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Hair stylist Mark Bustos wishes that appearances didn't matter, but the reality is they do.
Doing his part to help those less fortunate than himself, Bustos spends every Sunday - his only day off - cutting hair for the homeless in New York City.
"I do believe people with a proper, professional haircut receive more respect than those who do not have a proper haircut," Bustos told Today.
In 2012, while visiting family in the Phillipines, Bustos hired a chair at the local barbershop and gave free haircuts to underprivileged kids.
From there, the positive reactions motivated him to continue the project in New York.
"The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to NYC," Bustos told the Huffington Post.
At the age of 14, Bustos began cutting hair in his parents' garage. "[I've] never made a penny in my life [that] hasn't had to do with hair," he told Today.
But the 30-year-old stylist doesn't just cut hair for the money.
Instead, he spends his days off roaming the city looking for someone who would benefit from a free haircut.
Approaching people, he simply says: "I want to do something nice for you today."
He often asks his clients at the salon he works at if they've noticed any homeless people in the area.
"[Asking clients] helps save me time. Sometimes I can walk around for hours looking for a haircut recipient on the streets," he says.
Accompanied by his girlfriend, the pair also offers food to his clients.
"One response we've gotten is, 'Nobody ever asks me what I actually want. I usually just get leftovers and scraps,' " he said.
As well as the Philippines and New York, Bustos has taken his Random Act of Kindness to Jamaica, Costa Rica and Los Angeles.
"I just simply wanted to bring some positive energy and hope into this world."
He also says a proper haircut increases a person's confidence.
This is something he has experienced first-hand with a client named Jemar Banks.
He told the Huffington Post: "After offering him a haircut and whatever food he wanted to eat, he didn't have much to say throughout the whole process, until after I showed him what he looked like when I was done."
"The first thing he said to me was, 'Do you know anyone that's hiring?' "
According to a 2000 study, Bustos might be onto something: hair really does matter.
The study found that a bad hair days exist and can influence a person's self-esteem.
Dr Marianne LaFrance, the leader of the study, says what's interesting is that both men and women are affected by the phenomenon.
"Even more fascinating is our finding that individuals perceive their capabilities to be significantly lower than others when experiencing bad hair," says Dr LaFrance.
Similarily, a recent study found that considering yourself attractive "leads you to believe that you belong in a higher social class".
According to Stanford Business, "The research also showed that self-perceived physical attractiveness mattered more to people's perception of their social rank than their self-perceived goodness - qualities like empathy and integrity - did."
Posting his haircuts on Instagram with the hashtag #beawesometosomebody, Bustos hopes his kindness will spread.
A picture on his Instagram account says, "If we all do one random act of kindness daily, we just might set the world in the right direction."
"Even a simple smile can go a long way," he told the Huffington Post.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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