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Hairdressing / Cutting Hair

Cutting Hair using Basic Techniques

Face Shapes

When choosing a suitable hairstyle it is important that your face shape is taken into consideration because remember; what suits one person may not suit another.

The face shape that a person has is an important factor in hairdressing as it can determine what hair cut or hair style will suit them most.
In knowing the shape of your face you can easily determine which features to enhance and which features to disguise. An appropriate style can then be found to best suit your face.

If you have a square face, for example, you should have a style which gives the impression that your face is more rounded than it is by softening those features that make it square.

Hair Growth Patterns

Everybody's hair grows in different ways, and direction can be a critical factor for the hairdresser when cutting. Hair can grow in an adverse direction to the clients desired hair style, and ignoring these hair growth patterns when cutting can cause significant problems.

For example: Cutting a cows lick too short may cause the hair to stick out. Cutting a strong crown or double crown too short may cause the hair to lie flat.

Partings are also taken into consideration when cutting.

For example: When cutting a one length bob the natural parting should be accommodated for otherwise the cut may seem too long, or short on one side.

Hair and Lifestyle

Every ones lifestyle varies in many different ways and is taken into consideration when offering a particular style to a client.

For example: If a client lives a very athletic lifestyle or regularly works in a dusty atmosphere and finds themselves washing their hair on a daily basis, a style which is both short and convenient to wash should be considered.

Hair Texture

Face shape, lifestyle and growth patterns are an important part of the elimination process when choosing an appropriate style. Hair texture is important for choosing the right style, but also the right technique.

For example: A client with fine, straight hair would not require thinning as this may prove pointless and cause the hair to become flyaway.

Three Basic Hair Cuts

One length (bob)

In its purist form it is cut completely on the outside shape / edge. Weight and fullness on the outside shape. The whole shape of the cut tends to look triangular. More width at the bottom edge than anywhere else.

Starting at the nape, take small sections from the hairline and cut a guideline. Using your guideline take small sections from the back and cut parallel to the guideline.

Starting on one side of the head, and using the previous guideline, take a small section from the hairline near the nape and cut a new guideline following on from the previous guideline. Using your new guideline take small sections from the side and cut parallel to the new guideline.

Do the same on the other side. Getting the client to move their head slightly from side to side and back and forward will show any signs of unevenness between each side.

A fringe can also be cut in the same way by cutting a guideline along the hairline at a suitable length.

Front, back and side view of a one length cut

Layered cut

The hair is cut all over the head at varying angles following a guide length, this creates a lot of inside shape or movement. Weight and fullness is evenly distributed. In its purest form the whole cut tends to look round and even.

Front, back and side view of a layered cut

Graduated cut

The hair is cut and held away from the outside edge, reducing weight and fullness on that edge and moving it to a higher line. In its purest form the whole haircut tends to have a diamond shape. Wider in the middle than anywhere else.

Front, back and side view of a graduated cut

Different Hair Cutting Techniques

Club Cutting

Sometimes referred to as blunt cutting and often used when cutting the sides and top of the hair. The section of hair is held out from the head and cut off at the points/tips.

Scissor and Clipper Over Comb

Scissor and clipper over comb is a hairdressing method using the comb as a guide for cutting in areas where the hair is too short for a finger guide, as in the nape area and around the ears.


Using the length of the outside line as a guide, the hair is held away from the head cutting away the bulk from the outside line.


With scissors or razor the hair can be thinned to either, increase volume at the root by reducing the weight or to soften the features of a style.


Freehand is not a technique but is used at the hairdressers discretion. For example using the features of the head as a guide the hairdresser could cut a straighter first guideline by cutting freehand.


The hair is cut to different lengths to produce a variety of different looks, short hair can be texturized to give a spiky look, long hair can be made to look ragged or less uniform and using a combination of long and short hair more fashionable looks can be achieved.

Hair Cutting Combinations

All of the techniques used by hairdressers can be used in conjunction with one another to gain the individual benefits of each of them. There are three main steps to be taken when cutting. Defining, shaping and finishing.

For example:

  • By using free hand and club cutting to create the outside line.
  • Graduating or scissors over comb to define the shape and weight of the style.
  • Thinning and texturising to gain texture and movement.

Hair Colouring

Style and colour do go hand in hand when trying to achieve an overall look. Although there are no hard and fast rules as to what colour with what style, other influencing factors must be taken into consideration.

For example: Occupation of client, clients natural colour, regrowth and so on.

Hair colouring does enhance a style, or detract the eye from the shape. A one length bob may look well defined with strong lines if black or dark shades are used. A light blond colouring for a layered or graduated style may soften the edges or help the style to blend. With the use of colour, combining different shades and tones, it is possible to achieve a more fashionable look on a style that may not be so fashionable.

Hair Perming

If a style is achieved when cutting, it may be possible to exaggerate the overall shape of that style with the use of perming. Hair perming creates more movement on the inside line and achieves a greater lift. If a client has naturally curly or wavy hair then this type of perm would be unnecessary.

Permanent straightening for people with naturally curly hair can be used prior to cutting to achieve sleeker, straighter styles.

When considering permanently waving or straightening the hair all influencing factors must be regarded.

For example: Regrowth, lifestyle, colouring, face shape and manageability.

Next Page: Hair Colour