A Cut Above:
New Cutting Techniques, Tricks and Tips
By: Angie Manson
You’ve heard the saying that you’re only as good as your last cut. So if you aren’t keeping up-to-date on the latest and greatest cutting techniques, you’ll end up, well, not so good! Even if you’ve been in the beauty biz for 100 years, there’s always an opportunity to learn something new. That’s why we polled top stylists from throughout the industry to find out what they’re doing to keep their cuts looking fresh and stylish. They supplied us with tons of helpful tips you can implement right now to expand your cutting repertoire from basic to something brilliant.
OWNER/STYLIST, MARK GARRISON SALON, NEW YORK
Stand and deliver. Mark always cuts the outline of his haircut while the client is standing. “It’s impossible to create or see a perfectly-proportioned cut while the client is sitting down,” he declares. Then, once the client is seated, Mark positions the head in a way that he can easily access the nape and side areas so he doesn’t compromise his back.
Layer the layer. Mark loves the idea of layering without aggressively cutting into the body of the hair. “That means I blunt cut the layers and then chip into the edges of each section in a technique I call ‘layer the layer,’” he says. He performs this sub-layer technique just short of the ends of each section, about 1-inch into the length, cutting small triangle sections.
The weight is off. Mark removes heft from “heavy” hair by cutting deeper into a section to remove length within that section. He uses his trusty “layer the layer” technique, working through sections of the body of the hair. He says that this is the time to experiment with different types of shears depending on your client’s hair. “Some shears take out more hair than others, so decide how much hair you want to remove and go from there.”
CREATIVE DIRECTOR, MAXINE SALON, CHICAGO
“Dry” something new. Amy says that stylists at Maxine Salon use dry cutting techniques to complement their balayage color services. “Dry haircutting maximizes the movement in the hairstyle, and balayage color emphasizes it,” she says. While dry cutting isn’t a new concept in the beauty biz, the growing popularity of balayage color services creates the need for stylists to be comfortable with dry cutting. “Every stylist on top of their game must know how to do it,” Amy says, adding that dry cutting is an excellent way to see the fine details in the hair’s texture. What’s more, soft, notched-out design lines complement balayage.
It’s all in the fingers. When Amy dry cuts, there are three tools she can’t live without: standard shears, a thinning shear and a razor. Make that four with her fingers. “I use all three tools for removing length and weight from the hair, and instead of using a comb, I use my hands and fingers.” To remove length, Amy “pinches” a section of hair with her index finger and thumb, then uses the razor in her other hand to cut the hair off just above her grip. To create a basic long layer, she rakes through a section with her hands, lifts it with her index and middle fingers to the desired elevation, then notches the hair with standard shears or thinning shears. To remove weight from around the face, Amy recommends pinching a small section of hair between your index finger and thumb at the exact point where you want your face framing to begin. Next, slice out the shape by holding a standard shear with the blades pointed downward, quickly opening and closing the blades while simultaneously moving the shears down the length of the strands. Be sure to not close the blades all the way; it will remove too much hair.
SASSOON INTERNATIONAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Texture assessment. The hairdressers at Sassoon treat each texture uniquely. Mark says that super-fine hair will benefit from heavy graduation worked from a definite outline shape. Volume-challenged clients can also benefit from well-placed color, which can help increase the density of the hair. “At Sassoon, this is referred to as shape and balance,” says Mark. To control thick, coarse hair, use a precise layering technique when cutting the hair, and be sure to recommend a regular softening and conditioning treatment to help refine the texture.
ARTISTIC EDUCATOR, PRIVÉ SALON, LOS ANGELES
Innovate and recreate. Privé Salon has developed five unique cutting techniques that they use to work with all types of hair textures.
Deep Point Cut Progressive: cutting with the blade parallel to the hair shaft.
Deep Brick Cut Progressive: hold shears perpendicular to hair so you’re working against the grain to remove more weight.
Back Cutting: striking the hair with shears underneath the shaft in a teasing movement
Reverse Back Cutting: striking the hair with shears above the shaft in a teasing movement
Flat Foundation: take a section and slide shears against the hair to remove more weight
Get with the times. Jin and other Privé stylists pay attention to street style to determine which looks really stand out each season. “Hair trends have come a long way just in the last five years alone, and whether you’re looking for a cutting-edge urban look, or something classic or glamorous, it’s important to learn new techniques,” says Jin.
SHI SALON, ST. LOUIS
From coarse to full of character. Coarse hair can be very deceiving, says Marie, so before she cuts, she first washes, blow-dries and flat irons the hair. Then she uses thinning shears on the entire cut. “This helps create character and texture in very coarse hair,” she says.
Taking the weight off. First she teases the entire head with a teasing comb, then she uses notching or point cutting techniques to remove weight. She notes that this technique also adds layers to the hair cut.
Don’t forget! Marie insists that even when you’re trying a new technique, you can’t forget your basics, like 1.) Your fingertips are your guideline, 2.) Your knuckles determine the direction the hair will fall, and 3.) Your elbow position determines how much movement you are going to have in your haircut.
REGIONAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR, SASSOON ACADEMY
Pump up the volume. If your client has short to mid-length hair, Traci uses graduation techniques to build weight, support hair and add more volume.
Natural woman. Sassoonites like to work with curly hair in a natural way. It’s important to use the right techniques, shapes and color on each individual hair texture. “One of the tricks we teach stylists is to dress the hair when wet with the small teeth of the comb,” Traci says. “Comb each section/curl through to close the cuticle before drying with a diffuser to help the product go through the hair evenly and create a flatter curl, which in turn will better reflect the light and enhance the shine.” Exposing yourself to as many hair textures as possible will help you determine which cutting technique is the most suitable.
Improve your cutting skills with help from the BTC Bookstore!
ABC Cutting Hair the Sassoon Way Book and DVD Set--The book is an essential education tool and when used in conjunction with the DVD series, it forms a complete cutting education system for either the beginner looking for the finest start to their career, or for an experienced stylist looking for a new insight.
Mark Garrison Signature Styles DVD--Mark reveals his approach to creating wearable hair that transforms real people. He demonstrates three cuts—The Graduated Bob, the Mini Shag and Mo’ Layers—that will become instant staples in your cutting repertoire.
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