To dry or not to dry?

Think dry cutting is a lost art form? Think again!
It’s coming back in a big way and with it dry styling. Here, stylists make the case for why you should train in dry…


Dry cutting is less damaging to the hair. “Cutting dry hair allows you to create the shape and texturise at the same time, as you are working with the natural fall of the hair,” says Hayley Gibson-Forbes, director of Berkshire’s SJ Forbes.

Dry cutting works best when freehand cutting on curly hair. “Very short scissor-over-comb work and point cutting is the best technique for curly hair,” say Sharon Peake and Adam Bryant, from Manchester’s Ethos Hairdressing. “However, we never do a whole dry cut without shampooing the hair first. With curly hair, if the client arrives with their hair in a natural state and how it is usually worn, we can freehand cut to work with the curls, then shampoo and traditionally cut.”

Cutting short hair dry means you can see results close-up on fades and tapers. “Being able to see the end result as you’re shaping the hair helps you achieve the overall look,” says Gary Taylor, owner of Edward & Co in West Yorkshire.

It suits those who are nervous about having their hair cut. “Dry cutting allows you to work with the client to ensure they feel comfortable with the changes that you would like to make to enhance their hair,” says Ashley Gamble, owner of Ashley Gamble Hair in Shropshire. “It allows you to mould the hair into the perfect shape.”

Dry cutting is great to add texture and remove weight from the hair. “I always ensure the hair has been dried properly first, so I can see how it sits, and then dry cut to add texture and remove weight,” says Megan Deigan, designer stylist at Rainbow Room International in Bearsden. “Dry cutting is great for refining fringes, bob baselines and hairlines.”

Dry cutting is a must for Afro and men’s hair. “You have more control over the hair, as when it is dry there is more tension with the hair through a comb and you can see clearly where the hair aligns,” says Chris Merrick, salon manager at Blue Tit Clapton. “Cutting dry allows you to see the overall finished shape a lot better than when the hair is wet, which can be refined as you go. This is key to all great Afro and buzz cut styles.”

Hair changes as you dry. “You will also find that some clients’ hair can dry differently to the shape you have cut in wet, based on their head shape and hair growth patterns, so dry is always best,” adds Blue Tit’s Chris.


It is a great time saver. “You don’t have to spend valuable time on washing and blow-drying the hair and this can result in the client spending more time and money the next time they book. Dry styling is also a great way to fill empty appointment spots,” says SJ Forbes’ Hayley. 

It’s a money-maker. “Dry styling has been a big driver in getting clients through our doors in our new salon in Bristol. We introduced a blow-dry bar and, as there is no backwash experience, the product costs are kept lower, increasing the profit margin, says Joe Hemmings owner of Bloggs Salons in Bristol.

You can see the final shape in its natural form and style accordingly. “This works well with updos and Afros. Dry styling also allows you to decide on a particular product as hair texture can change through the transition of wet to dry,” says Blue Tit’s Chris.

For updos, it has to be dry (not washed and blow-dried at the salon). “For hair-up I’d always suggest styling dry hair, but I tell my clients to wash their hair the night before,” says Edward & Co’s Gary. “The hold is always stronger and shorter hairstyles hold better when using the right styling products.”

It builds confidence in juniors on the salon floor.  “We have very successfully used dry styling to help promote confidence in our junior stylists, as well as work on their time keeping,” says Bloggs’ Joe. “One of the first areas of training we put apprentices through is blow-drying and styling, and as braids are still big news and quick to do, we can have a couple members of the junior team doing this on a Saturday all day. This keeps profit margins higher as the more experienced team members are looking after higher-priced services.

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