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Wet vs dry haircutting

April 14, 2022

Let's really start off by saying this, every hairstylist has their preferences on how they like to cut hair, but not all know the benefits on how much of a better haircut they could get either wet or dry. To say that you should cut all hair dry is incorrect or to say all hair should be cut wet is incorrect too, But are some haircutting techniques or steps in the haircut better to cut only wet or dry.. yes! We will explain those examples for you today.

Into into the start of a service

Wet hair vs. Dry cutting hair which is better? Some people may wonder if there's a definite winner between the two. When visiting a hair salon for a haircut you would normally expect this process..

First the stylist will sit down and discuss with you what your goals are for your haircut. From a professional standpoint a consultation should always be done while the client's hair is dry so you can see the real state of the hair and all the split ends. together you should discuss how much should come off and how much your customer actually wants to take off.

No hairstylist should take you straight to the basin first unless you are a regular and they know your hair quite well.

By giving your hair a good wash before a haircut you are essentially prepping the hair and making sure all those dents from any hair lackeys or hat marks in the hair are washed and smoothed out. Also by having freshly washed hair is of coarse ideal for the blow-dry at the end of the haircut

Pro's and Con's to Wet Cutting

There are a lot of benefits to cutting hair wet but we will also discuss some downfalls of cutting the whole haircut wet. Cutting wet hair is a basic principle you learnt at your hairdressing academy but lets understand together some real on floor experience that some hairstylist's have found.

  • Overall if you're wanting to cut a haircut with precise lines they cutting hair wet will help you achieve that beautifully.
  • When blunt cutting the baseline you will find that cutting this wet will give you a cleaner and more precise haircut. Rather than cutting the hair dry which can create steps in the baseline or harsh edges that are less neat.
  • Razor cutting is best with a wet cut so it glides perfectly into shape and wont pull the hair.
  • You can't see any split ends when the client has wet hair, but if the hair is damaged enough you can feel them and see the elasticity of the hair. With saying that you will never see all the split ends while the hair is wet.
  • You can't soften the hair as seamlessly as you can when taking weight out when it's dry.
  • The hair shrinks when it dries, so sometimes you realize you have cut a fringe too short or the hair too short once you dry it.
  • You can't gauge how the hair naturally falls when the hair is wet because the hair is weighed down by water.

Pro's and Con's to Dry Cutting

Dry cutting may not work as all cutting techniques but here are some Pros and Cons for cutting dry hair. Dry cutting can be so wonderful in many ways but you find some hairdresser may not be and confident with dry cutting, hopefully here are some tips and trick or some do's and don'ts to help you along the way

  • When finishing off a haircut, going over the haircut dry and blending, feathering or chipping into the ends is a perfect way to blend your haircut. Please make sure this is after the hair is completely dried off or blow-dried
  • If a client asks for a trim and all they really need is a trim, cutting the hair dry is the best way to see all the split ends. with these clients I would only cut dry and not wet, but it's really personal preference.
  • If your client has wavy or curly hair then cutting their hair dry (after washing it and drying it off) is the best way to cut the best shape into their hair by being able to see how a curl naturally sits dry before cutting the curl. Many hairdressers that specialize in curly haircuts prefer to cut the hair when it’s dry rather than wet.
  • Thinning scissors leaves no line marks when thinning the hair while dry and you can also see the correct amount of hair or weight being taken out.
  • While cutting thick hair its harder to get precise lines, especially when cutting the base line when dry cutting
  • Not able to stretch the hair out as much while cutting dry hair.

Although it may seem like that cutting the hair Dry is a clear winner from the Pros' and Cons we would say that looks may be deceiving on this one and we will tell you why. We think that when starting off a wet haircut you can get those precise lines and shape that you can get with dry cutting. For example if you are doing a complete re-styled and cutting in layer etc., then cutting in the shape when cutting wet hair is much easier and neater. once you have got the shape that when you blow-dry the hair. All haircuts should always be finished off with some softening like point cutting the end, using your thinning scissors, framing the face, cutting the fringe and this should be done dry cutting.

With all that said, naturally curly or waved hair is recommended by hair stylists that specialize in cutting these hair types. Cutting the hair from start to finish is better cut dry.

What to consider when determining a wet cutting or dry cutting?

Firstly you need to ask yourselfBased on my clients hair texture,what is the best way to cut their hair.. For example if you have a client with fine hair then we would say cutting their hair freshly washed and dry cutting would be the best way to work with fine hair. Thick hair may be best to cut wet and then the bulk or thickness to be taken out when dry.

If you want to keep or work with curly and wavy hair formation then this is better to be seen when dry and freshly washed. If you're a barber cutting men's hair then this comes down to personal preference. If you are a hairstylist that has a customer that comes in wanting a blunt bob or a complete re-style then it may be best to cut the bulk then wet cutting is best to get those sharp crisp lines and then to soften your work at the end once it's blow-dried. So these two examples would beBased on your hairstyle.

The last important bit of information you may need to know from your consultation isHow your client normally styles their hair. If your client normally likes to sleek and straight with their hair and wears it up quite often. Sharp precise lines from cutting the hair wet would be best for this client and maybe some minimal softening at the end by point cutting the baseline. However if you have a client you prefer to wear their hair out and natural quite often then cutting their hair dry would best enhance those curls to ensure it sits perfectly while wearing it naturally for them.

These decisions come down to experience and not a decision to make while learning. The reason it's not a decision to make while learning is because you should always cut a little bit differently while learning that may take you longer and the steps are dragged out to ensure your understanding of the haircut. So what we are trying to say is that the way you learn at your hairdressing academy is what you should follow until you become confident enough in your skills to try new ways.


So with all that information on our opinion for you we think it's still safe to say that all hairdressers will have their own way of cutting which will attract your own specific clientele. By all means if you're a stylist that has found a way that works best for you or you have attended a celebrity stylist training seminar and they have taught you a new hair cutting technique that contradicts what we have said then that is also great. There really are so many different ways to cut hair so finding the best way that works for you and tailoring that to each individual client makes a very talented hairstylist.

As we said at the start that when it's a comparison the one way or the other with a dry haircut or a wet haircut then we don't believe there is a better way than the other. As we have also discussed there is most definitely a better way with either a hair texture or a specific haircut but most of the time the combination of both dry cutting and wet cutting can be very successful.

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