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Take a Hair Razor to Those Curls

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, August 8, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’s.com, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

See Antonio’s blog here.

I am excited to address this topic because I know that there seems to be a rule forbidding us to use a hair razor on curls, but as hairstylists, the one thing we know is true, is that rules are broken all the time!

First, let me remind you of two things:

1. Creative people should never limit themselves by convention.
2. Creative people should never be lemmings.

Countless articles and videos featuring hairstylists swearing the razor should never be used on curly hair, wet (or dry) are boring and just plain wrong.

I have seen so many hairstylists in salons do incredible work on curly hair delivering happy clients and flawless results. So let’s blow away (pun intended) any negative myths about the hair razor now.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met many clients who have had very bad experiences with the razor, and I really felt their pain. But I have also met many with destroyed hair from highlights. Perhaps it is the hairstylist and not the tool or product that creates a bad look.

Why Use a Hair Razor?

Individuality is the most important asset any woman possesses, and curly hair can be her crowning glory. It’s an amazing canvas to work with and each head should be treated with individuality in mind. You have the amazing ability to make her feel like the best version of herself. So, what a pity it is to only consider using one tool to cut her curly hair.

Hair Razors From the Past

Scissors haven’t always been the only game in town! At the beginning of my career, I was taught to use the feather razor. You know, the one with the guard?

I remember thinking I had discovered the moon with this tool, but was petrified by it. Years later, I can say the only time I use this razor is to rid the neck of fine hairs.

Since then, they have created similar razors to the feather, some with a built in comb and some made from heavier materials. Today, you couldn’t pay me enough money to use the feather razor or any heavy tool to cut hair.

What Razor Should You Use?

It makes all the difference in the world to use the right razor, not only for the right hair type but the right one for you as an artist.

The wooden handle straight blade is what I use on a daily basis. This razor is also what is used to shave the face – it’s that sharp! I get mine from Classicshaving.com. They are great supporters of hairstylists with great service.

It does not have a guard, which allows for easy movement on the hair shaft with ultimate creativity.

Feather razors have a guard in place to prevent cutting yourself, but it also limits your creativity and it’s almost impossible to not have the scraping effect. It also limits the way you cut hair because you don’t have use of the full razor blade. For me, it’s like having scissors, but only being able to use one blade.

What Can a Razor Do That Others Can’t?

With scissors we can slide cut, point cut and all the other techniques. If we are in a hurry, we can take thinning shears, but neither of these tools can do what a hair razor can.

On curly hair, the straight razor is the most delicate haircutting tool you will ever use. It’s precise, gentle touch on the hair allows you to create layers, remove bulk and build graduation without blunt edges like the scissors. But, like anything else in life, everything in moderation!

The only razor I use on my clients is the straight razor by Creative Razors. A practice of mine is to never use the razor on the same client cut after cut. If it’s a client that comes three times a year, then I say go for it. Otherwise, I use scissors in between to touch up the haircut.

I feel the hair does not grow fast enough to warranty razor cut after razor cut. It’s important to leave the hair with some density for the client to manage. For us, it’s easy to blow-dry any cut, but for the client it can be difficult to manage the wispy ends.

When Not to Use a Razor

Like any other tool, this has to be used in the hands of someone who knows how to use them. It’s important to let common sense guide you in knowing when the razor is too aggressive.

Ego is another thing to be aware of when using the razor. Always keep in mind that it’s not your hair and your client is by no means a hairstylist.

I’ve seen hairstylists talk clients into a razor cut even when the client pleads with them not to. If the client is panicking, it’s a sure enough sign you should put the razor down and pick up the scissors.

Know When to Put it Down

Extremely fine hair should not be cut with the razor, and if you have a client that wants a more classic hair style and says, “I like my hair heavy without too many layers,” then that’s your cue to put down the darn razor!

If you don’t know how to use the razor, then find out where you can go and get the needed education. Once this talent is acquired, you will become a versatile, effective stylist.

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Begin having frequent staff meetings and collaborate on business building techniques used by others that you work with. Every salon has success right inside. Get the top booker to explain how they do it. Pair the weakest with the strongest and let them work next to each other. They can learn from what they hear and see. Do the same with retail sales. Share the ways that the top stay on top.

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