What are the techniques for cutting hair?

Different people cut their hair for different reasons. Talking to you about what a client does not like about the current cut can help guide you in making the necessary corrections. Similarly, if you have a specific hairstyle in mind, you should be honest and detailed about your expectations so that your client can make the appropriate choices. The reasoning and motivation behind wanting to change hairstyles can help inform the method and tool choices. That is why it is important to be a hairdresser who can communicate openly with clients. And the best way to prepare for a career in hairdressing is to attend a hair school near you. Let's take a closer look at the three main reasons why people are looking for a new haircut.

Haircutting techniques: corrections

Hairstyle correction refers to the correction of something a client is unhappy with the current cut or style. This can vary from wildly dramatic to barely noticeable. It all depends on the type of correction they are looking for. For example, you could get away with very subtle changes if they are unhappy with the thickness or volume of their hair. However, if you are hoping to correct a previous haircut mistake or aim to create dramatic movement, you will probably need more dramatic solutions.

Hair-cutting techniques: self-expression

Haircuts are a great way to physically express personality and attitude. They can also be used to celebrate changes and recognise the beginning of a new personal chapter. Knowing how a client wants their haircut to make them feel can help you make the right choices for tools and techniques. Are they looking for an easy, low-maintenance look that values work? Are they hoping to soften some edges with something bouncy and fun? These types of descriptors can help you create the look they want to see when they look in the mirror.

Haircuts for fashion or style projects

While these types of cuts are rare and generally apply more to wig work, fashion projects are another reason why a client might need a new hairstyle. Photo shoots, music videos, films and photographic projects are just a few examples of highly stylised projects that might require a drastic change of cut or hairdo . These advanced hair-cutting techniques can be learnt at a hair school near you.

Things to consider about a haircut

It can be easy to look at celebrities and want their exact hairstyle. Unfortunately, the big differences in hair from person to person can really make it difficult to achieve the same look as someone else. Before your client falls for a haircut that would be unrealistic, take a moment to consider their current hairstyle situation. Here is a quick look at some of the things you will want to keep in mind when style shopping for your client's haircuts.

Hair Structure

Be realistic about the structure of your client's hair: is it coarse, fine, curly or straight? This will help you be realistic about how a certain haircut might look once completed and how it might grow over time. If they have synthetically texturised their hair follicles by relaxing them or perming them, this should also be taken into account before cutting their hair.

Hair Condition

Your client may want a long, luxurious hairstyle, but if their ends are severely damaged, it may prevent them from achieving that goal. At the same time, if they have an exceptionally dry scalp or a damaged root system, a shortcut can make the problem worse and more visible. If your client really wants a dazzling new hairstyle, take the time to talk about the current condition and timing of their hair.

Current haircut

There are things that your client's current hairstyle may determine about their future. For example, if they are currently sporting a look with lots of ruffled or dramatic angles, they might want to lose some length if they want to smooth out their look. Another example might be if they have fringes. The length, thickness and angle of the fringe, as well as whether they want to keep them or phase them out, can play an important role in the new hairstyle.

Cutting terms and techniques

While the idea of changing your client's appearance can be exciting, salon techniques and terminology can be confusing. Any certified hairdresser should help explain or clearly define any technique their client might have a question about. However, let us take a quick look at some of the most common terms and techniques you might hear when it comes to haircuts.


This term refers to a cutting method that creates different lengths that overlap. Layering helps to create movement and make hairstyles lighter and fresher to wear. This is a great option for hairstyles that fall flat and appear stale or stagnant. It is also a great hairstyle option for the hot months that can often lead to sweating and overheating. Layers can be subtle with very little difference in layer length, but can also be dramatic with a large difference in length between the bottom and top layers. They can also be strategically placed to help shape your client's face. It just depends on the client's personal preference.


Thinning refers to a technique that makes thick styles easier to wear. The thinking behind thinning and layering is the same, but the overall effects are very different. The hairdresser will often use a specialised cutting tool called thinning scissors to lighten thick and heavy hairstyles. Thinning scissors look like scissors with small sections cut out. Basically, it looks like one of the scissor blades has the teeth of a comb. They are used to cut small thin sections from the edge of a hairstyle to remove volume and weight. This can also be done with straight scissors through a technique called "slithering" in which the hairstylist uses the straight scissors to make vertical cuts in the edge of the hairstyle.


Chamfering is a term that refers to creating square or straight edges. It is a great way to add drama to a look. This may require a client to sacrifice length if they already have layers. Blunting a layered hairstyle would take the shortest layer and cut everything else to that length. The client may also choose to chamfer a certain section or area of their hairstyle.

Graduated or stacked cutting

Layers in a stacked or graded haircut are very close together. They are often chosen to create volume and weight in a haircut, while traditional layering often leads to thinning or lightening of the hairstyle. The angles of this type of cut must be precise. The weight line, or where the weight falls in a particular hairstyle, must be carefully considered when making the decision for a layered or stacked cut. It is especially useful for those with thin or fine follicles.

Extension Terminology

Extensions do not relate exactly to the haircut, but affect the volume and length of the style. Their popularity is increasing among all colours, styles and weaves. Therefore, it is worth taking a brief look at some of the terms used such as set, weft, disconnect and stitch.


A set of extensions refers to the totality of extensions. These sets come in a variety of length and thickness options so that the customer is sure to get the hairstyle additions they are looking for.


The term "weft" refers to a single extension in a set. A set of extensions consists of several plots. The number of individual extensions depends on the style chosen by the customer. There can also be different lengths and densities of wefts within the same set to create a dimension in the hairstyle.


This term refers to the point where the client's natural hair ends and her synthetic extensions begin. The disconnection is usually most visible in styles that have blunt or square edges. That is why it is important for the client to find a hairdresser who can help him/her learn how to correctly and accurately blend these extensions into a seamless style on a daily basis.


This refers to extensions that are stitched instead of using adhesive or clips to fix the wefts. This process is usually time-consuming and requires an experienced and focused hairdresser to complete. If a client is someone who likes to change style quite frequently, one of the most temporary options for protecting extensions might be the right call. If they want absolute security in their new length and volume, this method is a much more permanent solution.

Barbershop and close cuts

Salons are not the only places where haircuts happen. Too often we neglect to talk about barber shops and their contribution to hairstyling and design. If a customer is someone who prefers a barber to a hairdresser, here are a couple of terms they might want to familiarise themselves with.


Fading is a hairstyling method that uses a combination of clippers and scissors to thin the hairstyle from the base of the neck to the top of the head. A barber or stylist will use clippers to achieve an extremely tight cut around the base of the neck and then very gradually increase the length by thinning upwards. Once the top of the head is reached, the length of the hairstyle can vary considerably. The term 'fading' refers to the tapered cut leading upwards.

Design cuts

There are many barbers and stylists who are sought after for their design cuts. A hairstyle must be short before a design can be cut. These haircuts are usually found in the upper parts of fades or on people with other closely shaved hairstyles. This specialisation uses a variety of clipper types and accessories to create images and designs on hair ranging from the simple to the exceptionally elaborate.

Final thoughts

There are many different ways in which you can change your client's hairstyle, no matter what you happen to be working with naturally. It is important to know what to ask for no matter which direction a client wants to take their personal style. Knowing the correct terms and techniques can really help you clarify hairdressing goals and client concerns when discussing their decisions and options. It can also help you feel more confident when dealing with their brand new and exciting look. If you are creative and enjoy helping others express themselves, then a career in hair cutting and hair styling might be for you. Look for a hairdressing school near you and your career could be just around the corner.