Make That At-Home Trim A Little Less Hairy With A Virtual Salon Visit
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
As weeks of staying at home have turned into months and salons and barbershops in most states continue to be closed, many of us are getting a little shaggy. Well, if you're too worried to take clippers to your own hair or your partner's, you could invite a professional into your home through video chat. Yeah, virtual haircuts are now a thing. NPR's Kat Lonsdorf gave it a try with a little help from NPR's Noah Caldwell.
KAT LONSDORF, BYLINE: On Week 6 of D.C.'s stay-at-home orders, my boyfriend wanted a haircut.
NOAH CALDWELL, BYLINE: It's getting unruly. It's getting way too long. It's starting to poke out the back and curl, which I hate.
LONSDORF: That's him - Noah Caldwell. He's also a producer on this show, and we're quarantining together. And I don't think he's alone in this feeling. I bet there are a lot of us out there, myself included, who are wishing we would have gotten a haircut in, say, early March, especially with all the video conferencing these days. Anyway, I was really his only shot at a trim right now, so we threw a sheet over a coffee-table-turned-barber's-chair, rounded up some tools - a comb, a spray bottle and sewing scissors. Everywhere is sold out of barber shears right now.
There we go.
I called in reinforcements.
Can you hear us?
JABARIE ANDERSON: Yeah. I'm JaBarie.
LONSDORF: Hey there.
JaBarie Anderson - he's a hairstylist in Brooklyn, and he's given more than a hundred haircuts in the last few weeks all over the world...
ANDERSON: I've done Germany. I've done Dubai. I've cut hair for people in China, Paris.
LONSDORF: ...On Zoom.
ANDERSON: OK, so let's spray the hair down first. Let's get started there.
ANDERSON: So you have your comb.
(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPRAYING)
ANDERSON: We're just going to spray the hair down.
LONSDORF: I found Anderson through a website called youprobablyneedahaircut.com, which started just a few weeks ago. It's a side project for tech entrepreneur Greg Isenberg, who got the idea after a friend lost his job as a barber when the coronavirus hit.
GREG ISENBERG: I'm like, well, I need a haircut, and my girlfriend has been telling me that she wants to cut my hair. I was like, how about you hop on a FaceTime? You teach her, and I'll give you some money. And I did it, and it was pretty cool. And I realized, you know what? Maybe other people out there might want a similar service.
LONSDORF: The site now has dozens of stylists and barbers. And for about the price of a normal haircut, you'll be connected with one from around the world. That might seem a bit steep, paying that much to do the actual cutting yourself. But essentially all the money goes directly into the pockets of the barbers and stylists who are otherwise laid off. And Isenberg's site isn't the only place doing this. Virtual barbershops and salons have started to pop up locally, too, from San Francisco to Ottawa to Tokyo.
ANDERSON: OK. So now we're going to take our scissors that we have - or our shears. Well, I have shears. You have scissors.
ANDERSON: It's going to be palm to palm, so our palms should be holding our shears.
LONSDORF: Is that good?
ANDERSON: Yep, that's good.
LONSDORF: Anderson says the income from doing all this has been really helpful.
ANDERSON: It took a big weight off of me because now I'm able to, like, provide for my rent. I have a younger brother who's in college. If he needs my help or my mom, I can do that.
LONSDORF: And the haircut...
Oh, God. Did I cut you?
CALDWELL: No - getting close.
LONSDORF: Well, for the most part, it was a success.
ANDERSON: Yeah, looks pretty good.
LONSDORF: So is that done then?
ANDERSON: Yes. You are all set.
LONSDORF: Did we do it?
LONSDORF: What do you think?
CALDWELL: Yeah, it feels great. I'm relieved there was no bloodshed.
LONSDORF: Same - and if anyone out there has an extra pair of barber shears, we would happily take those off your hands.
Kat Lonsdorf, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE HAIRCUT SONG")
RAY STEVENS: (Singing) When you get a haircut, be sure to go back home. When you get a haircut, get a barber you have known since you were a little, bitty boy sitting in a booster chair, or you might look like Larry, Moe or Curly if a stranger cuts your hair. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.