Haircut King shares the three techniques of barbers
The scissors fly and the hair falls - those are the obvious basics, but there are more complexities to cutting hair, Steve Woodham said.
"I'm a musician - it's really all I ever wanted to do," Woodham said. "I became a barber so I'd be able to make a living while I wait for my big break in the music business. It's been 30 years, and I'm still waiting, but I've learned a lot about hair."
Woodham has owned and operated The Haircut King, a Prescott Valley barbershop, for the past two years. Though Woodham has many regular customers at his shop, he said he realizes that not everyone is able to make it into the barbershop on a regular basis.
"It's obvious - some mothers with four, five kids aren't going to go into the barbershop and drop $70, $80 every month," Woodham said. "A lot of people will just go to Kmart and buy some scissors and clippers. That's why I decided to write the book, 'Cut Hair at Home Like a Pro' - and it's been very popular."
Woodham said that there are three basic methods to cutting hair, and that all haircuts contain one of them, or some combination. These methods are trimming, layering and using clippers.
"The trim is basically cutting length off, or outlining the hair," Woodham said. "It's sometimes all you need with bangs, or even-length straight hair. You need really sharp scissors to make sure you can an even cut."
Woodham suggested trying to cut a hanging piece of string - hanging limp, not taut - to see if the scissors are sharp enough for a good trim.
"The second method is layering, where you pick up the hair in sections and cut pieces off," Woodham said. "With the trim, it's cutting length but with layering, it's cutting bulk. It's also called 'feathering,' because if you comb the hair back you can see feather lines."
The final method Woodham talked about involved the use of electric clippers. He said that some haircuts involve only the clippers, and that customers with buzz cuts will sometimes ask for a specific clipper cut based on the number of the clipper attachment they prefer.
"The secret to a good clipper cut is to go against the grain of the hair with the rake," Woodham said, explaining that the rake is a name for the clipper attachment that helps channel the hair into the blades. "Another is to go over it continuously, from a lot of different directions."
The majority of haircuts will require some combination of those methods, Woodham reiterated. Though knowing those three methods would familiarize a would-be barber with the basics of performing a haircut, Woodham said that it takes time to become truly proficient with haircutting.
"There's definitely an art to it, and that's timeless. The styles may change over the years, but those tools will always be the ones you use," Woodham said. "I like to tell people that a barber's job has more pressure than a chef's, because if they screw up, they can always throw another burger on. It's not as stressful as a brain surgeon's, of course. Hair usually grows back."
For more information go to www.cuthairathome.com, Woodham's personal haircut information website.