Cutting curls with a razor has its taboos and we have a tutorial by Brian Haire to show you the how's and whys. 

This video is from Matt Becks YouTube channel Free Salon Education. We're giving you guys the opportunity to top up your skills and learn something new totally free. This session was a live and the video is sponsored by minerva. It's a short haircut, playing with texture, which can be textured or structured in many ways. 

Section the hair first. 

Sectioning is always important to set yourself up for a good methodical approach to cutting hair. 

We're sectioning away the top from the bottom, running along the parietal ridge. Using this bone as a reference point, helps us divide the hair where it needs to sit. It's usually around the recession area and you can feel the bone using your hands. Around the back, we section a little lower, to avoid cowlicks and growth patterns that are commonly around the crown area. 

section the curly hair razor cut

Let's start cutting hair 

We're starting where most our haircuts begin their journey – in the back 

Brian is aiming for the haircut to be short in the back and the sides, hugging the head, leaving space for all the fun up top. This haircut can be tweaked lengthwise depending on hair type, sometimes if it's a finer hair types, we need more length to create a stronger shape. 

cutting curly hair with a razor

Grab your hair cutting razor 

Our tool of choice is the Tri-Razor This triple sided cutting tool is perfect for versatility in one haircut.  

Resting the knuckles in the nape of the neck, and kicking the fingers out, were using the 100% cutting edge to remove length. Brian swipes away hair starting in the middle to cut in his guide. Then using the travelling guide works outwards swiping away hair until it is all cut away in this section. This is a graduation in the neck as the angle is a 45°(ish)

 hair cut razor curly

Then we cut hair above the occipital bone 

Brian then works on the section above; we will be using the previous section as a guide. 

Brian begins in the middle again using the guide to where his knuckles will sit. The angle of the hair is 90° (ish) and this changes to an open layer. Brian is cutting with a Tri-Razor whilst curving out his hand and removing weight. 

cut hair at back razor curly

Cutting curls with a razor 

Curls look nice with tapered cut ends, not blocky blunt cuts, that's why razors are great for cutting curls. 

We often hear as hairdressers 'never cut curls with a razor’ and this information isn't entirely a rule. In fact, it's not, curls need to be freed up to move and kink. Weight pulls them flat, removing weight and adding texture give the space for the curls to move, that’s why razors are great. Now, it's the same principle when it comes to fine curls, as is with fine straight hair. If you go crazy with a razor, you will end up taking too much shape out of the hair, so be careful on fine hair types with a razor. 

I also find cutting with purpose helps. Aimlessly texturizing with a razor can sometimes take away shape, so I recommend, like Brian does, use the razor first to cut your basic shape, at the end personalize texture. That way you remove length first and take out texture later. 

curly hair razor cutting education tutorial

Layer the sides of the hair cut 

We're using open layers around the sides of the haircut. This terminology breakdown is explained in Matts new FSE digital hair cutting system 

If you don't already know – take a look. Getting clued up on terminology will help you understand the how and why of cutting hair. This system gives you 8 salon friendly looks with mixed cutting techniques and hair terminology to keep you in the know. It's all simply broken down for you and will benefit you in all hair related cutting classes, not only our education at FSE. 

cut sides curly hair razor

Tension and curly hair cutting 

Tension when cutting curly hair has to be approached differently to when we're cutting straighter hair types. 

When we pull straight hair out to cut, it will sit where it lives. With curls, and especially tighter curls, this is not the case. Curly hair springs back after it is stretched out, so we can be in danger of cutting it too short if we don’t consider the ''spring.'' Stronger tension = a shorter cut so look at where the hair lives and judge where you want it to fall before cutting. 

tension and cutting curly hair with razor

Cut the top of the hair 

Moving on up, we need to cut the top section now. Brian is working with a high graduation technique. 

First find the high point (apex) of the head and section horizontally across. Brian is continuing from the layering guide he cut below the crown. Everything is going to come straight out from the head with no weight lines. This will be a high graduation, as he is cutting not quite 90° it is more like 87°.

high point apex curly hair cutting

Use the previous section as a guide 

Check out Brians finger angle on the below image. You get a clearer visual of what we mean. 

The fingers are coming away from the head, this is what makes it a graduation. Also, clean up any tails left out, checking as you go along. Working with a razor, you can lose a little tension where the hair is held in the fingers nearer the knuckle, and when tension slips, we will create an un even effect. If that wasn’t what you wanted to create, pinch those tails and swipe away the ends. 

finger angle curly hair cutting razor

Cut hair in front of the apex 

This section is cut a little different to the previous, giving a new angle to the short curly razor cut. 

This hair is then going to be over-directed back to a stationary guide. This will give a short-long effect and retain the length around the face. We call this closed layer in Matt Becks FSE digital hair cutting system. How tapered you want the ends, depends on how deep you swipe with the razor. More texture = deeper swipes. Delicate texture = smaller swipes. We're using our 100% cutting side of the TriRazor. 

over directed curly hair cut razor

Break into the ends of the curls with the razor 

Brian then decides to add a little extra texture. He wants to free the curl and add a little drama to the look. 

Brian takes a horizontal section in the back and twists the hair leaving around 1-2'' of the ends hanging over the top of his fingers. He then holds the 100% cutting edge and the 25% and 50% edge will be cutting the hair. He flicks the corner of the razor through the ends back and forth to whittle away texture. This adds a lot of fun to cutting hair on guests. Working forwards, it is the stage where you decide to customize the look. 

razor texture curly hair

Now style the hair 

Work in some lavender mint curl refresh, because it puts the texture back in the hair after combing it out. 

Scrunch the hair into position and grab your diffuser. Brian expresses he does like to educate the guests to tip their head upside down and diffuse from the underneath. Push the curls with the diffuser towards the head and let the dryer do its magic. Tip the client back up, check around and tweak where you would like the hair to sit, and re-go in with a diffuser to set it in place. Hope you guys like the finished look! 

 style hair diffuser curly hair



November 10, 2021 — Evelyn Davies

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