Posts Tagged ‘razor’

Take a Hair Razor to Those Curls

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, August 8th, 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.

Antonio Gonzales: Let’s Bring in the Big Boys!

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, August 23rd, 2010

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.

Here’s my second installment of tools you can’t live without.

You can read the first instalment here.

The Flat Iron

When I use a flat iron I want a professional tool that consistently delivers quality results. After using many irons over the past 15 years, I’ve seen versions in all shapes and sizes. Here is a list of qualities I look for in a flatiron:

1. Variable heat. The ideal iron achieves a consistent level of heat at various temperatures.

2. Quality ceramic plate. The plate has to be all ceramic; this helps protect the client’s hair without chipping or flaking after a period of use.

3. Longevity. I need a flat iron capable of standing up to a bridal party of nine, providing the styling power to deliver straight hair, bouncy or loose spiral waves, and anything else I need to get quick results under pressure.

4. A warranty. After spending a considerable amount of cash on a top-of-the-line model, this is an absolute must.

Can a flat iron actually meet all my requirements? Oh yes, baby! The T3 Single Pass and the T3 Mane Tamer are two models that offer that and so much more. Here’s the breakdown.

For both models, the plate is made of baked tourmaline ceramic for cuticle-sealing power that keeps frizz away longer. If you’re not familiar with tourmaline, it is often referred to as “the electric stone” for its ability to emit ions and infrared heat. The plate also offers a snag-free glide with the ability to be extremely creative in delivering a wide range of styles.

As for the heat, both irons achieve 450 degrees with adjustable heating. I also use one or the other when performing my keratin treatments, and both deliver the perfect finish.

Extras: An added bonus is that T3 also offers a nine-foot cord (making it super-easy to move around the client), a heat-resistant mat, and a two-year warranty. To top it off, the line also utilizes world voltage, so if you travel like I do, you’ll avoid blowing fuses in any number of exotic locales around the globe.

The biggest difference between the two T3 flatirons is that while the Mane Tamer can be used on wet or dry hair, the Single Pass is only appropriate on dry. Both irons, however, are professional. Though please remember that the various heat levels should be employed when using. In other words, be careful with any hot tool; be sure you’re using it correctly and safely.

Iron-Styled Hair

The Curling Iron

I have a friend who’s been by my side for a long time. She’s been with me from the beginning until now, and has seen me sweat, laugh and cry. This friend—although she’s not one of the big names—certainly holds her place in my kit. Her name is Hot Tools. I have other curling irons, too, but this baby is my go-to iron for all hair types and lengths. I prefer a Marcel iron rather than those with the spring clip… I’m a bit old-school, I guess, and love the sound my Marcel makes: clang, clang, clang. They have since improved the materials and now use tourmaline, ceramic and ionic, but my good old “Gold Hot Tool” curling iron still delivers and gets the job done. If you’re on a budget and want a curling iron that really performs, then this is the one you should choose.

The Razor

For the past 10 years I’ve been using the Feather razor, and my techniques have changed from razoring only wet hair to now razoring dry as well. I have used many different razors, and the Artist Club DX is easily the best i have used. Here’s why:

Razor

1. The fit. When you hold this razor, the first thing you notice is the way it fits in your hand. No matter your hand’s size, it fits very comfortably, all due to the material and design. The exotic tropical teak-wood handle and solid stainless steel blade with a satin finish make this razor a beauty. It does not matter if you’re cutting with the tip or the middle of the blade, this tool is designed to open and close easily. Also, if you’re doing a dry cut, creating soft long layers or a blunt bob, it will always deliver consistent results.

2. The weight. Due to the considerable weight of this tool, it actually takes away the pressure from the wrist by adding a bit of a push without being too aggressive to the hair. It’s about allowing the weight of the razor to work for you … adding weight to the blade the user gently cuts the hair. In other words, if you’re using a lighter model, it can make for a “not so perfect haircut,” caused by over-cutting from too much pressure from the hand.

3. The blade. The blade is designed with a very fine edge that consistently delivers a great cut until it needs replacing, which is a very simple process. There are several different blades to choose from. I recommend using the Feather Pro Guard blades, which come 15 per pack. Another aspect that sets this tool apart is the length of the blade itself: It’s a bit shorter than most I’ve used in the past. The shorter blade gives better cutting manageability. Keep in mind that this instrument is made to give an excellent shave on skin, so on hair it’s very gentle when used correctly. Another advantage is how easy it is to clean this tool; the blade holder can be completely disassembled for cleaning.

Can you Comb This?

The Comb

This is the unsung hero tool of our industry. Without combs, well . . . our fingers just wouldn’t be enough! When looking for a great comb, here are three brands that I’ve come to respect, and highly recommend.

Matsuzaki: On wet hair, I generally use the this brand of combs that come in five different sizes. My two favorite of the five are the YS 334 and the YS 337. These Japanese creations are light and easy to hold. They are also heat-resistant (when using irons, etc.). As a matter of fact, I was referred to this brand way back when I was a student at Vidal Sassoon, and I still love it years later.

Cricket: When I’m working on the perimeter of my bob cuts (wet or dry), I use Cricket’s Silk combs Pro-20 and Pro-25. Because of the sizes here are a little bigger, they allow for some movement of the hair between the teeth of the comb. They come in seven different sizes, so if you have a full set, you can change combs depending on the hair thickness and the type of cut you’re performing at the moment.

Beuty Pro: These combs are the best for dry cuts, especially on thick hair. They allow you to comb through the hair easily, as these models really glide through the hair. The wide teeth separate the hair, allowing you to easily get to the thicker areas (as you comb) to remove bulk. They’re also static-free and very strong.

I look forward to addressing more of my favorite tools in future articles. Stay tuned in for my next article, in which I’ll discuss soliciting client feedback.

The Shears Can Make or Break The Cut

by Megan Dorcey on Monday, August 9th, 2010

I have heard it all  from stylists about what you should and should not do when cutting curly hair, which got me thinking: What is the difference between shears and how they shape your hair?

Haircut

The right shears for the job

For more information about this, I went straight to my local curly expert, Ron Valdez at Estilo Valdez Salon in Austin, TX.  There are so many different types of shears on the market, each claiming that it is one and only tool you will need.  Ron Valdez sings a different tune, “I cycle through six pairs of sheers.  You can’t tell which you will need to use until you cut down into the curly hair.  Every head of hair is different, so it responds differently to each pair of scissors.”

How can you tell when you’re using the right pair or scissors?  Valdez offers some advice, “Start off with one pair and (it) may change throughout the head.  One pair won’t always cut it.  When you close the shear and it glides through the hair and doesn’t push it out, that is the right type of shear for that hair.”

Not surprisingly, there are many types of haircutting scissors available on the market, including: barber shears, thinning shears, styling shears, tempered shears, left-handed shears and more.

One glance at these scissors will tell you just how different they are from each other. Each is designed to perform a specific task—some are used to create subtle effects while others are perfect for basic haircuts.

What Type of Shear is Best for You?

You have some choices to make before you select the right pair of scissors. Of course, you’ll also want to shop around for the best prices.

Type of Blades

Beveled blades feature one serrated edge and are ideal for layered cuts, tapered cuts and the “scissor over the comb” method.

Convex blades are razor sharp and promise a clean, smooth, flawless cut. They are ideal for slide cutting.

Type of Handles

Opposing grips feature handles of the same length that are symmetrical to the center screw. It is perfect for individuals who cut with the thumb and middle finger.
Offset grips feature a short thumb handle and a longer finger handle. This allows natural, fluid movement and is ideal for individuals who cut with the thumb and ring finger.
Crane grips feature a long finger handle and an angled thumb. This ensures less strain on the wrist and shoulder and allows a freer, open cut.

Types of Thumb Grips

Standard thumb scissors feature a removable and reversible finger resting piece that can be attached to either the left or right. This allows individuals greater versatility (with left and right hand use.

Cutaway thumb scissors do not feature the reversible finger resting piece, but does provide exceptional comfort.

Anatomic thumb scissors allow for greater radial movement due to its curved design. Thus it provides more freedom of movement for the stylist.

Rotating thumb scissors are a new advancement in the haircutting industry. They reduce hand and wrist strain and feature an open-hand grip design, which reduces thumb “travel” and creates a more comfortable experience for the stylist.

Length of Blade

Haircut

You can only use one at a time, but switch if you need to.

Choosing the blade length is really a matter of comfort and preferred styling methods. You will find you probably need to utilize several different types of scissors, but your hand should feel comfortable no matter what size it is.

Short blades are useful for detailed touchups, such as cutting around the ears or very close to the skin. This type of blade is recommended for all stylists; chances are it will be used frequently for more intricate cutting. The blade should be no longer than 5.5 inches.

Long blades are ideal for cutting thick hair, slide cutting, scissor over comb methods, and bobs, to name a few.

Some other features that stylists may choose to focus on include the production material of the shears, the method of production of the shears and the tension system the shears provide.

So how can you get hands-on experience using various shears with different curl patterns?  The new stylists at Estilio Valdez ask their curly friends to come in for a cut, and Valdez even puts an ad on Craigslist for all types of curls to receive a free cut while the stylists are learning how to shape and style curls correctly.

The best advice Ron could give me was, “It’s a craft and just like any other craft, you will master it over time.”

Antonio’s View: On the Razor’s Edge

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, March 8th, 2010

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.

As we all know (hairstylists and clients alike), the razor has been given a bad name, especially for curly hair. I am here to say that it is not the razor, rather the person using the razor. The razor is a tool from the heavens, literally. Its ability to be so gentle and precise on curly hair surpasses scissors with results that leave curls speechless.

Here are four important topics covering the do’s and don’ts to help you better understand this amazing tool.

1. The type of razor

The Feather Razor
I recommend not using a Feather Razor on curly hair. This razor comes with a guard, which limits the use of the blade. The guard is for us not to cut ourselves or the client, but it takes away from the magic of the razor and is far more aggressive. If you see someone using this razor, you can witness its scalping action. Yes, some of us are strong with this tool but with a lot of practice we take it one step further and use a Classic Razor.

The Straight Classic Razor
Now this baby is what I’m talking about. The difference is like cutting top sirloin with a good steak knife versus a butter knife. This razor can be used with such precision that a haircut can maintain its shape and last long. There are so many parts to that single blade—I can twist my wrist and get results that no other cutting tool can give me. I cannot only remove bulk with this, but I can also create amazing lines for length that’s soft without being shredded.

However, there are times when a pair of scissors is called to do the job. That’s when we professionals decide what’s best for the hair type and the look we are trying to achieve.

2. Thinning Shears

This tool is good for finishing a man’s haircut (very final step), not for curly hair. It’s the number one mistake that makes curly hair weak and lose its shape quickly. Because it goes deep into the hair, it is targeting the structure in a line across the section of hair. Keep in mind that curly hair needs to have a foundation in order for it to move like real hair and grow out well.

3. Razor on Wet Hair

Yes, this can be done. When it’s done the focus is on the size of sections, sectioning, texture and hair type. Remember, when hair is wet it stretches and is extremely vulnerable to over cutting. This is also when the Classic Razor is the client’s best friend allowing the stylist to have full control and cut the hair without aggression.

4. Razor Cutting on Dry Hair

This is where serious cutting skills come in. My boss and mentor, Orlando Pita, recently taught me to approach a Classic Razor cut on dry hair when the hair is blow-dried smooth. I’d never seen this done before and I’m grateful to have learned from one of the hair masters. When cutting curly hair that is blown out, the focus is on whether the client is wearing his or her hair straight only or straight and curly, as well their ability to master the styling themselves.

Start doing your research for a hairstylist that’s strong with the classic straight razor and go in for a consultation. As you can see, there are many ways to approach cutting curly hair wrong and right. So it’s about you the client finding a hairstylist (referral preferably) to cut your curly hair.

I wish you beautifully razor cut curly hair!

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