A few months ago, I celebrated my fifteenth year as a hairstylist. As a reflected on my decade and a half in the beauty industry, I sat down and calculated how many haircuts I had performed in that time. I estimated that throughout my career, I averaged about 6,000 cuts per year. This means that I have performed in excess of 90,000 haircuts in my career. That’s a lot of hair!
I also reflected on what determines a great haircut. With nearly 100,000 haircuts to my credit, I can immediately tell if a haircut I had given “hit the mark” or fell short of my client’s (and my own) expectations. While a plain old “good” haircut is fairly common, truly exceptional haircuts are not. Nonetheless, there are definite characteristics which define an exceptional haircut.
As soon as the last snip of hair has been cut, it is obvious whether or not the cut is exceptional. With an exceptional cut, even without the benefit of blowdrying and styling, the shape is pleasing to the eye. If a haircut looks good when it is still wet, it will definitely look amazing when the hair has been dried and styled. With a great haircut, every hair seems to fall into place, making styling a snap. If you have to fight the hair when you are styling it, it is not a great haircut. Great haircuts seem to style themselves.
Another characteristic of a great haircut is that it tends to maximize a client’s good features while minimizing a client’s less-than-perfect features. With a good haircut, the hair itself is the focal point of the client’s overall look. Great haircuts, on the other hand, are much more than that. A client who receives a great haircut will not only be complimented on her hairstyle, but she will find that people will compliment her on her eyes, her cheekbones, her lips and other facial features that were “hidden” by a plain old haircut. A great haircut allows the facial features to become the focal point, not the hair. You see, hair is nothing more than a frame on a painting. The natural beauty of a client’s face is the actual painting. Just as one would not put the Mona Lisa into a gaudy and tacky frame, a stylist should not detract from a woman’s beauty by giving her a tacky and gaudy haircut. If you’ve ever been to an art museum, you will notice that great paintings have simple and understated frames. They need no embellishment.
Finally, a great haircut should still look as good and be as easy to style five or six weeks down the road as it is on the day it is given. If you find yourself rescheduling a hair appointment every few weeks, it might be that your hair grows unusually fast- or it could simply mean that you need to find a better hairstylist.