Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fundamentals of haircutting Parting the hair

In haircutting I am looking for the fundamentals of making a haircut. In reviewing DVDs of haircuts and looking back on notes about haircuts it seems they are mostly about the geography of dividing the hair into larger and smaller sections. Large sections or panels are subdivided to small packets of hair which can then be cut to give final shape to the haircut.

In all of these, it seems that the fundamentals of haircutting are assumed to be known. It is like they are teaching algebra and expect one to already know how to do the basics of arithmetic. The emphasis on the DVDs and classes is to concentrate on how to achieve a design.

Parting the hair is a fundamental. It should be precise in location, content, and direction. This is demonstrated in most of the teaching I have received. I don't always find narrative on the parting technique.

Location of the part is where exactly on the head the part is placed. A factor in where the part will be placed is how much hair is to be included in the new section. This content should be chosen with several ideas in mind. The first is the desired result of the cut in the new section. Some results will require a thin consistent section where the part is easily seen and uniformity of the cut is a priority. Others may want a wide section in order to develop longer length of the hair at the front, middle or back of the section( this could also be seen as developing length or shortness at the top, middle, or bottom of the section).

Direction of the part will be determined by how much weight the cut line will carry. For example an up and down vertical part will carry less weight in its cut line than a horizontal cut line. In cutting up and down sections, only some of the hair will be in the cut line. In horizontal lines cut at a single length all the hair will fall to the same line making it weightier.

Another point about the direction of the part is how this part will be used to determine the cut line. In some instances, the cut line will be parallel to the part line.

A consistency in parting will allow all parts aimed at the same goal to be the same size, and to be pulled with the same direction, over-direction, or elevation. They will be developed with a technique in which the guideline is easily determined by the same method again and again. For example in an earlier post, I wrote about a stylist who used the method of gripping the section in her first two fingers with her palm facing her and the back of her hand close to the head. She would take the hair close to the scalp and hold it while she combed the uncut hair in the section away from the cut hair. This allowed her to see the guideline. She then pulled the fingers away from the head watching the guideline or cut line until it was where she wanted it relative to where she would cut. The uncut hair was then released from the comb and she could cut with confidence.

Under the fundamentals of parting, a crucial point is that the parting leads to a section in which the guideline can be seen. In my experience the majority of errors I have made have concerned not seeing the guideline clearly. Frustration has led me to impulsively cut assuming I was close enough. The result was a haircut with a lopsided style where one section was longer or shorter and the following sections contained the same problem. Occasionally when not able to find the guide I would measure the original guide length on the comb and then try to transfer this measurement to the section where I could not find the guide. This was an attempt to get around the problem of not seeing the guide. Unfortunately it did not lead to an improved parting technique which would let me see the guide consistently.

A number of teachers have emphasized the need for "clean parts." This meant that the part was made with a line that clearly included some hair and clearly excluded other hair. If at some points along the part you cannot tell if strands of hair are in the section or out of it, don't be satisfied with this part. Redo this part until the inclusion/exclusion boundaries are clear. If you cannot make clean parts you will not be able to repeat the parting technique. You will not be able make the content of the sections consistent with your goals. You will not be able to determine the direction of your part. You will not have a consistent guide from section to section. You will not have consistent over-direction, direction, nor elevation.

Cross checking is a way of checking on your parting technique. Cross checking can be done by going back to the cut hair and sectioning in the opposite way from the way it was cut. A panel in which the hair was cut in vertical sections would be checked by dividing the panel into horizontal sections and seeing if the lines are even. This can correct some problems, but it the cross checking is way off, the section should be redone. My understanding of this is that the guide was not followed closely enough to make a good consistent cut that could stand the test of cross checking.


1 Parting is a fundamental of haircutting

2 Partings must be clean

3 Partings must be repeatable consistently

4 Partings must be done in a way that allows for a consistent determining/seeing of the guide

5 Partings are done with other specific goals that determine size, content and direction

6 Partings are checked for good technique by cross checking the cut hair. This can correct some errors.

7 Parting errors can also be corrected with a recutting of the section

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