Hair Raising 2

Adventures in home hairdressing continue apace.

In an effort to up my game I have invested in a pair of thinning scissors.  So perhaps ‘invested’ is stretching the point. One can pay anything from £5 to £500 for thinning scissors and given that I am still a beginner in anyone’s estimation I opted for the lower end. For very similar reasons it also felt prudent to practice on my own hair before starting on Mike.

The first thing to note is that it’s very easy to get carried away with thinning scissors. It’s much like pruning a shrub. One cut leads straight on to the next as you become absorbed by the process and it’s only when you step back to review progress you wonder if perhaps you might have gone too far. By which time of course it is far too late to put anything back. Not that anyone of your acquaintance would do anything as stupid as that. Obviously.

Hastily reverting to YouTube I found a video by a very nice man from America who seemed especially competent in the use of thinning scissors. The jaws of the instrument are closed onto a small section of hair a few inches from the scalp and with seemingly minimal effort on his part glided down each lock towards the ends. “Smooth”, he kept saying, to emphasize the point. “Smooth”. Very few strands fell to the floor but after he’d repeated the procedure a few times the fringe (bangs) of his model looked perfect. All excess weight removed, nicely integrated and flowing. Rather less.. hacked (shall we say) than my first attempt.

Suitably enlightened I now felt ready. Except that when I closed down the jaws of the thinners on a lock of Mike’s hair they stayed there and didn’t move. I tried to pull a bit harder only to be rewarded with yowls of pain. I may have discovered how it is that professional hairdressers pay so much for their scissors. In a word: “Smooth”.



In spite of everything Mike seems satisfied with his hair. I only wish I could say the same for mine. As a child I used to be able to sit on the ends of it but for many years now it has been layered and short. I decided during the first lockdown that, for expediency, I would just grow the layers out. It feels very strange now to have all this swishy stuff round the back of my neck – the place I couldn’t reach with the thinning scissors, obviously.

After a few months of chopping bits off the front and sides more or less at random I started to trawl the internet for example hairstyles in a last ditch bid for inspiration. The trouble with many of those pictures is that they’re created primarily as a marketing exercise for a proper hairdresser’s skills, intended to last for the duration of a photo shoot staged indoors with ne’er so much as a drop of rain or breath of wind. The polished, gravity defying, not-a-hair-out-of-place look may be something to aspire to but for the extreme gardener it has inherent limitations. Around here it would have as much chance of survival as that other never-going-to-happen ambition of mine: manicured, sculpted and exquisitely painted fingernails.

And of course chez duck does not come equipped with a full hairdressing facility. The mirror in the hall was my first port of call on the basis that I could simply run the Dyson over the carpet and the debris ensuing from the follicular butchery would magically disappear. But as my styling task became ever more challenging better light was required and the hall mirror proved too small. It came with us from our previous house and is modelled along the lines of a church window paned in mirror glass. It may sound incredibly kitsch but is surprisingly realistic. For hairdressing purposes though, take it from me, ‘stone’ mullions in a mirror get in the way.

Nothing for it then but to retreat to the bathroom where there is ample light and a nice big mirror with.. praise be.. no mullions. Which all worked fine until it was time to clean up. The room is fully tiled with grout between the tiles and silicone sealant at the junction between the walls and the floor. Even on full power and with its special crevice nozzle the Dyson refused to touch it. The long suffering home hairdresser is left with little option but to scrape each and every severed hair off the silicone with one of those aforementioned perfectly preened fingernails.

I have reached the point at which I would now be begging a hairdresser, if only such a thing were possible, to chop the whole lot off. It’s sorely tempting to ask Mike to cut back every single lock of my hair to a couple of inches and let the shape of my head do the layering. Would it work do you think? Has anyone ever tried it? Or am I destined to remain with a look entirely consistent to having been dragged through a berberis backwards? Ouch.