Haircut? I’d rather go to the dentist

Is it normal to be more nervous about going for a haircut than to the dentist? I suppose it probably isn’t.

Even before the pandemic I was a DIY hair person a lot of the time. I’d go through phases of getting a professional to give me a “proper” cut, going back to them a few times and then just getting the clippers for a DIY buzz cut. I can’t be doing with the maintenance and I like to wear hats. I also really dislike going to get my hair cut. I’ve seriously considered just keeping it shaved all the time and wearing wigs when I feel like a change.

Recently I decided to grow out the buzz cut and do something a bit more interesting with my hair: an undercut maybe; bright colours; perhaps a style for some sort.

One day last week, my hair was annoying me so much that I knew I needed someone to deal with it for me or I’d just shave it all off, rendering the patient growing of it a pointless waste of time and effort.

I went for the impulsive (to me) decision to book a hair appointment for that very afternoon: what a normal person would have probably done and likely a far more sensible option that my own Damage-It-Yourself clipper cut.

Earlier that same week I had to go to the dentist to have a filling replaced. I don’t *enjoy* going to the dentist but it’s not usually a big deal for me. The waiting room is usually the worst part but the pandemic has made it better and I’ve taken to asking the receptionist roughly how long the wait is likely to be. It’s worth saying that I have a very good dentist.

Why am I comparing a chance to be “pampered” with someone drilling through bits of your body?

Because a trip to the dentist and barber or hairdresser have a lot in common.

  • For a start, both involve being seated in a large fancy adjustable chair and adorned with a robe of some kind to catch any mess.
  • Both usually result in noisy machinery close to your ears and unwanted face touching.
  • Both invariably involve some level of discomfort.
  • I have left both bleeding on a couple of unfortunate occasions.

There are also some key differences and the dentist wins on these:

Explaining what you want in a way that is understood.

At the dentist, there aren’t usually many options. Any time I’ve been given a choice, it’s been between two courses of action which have been explained and the decisions have so far been very easy to make.

With a haircut however, the client is expected to explain what they want. My explanations rarely seem to result in what I was hoping for. Brining a photograph can be helpful but even then they can seem to want to do their own thing!

Small talk

Surprise surprise, I am neither good at nor do I enjoy small talk. When you’ve got a load of instruments in your gob it’s thankfully not expected.

Whilst having your hair done though it seems to be very much expected. An onslaught of questions and unwanted information that you then have to respond correctly to must usually be endured as they brandish sharp instruments near your face. How can they concentrate on the cutting at the same time?


You don’t tend to leave the dentist looking fundamentally different to how you went in when you arrived. Even if a haircut is good, even if it’s good and what I wanted, it still takes some time to adjust to. I think I’ve left the person who’s cut my hair thinking I’m not happy with it when usually I just need a couple of days to get used to it.

As it happened, the person who cut my hair last week was lovely, so I needn’t have worried too much. She mentioned early on that she wasn’t a fan of small talk (what a relief! Thought surely difficult in that line of work) and the cut fit my description of what I wanted though was not exactly what I was after. I think I may even go back to her but next time will bring a photo showing how I want it cut to try and avoid the explaining.

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