Haircutting For Dummies


by J. Elaine Spear





About the Author

J. Elaine Spear has been a successful stylist, makeup artist, and salon owner for several years. She’s now turning her beauty expertise into a successful literary career by writing for trade and consumer magazines. Jeryl, as she’s known to her friends, is currently a regular editorial contributor to Spa, DaySpa, and Salon News magazines. In addition to her busy writing schedule, she’s also a popular guest speaker who travels the country sharing entertaining, down-to-earth information about well-being and beauty. Besides her relaxed, humorous approach to life, Jeryl’s philosophy about all forms of beauty is easy: Keep it simple and you’ll never go wrong. This is her approach to the wealth of haircutting information, plus more than a few funny “snip-and-tell” stories, that she shares in Haircutting For Dummies.



For my young son, Cody, who has taught me all about patience, love, and loyalty. And Robert, the saint of our household, who never complained when I showed up only for meals and bedtime for months on end while writing this book. I also dedicate this book to all the really great stylists out there who are so passionate about hair: You’ve been the inspiration for my entire hairstyling career.


Author’s Acknowledgments

No man is an island, and no author can put a book together herself. I feel honored to have had such wonderful support from people who offered their expert opinions, time, and caring to make Haircutting For Dummies a reality.

First on my list of acknowledgements has to be Tom Carson, owner of Tom Carson Photography in Charlotte, North Carolina. As the photographer for this book, Tom spent endless hours formatting and sending me hundreds of pictures — every one beautiful in its own way — to review. Due to his generosity and professional expertise, Haircutting For Dummies has a beautiful series of contemporary beauty photos that both inspire and teach you about haircutting.

Dwight Miller, Cathy Frangie, and Chris Willet — respected hairstylists and friends — also deserve a big thanks for making themselves available to talk about key haircutting issues for this book. Nancy and Ed Brown, owners of the Brown Aveda Institute, a top-notch beauty school in Mentor, Ohio, also deserve my thanks. They were extremely helpful to me by offering their own collection of Tom Carson photos, as well as organizing a custom photo shoot for this book. Their motivation was to inspire you, the reader, to consider an exciting career in cosmetology.

I also want to acknowledge the kindness and generosity of Marc Spilo, founder, and Judy Meola, senior marketing manager, of Spilo Worldwide, a wonderful master distributing company in Los Angeles that supplies the beauty industry with hundreds of hair and nail products. Spilo Worldwide gave me bushels of mannequin heads, as well as photos, brushes, and combs. Cindy Trawinski, director of marketing for Fromm International in Northbrook, Illinois, also deserves a big thanks for the specialty scissors and photos she supplied for this book. And lastly, I want to thank Helen of Troy — a company that makes quality blow dryers and curling irons — for supplying great images of styling tools.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Tonya Maddox Cupp

Acquisitions Editor: Natasha Graf

Copy Editor: Christina Guthrie

Acquisitions Coordinator: Joyce Pepple

Technical Editors: Cathy Frangie; Martin Graf, MD

Editorial Manager: Jennifer Ehrlich

Cover Photos: PHX-Hagerstown

Cartoons: Rich Tennant,

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Jennifer Bingham

Layout and Graphics: Seth Conley, LeAndra Hosier, Michael Kruzil, Kristin McMullan, Tiffany Muth, Jackie Nicholas, Brent Savage

Special Art: Illustrator Lisa Reed, Photographer Tom Carson, scissors photographs Fromm International

Proofreaders: Laura Albert, David Faust, Aptara

Indexer: Aptara

Special Help: Mike Baker

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies

Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Michael Spring, Vice President and Publisher, Travel

Brice Gosnell, Publishing Director, Travel

Suzanne Jannetta, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Spreading Your Farrah Fawcett-Like Wings

Chapter 1: Setting Up Shop: Career Stylists and Kitchen Beauticians

Discovering Your Inner Artist: Do You Have What It Takes?

Getting Your Goods Together

Cutting Up in Your Kitchen

Making Someone Else’s Hair Your Business

Chapter 2: Strapping On Your Tool Belt

Running with These Is a No-No

Combing It Over

Brushing It Off

Calling All Trimmers

Assessing an Assortment of Other Items

Chapter 3: Brushing Up Before You Begin

Getting Acquainted

Doing Some Prep Work

Cutting to the Basics

Putting the Basics to Work

Figuring Out What’s Next

Part II : Cutting to the Chase

Chapter 4: Talking About Texture

Mistaking a Hair’s Identity

Going with the Flow

Playing Texture Detective

Joining the Hair Movement

Taming the Cowlick

Chapter 5: Tipping the Stylist: You

Blowing Them Away with Your Drying Technique

Revving Up the Va-va-va Volume

Curling (It’s More than a Winter Olympics Sport)

Ironing It Out

Handling Styling Conundrums

Chapter 6: Ending Is Just the Beginning

Starting at the Bottom

Taking Part

Shaping Up in the End

Finishing Up at the Bottom

Chapter 7: Maintaining Your Professional Cut

Examining Your Cut with a Fine-Tooth Comb

Brevity Is the Soul of Wit, Not Bangs

Taking a Little Off the Top

Moving Forward

Cutting Side to Side

Part III : Getting Snippy

Chapter 8: Getting Snippy with Women’s Short Styles

Establishing a Short List of Ground Rules

Cutting It Short and Sweet

Drawing Out a Lively Look

Getting Down to Business with a Classic Cut

Chapter 9: Getting Snippy with Women’s Mid-length Styles

Creating a Masterpiece: Mid-length Blunt Cut

Layering It On

Chapter 10: Getting Snippy with Women’s Long Styles

Preparing Thyself for Long Locks

Being Single-Length and Loving It

Adding Decorative Details to a Blunt Cut

Graduating to Great Fanfare

Getting Framed Isn’t Always Bad: Framed Cut

Framing a Long Cut

Chapter 11: Getting Snippy with Men’s Styles

Trimming the Light Fantastic

Getting Down to a Standard Business Cut

Kicking Back with a Casual Men’s Haircut

Soft Rock: Short Cut

Hard Rock: Medium Cut

Retreating Hair

Chapter 12: Getting Snippy with Children’s Styles

Getting Practical with Your Pint-Sized Ones

Going for Some Girl Glam

Bringing on the Boyish Style

Part IV : Letting the Scissors Fly with Advanced Haircutting Techniques

Chapter 13: Getting to the Point: Compact Cutting

Cutting to the Chase

Introducing a One-Snip Wonder: Bangs

Layering with Lightning Speed

Introducing a Two-Snip Wonder: Disconnected Shape

Shooting Down Compact-Cut Conundrums

Chapter 14: Cuddling Up to Clippers

Getting the Buzz

Soft and Easy

Fading Away

Fixing a Flat Top

Chapter 15: Pulling the Plug: Disconnected Shapes

Mopping on Top

Contrasting Textures

Locking on Top

Chapter 16: Becoming a Free Spirit: Shattered Shapes

Kicking It Up a Notch

Doing It Deli Style: Sliced Hair

Making Tattered Look Good

Faking It No Longer: A Facade of Texture

Shattering the Whole Shebang

Getting Chunky

Part V : Keeping the Cooties Away

Chapter 17: Harnessing Hair Health

Living an Unfit Lifestyle

I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen for Hair Health

Treating Testy Hair

Stocking Up on Products

Chapter 18: Knowing the Sticky Stuff — and I Don’t Mean Hair Spray

Splitting Hairs: Anatomy

Losing It but Staying Sane

Chapter 19: Cleaning Up Your Act

Declaring War on Germs

Communicating with Communicables

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 20: Ten Slices of Advice on Cutting Kids’ Hair

Good Timing

Secure Seating

Covering Up

Brushing Up

Spiking the Waters

Banishing Tears

Cutting Control

Getting a Grip


Ensuring a Good Time

Chapter 21: Ten Ways to Keep What the Pros Created

Confessing to Your Stylist

Tracking Your Style

Getting Set Up

Good Timing

Using Common Sense

Beware of Blunt Cuts

Skipping Long Layers

Finer than Frog’s Hair

The Incredible Shrinking Hair

Following Through

Chapter 22: Ten Possible Career Paths

Full-Service Hairstylist

Hair Specialist

Esthetics, Makeup, or Nails Cosmetologist

Salon Owner

Editorial/Freelance Artist


Manufacturer/Distributor Representative

Corporate Executive

Industry Consultant

Public Relations


I f you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a painter, a sculptor, or a home decorator, you have a talent for cutting hair. The same holds true if you love sewing, drawing, or helping your children with their art projects. Haircutting For Dummies is designed to help you discover your inner artist — and put this artist to good use! With this book at your side, you can easily enhance your loved ones’ hairstyles while trimming big bucks off your family budget.

About This Book

I wrote this book for people who simply want to cut their family and friend’s hair, as well as for folks who are just entering the field of cosmetology (which is anyone who wants to become a licensed stylist). Doing hair at home gives you the opportunity to save money, be creative, and do something nice for those who trust you with their looks (and their well being). For those preparing to enter cosmetology, Haircutting For Dummies offers good advice on how to do simple trims and styles while giving your own creative spirit plenty of room to roam.

Haircutting For Dummies is the most comprehensive yet free-spirited book written for the home haircutter. It lives up to its name by giving step-by-step instructions for the latest short, medium, and long hairstyles as well as advanced haircutting techniques like slicing, notching, and texturing the hair. To help you achieve these creative looks, this snip-and-tell guide provides insider information about the tools you need to support your handiwork, ways to follow lengths and angles, and above all, how to have fun while you’re creating your show-stopping styles!

Anytime you find yourself hungry for even more haircutting knowledge, Haircutting For Dummies also contains a wealth of information about how to style your masterpieces, tips on trimming your own hair, and countless ways to shamelessly bribe your children into behaving like angels while you cut their hair. You should also be on the lookout for tips on ways to judge texture, strength, and the health of the hair; how to find out what people really want from their haircutters; and why a haircare regimen is so important.

Conventions Used in This Book

Before I throw you into the step-by-steps of any haircut in this book, I let you know how difficult the cut will be to do. I have based my ratings on a scale from the easiest cuts to the most difficult ones:

bullet Easiest

bullet Easy

bullet Moderate

bullet Advanced

bullet Most advanced

Your current ability to cut hair — coordination with handling scissors, your ability to judge length, and a knack for creating the correct shapes — should dictate the degree of difficulty you undertake. If creating accurate haircutting lines challenges you, for instance, or your hair sections still tend to drift to one side or the other, avoid anything higher than a Moderate rating until these basic skills become second nature to you.

The illustrations in this book give you a good idea of what steps to take while cutting hair. Keep in mind that a solid line means that this is where hair should be parted. A dashed line indicates where you should cut the hair.

And, finally, an italicized word means that a hairstyling-world word is coming at you.

Foolish Assumptions

Having been a home haircutter many times in my life, I’ve experienced most of the motivations behind trimming your little beauty queen’s hair, crisping the lines of a man’s haircut, or extending the life of your own haircut by taking a few strategic snips off the ends. All that was missing in my household was a fun, friendly book on haircutting. While writing this book, I assumed you that you’ve found yourself in similar situations (and without a lively, straightforward book). I also made a few other assumptions about you.

If one or more of the following statements describes you, Haircutting For Dummies is probably your kind of book.

bullet You feel the urge to express your creativity and haircutting is an attractive outlet.

bullet You’re happy saving hundreds of dollars each year in haircutting fees simply by maintaining your family’s hair at home.

bullet You want to extend the time between your own visits to the salon.

bullet You love pleasing people by making them feel good about the way they look.

bullet You want to have better control over your personal time by limiting your salon visits.

bullet You buy every book on the market with a yellow and black cover.

bullet You’re considering a career in haircutting and want a taste of what it’s like to be a successful hairdresser.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into six sections. Each part concentrates on a specific segment of haircutting. You can read these sections in order or simply read the parts that apply to your immediate activity and save the rest for later.

Part I: Spreading Your Farrah Fawcett-Like Wings

Part I acquaints you with all the tools, techniques, and communication skills needed to let your creative talent soar. It shows you how to be best friends with the basics of haircutting and gives many ways to use these skills to create anything from a simple bob to a fanciful flyaway wedge.

Part II: Cutting to the Chase

Haircutting is a beautiful art that’s guided by length, angles, and elevations of hair. Part II shows you how to manipulate these fundamentals to create volume, sleekness, layers, and lovely end-shapes. It also gives invaluable tips on controlling the hair via sectioning; understanding the impact of different hair textures; and using a blow dryer, curling iron, and flat iron to your absolute best advantage.

Part III: Getting Snippy

With your scissors in one hand and a willing subject in the other, you’re ready to follow step-by-step haircuts for short, medium, and long hair as well as specialty cuts for men and children. These step-by-step guides are supported by beautiful model shots, graphic illustrations, and styling tips on how to make your handiwork shine.

Part IV: Letting the Scissors Fly with Advanced Haircutting Techniques

Basic haircuts are wonderful, but for those ultra-creative moments, reference Part IV for step-by-step guides on cutting disconnected shapes, shattered shapes, condensed haircuts, and styles formed with electric clippers.

Part V: Keeping the Cooties Away

To ensure that hair is always on its best behavior, Part V offers insider tips on shampooing and conditioning; ways to bring out more shine; and how to detangle even the most obstinate snarls without further damaging the hair. As the title hints, this part also gives important information about the life of a hair, how to detect thinning, and strategies for conducting cootie warfare any time creepy crawlies make themselves at home on a scalp with which you come face to face.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Anytime you’re looking for tips on how to maintain your own haircuts or how to humor a screaming client (namely your child) this part is the place to turn!

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout this book you find a collection of handy icons in the margins. These icons perform useful functions to maximize your use of Haircutting For Dummies.


You want anecdotes? I got anecdotes. After years of experience cutting hair and knowing people who cut hair, I get to share with you some of my funniest stories.


This icon makes your life easier by marking special hair-related tidbits throughout the book. These bits of information signal an activity that saves you time or useful knowledge born of experience.


Think danger! This icon warns you to tread carefully. Although nothing in this book puts the hair or scalp in mortal peril, this icon tells you to pay close attention to what you’re doing and how to avoid common pitfalls. Your health or hair could turn out worse for the wear if you don’t follow this advice.


I use this important icon to call out basic rules and information that you can file away for future reference whenever you encounter related situations.

Where to Go from Here

Like all For Dummies books, Haircutting For Dummies is divided into easy, manageable sections that allow you to start anywhere that addresses your needs or questions. Diving into the middle of the book works just as well as starting at the beginning. In a nutshell, how you read this book is up to you. You can go from front to back, back to front (a little more difficult, but still manageable), or start with the basics chapters and then head to a step-by-step haircut that strikes your fancy.

Now, here’s one final note before you dive in: Please remember that haircutting is a subjective art. My haircutting instructions represent just one approach to doing the fun haircutting designs in this book. After you become more skilled with haircutting, feel free to experiment with different approaches to these same styles. What you’re really doing is honing your personal style of cutting — something everyone needs to do in order to produce one-of-a-kind works of art.

Part I

Spreading Your Farrah Fawcett-Like Wings

In this part . . .

Want to get up close and personal with all the tools and communication skills needed to lift off? Here’s where you read about the basics and begin using them: bangs, bobs, and wedges are in your forecast. Ready to fly?