Haircuts I Have Known

In my earliest memory of having my hair cut, I’m in my kitchen, sitting on a chair that’s positioned on top of something to raise it higher. I’m wearing an improvised cape which consists of a garbage bag with holes ripped out for my head and arms to poke through. My mother is the hairdresser, and the experience is excruciating. She’s just giving me a quick trim, but it takes forever. Once it’s all over my bangs are super-short, because my just mom kept on trimming, trying to make it all even. And then for a week after she chases me around the house with scissors, snipping stray hairs.

When I was about four years old, I took the job into my own hands. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking it would be easy to cut my bangs. I also remember how not easy it turned out to be, and how it earned me an immediate ticket to the garbage bag cape. I was sufficiently traumatized that I never attempted it again. My daughter Hannah, on the other hand, still occasionally cuts off little pieces of her own hair even after her own self-haircut-fiasco. I didn’t make her wear the garbage bag, maybe that’s why.

When I was about 10, my parents started seeing a hairdresser named Esther. She was short and had short red hair, and for years we followed her from salon to salon to salon. Even after my parent’s divorce, the whole clan still saw Esther, just separately now. She was a real stylist who took her craft seriously. She would wash your hair in the sink and then cut it and style it. She used product and gave me tips and had the world’s biggest curling iron, and I enjoyed the experience.

New hairdo, second pass
Hannah after my attempt to fix her self-inflicted cut

But in my teen years Esther moved to a bigger, fancier salon downtown, and my mother didn’t want to pay so much for haircuts anymore. So for a while I got my hair cut by a family friend in her kitchen. She’d been to hairdressing school but she wasn’t working in a salon, so she knew her stuff but she was much cheaper. There was no hair-washing or blow-drying, but it was fine.

When I moved away to university, I got my hair cut at the “no appointment necessary” place in the mall. They did a reasonably good job and the price was right. But then in second year my roommate decided to try a fancy salon downtown, and I went with her in the name of bonding. For a few years I went there, feeling very indulgent as I made the long trip on transit. But after a while I got tired of schlepping all that way without a car.

Mother-and-daughter haircuts
Mother-and-daughter haircuts

When another roommate started going to a salon in our neighbourhood, I decided to try them out. That’s where I met Lesa, and I sort of clicked with her. She was a few years older than me and just getting married. I ended up seeing her for years – through my wedding, two pregnancies of hers, and two of mine. I moved, and then she moved and opened up her own salon. But eventually, with two little kids it became difficult to find the two plus hours it took me to make the drive and get my hair cut, especially when Jacob was too small to be away from me for long.

I tried a couple of other salons in my neighbourhood, with no luck. At the first one “my” stylist kind of annoyed me, plus she hurt my head repeatedly when she brushed my hair. At the second I realized I was the youngest woman there by a good couple of decades. I ended up going 11 months between hair cuts until my friend invited me to a salon in her neighbourhood, and that was good, but Jacob cried for me while she held him and I didn’t want to subject her to that repeatedly.

My hair after going 11 months between cuts

This is how I found myself going with my daughter Hannah to the local Great Clips. It takes us about 45 minutes from the time we walk out our front door until the time we walk back in. Hannah loves the bonding experience, and I like that we don’t need an appointment. I can seize a moment that works, it’s cheap, and they do a fine job. After all, I am not in a stage in my life where I’m styling my hair to perfection every morning. I need something that can dry while I grocery shop and still look OK. Anything fussy is pointless.

Sometimes I worry that I’m doing that mom thing and not taking care of myself. It’s certainly true that as an adult woman at the fast and cheap salon I’m in the minority. But you know what? Hannah and I have created a ritual now. And because it’s easy I make it in for a cut a few times a year, which is far more often than I ever have since I had kids. It’s working for me.

I got my hair cut!
My hair after my most recent cut

From my start in the raised chair in my kitchen I have run the haircut gamut. I’m not sure what that means, really. Does it matter who cuts my hair, or where they do it? Could someone off the street pick out the people who spend a lot of money on a haircut from those who don’t? Do I deserve the indulgence of a high-end salon? I don’t know. But I do know that when my Hannah takes my hand, practically jumping with excitement as we head off to get our haircut, I don’t really care.

What’s your haircut history? How does the experience of having your hair cut change the way you feel about yourself and your hair? I’d love to hear!

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  1. i really ‘let myself go’ in terms of haircuts after having my wee guy – it got long and straggly and i wince at the photos. now i know that the correlation between haircut and elevated mood is considerable – it’s my necessary treat and i deserve it 🙂
    pomomama’s last post … Artist at workMy Profile

  2. You look great! I really need to do the same thing. I find myself putting off getting my hair cut because it’s so darn expensive and I just haven’t found anyone I really click with here. Every time I go and drop $75 on a haircut, I come away so…. disappointed. $75 sets me up for some pretty big expectations! I’d probably be better off just spending $15 and not having any expectations at all. I haven’t had a haircut since last October! I think you’re inspiring me 🙂
    Jill @BabyRabies’s last post … Pin Of The Week: Insanely Easy Nap MatMy Profile

  3. My mom cut my hair when I was a kid, and I’ve cut it myself ever since! I think I do a good job, but I’m not one of those people who is very attached to my hair. I even shaved my head once, after having dreadlocks for 7 years! BTW, you two are adorable! You look so much alike!
    Amanda’s last post … Where I’m from…My Profile

  4. I sincerely dislike getting my hair cut. I hate the forced small talk and avoid it if I can. Which means that I usually go a year between cuts, and when I do get a cut, I’ll go to Hair Masters or Great Clips.
    Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves’s last post … Sprouted Bean Salad RecipeMy Profile

  5. I used to love going to the hair salon with my Mom when I was younger, I have lots of fond memories of us going out for our hair cuts and then coming home to Dad giving us compliments about how nice we looked. Ever since I got out on my own, I’ve had trouble finding a good stylist. I used to just go to the Hair Cuttery for a $15 hair cut, but I never got a good cut and ended up looking like someone out of a 1980s hair metal band (I have thick, curly hair). About 5 years ago, I gave up on getting my hair cut professionally (it was expensive and time consuming) and have my husband cut my hair. He does a good job, but it’s hard to find time for him to do that now with our little girl just starting to walk.
    Lately, I’ve been considering going to a salon near work on my lunch break and getting it trimmed.
    Holly’s last post … Towanda!My Profile

    • I will say this – my hair is very straight and very fine. I suspect it simplifies things considerably. I know some people have “hard to cut” hair, and if that’s the case you might not want to let just anyone cut your hair.

      All the same, you must have an exceptional partner. There’s no way I’d let my husband near my head with scissors.

  6. I fell out of the barber chair during my first hair cut at the age of three. I don’t remember it at all, but according to my dad, the barber who was cutting my hair was so upset that he had to excuse himself to the back room for a cigarette break (ah, the 70s).

    I pay way too much to get my hair cut and colored. I don’t really keep up with the product and styling that they use at the salon and, like you, I wonder if anyone can really tell the difference between a $15 and a $60 hair cut.

    After I read Karen Maezen Miller’s newest book “Hand Wash Cold” I decided that I wanted to shave my head. I told The Mister, not thinking he would really care. Turns out he did…way more than I would have thought, so I didn’t go through with it.
    Audra’s last post … Pony CampMy Profile

  7. I’m a “Firt Choice” cheap cut gal myself. They usually do a good job and the price and covenience are great.
    My husband and boys agree. We have tried the fancy places, and honestly other than a bit more time making sure the layers were balanced, it didn’t seem to be much different (especially after a shower and natural air dry that I live with every day)… not worth it for me.

    Besides, no matter how bad it gets cut by the cheapos, it will ALWAYS grow back.

    Over the years I have swung drastically between long hair with bangs and very short hair (with bangs)… the in-between times were the hardest to endure. And my one year with no bangs was just “not me”. The super short doos were usually inspired by some milestone. My dad passing away, graduating, turning 30, having a baby, travelling abroad…. the only big milestone that didn’t get the big hack was my wedding… I wanted as long as possible for that occassion.

    I have done my own at home before with mixed results. The older boy is easy with his military style preference. The younger boy is trickier… its worth it to go to FC and get the lollipops!
    *pol’s last post … and the music plays on…My Profile

  8. I feel great after a good haircut. But considering that I only pay to have it cut say, once every 2 years I allow myself the indulgence of a fancy expensive cut. I’ve never had a good yet cheap haircut sadly. Hard to come by!
    Amber’s last post … woodmouse toys in Simply Handmade magazineMy Profile

  9. I never had a haircut done where I needed an appointment: the whole point of going to have your hair cut is to wait forever while you read glossy magazines!:) My haircut history is very long. I’ve had the worse haircuts done in London, US, Zurich, Rome, locally. The best in Paris. OK one in Santiago, Chile. Very good ones in Milan, which is where I’ve been going more or less regularly in the past 20 years, though I haven’t lived there since I was 18.
    Francesca’s last post … ~ from the garden to our kitchen ~My Profile

  10. I’m getting my hair cut in an hour and a half. I really need it cut, but I hate the whole experience. I need to find a place that does haircuts under general anesthetic.
    allison’s last post … Get it off me!My Profile

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