The Recession Haircut: Place Bowl Over Head and Snip, Snip, Snip

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I don’t think I paid for a haircut until I was out of college and living on my own. Before then, my father cut my hair. And after a traumatic, crying-filled episode at the barber with my oldest son when he was about 18 months old, I now cut my boys’ hair as well. Turns out that during the recession, many people have tired of paying $10, $20, even $50 for something they think they can do themselves. But DIY haircuts, like DIY home projects, don’t always go according to plan.

The WSJ has the whole hairy story. As fits the wider trend of folks scaling back, 72 percent of higher-end hair salons say they’ve seen a drop in customer spending. Many of those customers not in hair salons are in their basements and bathrooms with scissors, combs, and razors in hand, with mixed results.

I’m not bold enough to try to cut my own hair, like some folks do. Still, I think I’ve never paid for than $15 for a haircut—because a $15 haircut is fine. I’ve been known to extend the life of my haircut by trimming my sideburns and clipping the hair over my ears, so I won’t need to go to the barber as often.

Cutting costs by not buying underwear is one thing. Unless you’re a Victoria’s Secret model, most people don’t see your underwear. A haircut is different. Everyone can see the results. Cutting one’s own hair can be a disaster, as the WSJ reports:

Meanwhile, a mini-industry has sprouted up in salons: fixing botched at-home cuts.

John Barrett has had many clients who take matters into their own hands, achieve miserable results — then quickly return for some tress relief.

“I’ve seen women come in, crying hysterically,” over things like too-shorn bangs, he says. “It’s a big deal.” Sometimes, the scene at his eponymous salon, located on the penthouse level at Bergdorf Goodman on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, can resemble an emergency room: Clients with hair-dye hazards, wrecked layers, and visible signs of emotional distress. “It’s a psychological disaster,” says Mr. Barrett, who caters to socialites and “America’s Next Top Model” contestants.

In addition to the rise of fixing at-home cuts, there may very well be a rise in the sale of hats.