Best Decisions: Adopting A Minimalist Hairstyle

Learning to cut my own hair with some cheap discount-store electric clippers is one of the best decisions I’ve made since adopting a minimalist lifestyle, but I almost didn’t include this topic in my “best decisions” collection.

That’s because we seem to have talked it to death in the comments section the last time I brought it up.

Apparently, not everyone thinks that a minimalist hairstyle is necessary to live a hypocrisy-free minimalist lifestyle. Simply put, it seems that you either accept that hair isn’t a big deal and figure out how to do it with very little effort — or you don’t.

This is the fifth post in a 10-part series highlighting the best decisions I’ve made on my journey toward a simpler, more deliberate life. But maybe “highlighting” is a bad choice of words in this case. Highlighting your hair is one of those bits of silliness that doesn’t really belong in a simple life.

Minimalist Hairstyles

I originally wrote about minimalist hairstyles on February 15, 2011 in a post called Minimalist Musings On Doin’ Your Do … Or, Hairstyles Of The Poor And Satisfied. (It seems I was still in my long-titles phase then.)

In that post, I refused to accept that women and men might have different ideas on this topic since there are women with clipper cuts and men with long hair (I was once one of the latter), but the comments told me that women care much more about this topic than men do.

In any case, I made three bold statements in the original post that I want to reaffirm. That’s a lot of boldness in one little post, but it’s there nonetheless. In case you don’t plan to check out that post today, here are the three bold statements:

1. “There’s no place in a simple, deliberate life for a complicated hairstyle.”

2. “A complicated hairstyle is a symptoms of a life out of control.”

3. “While there’s more than one kind of hairstyle that can reflect your simple, minimalist values, choosing one that’s too complicated can make you look like a hypocrite.”

I really believe those things. Do you?

I made a few other points in that previous post too. Among them is the idea that you don’t have to look the same every day and that hair dye and hair products are silly (although I use a little gel when I haven’t trimmed my hair in a while to keep it all pointing in the same general direction).

Proof Of Independence

Adopting a minimalist hairstyle was important to me for several reasons. Most importantly, it showed me that I can handle my own personal requirements without depending on others — and that I can do it without spending a lot of money.

I stopped turning to others to handle this grooming task shortly after I shaved my head for the first time. While I soon found out that shaving your head is complicated to get right, isn’t fun and takes lots of time, it was important to me to try it. My hair had thinned a bit and I was proving to myself that it didn’t matter to me at all if it thinned or I went bald.

As it turns out, it’s been several years now since I first shaved my head, and my hair hasn’t fallen out. If it ever does, however, I don’t care. It would be one less thing to worry about. I thought I might care, but I proved to myself by taking matters into my own hands that I really don’t care — at all. That was important to me.

And as a side note, guys, I’ve also found the getting yourself the best stubble trimmer you can find is a great substitute for shaving all the time or actually having a beard. Both of those options take more work than stubble.

A Final Thought From Someone Named Jo

Someone named “Jo H.” used to comment here frequently, and she offered a comment on my original “doin’ your do” post. Some of us, she said, are more “natural beauties than others of us and can afford to buzz cut, go grey, air-dry, self-trim, or even use pinking shears on our locks”. Jo, on the other hand, suggested that her face “needs more help” from hair than some others.

She’s wrong.

She doesn’t have a gravatar beside her name and she never mentioned having a blog. I’ve never actually seen Jo, but I know she’s wrong on this point. She’s completely wrong. She looks just fine without a fancy haircut, a toxic dye job and wasting hours in front a mirror. She’s fine just as she is — simply and naturally.

I’m no looker either. And that’s okay with me. I really don’t care anymore — at all. Part of my transition to a simpler life is putting aside the silliness of trying to squeeze my appearance into a box built by someone else.

I’m a tall, awkward guy who wears thrift-store clothes and cuts his own hair. I’m also more amazing than you can imagine. Do you have a problem with that?


  1. Hey, Gip

    It’s been quite a while, but when I came across this on Twitter, I just had to read your post and then I just had to comment.

    I mostly agree, but I think that the whole hair thing is more complicated for women, especially as we grow older. I gave up getting my hair colored about 3 years ago–which some would considered Letting Myself Go. Now my hair’s white,and I think it looks great. However, I do not attempt to trim it myself.

    There’s a simplicity/cost issue in all this to be sure, but for women there’s also an intense cultural pressure to look young and attractive (even hot) well into middle-age and beyond. So it’s hard for me to say that I really don’t care anymore, but I’m certainly not willing to dye my hair or “have [cosmetic] work done” or fight aging tooth-and-nail.

    1. There are probably intense cultural pressures on men, too, but I’m so disconnected from these aspects of reality that I don’t necessarily feel them — anymore. I once felt some pressure to conform, but when I realized that I’m physically, emotionally and mentally different from the majority of people and conforming is impossible, I gave that up. It’s one of my best decisions actually, although I didn’t include it in this list of 10.

      I think most efforts to look young just make people look artificial anyway, so avoiding dye and cosmetic work is a very good idea from aesthetic standpoint too.

      Thanks for commenting, Madeleine. It has indeed been a long time. I’m glad you’re still reading.


  2. You are totally on the right track with this, Gip. I was the “typical” teenage girl who tried in vain to keep her straight hair curled through perms, rollers, hairspray. Then, as my hair started to turn gray, I colored it for a while. About 10 years ago, I said “Enough!”

    I’m now a happy middle-aged woman who does absolutely nothing to her hair except shampoo it. I don’t even blow it dry and I cut it myself every 6 months or so. And my hair has never looked better or been in better condition.

    Trying to defy nature to conform to cultural expectations is a losing battle, no matter if its hair or fashion or anything else. You will be forever trying to keep the gray hidden or keep curls in the straight hair. Who really wants to spend their time that way? Not to mention all the noxious chemicals that are required.

    It’s the most liberating feeling, not obsessing about hair. Definitely a welcome addition to my evolving minimalist and de-cluttering lifestyle & a great money-saver…

    1. Liberating is a good word. When I was a teenager, I tried to do my hair so that I would fit in, but a good hairstyle would have never been enough to make me fit in. Growing up in a small town meant I didn’t stand a chance of fitting in anywhere I went. Even if I had done my hair in a style that was “in” where I was, I would have been two or three years behind in the real world. I’ve noticed that trends are still late in reaching rural towns, which is strange since everyone sees the same TV shows.


  3. I think it all depends on what is important to you. I spend less time on my wardrobe and more time on hair & make up. I don’t think being a minimalist means you have to give up caring about your appearance. I still get highlights and have my hair professionally cut. I’ve tried dying and cutting it myself, but it’s nearly impossible to do if you want a longer cut (your own arms just won’t reach and get a perfect cut for the back of your hair). I also don’t believe that if you do choose to style/color your hair, it means you’re trying to live up to any social/cultural standard. Some people just like to do their hair. There are times I spend a few hours curling my hair just because and times where I quickly blow dry and brush my hair. And I do it all because *I* want to do it, not from some external pressure. Finally, I have to agree with Jo H.’s comment. My hair fits my face better when it’s blown dry v. air dried due to the thin, fine nature of my hair. Blow drying gives it more volume and doesn’t make my face look so long, narrow, and thin. A simple style to one’s hair can truly change the shape of your face. It’s not to “fit in”, it’s just fact.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Megyn. It’s good to see your comments here on almost every post.

      Unnatural almost never looks preferable to natural. Still, if you want to do your hair, there are ways to do that are more responsible than other ways. There are natural dyes, inexpensive “hair college” alternatives to expensive cuts, etc. Long hair can actually be just as efficient as short hair because it does not require frequent attention.

      My previous post got lots of resistence from female commenters and almost no attention at all from male commenters. I expect some of the same here.


  4. I had to quit trying to cut my hair with the clippers. It is too fine to go through the blades. So now I’m growing it out and will just let it hang down my back. Since it’s gray now no one will mistake me for a young girl but I remember long and straight as being easy. I stopped washing it with anything but water a little over a month ago and it looks fine and behaves well. I now pull it back on the sides with a couple of hair clips and I’m done. That style makes my face look thinner which is a bonus during my current losing weight for better health process.

    1. Linda, clippers aren’t all the same, and some of them have much better combs that catch more of the hair. I still find that every haircut requires a touch-up the next day. I always miss something, but I’m getting better.

  5. I am SO GLAD you wrote about this. I completely agree with you. Neither men or women need to pay to have their “hair done” if they truly want a minimalist lifestyle. My belief in this way of “hairing” came from not having money and also I suffer severe anxiety attacks there is NO WAY (at this point in time…having no meds) I could go to someone I don’t know and have them into that much of my “personal space”…LOL. However, ten years ago I did the “every six week” haircut, highlight, shampoo and style to the tune of over $100.00 each time. INSANE! Paying to have your hair done is a WANT not a NEED.
    My son (he’s 32) was the first to learn this. He’s been going minimally several years ahead of me. At first, he would just shave it. It was quite a shock since all through high school it was down to his waist; then through college, it was to his shoulders. When he was out of school and having to pay for his own everything, he decided it was not worth it. He shaved for years. Now his girlfriend keeps it short for him, but he’d still do it if he had to do it himself. Much of this stuff about our hair is pure vanity. I see all the time in family members.
    I was a kid of the 70’s and wore it straight with a split down the middle. I never was much of a hairstylist person anyway. I would go maybe once every year or two. I wore it long for a while and when I finally got it cut short in the 80s I didn’t like it and let it grow for another ten years or so. I would trim it and cut my bangs myself. I have never worn much makeup. I figure if someone likes you, they like you. I wouldn’t want to scare them half to death the first time they caught me without makeup…LOL.
    About 4 years ago I started cutting it really short when it gets hot (about March in GA) and use a little gel (that will last me a year) to kind of let it stand up (my hair is very straight and fine). It grows out past my shoulders by the short amount of winter we have (3 months). I tell myself each year I will not cut it (I like it long) and I will just ponytail it up. However, the extreme humidity in GA is a killer so I usually end up chopping it off again. (*Note: I would like to take a minute here to let ya’ll know how “crazy” some people think it is if you cut your own hair – especially women.) At my last job, my boss was getting as much info as she could find that I was “mental” (she actually had it in my file since I asked for accommodations). She overheard me tell a co-worker that I had cut my hair myself and she freaked and wrote it in my record. She told me anyone that grabs the kitchen shears and cuts their hair off has a problem. LOL. But I digress.
    Believe me, I have never had any kind of training. I wouldn’t be able to do any kind of fancy, dancy styles but I don’t care. As long as my hair is clean and I trim it when it needs it that’s all I care about. Having my hair done was always a “treat” for me anyway. I used to buy color myself and keep it blonde. I used to say, I was born with it blonde so it should be blonde…LOL. That stopped about 2 years ago. I wanted to see what color it was. It’s about ¾ dirty blonde and ¼ gray.
    I also don’t want to waste my time to go sit for the length of time it takes. Nope. IMO it is a luxury. I tell my sister she looks just as good before she goes to the “Beauty Parlor” as she does when she comes out. Yea, I like to push her buttons, but it’s true.
    My 2 cents.

  6. Well, Gip – I unintentionally complicated my life when I donated my hair last fall. But I’m on the road to recovery! Anyway, after a home cut so I could donate away the length, I was forced to get a professional cut (yes, it really was that bad – seriously, REALLY bad). Fortunately, I was sort of snowed in during the worst of the growing out thus far so no follow-up cut has been required to date. If I get lucky, I can have my daughter trim it up and it will be ok.

    The other issue I’m dealing with is going gray. I don’t care so much about the color but the texture is totally different! So what worked previously doesn’t seem as effective, which requires me to give this whole issue more attention than I’d like.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Crystal. It’s always good to hear from you. I usually think grey hair looks best short, but there are always exceptions. Things do certainly change as we age!

  7. I (female) can’t remember the last time I paid for a hair cut. Over twelve years ago, the time before that was years prior. If I get gradeaux in my hair that won’t come out I’ll trim it out myself. I wash with baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar every week or two, I rinse my hair with water every or every other shower or so. My hair is to my waist, thick, wavyish at times, brownish/blondish/reddish, depending on sun exposure. I braid my hair, use a hair clip, or use a knit hair band to put it up.

    As for vanity, once or twice a year, as the weather starts to warm up in the end of winter, I will put lemon juice on my hair while working outside. It’s all mental, but I feel “warmer” when my hair is lightened up a bit. Like seeing the first blooms of spring flowers, a welcome sight after a long winter.

    Long hair is easier for me because if it grows an inch, I don’t care, it doesn’t get in my eyes, I pull it back just like I did the week before, and the week before that.

    My husband hasn’t cut his hair or shaved in over ten years. He says it’s because he hated shaving and all the hair cuts in the Army for 8 years. He has a full beard, long hair (mid-back), and balding. He does use store bought shampoo and conditioner, the cheap stuff.

    I think the comments are interesting. I understand some things make some people feel better. I feel better simplifying. My daughter feels better with dyed hair. I found that when I added up the dollars spent, divided that by income, and realized how many hours of my life I had to give in order to pay for these things, it just wasn’t worth it to me.

    1. I feel better simplifying too, Mavie. Thanks for telling us about your family. It sounds like you are all making the intentional choices that work best for each of your. Being intentional in everything we do is important, I think.


  8. Wow, I guess I had a minimalist hairstyle before I knew what minimalist was. I cut my hair off over 30 years ago and have been buzzing it off ever since.

    Every once in a while I go to a barber when I see an empty chair, but that’s probably once or twice a year. The rest of the time (every 2 to 3 weeks or so) I buzz it myself.

    I recently played around with color. Sometimes I’m red, sometimes I’m purple-ish and sometimes I leave it natural. It all depends on my whim.

    I cut my hair 30 years ago because it was so much easier to care for after swimming, running or any other type of exercise. I also stopped using umbrellas the same day I first cut my hair. After all, I only used an umbrella as an attempt to protect my “do.” Now that I don’t have a do, I don’t need an umbrella. 🙂

    1. I’ve noticed that I don’t bother with umbrellas much either. Of course, last year it hardly rained in Texas!

      I also don’t mind going to an event on a windy day. I think some people’s aversion to wind is really just an effort to protect their comb-over, wig or expensive shop-set hairstyle too. When I had long hair or even a simple parted style, I hated the wind.


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