Master the art of freehand cutting and you’ll see your skill level soar. Our Most Wanted 2022 Men’s Hair Specialist finalists share their top tips
A different way to approach cutting hair, freehand cutting gives more creative freedom when it comes to crafting the finished style for a client. A chance to finesse your work and perfect a look that is truly bespoke, it’s a key moment (often towards the end of an appointment) to add shape, definition and style when the hair is dry. As the hair is often dry, it gives you the opportunity to see the strands clearly and consider the natural texture of the hair ahead of any further cutting.
While it may sound simple enough, it’s a different way of working compared to the fundamental methods of cutting initially taught in training. It’s an art to master, especially if scissors are used without a comb, leaving one hand free to move the hair around. Fear not, we have five fabulous Most Wanted 2022 Men’s Hair Specialist finalists on hand to level up your freehand game. We caught up with them to hear their pearls of wisdom…
“I think freehand cutting is one of my favourite parts of a haircut, whether that’s with scissors or a razor,” says Charlie Cullen. “For me this is usually done at the end when we work on a haircut visually rather than technically. At this point it is less about partings or sectioning, and more about feel, vision and taste,” he adds. For Charlie, freehand cutting gives the chance to add your own unique touch and a put a stamp on a haircut. “You can really tailor those small details to make it more suitable for the individual you’re working on.”
For Jody Taylor, freehand cutting is all about being visual. “It’s not cutting hair because it’s a cool technique to do and looks fancy in front of a client,” he says. “It’s understanding what the technique does and how and when to utilise it.”
Similarly, George Smith is a firm believer that the fundamental of freehand cutting comes down to the shape you wish to create. “When you’re freehand cutting men’s hair, you need to forget most of what you have been taught in the past,” he states. “Don’t be scared to leave the length in areas. Just because a client has come in for a haircut doesn’t mean every strand needs to be cut. If they have asked for a certain style and that means leaving the length in the nape or on the sides, then do exactly that.”
Likewise, Pete Cranfield agrees that the technique is best used for tailoring a look to the needs of a client. “It’s a big part of cutting men’s hair for me, because it allows me to fully take into account head-shape, imperfections, and growth patterns,” he says. “I can have a vision of a finished look in my mind, then remove any excess hair using freehand techniques.”
When it comes to the cutting itself, Chris Foster highlights the importance of combing the hair out frequently. “This will ensure that you are cutting at the correct length. I also recommend using a larger scissor than you would for smaller sections,” he says. “This will allow the scissor blade to do most of the work, without your hand getting in the way of the hair.” Once you have established a strong guideline, Chris says to work on either side of the guideline to create a balanced shape. “Remember, practice makes perfect! With a little patience and some trial and error, you’ll be cutting hair like a pro in no time.”
On the topic of tools, Charlie has several he’ll call upon when freehand cutting. “I usually work on a razor freehand for longer, softer shapes with fringes and softer perimeter areas,” he mentions. “I’m also a huge advocate for using thinning scissors vertically on soft hairlines at the nape.”
It’s also worthwhile having a cordless clipper on standby to perfect your look. “The BaByliss Cordless Super Motor Clipper is my go-to tool,” says Pete. “To me, barbering is about being creative and providing our clients with a look they want, but which is also achievable and can be styled over and over at home. Freehand cutting allows me to give this.”
Who will be crowned this year’s Most Wanted Men’s Hair Specialist? For all the live updates from the Grand Final on 5 September, follow us on Instagram @creativeheadmag.