Extensions are the perfect solution to nearly any hair situation. Whether a client has thinning hair, needs some additional volume, or even just longs for length, hair extensions provide. However, a true extension installation is not complete without the finishing trim. No client hopes for obvious extensions, and creating a natural blend is half the job. Even the most natural-looking extensions require a cut. Regardless, cutting hair extensions can be a bit intimidating. After all, if you mess it up, it won’t grow back. Not to mention, they’re already installed. When a client with a blunt shoulder bob sits in your chair and asks for 22-inch extensions, it’s crucial that you, as a stylist, fully understand how to cut and blend hair extensions so you don’t have to shy away from any potential clients.
Cutting hair extensions is considerably different than cutting natural hair. Despite their significant differences, there are plenty of tips to help you stay up-to-date on the best methods for blending extensions seamlessly into your client’s natural hair, and we’re about to cover some of the most useful ones.
Confirm, Confirm, Confirm
Nothing is worse than misunderstanding your client and chopping off an excessive amount of their brand-new extensions. Before you even begin to cut, verify the desired length. And then, confirm once again before diving in a doing the work.
Cut Extensions Dry
A fundamental step in cutting extensions is ensuring that you cut them while they’re dry. Wet extensions will give you little visual to work from. While dry, hair extensions will allow you to see dimension, texture, and shape much more easily, and in turn, you can better blend the hair and create a natural look. Also, dry hair enables you to better measure length and density. You just did all the work to install the extensions; it’s best to avoid letting your client leave without the perfect blend.
Like we mentioned before, cutting extensions is not the same as cutting natural hair. In that aspect, cutting in sections is not the best route to take. Extensions are much more visual, making it best to cut them according to how they look and feel rather than use a section-by-section technique. Ensure that you’re looking at the entire perimeter while you cut to keep an equal amount of density throughout and avoid cutting out massive chunks or creating gaps in your client’s hair.
No Solid Cuts
One of the most essential laws of extension cutting is to avoid cutting straight across as often as possible. While the hair is installed in individual pieces or even small sections along a row, those sections already have a significant amount of hair grouped closer together than the tiny follicles that each natural hair grows and falls from. Because of how extensions are installed, blunt cuts will leave the groupings of extensions to look even blunter than a solid cut on natural hair. Technique makes all the difference.
Choose the Right Technique
The technique is a crucial piece of the cutting puzzle. To name a few: point cutting, slide cutting, and thinning are of the most useful techniques when it comes to extensions.
To keep the same length throughout, hold the hair horizontally with no elevation and avoid adding any tension. Continue to comb, promoting the hair to fall on its own while you merely surround the section between your two fingers.
When cutting length, steer clear of using a diagonal or solid cut as it will take too much hair off in one go. It’s beneficial to divide the hair directly in half at the head’s nape and bring the halves over each shoulder. Trim using a vertical point cut to the desired length on both sides. Once the hair falls naturally across the client’s back, you’ll be left with the natural “v” shape while you’ve also created a light and airy look along the ends. Point cutting the hair will leave the ends of the extensions with a clean but soft line.
When layering hair, slide cutting is a reliable method that plenty of stylists rely on. However, an alternative option that some stylists prefer is to use the base of their shears and make various small cuts in a diagonal, downward motion rather than dragging them along the section of hair. This is a useful face-framing technique that will result in more control and allow you to create a perfect blend by cutting as much or as little is needed. Additionally, if a client is asking for additional layers, merely work your way up but avoid going as short as the natural hair.
Removing weight is an important step as well. You can easily take weight out of extensions by holding a slightly opened pair of shears at a 90-degree angle and sliding them upward and downward on a small section of hair, making minuscule cuts along the way. This technique is especially useful when you’re working to decrease the density of the hair but want to avoid adding additional layers. It will smoothly remove just enough hair to lighten the weight and provide an airy, blended texture.
Use the Right Tools
Trimming extensions also requires the right set of tools. At this point, your shears will be your ride-or-die, but razors or other texture tools can also be useful in particular scenarios.
Shears are going to give you the most control when cutting dry hair. When you’re working with smaller sections of hair, shears will allow you more movement and freedom to blend naturally. For larger, thicker sections of hair, razors can be a quality tool to rely on for removing weight. However, it’s important to be careful with razors as they’ll remove a bulk amount of hair way faster than your shears will, and it’s much easier to remove more hair than apologize for the strands already lying on the floor.
Don’t Jump the Gun
Even if you need to cut a significant amount of hair needs to reach the desired length, being heavy-handed and taking off chunks at a time will only scare your client. Take your time and go slowly, removing little amounts of hair. Continue to compare the sections with the remainder of the client’s hair to ensure that you’re not removing too much hair from one section. Try not to rush through the trim—keep your awareness. The more patient you are, the better the blend. Even after finishing and styling the client’s hair, do a double-take and trim up any wispy ends that snuck their way in. Clients are especially thankful when stylists spend time on them and do all they can to give them the hair of their dreams.
Cutting hair extensions doesn’t have to be a struggle. Be sure to follow a reliable visual aid and take your time. With a few simple tricks and the proper tools, you can guarantee a seamless, natural blend with every installation.