Coronavirus haircut: Cutting my hair the first time with an Amazon kit and GoPro camera

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With barbershops closed due to the coronavirus, I decided to give myself a haircut for the first time using a $36 hair kit and a GoPro camera. York Daily Record

With social distancing and a state-mandated shutdown of barbershops and salons, my hair has been left to fend for itself. I decided to take barbering into my own hands for the first time as the sides of my head were starting to resemble Bozo the Clown. 

I was a week overdue for a haircut when I received an alert from the Manchester Barbershop on the Booksy app that they were closing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

I am long past making a fashion statement, well I never have, but a fresh haircut is like cleaning up your kitchen or folding a pile of clothes. It’s a moment of renewal, a reset, a new start. It’s a moment of personal attention when your world is always demanding something of you.

As the consequences of this virus shut down the world around me, simple things I take for granted in life became a luxury. My motivation to find normalcy as the coronavirus spread into every aspect of my life, outweighed my fear of scalping my own head.

It started with searching the Amazon app for “shaver”: A Wahl razor kit with guards, a scissor and comb popped up for $36.

There were 12 left, I hit refresh and there were 9 left, refresh again and then 6 left. In a moment of anxiety, I hit the “Buy Now” button. Empty bread and toilet paper shelves haunted my decision.

I stared at the open box for about a week before diving in. I have seen these tools used by skilled hands and have even taken some mental notes over the past few decades. Barbers make it look easy, but they are using two hands and can see what is going on behind my head and most importantly, know what they are doing!

The finely groomed head in the picture with the dotted line diagrams on the instructions said to start at the bottom near your neck and blend as you change guards. I read over the included instructions several times and decided to follow them exactly, until I started.

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Having scalped a few lawns in my time, I decided to start with a #5 guard and work my way down to the #2. The higher numbers cut less hair. The #5 guard didn’t do anything, but gave me the confidence and feel of the buzzing razor without any blood spurting. By the time I got down the the #3 guard, I started to take on hair, and it was a glorious feeling of accomplishment without the danger of ruining everything. 

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Once I got to the #2 guard, I was a confident professional, so confident that I took the guard off altogether for some blending and promptly took a chunk out of the side of my head. It’s all good though, you can only see the front of your face, and that’s only if you look in a mirror.

To reach the back of my head, I used a new GoPro 8 camera the York Daily Record recently bought to shoot aerials from a plane. The small, wide-angle camera can be previewed through a smartphone and allowed me to see the back of my head – camera in one hand and the razor in the other.

Is the haircut perfect? Far from it, but who is going to see it. We are all 6 feet apart and can’t go anywhere aside from grocery shopping where people are wearing pajamas.

Was my self-made haircut worth it? Priceless. It brought me a moment of normalcy in the daily chaos that has become the new normal. A fresh start that I can completely control again in a few weeks when Bozo starts to extend his mighty wings from the sides of my head.

Paul Kuehnel has been a journalist with the York Daily Record since 1984.

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