either a scientist or a Belgian troll (that alone makes it soundd like adams, FWIW).

          My chinniy's at around 2"-3", and I'm aiming for 'metal' territory myself. It certainly helps now that I've got a grey streak on either side.

          I'm gonna have to get a Class 6 license so I can save up for a motorbike now, I guess.

  • CaptianNemo2001
  • Devin

    I get a haircut twice a year, and I tell the person cutting it to go as short as they think looks decent, then it grows out until I get annoyed by it and another haircut comes along. I sort of hate getting a haircut at all, but I don't trust myself to do it, and since I put it off so much I tend to have a large amount of hair when it happens – the worst has been almost shoulder length, there's a suitably awful photo of this floating around facebook land. I've also basically stopped shaving for the winter, but it'll probably get pared back once the weather gets warm.

    I'm kind of amazed that nobody in the office has ever commented on my hair choices.

    • jeepjeff

      This is basically my reasoning for not getting it cut at all. Now that I can pull it back in a pony tail, it doesn't bother me. Also, my hair grows super fast. At twice a year, I'd spend 4-6 months in mullet territory every year. And nobody wants that.

    • BlackIce_GTS

      If you're at that level of hair-apathy, I'd recommend getting a set of clippers. 15 minutes every 8 months, and I'm done. It'd be more like 5 minutes if my hair wasn't thick enough to choke a lawnmower.
      Skill involved is zero, I just put a length guide on and make random passes until hair stops coming off, it's dead easy.

      • CaptianNemo2001

        I found what you were looking for…

        • BlackIce_GTS

          Thanks, I was actually looking for a gravitational anomaly map, which is what that trippy moon thing is (I was sort of puzzled when your first response mentioned "moving/shifting/fluctuating object/field" Maybe tides, I thought?), but this is also interesting.
          The Pacific is really odd looking.

    • RSDeuce

      You do the exact same thing as one of my co-workers. In fact, I never understood why he never got his hair cut until I just read what you wrote… It sounds exactly like his thought process.

      If not for your mention of not shaving, I would be like "Charles, is that you?" right now haha.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    The trick is to hold the scissors pointing up, then the hairs fall down with gravity into the cutting blades. Also you don't get crooked horizontal lines. Just keep repeating the snipping like that all over, and eventually you can again use a single medium sized drop of shampoo when you shower your hair.

  • SSurfer321

    I used to have a girl, Yva, at the Lady Jane's in Toledo. She was great to talk to and even better at cutting my hair. Cost a little more than the bargain places but it was a little "me" time.

    It took me 6 months to find a girl in Lexington that can do a halfway decent job. She's since moved to "ladies salon" so now I am the only guy in the place most of the time.

  • Metric Wrench

    I do my own crew cut with a dime store clipper and guide. I have since I was a teen. What are the consequences of failure? Bald, or wearing a hat for two weeks! Just dive in and try, you'll get better with practice. The level of technical expertise needed is not huge here.

  • Mr_Biggles

    I've been using the same set of Wahl clippers for twenty years or so. I paid $50 for the Wahl Home Pro kit at Crappy Tire in my early twenties. It seemed like a hell of a lot of money at the time, but worth every penny given how long the clippers have lasted. The kit came with the clippers, 6 or 8 different snap on attachments (including the tapered ones, make sure you use the right one on the right side), scissors, 2 combs, a plastic cape and a VHS tape with video instructions for 3 different styles. None of the instructions cover the "self-cut" but one makes do. Shaving it all off: no problem. Giving yourself a real cut that leaves something behind takes practice. The neck is obviously the tough part. Sometimes I hang the second mirror behind me, but it's hard to make my hand move the right way in two mirrors. Sometimes I get my wife to clean up my neck. Sometimes I wing it. The other day I put a piece of packing tape across the back of my head and shaved below it. Worked OK.

    Always remember: the only difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is two weeks.

  • zaddikim

    I've really only splurged on a haircut once – I had to not be a Dirty Damned Hippy for my promotion, so I asked around the girls in the office, and every one of them recommended this guy in a salon in North Vancouver.

    He wasn't quite the gayest person I've ever met, but he was definitely in the top five. He was, however, the best stylist I've ever paid to cut my hair. I told him what I needed, and he didn't even do the whole "look in the magazine and tell me what you want" thing – he just started washing and cutting.

    He even had a leather scrip for all of his various tools of the trade – at least three regular scissors, three or four pinking shears, and various other exceedingly sharp implements. I asked him how much all of that equipment cost him, and he said it was well over $3000. 0_o

    I have not ever had a straight razor shave. I suppose I'm going to either have to 'man up' and buy a set, or fund an old-school shop and get one done.

  • I have rocked, in my younger days, the shaved head. Simple, low maintenance, easy to do yourself. I have also tried to be a floppy haired hippie, but turns out my hair is too thick for me to put up with that and I never lasted longer than psuedo-mullet. For the last 10 years-ish, I have kept more or less the same hair cut due to, let's call them employer constraints. The quality of that cut certainly differs depending on where I am.

    I lived in Bahrain for a little while, and got spoiled to the awesomeness of a straight razor on the sides of my short hair cut. Occasionally I splurged and got the shave as well–splurging was 1 extra BD on a 3 BD haircut, with a BD being about $3 at the time. As I moved around the US after that, I found there is a challenge to finding people who will–or can–wield a straight razor for more than just 3 seconds of edging the back of your neck.

    What I discovered was that in Texas, and this may be true in other places as well, there is a distinct difference in barbershops and salons. A real barber is better trained and has served in an actual apprenticeship. They are able to cut your hair with a straight razor.

    Everybody else is a cosmetologist, and took a 2 day class and got a certificate. They are barred by state law from actually using a straight razor on your head.

    I love real barbers and actual barbershops, and will absolutely pay more for what I want. The hard part is finding that, every time I move someplace new, I spend at least 3-4 haircuts trying to find that real barber. If I find one, I get a lot of good haircuts. If I don't, I get fluffier and get less low quality haircuts.

  • RSDeuce

    I go to a true Barbershop here in San Diego. Not only do they do a good job, they finish your neck with a straight razor, have free beer in the fridge and a great atmosphere overall. I have to have a regular guy or girl to cut my hair. I hate having someone do it that I don't trust to just do it right…