Luxury hairdressing on a budgetEmily Loynes

Being students, money is an elusive concept; as soon as that sweet loan hits our account it's gone again, be it towards (extortionate) college rent or cheesy chips from Van of Life. To stave off the dreaded overdraft, this year I’m on a saving hype: cycling up the hill to Aldi’s for my weekly shop, forgoing the cafe in favour of the library… and deciding to cut my own hair.

A decent haircut in Cambridge can be relatively expensive, so if you’re not precious about your hair, cutting it yourself can be a viable alternative. All I needed was someone to take my knotty, curly locks and deduct about 5 inches. If you have naturally curly hair, the reasoning goes that any unevenness won’t show when it curls (you’d have to be really sure of your ability to cut evenly if your hair is straight).

Truth be told, the first snip was terrifying. All I could think to keep me calm was the fact that it would make a great anecdote at some point in the distant future

So, what do you need to cut your own hair? If you’re going for a very basic approach such as mine: a two-minute YouTube video on how to cut your own hair, a few hairbands, a pair of hair straighteners, a towel/bin to catch most of fallen locks and a pair of nail scissors (thanks Cesca!).  It’s advisable not to cut your hair with ordinary scissors, as they are usually blunter and cause your ends to split, so unless you have a pair of professional scissors to hand (you can get these on Amazon for roughly £12), nail scissors are your best option. In my case, I also employed the help of someone with whom the bonds of friendship ran deep, so that it would survive if worse came to worst. It is worth noting that Hana had no previous experience cutting hair before, but - the impulsive enabler she is - was totally up for it. So, at 10:30 on a Tuesday evening, armed with my nail scissors and towel, I embarked on a liberating adventure, the outcome of which is outlined below for your reading pleasure.

Truth be told, the first snip was terrifying. All I could think to keep me calm was the fact that it would make a great anecdote at some point in the distant future. The general pattern was to straighten each section of hair (making sure it was all from the same layer) starting from the back, cut it just a little bit longer than it would eventually end up, then blend it in with the other layers and even out any irregularities by cutting upwards at the ends. Hana wasn’t making confident noises, but to our credit, neither of us lost our nerve.

Get the 'sophisticated Cantab' lookHana Abas, public domain

As the layers went on, I began to look less like a forgotten 80s popstar and more like the sophisticated Cantab I had in mind. Things were looking up for both my hair and my friendship: I could look Hana in the eye again. After an hour of arduous snipping and bated breath, we were done.


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The outcome: it felt chic, my head was so much lighter, I was grinning like a cheshire cat, and it was completely free! A liberating experience, it felt good to do something impulsive and watch it turn out better than anyone could have hoped for. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a unique bonding experience. Both Hana and I came away from it feeling weirdly connected, though it equally could have gone the other way, with our friendship reduced to nothing more than an awkward smile as we passed one another, my hair shoved into a hat. A few days after the cut, the comparison was drawn between my new ‘do and Oscar Wilde, and I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or offended, but I guess whatever you do with your hair you always have bad hair days. Overall, if you’re feeling adventurous and looking for a way to live a little whilst saving money, why not risk the chop yourself? It doesn’t have to be quite as drastic, but it definitely makes you feel like you’re taking control of your look, albeit in a terrifying way!

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