Should you ever cut your own hair?

Times are hard. Taxes (or levies, in Abbott-speak) and bills are going up. It's time to tighten our belts and look for ways to save.

What can you do? Putting pre-tax dollars into super is smart, though a bit boring, as is taking a flask of coffee to work each day and quitting expensive vices (like buying coffees). What else? Well, how about cutting your own hair?

It makes sense – it can't be too tricky, surely? You might miss the free drinks and chit-chat that goes with a regular trip to the barber's, but think of the expense. It all adds up. And there are lots of fancy clippers out there that look like they could cut your hair and make you a decent latte into the bargain.

But maybe haircuts, along with the rest of the way you present yourself, are something we should be spending more on, not less. No one wants to look like dead wood when the next round of corporate tree trimming begins.

As one hair expert put it, “Sewing machines are cheap enough, too … why don't you buy yourself one of those and make yourself some nice shirts for work?” Good point.

But just how hard can it be to do your own hair? Not very, say some. Mrs Man Scape was admiring the very on-trend side-swept style of a friend's 12-year-old son, which had superseded a longish flick.

“I did it last night,” confessed the lad's mum. “Neither of us could be bothered going to a hairdresser. I just kept chopping and trimming till it looked right. There was plenty of hair so there was room for mistakes. And actually, it wasn't difficult.”

So it can be done and, the people at electrical goods maker Philips tell me, you can do it yourself. They proclaim their most advanced clipper provides “even more styling choices and control for the modern man” with titanium blades that cut hair twice as fast as regular clippers.

More to the point, the HairClipper Series 7000 is $130 and comes with a five-year guarantee. If you got yourself one (or one of many similar devices), a comb and some scissors, you could wave goodbye to barbering expenses for the rest of the decade.


But the hair professionals of Australia tell me it's not that simple. One top barber was, his people told me, “not comfortable encouraging people to cut their hair at home”.

They've obviously got their livelihoods to think of. But it's not just business talking - they just don't think you'll end up looking as good.

American Crew's education manager, Phoenix Thomson, doesn't pull any punches when I ask her about DIY cuts.

“I don't think any man should cut their hair at home,” she says, bluntly.

“Clipper technology is definitely advanced. But unfortunately they haven't created a clipper that can actually create a lean, tall and masculine shape on your head for you.

“A professional knows what they are doing, and that is the difference. A good barber is skilled enough to blend and tweak the problem areas of your hair and give you a long-lasting, sharp-looking finish.”

Surely there are some styles that lend themselves to a DIY approach? Bald all over, obviously, but are there any other cuts that can be pulled off by a gifted amateur? “A buzz cut, maybe? That really is all,” Thomson says.

“DIY haircuts are never going to exaggerate your cheek bones and jawline. And you can't get to the bottom of your neck to create a tapered hairline, or shave your own neck with a cutthroat razor to create a nice, clean hairline.”

She concedes clippers can be used in other hairy areas – the chin, for instance. “A good barber and hairdresser can give you some strong pointers to help guide you through your DIY beard trim at home.”

So get some clippers if you like and use them on any of your wiry hair areas. But when it comes to your crowning glory, it might be best to stick with the experts and hang the expense.

Do you cut your own hair? Would you, if times got tighter? Or is this one area of the household budget that won't ever take a haircut?