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Know Your Haircutting Techniques

Everyone gets a haircut once in a while, and even the most infrequent salon visitor will observe that their stylist uses a vast arsenal of tools and techniques to shape hair as desired. It’s one of the major reasons why you just can’t get the same results using a pair of kitchen scissors at home. There are lots of different scissors, razors, and shears at a stylist’s disposal, and each will cut the hair in a different way. If you’ve ever wondered why your stylist makes certain motions when they’re snipping away, then you’re in luck; here’s a brief rundown of some common stylist techniques.

Cutting: Blunt vs. Graduated vs. Layering
A hair cut rarely involves a simple straight snip, unless the client wants to take off a lot of length; this is usually called a blunt cut. The stylist cuts the hair wet, keeping the scissor blades horizontal and keeping each section of hair lying straight down as it falls naturally. A graduated cut can result in all sorts of different looks; it evenly distributes the weight of the hair while keeping the edges soft. The stylist takes a section of hair and pulls it out from the skull at an elevated angle before cutting across. With the change in angle and elevation from the skull, the hair will fall with a rounded, layered edge instead of being blunt and straight. Graduating is very useful for creating short layered bob hairstyles.

Layering is similar to graduating, but usually applies to longer hair; it takes out weight and bulk without sacrificing the desired length. Sections are lifted high up off the scalp and cut on an angle, as opposed to horizontally parallel to the floor; this is great for thick or curly hair, as it will distribute the volume more evenly around the scalp.

Point Cutting
Once the right length is achieved, a haircut usually needs some texture, to keep things interesting. Point cutting is one way to create basic texture, and is usually done after the basic cut is complete. Stylists use clippers or razors, which are much sharper than normal scissors. They hold a section of hair away from the head, and will use the tips of their shears to cut straight into the ends of the hair, instead of across them as you would with scissors.

The notching technique is another way to add texture to hair, and it is also very useful for thick hair; each snip literally removes half of the hair from your head. Stylists can do this in a few ways, but one simple technique involves notching scissors. One of the blades is straight, but the other has a row of teeth that will only catch a portion of the hair. Stylists take a section of hair, pull it tightly from the head, and gently snip on an angle down the length; they then comb out the section to remove the cut hair. Talented stylists can also notch freehand, using regular shears and snipping away to remove bulk in large sections for a funky, choppy look. They’ll sometimes use a straight razor, gently running it down the length of a section, to achieve a softer edge than notching scissors can provide.