First Times: The Circuit Breaker Salon

“Am I really sure I wanna do this?” I asked myself, beard trimmer in hand. It had been five days since the government announced that the ‘circuit breaker’ measures in Singapore would be extended for another month, to June 1st. Before the announcement, I had grand plans to get a haircut this weekend, thinking, “I better beat the crowd to it.” Well, I wasn’t fast enough—the very next day, salons across the island were told that they would not be allowed to open for business anymore.

And so here I was, thinking I had the chops of an Apgujeong stylist after watching a grand total of three Youtube tutorials. I didn’t even have the right tools—no shaver, no clippers, just a sad little beard trimmer.

Channeling my inner Gone Girl fantasy, I brought the trimmer close to my head and started going at it. Naturally, it wasn’t working out. My hair was way too thick and coarse. I knew that if I kept this up, it would take me ages to be done with even one side of my hair. Lord have mercy, the circuit breaker might even have ended by then.

Feeling powerless, I removed the clipper and started shaving, au naturel, no filter. Obviously, there was now a patch across my scalp that was pointedly shorter. “Well, there’s no going back now is there?” I thought. Might as well just use a scissors to cut my hair shorter, then trim it with the trimmer. Just at that moment, the playlist I’d been listening to switched to the song Cut Me by Moses Sumney. I kid you not. Taking that as a sign, I grabbed a pair of scissors and started snipping away. For a moment, it felt like the most thrill I’d had in weeks. Listening to the sound of the scissor blades striking my hair and seeing my hair fall just brought such a sense of liberation. At that moment, I understood why people shaved their heads. “Hey, maybe it won’t be that bad after all,” I said to myself.

I was wrong. Tip #1 that the Youtube tutorials didn’t prepare me for: it’s insanely difficult to cut your non-dominant side with your dominant hand. For me, cutting the left side of my hair with my right hand required some contortionist skills. After struggling for a good moment, I decided to just go ham with the cutting. I started blazing in all directions, because hey, a buzzcut is a buzzcut, right? Safe to say, this meant that I was yanking my hair out from its roots. I’m sorry, dear scalp, promise I’ll treat you good when the salons open again.

Tip #2: I don’t know if this is a duh thing, but having a handheld mirror is so important. It helps you see the spots you might have missed, especially for a short-sighted sucker like me.

After a period of cutting, checking, feeling and praying, I was more or less done. I looked around my feet, mortified by the amount of hair that was on the bathroom floor. Cutting my own hair truly wasn’t as seamless as those three videos made it out to be. After a good ol’ final trim, I took a good look at the mirror. Hey, I don’t look bad. Of course, I’d also decided to keep a short beard, because I read a comment somewhere that said “No one looks bad with a buzzcut as long as you have a beard.” Oh, the power Youtube has on my life decisions.

I felt my hair (or lack thereof) with my fingers. It felt good. No more of that itchy, unkempt, manchild look, too. Of course, not having a bird’s eye view of my hair meant that some of the lawn mowing was a little inconsistent. I tried my best to refine it. I washed the hair away and refined it again. Those stylists truly make it look so easy.

Happy with my buzzed ‘do, I stepped out of the bathroom and went to the living room, where I was promptly greeted by a flurry of comments like “You siao ah” and “Look like army boy” from my parents. Love you guys too.

I enjoyed the experience of shaving my own head a lot more than I thought I would. It might not have been the best job, but it sure is good enough for my stay-home days for now. If you would like to have your own attempt, here’s the playlist I listened to while making the big snip. Enjoy ;)

Feature image by Stella Heng and Raphael Cheong

Raphael Cheong

I like good food and bad puns

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