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The ManGroomer: Because video conferencing requires that you don't look like a werewolf, even in a pandemic

This is the first (and hopefully the last) personal styling article I'll ever do. But these are strange times, my friend. Not ready to hit the barbershop? Here's how you can get a rather nice haircut in your own back yard.
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Written by David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer on
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David before and after his backyard hair cutting experience. If he can do it, you can do it.

Okay, I am not too proud to admit that when it comes to getting my hair cut, I am a man-baby. I whine. I complain. I put it off until way too late. I do not like going to the groomer's. I don't like people fussing with my head. I am permanently five years old in this regard.

Unfortunately, I am also part werewolf, so by the time I get to the cutter, I have hair with so much unruly attitude, it strikes fear in all who are asked to wrangle it.

Needless to say, if I ever want to be invited back to any follicle deforestation festivities, I have to tip very well.

And, yeah, I have to spend a lot of time on camera - in teleconference meetings, videos, and various interviews. It's a paradox. My experience is expected to be shared on video, but my hair wants to howl at the moon.

Prior to the pandemic, it's always been an uneasy truce, tempered by the occasional desperate rush to the hair handler to rein in my mane in time for a video shoot. But I always put it off until the last minute.

Which I did. Before the pandemic. I was probably three months into my need-a-haircut time. And then we went into lockdown. Hair cutters in Oregon were banned from opening until counties reached Phase 2. But now, as long as both cutter and cuttee are masked, hair removal operations are permitted. Even so, my wife and I have decided to continue maintaining social distance and avoiding unnecessary people contact, at least for the rest of the summer.

Also: How to cut your hair and do your nails at home CNET

Interestingly, speaking of masks, I read a CDC report recently that reinforced the benefit of masks. The report cited two hair stylists working in a salon in Missouri who came to work despite having active COVID symptoms and who tested positive for the virus.

The salon required both clients and workers to wear masks when clients were in the store, and kept records of everyone who came in. Using contact tracing the CDC determined that 139 customers encountered the two infected stylists for at least 15 minutes - and not a single client tested positive. Apparently the dual mask process kept everyone safe, even in an environment known to be rife with infection.

All that brings me back to my story. By this past weekend, I was more than half a year into my werewolf look. I desperately needed to be shorn in order to let my face-for-radio be seen on video. If all I needed was my top chopped, it would be one thing. The stylist and I could both mask up and away we'd go.

But I have a beard. You can't mask a beard while cutting it. How could I get my hair and beard cut without leaving the self-imposed prison of Lockdown 2020?

It was time to take matters into my own hands. And by "taking matters into my own hands," what I mean is that my wife took matters into her hands, figured out how to solve the problem, bought the stuff needed to make my hair ready for prime time, wrangled me into a chair, and somehow talked me into behaving while the trimmer was oscillating over my tender brain skin.

Basically, I whined. She solved the problem. She's very patient. I'm very, very lucky.

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Man Groomer

The solution is a $34 hair trimmer she ordered from Amazon. Called the ManGroomer Ultimate Pro, it (and she) did the job. She set up a chair out on our back porch. She repurposed last year's July 4 party dollar store tablecloth as a hair cutting bib. I was summoned to the chair and within about 20 minutes, I was human (looking) again. Not only did she give me a pretty darned nice hair cut, but I also got my beard trimmed.

While I can confidently recommend the ManGroomer to you, I will say that we didn't go through an exhaustive evaluation process before purchasing it. When we bought it at the end of April, it was pretty much the only thing Amazon showed to be available - and even then it took a few weeks to get to us. But cheap and available won, so I can go back to doing the video part of my job without scaring my viewers and coworkers.

Also: Best video conferencing software for business in 2020

Here's the trick. Start with the bigger distance cutter (because you can always cut more, but if you cut too much, you can't get it back). Cut from front to back on top of the head and from bottom to top on the back of the head.

So that's it. We're now swapping hair trimming tips so we can get on video and do our jobs. What is the world coming to? No, seriously. We want to know what you think the world is coming to (or how you're progressing with working from home, video conferencing, or personal grooming). Heck, just talking to anyone is a win these days. Let us know in the comments below.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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