Why it's better to cut hair clean

March 30, 2022

Your client has just sat down in your salon chair and is wanting the latest trendy cut. After a consultation you send her back to the basin for a shampoo. She may say something along the lines of , " but last time they cut my hair dry" or " I just washed my hair".

Why is it that as hair stylists we love to cut freshly washed hair?

Protect Your Blades

Not all hair texture is best cut wet, however, squeaky clean hair is so important! First off, as a hairstylist you spend good money to make sure you have the best tools available. Your shears and/ or clippers are almost an extension of your hands, some of your most prized possessions. You make sure to clean and oil them everyday.

Hair products, natural oils, build- up, sand etc. can contribute to dulling and damaging your blades. Trying to do a haircut with dulled blades can be painful for all involved. There is no worse feeling for a hairstylist than watching their shears push the hair, instead of cutting through the hair nice and clean. It can also be uncomfortable for the client. Dulled shears and clippers can pull the hair and make for a painful haircut. It is also not cheap and not good practice to have to constantly get our shears sharpened. Sharp blades mean sharper cuts, sharper cuts mean a happier client, and happier client.... well you get the point!

Dry or wet cut?

But what if they want a dry cut? Some clients' natural texture will benefit from being cut dry. There is a constant battle in the hairdressing world... curly hair. Do we cut it dry or wet? Whichever way you choose to cut it, it is best for it to be clean. If you prefer to cut curly hair dry, washing hair before a haircut is still beneficial. When it is clean you can then dry it yourself to make sure it is styled into its natural fall. Not all curly haired clients are completely educated on how to style their hair. So if you wash it and then dry it, you can make sure it is falling how you want it to for your hair cut.

Less than perfect cut?

Dirty hair can lead to a not so perfect hair cut. We mentioned the dreaded hair push. Shears pushing the hair instead of cutting right through it can lead to less than perfect lines and uneven haircuts. Blow dried, dirty hair can also cause issues when trying to texturize a finished cut. If you try point cutting unwashed hair it can bend the hair instead of removing the bulk. If we don't have clean hair, a haircut can do more damage than good.

Shampoo at home vs. In salon

Why do most stylists prefer to wash hair in the salon versus having a client wash their hair at home? Some salons prefer to charge an extra fee for a hair wash, while others include it in their prices. It is important to make sure that the client has managed to actually get their hair properly washed. If the client chooses to save money by washing their own hair we must educate them on proper ways to wash their hair, after all, we are responsible for the finished product. We want to make sure they are using the correct shampoo and conditioner to best suit their hair type.

How they shampoo is important as well. To guarantee they remove as much oil and product as possible, two shampoos are recommended. They should be focusing their shampoo on the roots. This is a great trick to teach clients with greasy hair also. Clients need to be informed to apply conditioner to the ends of hair and not the scalp. This is the best way to ensure they have clean hair when they sit in your chair.

Benefits of Unwashed hair

There are benefits to your client arriving for their haircut appointment with unwashed hair. It is important for a hairdresser to understand how their client styles their hair. When a client arrives for their appointment with their usual hairstyle we can see just how we should be cutting it. We can learn about the products they use to style it, how much time and effort is put into the styling and also where we can make changes to their current style. This is definitely where we benefit from having them washed at our basin after a consultation.


Many barbershops do not have a set up for washing hair. Barbers do quicker cuts and prefer to see how the client wears their hair. Unfortunately this often results in clients entering the shop with crazy amounts of product in their hair, and a barber who has to cut through all that build up!

Again this can be incredibly damaging for your tools. Even using a spray bottle to wet hair will not remove enough of the products to prevent damage. In this case it is important to ask your client to shampoo their hair prior to their cut, or wash it the day before and use product sparingly. This is also a good opportunity to educate them on the use of products and how sometimes less is more!

Don't Skip the Shampoo

Sometimes in a busy salon it is easy for us to skip some steps. Hair-washing sometimes takes a back seat to everything else that we have to do. However it is a very important step in making sure we provide the best service we possibly can. It is also key in making sure our tools are up to the best possible standards they can be.

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