Dreading the baby's first haircut experience, we called on an expert through the Priv app to trim our toddler's hair at home. And we got some genius tips to ensure that you and your toddler have the most tantrum-free haircut possible, no matter where you are

By Andrea Lavinthal
April 11, 2018 10:30 AM
Credit: Courtesy Andrea Lavinthal

What It Is: Priv, an on-demand beauty and wellness app that just added children’s haircuts to its services

Who Tried It: Andrea Lavinthal, Style & Beauty Director

My worst mom fail was when I let my father give my son, Saxon, his first haircut. I thought he was qualified for the job because he used to cut my hair when I was a kid. Plus, he’s meticulous about his own appearance (he’s the only dad I know who uses a Mason Pearson brush), so surely he’d bring his grooming A-game for such a milestone occasion. Not to mention, there’s just something really sweet about a grandfather cutting his grandson’s hair.

Credit: Andrea Lavinthal/Instagram

So during a recent family vacation, we all packed into my parents’ hotel bathroom to watch my dad cut Saxon’s hair. And by cut, I mean butcher. First, he hacked off a section in the front that had been hanging in Saxon’s eyes so it looked like blunt bangs. Then, he chopped off a chunk on the left side. I stopped him before he could tackle the rest, leaving Saxon with a style that, according to my older brother, looked just like pro golfer John Daly’s signature ‘do. If you don’t know who John Daly is, please enjoy this visual. Needless to say, I cried more than my toddler that day.

Credit: Getty; Andrea Lavinthal/Instagram

I swore I would never cut his hair again, but about eight weeks later, his bangs were in his eyes again and his mullet was now flowing past his shirt collar. I knew I needed professional help.

I considered taking him to a place that specializes in children’s haircuts, but the one in my Brooklyn neighborhood had some pretty savage reviews on Facebook. Regular salons are an option, but I didn’t know how to find a stylist that was good with kids. Then someone told me that Priv, the on-demand beauty and wellness app which services include blowouts, spray tan, makeup, manis/pedis and much more, was now offering children’s cuts in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin, and Washington, DC for around $50 (tip included). While fairly pricey for a child’s haircut, it’s not much more than some of the specialty kids’ salons in my area cost, and the convenience of keeping his potential meltdown corralled within my own home was worth the extra cost. Based on my own positive experiences with the app (I’ve used it to have my hair and makeup done for an event) and the fact that the haircut would be in the comfort of our own living room, I went ahead and booked an appointment with a stylist named Natalia Stolearenco.

Credit: Courtesy Andrea Lavinthal

When Natalia arrived, we gave her and Saxon a few minutes to get to know each other. Her quiet, calm demeanor immediately put him at ease. I, on the other hand, nervously hovered around her as she fastened the cape around his neck and misted his hair with water (which he loved). Luckily, like most people who work with children, Natalia was used to dealing with neurotic parents. The first thing I noticed was that aside from showing him all of her tools and letting him hold one of her combs, she barely spoke to him while she cut his hair. I worried that the lack of interaction and entertainment would make him restless, but her near-silence actually chilled him out so much that he looked like he was going to fall asleep.

After she was done with the cut, she blow-dried his hair and cleaned up the edges with clippers before applying a tiny bit of product. When I saw his new ‘do, I started crying. Only this time, they were tears of happiness. Even my dad admitted that it was a great cut.

Credit: Courtesy Andrea Lavinthal

Since Priv isn’t available everywhere yet, I asked Natalia to share some of her tips to ensure your child has a positive haircut experience:

Limit Sugar: Too much sugar before a haircut can make it harder for both the child and stylist since sugar can cause restlessness.

Start Slow: Give your child some time to get familiar with their surroundings and the person doing the haircut. Introducing your child to the stylist before they take out their kit is an added bonus. Once the child has warmed up to the stylist, then have them unpack all of their gear.

Let Them Lead: Sometimes putting on the cape can be intimidating for kids, especially if it’s being forced upon them. Forcing them to wear a cape may alter the mood and the rest of the experience. If your child gives push-back regarding the cape, just let it be and keep an extra shirt around so you can quickly change them after it’s over.

Over Explain: Spray bottles, combs, blow dryers, clippers — show the child how they all work before using them. This will build trust and it helps avoid the shock of new sounds and feelings; especially if it’s their first time. You know your child best, so either ask the stylist to explain everything before starting or take the reigns if you think they’ll take to your words best.

Be a Role Model: If your child seems very nervous, you may want to ask the stylist to cut a small piece of your hair first. Once they see it doesn’t hurt, it may make them want to be just like you.

Less is More: Keeping the environment quiet usually keeps them calm. There’s no need to keep distracting them with toys and phones if they’re just curiously observing what’s going on. Overstimulation can make them hyper, thus making them move around even more.