Three experts weigh in on the pros and cons of wet-cutting and dry-cutting. Plus, find out how utilizing both can take your haircuts to the next level.
Let’s face it: As one of the fundamentals they teach in hair school, cutting hair when it’s wet is pretty #basic. But with the rising demand for more textured hairstyles and fringes, there’s been a movement towards more dry-cutting techniques.
“When I first started [cutting hair] 40 years ago, there was no such thing as dry cutting. The French might have done it, but it wasn’t well recognized [around the world],” recalls Oscar Bond, an award-winning hairstylist and lead educator for Hattori Hanzo Shears. “Now it’s done a complete 180. Now everyone wants a lot of texture, airiness and movement, so the hairstyles are more whimsical and fun. That doesn’t require wet haircutting and cutting hard lines, it takes dry hair and very broken lines to make that texture happen.”
“Dry cutting gives a fresh feel to the hair,” he adds. “You’re personalizing your work to each client’s head of hair. It makes us all a little more artistic and creative.”
While dry-cutting hair is great for creating more movement in the hair, there are even more benefits. “Some hairstylists cut dry because they want to see the shape of the haircut as they are cutting it,” says Morgan Roy, creative director for Civello Salon & Spa in Toronto. “Now, people are more informed, so when they’re cutting hair dry, they can cut off less, or true to length since the hair is not stretching the way it does when it’s wet.”
Making the First Cut
Though chances are you’ve already been incorporating some dry-cutting techniques into your services, this movement towards dry-cutting has really changed the game. Roy says she’s even had clients request to have their hair cut dry, especially those that may be nervous about having length cut. “Once you know you’ve already been doing it, it will give you the confidence to go ahead and do a full haircut [dry],” she says. “The key to cutting hair dry is making sure the client’s hair is an even texture all over.”
Cutting curly hair can be tricky, depending on whether or not your curly-haired clients embrace their natural texture. “Curly hair is a different fabric, so we must understand the limits and capabilities of fine and coarse curly hair,” says Sam Villa, global artistic ambassador for Redken. “The kinkier the curl, I’ll cut and dry freehand. It’s better off deconstructed; cut by visual look and feel based on the curvature of the curl.”
Combining Wet and Dry
Combining wet and dry cutting techniques is quite common, especially when adding texture to more structured styles. As hairstylists, it’s important to be open to trying new things. “Hairdressers go where they are comfortable, but there’s danger in the comfort zone,” says Villa. “They cannot rely on their favourite techniques because they don’t work on every fabric.”
Elevating the Experience
First things first, cutting dry hair does not mean cutting dirty hair or cutting a client’s hair as soon as they walk into the salon. Now, clients are getting their hair shampooed and styled before hairdressers break out the shears. After all, you want the hair to be a clean, even canvas before you begin cutting. Plus, you don’t want to sacrifice the salon experience for the client. “In the industry, we’ve moved into an experience economy,” says Villa. “Now, we’re creating a new experience for the client, and a new experience and sense of enthusiasm for the hairdresser.”