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Cutting Hair - The Principles 1

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There are no step-by-step diagrams and how-to photographs in this book because they encourage copying rather than thinking and are no substitute for planning and design.

The cut you are performing must be thoroughly designed and a plan formulated to achieve the desired result for the customer in your chair.

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to haircutting or a series of photographs to copy, this book is not for you and you should not buy it.


Starting out in the hairdressing industry can be a bit daunting. It looks as though there is a mountain to climb with regard to the number of things that must be learnt.

Open any hairdressing textbook and the weight of information squeezed into the pages is staggering, if not overwhelming. How can you possibly learn all of that in the short time you have as a student? Well here’s the good news, you don’t have to. At least not all at the same time.

This book is part of a series about the fundamental elements of cutting hair. It will show the right way to approach your customers, how to make sense of the hair in front of you and how to fully understand what the customer wants. It explains the tools used and how to use them and how positioning the customer correctly will help to get a better cut. Also included is a series of clear explanations of how I cut the seven primary cuts that all other haircuts are based on.

It’s worth saying at this point that nothing comes easy. Only with work and dedication will success be achieved. Look at sportspeople, they spend much more time training than they ever do competing, why do you think that is? It’s the same reason that great hairdressers are always the busiest in the salon. They practice – a lot.

Here is the contents page along with Chapter 6 The Long One Length Cut


1   Introduction               

2   Approach        

 3   Tools                                    

 4   Positioning the Customer             

 5   Cutting Hair Wet or Dry              

 6   The Long One Length Cut            

 7   The Long, Layered Cut              

 8   The One Length Bob              

 9   The Layered Bob             

 10 The Short, Layered Cut, Coming Forward           

 11 The Short, Layered Cut, Going Back            

 12 The Graduated Cut              

 13 Finishing                

 14 Notes                

 15 Things to Remember        


Here is Chapter 6 – The Long One Length Cut

You have your customer sitting comfortably in the correct position, your consultation is complete, the hair is shampooed, conditioned and combed, you have located the crown and have positioned the parting. you are now ready to perform the first of the primary haircuts.

I always use a towel when cutting long hair. I never use a cutting collar as I find it gets in the way and produces an inferior haircut.

The first thing I do is check the length of the hair against the back of the chair. If I can’t get my hand in between the back of the hair and the point on the length of the hair where I will be cutting the outline, I ask the customer to stand whilst I cut the back. This is because if the back of the chair is in the way, I will be cutting the hair too far away from where it will fall and the line I cut will be poor quality.

If it is the case that you need to ask the customer to stand, make sure that they are standing straight and not putting their weight onto one hip, otherwise you will find that when they stand up straight, one side will be longer than the other.

After parting the hair centrally down the back, from the top of the crown to the middle of the nape, I get the customer to tilt her head down, this causes the skin at the back between the nape and occipital bone to stretch, then when I have finished cutting the back and she lifts her head up to the normal position two things will happen, firstly, the skin will relax and draw up the underneath sections creating reverse graduation (this is graduation inside the outline). The second is explained below.

I now take a small section of hair at a slight downward angle, from the centre parting to the to the side hairline behind the left ear and cut the hair using just the points of the blades. As I am cutting between my first and second fingers I am mindful not to bend my fingers outwards (this will cause exterior graduation which should be avoided). Always cut one length lines as close to where the hair will fall as possible.

When I am happy with the line I take an identical section from the centre parting to behind the right ear and cut a line at the same angle. This gives me a slight inverted V shape to my line. The second reason for cutting with the head tilted down with the inverted V is because when she lifts her head back up the hair at the centre will drop slightly as the skin relaxes and the outline will become an even, straight line from left to right. 

I take a second section that is thin enough so that I can clearly see the line I have just cut and making sure that the customer’s head has not moved I cut the section to the same length as the first. Then match this on the other side. I never cut a section of hair unless I can see the line clearly.

As I work my way up the back, sectioning from left to right, I make the sections slightly steeper from the centre to behind the ears so that when I get to the crown the section will run vertically from the crown to directly behind the ear. This is to give me space to cover the ear section. As ears stick out of the head I need to leave extra hair and work delicately because if I flatten the hair down by pulling the hair too taught the ear will spring up and pull the hair that covers it upwards creating an ear sized hole in the outline.

To cut the sides, I take a horizontal section from the vertical parting behind the ear to the front hairline. This first section should be slightly thicker than the others to allow enough hair to accommodate the ear section. It takes a bit of practice to get this right. I comb the hair gently over the ear section so that I don’t flatten the ear, holding the hair loosely I cut the hair following the angle set by the line I have cut at the back.

I now follow the line I have cut with thinner sections so that I can clearly see the line and work my way up to the parting. I then complete the other side in exactly the same way.

Finally, the hair is blow-dried straight and smooth.