Cutting Shock

For some, it might be surprising to learn that the haircutting techniques for curly hair are very different from the cutting techniques used on straight hair. For example: the traditional layering techniques meant for straight hair can be a disaster for curlies: done on curly hair, traditional layers cause an unwanted ledge or “Christmas tree” look - a mistake that could take years to grow out. Great for Christmas, but very hard to deal with for the rest of the year!

Straight haircuts require accuracy and proper tension when cutting, using methods that predict where the hair will fall when it is dry. With straight hair, “what you see is what you get” with the length – there tends to be no shrinkage between wet straight hair or dry straight hair, so the stylist can very easily see what they are working with when they cut. This is why you can get shockingly precise haircuts, such as the famous blunt cut – stylists know where straight hair is going to land and stay. Unfortunately, when these techniques are used on curly hair, the shrinkage of the curls is often overlooked. The result? Hairstylists cut curly hair too short, which does not allow for shrinkage as the curls dry. The results are a drastic loss of hair length and hair blending. We call this "Cutting Shock".

How to Avoid Cutting Shock

At the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto, stylists are taught to study the shape and bounce of each curl, determine where the volume and bulk of the hair should be distributed to best suit the shape of the client’s face, along with helping them achieve their hair goals. Cutting curly hair is primarily about moving the bulk from one area to another. The result is to show off ringlets, create natural movement, and let the cheekbones show through dense curls.

We encourage our clients to try and examine the shape of their face before they decide to change their hairstyle. Understanding the shape of the face, your bone structure, and your profile will guide you to the right hairstyle. Take note of where the widest parts of your hair are, as these are the areas where the most volume control will be required.

For stylists, you should encourage clients to collect photos of people with a similar hair type and identify what they like and dislike about their hairstyle. Pictures are a great tool and will help you as a stylist when you discuss a new cut or style, so be open to pictures as part of the consultation. It’s so important that our clients feel that we care and truly listen to them, but on the flipside, clients also need to be realistic in determinining what would suit them. A successful hairstyle relies on your ability as a stylist to create the style while controlling the frizz. Mastering the art of frizz control will also help you avoid "cutting shock". Be sure to have a consultation with the client before any drastic style changes are made.

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