Everything You Need to Know on Wet Cuts vs. Dry Cuts

Published 25th Mar 2024 by Chlo Weldon

Following the resurgence of embracing natural texture, clients are becoming more brave when it comes to restyles. Which is why understanding your clients’ hair texture and hair type is important in order to determine the tools and techniques to use when they’re sitting in the chair. So, we went to the experts to find out everything you need to know on wet cuts vs. dry cuts.

Recognise Your Client’s Hair Type

First, it’s about identifying your client’s hair type. “The main thing that determines how I approach a haircut technique and the tools to use, depends on the density of the hair,” says Luca Jones, at Kitch. “Do I need to trick the eye with clever layers building up the weight to create width, or do I need to strengthen the ends by creating blunt edges, a mixture of both, or shatter the ends to reduce weight and add texture?”

Which is why, a thorough consultation is key to finding out exactly what your clients are after. “The amount of choppy, blunt haircuts I have been asked to do because a client’s friend has recommended it to them, but after a few simple questions, you realise they actually want the opposite,” Luca tells us.

Suitability For The Client

When a client comes in for a cutting-edge restyle, it all falls back to them and their hair. Inspiration pictures will only get you so far – it’s the suitability for the client that you also need to focus on. “Never think you can use the same technique on the same styles on every client; everyone’s hair lines are different, and the texture is different,” says Robert Kirby, Robert Kirby London. “Always check head shapes and ask if the hair will sit with too much graduation. When cutting bobs, everyone’s head shapes are different, people have one ear higher than the other which will change the direction you cut the hair. Take at least five minutes checking these things before you start and once you master these things, you will master your craft.”

“What we have to remember is that every client is unique, so every client we encounter is going to build our expertise, intuition, knowledge, and understanding,” Maria Grazia of Maria Grazia, Bedford tells us. “Which technique you use, whether it’s a sectioning technique, or a cutting technique, will depend largely on the suitability for the client, and also if it’s a realistic approach for when they style it themselves, maintenance, how often they have to return to the salon, and the investment.”

It’s All About The Technique

Over the years, there has been much debate over whether a dry cut or a wet cut is best. But what do the experts think? “I find working on short hair is best cutting on dry, clean hair, as you can see how the hair sits in its natural form,” says Robert. “Working using scissors-over-comb technique is best on dry hair.”

Yet Maria has always opted for cutting hair after it has been cleansed and treated, believing cutting on wet hair achieves the best results. “When you break haircuts down to its purest form, and techniques you learn along the way, all techniques begin life as a classic cut,” Maria says. “Precision hair cutting on wet hair is by far the best, especially for short and very short looks like a pixie cut. These styles need to be wet throughout the cutting process as it’s so close to the head and we are following the curvature of the head. Whilst the hair is wet, you can see how the hair moves naturally and properly assess the hair growth pattern as well as map out the technique you want to use.”

Make The Cut

“My favourite haircuts to cut when the hair is dry are mullets,” says Luca. “I put the basic shape in or just cut the sides, then wash and dry before I cut the rest. This way you can ensure the weight distribution and texture are all blending together. I love the challenge of connecting such short sides with the extreme length without any harsh lines.”

But for curly hair, recognising texture is key in order to not break the curl. “Curly hair has so much texture already that the razor or point cutting can just create frizz,” Luca tells us. “The easiest way to find this out is to simply ask your client if they have ever had it cut or thinned. The more curls you work with and ask these types of questions, the quicker your understanding of which different textures work with which tools.”

Furthermore, when working on Afro textured hair, a dry cut technique allows you to build shape. “I always cut on nearly dry hair, using a leave-in conditioner spray to keep some moisture,” says Robert. “I use a freehand cutting technique so I can see the shape building as I go along. When hair is wet, it sits so different to slightly dry hair and you can’t see the shape as you go along.”

But it’s about continually building that profile to make sure the client leaves the salon with the best possible outcome. “Cutting hair dry after it’s been cut wet is a lot of what I tend to do,” explains Maria. “When you begin to blow dry, you’ll notice what the hair will or won’t do. Take some weight out where it seems heavy, looking in the mirror at your client and how the hair complements their features. To be an expert at deciphering at what textures to use on fine, thick, curly, or unruly hair, you have to possess a good quality measure of vision.”

Chlo Weldon

Chlo Weldon

Published 25th Mar 2024

Chlo writes regular content for the print magazine and website, as well as scheduling the content for HJ’s social media channels. Chlo has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism and previously worked as Assistant Editor at craft magazine Tattered Lace. After moving to London from her small hometown to be part of the HJ team, she is loving every minute of being involved in the industry. She loves a good treatment and is on a mission for a longer and thicker mane.

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