A teenager who was so scared of anyone cutting his hair that it became matted and tangled has finally had his first cut in 10 years – which his barber said was like ‘peeling a potato’.
Owain Thomas, 14, from Bridgend, Wales, refused to go to the barber for a decade despite his family’s nagging, bribes and offers from hairdresser family friends to cut his hair.
The 14-year-old, who is on the autistic spectrum and struggles with change, had shoulder-length hair so matted with tangles and knots that his mother would spend hours trying to untangle it with spray and a comb.
Teenager Owain Thomas, 14, from Bridgend, in Wales, did not have a haircut for ten years and his hair become tangled and matted. But he finally had it cut by barber James Williams, who said the trim was like ‘peeling a potato’
But Owain dreamed of having ‘surfer hair’ and had always covered up his hair with a hat when his tangled hair made him the victim of ridicule from classmates.
His father Anthony Thomas, 47, claims Owain only agreed to have a haircut when his parents lied and told him it would fall out if he didn’t have a haircut.
Barber James ‘Jim the Trim’ Williams claims he wanted to save as much hair as possible and sought out the points where the hair was breaking before using a precise trimmer to cut into the tangles.
Mr Williams claimed cutting away the individual sections of damaged hair was like ‘peeling a potato’ – while Mr Thomas compared it to coming away ‘like an Easter egg wrapper’.
Owain was left with a smart new hairdo cut blunt to make it appear thicker – and special shampoo and conditioner to help it get stronger and grow the long surfer-style locks he dreams of.
Mr Thomas, from Bridgend in Wales, said: ‘Jim did an excellent job. For Owain to sit there and then go through with it was amazing to see – and he saved as much hair as he could.
The 14-year-old, who is on the autistic spectrum and struggles with change, had shoulder-length hair so matted with tangles and knots that his mother would spend hours trying to untangle it with spray and a comb. Right: Mr Williams carefully cuts Owain’s hair
‘It came off like an Easter egg wrapper.
‘I’ve been trying to get him to a barbershop for 10 years. He had it done as a little kid but he never wanted to go since then.
‘We once managed to get him to one and he wouldn’t go through with it.
‘It’s been hard work and even my partner is an ex-hairdresser and he wouldn’t let her near it, no chance.
‘We also have a family friend who is a hairdresser and there was no chance with him either.
‘It’s been a struggle. But with us and school just saying [he needed to get a haircut], he’s realised he’d got to have it done.
‘Jim spoke to him as a normal person and they just got him to talk to them and got him around it. We’ve booked him in [again] for August and hopefully he’ll go back.
‘Owain wants long hair so we’ve told him he needs to cut it and style it to the point where it is strong enough to grow as long hair.
‘To be honest, I can’t believe how brave he’s been. He’s such a brave, strong boy. He’s got determination anyway.
‘He’s stubborn – that’s where his autism comes in. When he’s stuck on something, it’s that and nothing else so if you can get him to change his mind and believe in that, that’s when it helps him.
‘Taking him to see Jim, feel comfortable and getting him to be part of that really helped.’
Barber Mr Williams took photos of Owain’s amazing transformation and posted them online where they received more than 1,000 likes, shares and comments.
He said: ‘It was the first time I had come across hair like that as well.. I’d never seen it like that in person.
Father Anthony Thomas said: ‘I’ve been trying to get him to a barbershop for 10 years. He had it done as a little kid but he never wanted to go since then’. Above: A smiling Owain after his hair cut
‘It was obviously a challenge for me as well because I wanted to retain as much hair as possible underneath.
‘Most places would have tried to scalp him, but I wanted his hair to look all right afterwards.
‘His parents had given us a phone call and explained the situation.
‘I suggested he came to meet us and so we could assess his hair properly so we knew what we were dealing with.
‘[After meeting him] I actually had an appointment the next day and offered that he come in then.
‘I wasn’t nervous about it because I’m always up for a challenge. It was more a case of knowing how to get about the tangles.
‘I had to use a T-blade clipper to cut precisely into tighter areas. It was basically like peeling potatoes because I had to carve it out.
‘I had to cut it out, look into the hair to see where it was breaking and then slice across it.
‘His natural hair was sitting underneath and it was really fine, despite looking so thick.
‘I had to cut as close to the point of where the matt was in his hair.
Owain had wanted his hair long in a ‘surfer’ style. Above: The teenager with his father Anthony
‘Owain surprised me because he wasn’t bothered at all and was amazed at what it looked like. It was incredible that we actually managed to keep his hair.’
James booked a second appointment with Owain in August to keep his hair healthy to help him grow it out into a surfer length.
Mr Thomas, who works as a lorry driver, said: ‘The haircut is a positive note going forward that things might be changing for Owain.
‘He’s the most loving child I’ve ever met and he’s a good kid.
‘His scalp had never seen the light of day so he’s using special shampoo and conditioner to help it grow stronger.
‘Even though he doesn’t like it at the moment, we all love it and think it’s great.
‘He wants it long but I’ve said he has to learn to adapt to it now and we will get it to what he wants as it grows.
‘He hadn’t been worried about it being matted. It never occurred to him that it was.
‘His mum used to comb it which took hours and hours of anti-tangling spray and combing it to try and get the tangles out.
‘It would go lovely but within about a week it would go back to normal again.
‘At one point he feared he would have to have it all shaved off so I said I would also shave it all off so that we would be exactly the same and we could both be bald together.
‘Jim was exceptional at how he got it sorted without shaving it all off. It just shows how good a barber he is. I was expecting to have to shave all my hair off too.
‘It didn’t come to that thankfully. It got saved. I just hope the haircut helps him to turn a corner.
‘We did book a second appointment but if he doesn’t want to do it he won’t do it. Hopefully he will go back in August and he’ll do it then.’