Mario McDowell of Atlanta answered these questions at the recent Bronner Brothers International Hair Show. Mario is in a key position with his experience and training to address these issues. He is an accomplished hair cutter and stylist with his work consistently appearing on actors, actresses and other celebrities on TV and screen. But he is also a licensed instructor with the prestigious Aveda Institute in Atlanta where he teaches young stylists daily. Working with students and even with experienced stylists Mario sees a lot of mistakes and “no, no’s” that can be easily rectified with a little knowledge and fore thought.
- 1.The number one mistake made by hair cutters is in their tools. Even if they have quality shears and clippers they may not properly clean and store their tools so that they are at their peak performance in every haircut. They should know how to properly clean and oil their blades. Many are trying to cut with dull shears or clipper blades or even non-professional equipment. Sometimes a simple upgrade or sharpening of their cutting implement will make the difference in the outcome of a haircut.
- 2.How and where you stand can cause the difference in a poor haircut and one that sings and swings. Especially when cutting a one length cut or bob it is imperative that the cutter not slouch or bend over. The cut will never be straight when using the wrong body position. Mario’s suggestion is to lunge forward pulling the hair to a 0 degree elevation. Other alternatives would be to have the client stand when cutting the hair or the use of a “cutting stool” by the haircutter can create the correct approach to an even, one length haircut.
- 3.Watch how most haircutters hold their shears. Those that bend their wrist and cut with the back of the hand against the hair can not cut a straight line in this method. The hair is brought up to the cutting blade in this manner and a straight line can not be achieved. Keeping the wrist straight not only allows for correct cutting but it prevents strain on the wrist that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist issues that plague people in the beauty industry who misuse their wrists and hands.
- 4.Short stylists cutting long hair may find themselves standing on their toes to cut hair at a 180 degree elevation. A better way to cut straighter, relieve stress on the arms and body and to look more professional can be simply achieved. First, raise the hair up. Then find the guide from previous cut section. Third, hold this position in place with fingers. Fourth, lower your arms to a comfortable level and cut straight using a palm to palm hand position.
- 5.Does your client slouch in their chair? Is their head tilted to talk on the phone or are their legs crossed? Continually throughout the haircut pay attention to your client’s body position. If they are sitting crooked the cut can be crooked. A client who sits with legs crossed or slouching can result in an unbalanced cut. Start the cut asking your client to sit up straight with feet flat. Then, throughout the haircut continue to request that they sit straight if they begin to hunch or droop to one side. Explain your request is not for their discomfort but to assure them of an accurate haircut. Clients with scoliosis or back deformities may need to stand to even out a particularly difficult haircut.
- 6.Have you ever asked a client where they part their hair? Don’t assume this is where they hair will always be parted. Even if it is a natural part, continue to blend all the way around from a center part as well so that no long straggling ends appear after your finished haircut or when the wind blows.
- 7.Don’t get “Scissor Happy.” Mario says, we get excited when cutting and sometimes create something so beautiful but ruin it by over cutting. There comes a time when it is time to quit and accept the finished work as the finished work. Don’t keep cutting until the long front fringe is now gone and the hairstyle has changed or until all the texturized point cutting is removed in your cross checking. Just as in painting a beautiful painting there comes a time to sign your name and walk away.
There are other mistakes made by haircutters and stylists the world over, but these are the easiest to solve. Don’t let a little “no, no” make a haircut “uh oh!”
Written by Bonnie Megowan of Bonika Shears based on a presentation by Mario McDowell (Instagram @thehairfetish)