Go with the Flowbee: George Clooney reveals how he cuts his hair

Morwenna Ferrier
·3 min read

With salons largely closed until this week, male grooming has been in freefall since the start of the spring lockdown. DIY haircuts have not been successful for all. Yet one Hollywood star has proved that even in a global pandemic, bad hair is not the great equaliser we hoped it would be.

George Clooney, the 59-year-old award-winning actor and human rights activist, has admitted to successfully cutting his own hair at home using a device called a Flowbee. “My hair’s really like straw, so it’s easy,” he told CBS Sunday Morning.

According to Clooney, twice voted People magazine’s sexiest man alive, the $139.95 (£103) contraption is so reliable he has been using it for more than 22 years – and not simply during 2020. “My haircuts take literally two minutes,” he said, adding that its speed and efficiency had afforded him time to stain the garage doors, mop the floors and do much of the family’s washing during lockdown in their Los Angeles home.

The Flowbee was a defining product of the 1980s infomercial boom in the US. It was invented in 1988 by Rick Hunts, a San Diego carpenter who was moved to invent the product after using his industrial vacuum cleaner to suck sawdust out of his hair. Hunts initially created and sold the gadget from his garage. But it was live demonstrations at a local county fair that edged him towards success, before global fame soon beckoned him, in the form of late-night TV demonstrations. By 2010, more than 2 million Americans had bought one.

In effect a pair of clippers with different length “spacers” and a suction tube, its longevity is partly down to theatrics – according to various online tutorials, an “up and down bouncing motion is best” – as well as positioning within popular culture. The Flowbee appeared in the cult 90s sitcoms Party of Five and Home Improvement, and was one of the many products parodied in the film Wayne’s World, where it was misnamed the ‘suck cut’. It helps too that the product is almost too ludicrous to forget.

Google searches for Flowbee took off following Clooney’s weekend admission and the Flowbee website itself crashed. But while his endorsement will no doubt lend invaluable celebrity cachet to the brand’s image, largely unchanged since the 1980s, the Clooney effect is not in fact responsible for the product’s pandemic-era success.

As early as mid-March, the Flowbee had sold out on Walmart’s website and on Amazon. It is not available in the UK and, according to Fortune magazine, Amazon says it doesn’t know when the item will be back in stock. The UK saw a similar story when in April, John Lewis experienced a 200% increase in demand for clippers, and grooming tools from Philips and Remington sold out. All those products are, however, now available. According to its website, the Flowbee is not. Hunts, who demonstrates the model himself on the website, was not available for comment.