I haven’t been to a hairdresser since January 2020. “What?” you gasp, mildly horrified. I know, right? But if you think that’s impressive (or just impressively sad), consider my husband who hasn’t gone to a barber in nearly 25 years. Fact is, he cuts his hair himself — a mystifying feat of dexterity and courage that few men are capable of. Except, as we all found out a few weeks ago, George Clooney, who apparently also coifs himself with a 1980s gizmo called the Flowbee. This wonder machine apparently vacuums up the trimmings as you’re cutting, and ever since Mr. Clooney gave it a shout out during an interview with CBS News Sunday Morning, they are in high demand. Men’s home haircuts seem to be all the rage.
Now women have it somewhat easier when it comes to making the mop look kinda sorta presentable. I’m still somewhat recognizable when compared to my pre-pandemic self, just shaggier. And mildly less blonde (for now!). When my crowning glory gets out of hand, I just twist it onto the top of my head into a malformed bun and call it a day.
For men, who need to work with millimeter precision, you need practice and the right gear. Plus the ability to cut the back of your head without a mirror. Which can be daunting. Try it. You’ll see what I mean. But somehow, Rob has mastered this fine and rare art. Let’s ask the ultimate do-it-yourselfer for a few of his trade secrets:
“The first thing I did when I finally did quit modeling was to cut ALL my hair off”
When did you start cutting your hair yourself and how did you learn?
I started cutting my hair by myself in 1998. I was about to stop modeling after a 15-year career and I let my hairstylist Tommy Ruscica know. I told him I needed him to teach me how to cut my hair, and he did. He had cut my hair for 20 years, every 2 weeks. He was able to cut it differently every time and play around with it and he taught me not to be afraid. His advice was: “Look, if you make a mistake, it grows back.” The first thing I did when I finally did quit modeling was to cut ALL my hair off. It was the most freeing thing I had done in 15 years. I had control over my own destiny. I didn’t have to have my hair a certain length for anyone else and I was able look how I wanted to look.
Did you ever mess up in the beginning?
Yeah, big time. Tommy had taught me how to cut the back and the sides with a machine called a Wahl. It has these combs you put on it that you switch out according to the length you’re after. While I was cutting my hair, I found out I had a portion of my skull at the back of my head that I didn’t realize stuck out so far. It grabbed onto the comb and pulled it off the machine and I was left with a bald spot like a dog with mange. Very attractive. Initially, I couldn’t bring myself to look at it and I was really nervous, my hands were shaking. But when I saw it, I just thought “Alright, I’ll just cut it shorter!”
“Do NOT try to cut your hair with standard household scissors. Seriously.”
Have you ever cut yourself?
Yeah, I cut myself all the time! Not with the machine but with the scissors. Bloody knuckles. I have scars. You need a really sharp pair of professional hair cutting scissors. Do NOT try to cut your hair with standard household scissors. Seriously. The pair I got is made by a German company and cost $500 — on sale! — but I’ve had them forever so they amortize themselves eventually.
How to Give Yourself a Great Haircut
Are you able to give us a step-by-step for how you make the magic happen?
You cut the back and sides with the Wahl machine for an even base and then you kind of freestyle the top with scissors. You have to understand the shape of your head. When someone comes to you with a picture and says “I want this haircut,” it doesn’t always work. The shape of your head, how the plates of the skull fit together and your hair’s direction of growth and texture all affect how a cut turns out. A round head is different from a flat-sided head. Someone with a pointy head, you have to cut carefully so that it fills in properly. You just have to take your time with it and you learn as you go. Plus? If you really mess it up, you can always wear a hat for a few weeks. I love how my hair feels right after I cut it. The back is like short nap velvet and I literally can’t stop petting myself.
“I NEVER cut my friends’ hair. Ever.”
Do you ever cut other people’s hair?
I NEVER cut my friends’ hair. Ever. I just don’t want the responsibility. I’m not professionally trained and I’ve figured out what works for me but that doesn’t always translate. I prefer to keep my friends, you know? Also, I may or may not have nicked my son’s ear once when he was little and that cured me of any desire I may have had to take these skills to the streets. However, our dog Winnie was trapped in a prison of fur when California went into lockdown earlier this year and groomers were closed, so I busted out the Wahl and helped her out.
So George Clooney and the Flowbee?
Yeah, I’m a skeptic. It’s a great story, but are you SURE, George? Get back to me on that, okay?