Home styles: Families take haircuts into their own hands

Lincoln Polley looks up from his tablet as his mother Sumer cuts his hair Aug. 6 at their home in Harlingen.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

HARLINGEN — With a sheet lying on the floor, clippers and scissors lined up, a tablet for distraction and a stool, Sumer Knight, 30, prepares the mood to cut her son’s hair.

Knight is the mother of Jaxson Polley, 6, and Lincoln Polley, 3.

For a few months now she has started to cut their own hair as opposed to taking them to a barbershop as she used to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knight is currently pregnant and expected to deliver her baby girl in December. She also takes care of her grandparents, who live next door.

Because of COVID-19, she has had to accommodate and be as cautious as possible, she said. And since she rarely leaves her home, she soon became her sons’ personal hair stylist.

“I started since it wasn’t safe to go to the barbershops, and YouTube is my best friend right now,” Knight said.

However, this isn’t the first time she has cut her children’s hair. Knight said she had tried a couple of times in the past but is now getting better at it.

She remembers when she first decided to take matters into her own hands and do the haircuts herself.

“It had been a long time since I had cut their hair…They were looking a little shaggy, but it went pretty well,” she said. “After watching a few YouTube videos you build your confidence up and practice makes perfect, so why not?”

One of her tricks for her children to sit still is having them play on their tablet or watch a TV show or a movie.

Sumer Knight leans in as she works on trimming her son Jaxson’s bangs Aug. 6 at their home in Harlingen. Knight began cutting her children’s hair at home during shelter-in-place and set up a makeshift barbershop for her family in their living room. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Her youngest has curly hair and her oldest has straight, tapered hair with a cowlick in the back. Knight had to watch several videos to learn how to manage a cowlick. But for Lincoln’s curly hair she said there were not enough resources.

Knight learned to create a base layer and take the hair in sections starting at the crown. From hearing her talk, it appeared Knight paid close attention to the tutorials.

“You match the layers to the base layer, and you create an even fade,” she said. “Starting at the bangs gives you your line. I’m still learning Lincoln’s hair. The longer hair has been more difficult.”

Since COVID-19 started she has cut their hair about three times. Knight has not attempted to cut her own, but she has cut her husband’s, too.

Sumer Knight smooths out her oldest son Jaxon’s bangs as he dusts off loose hair from his shoulders Aug. 6 following his haircut at their home in Harlingen.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

“He thought it was fine. He doesn’t see the little details. I think women do. When you work on something you notice where you may have done better,” Knight said.

She does not think she will cut her husband’s hair every time, but she said she will continue to do so for her children.

Her expectations for the first time were simply to not mess up, she said.

Knight went to Wal-Mart and looked for clippers with the best reviews, got a water bottle to spray the hair with and overall she said she spent around $20.

“The top priority is to save money, especially in a one income household,” she said.

Jaxson is her squirmiest and more hyper son.

He had more trouble staying still, yet Jaxson’s hair has turned out to be the one she better understands.

By using the clipper on him, Knight has managed to get the right strategy to get a style she likes for him. She goes up every number in the clipper as she fades Jaxson’s back.

For Lincoln, she only uses scissors since he has curly long hair.

Using a comb, Sumer Knight segments her youngest son Lincoln’s damp curly hair to plan how she’ll cut it Aug. 6 in the living room of their home in Harlingen.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

After Knight finishes she grabs the sheet she laid out on the floor to throw out leftover hair.

Haircuts can be one easy thing to do at home, but there are other hair related activities that are best left to the professionals.

Professional hair stylist Beth Nunez, 25, of Port Isabel, said haircuts are a good idea to do at home. However, trying to dye and bleach hair at home should be done with a professional.

“I don’t agree in bleaching your own hair because that can go either really good or really bad. You can get either a good service or bad outcome,” Nunez said.

When it comes to hair dye, Nunez said it is always a hit or miss.

“It never comes out like the color and in all reality it is like a mystery box. I would say watch a lot of videos so you can be visually learning,” she said.

Nunez suggests tracking whether the person in the video gets the results they were hoping for or not. She also explained home dye hair kits have parabens and other chemicals professionals have to take off.

Her number one tip is to not add another color on top of colored hair and her second tip is to have mirrors in front and behind you.

Nunez also added it is important to use sulfate-free and paraben-free shampoos and use a leave-in conditioner.

“Section off the areas you already cut and follow that area as a guide to cut the rest of your hair,” Nunez said.

At her hair salon she said she has had to cut boys’ haircuts, but they are usually squeamish, similar to Jaxson.

“They are like wiggle worms, and they turn their head everywhere. Give them a tablet or put on their YouTube, that way they can sit still,” she said.