Education Week: Afro Hair Cutting Tips from SliderCuts and The Bluebeards Revenge
The Bluebeards Revenge and SliderCuts (Mark Maciver) reveal four common mistakes barbers make when handling Afro hair and the products that can help.
Shape up gently
“When it comes to shaping up Afro hair, some barbers feel the need to push harder on the skin, but there really is no need to do this,” said Mark. According to Mark this bad barbering habit is born out of a misconception that Afro hair is so much thicker and coarser than it actually is. “Afro hair is usually soft enough at the root and just appears coarser due to its curly, bushy nature,” he said. “Ultimately you still need to protect the skin and pushing too hard will only end in discomfort for your clients.”
To reduce potential irritation when shaping up your next Afro hairstyle, The Bluebeards Revenge team recommends its Shaving Solution: a translucent shaving gel that helps to reduce the friction between a razor blade and the skin.
Understand hair growth patterns
Due to the curliness of Afro hair, it can often be difficult to identify the direction of its growth, especially when the hair is longer. “While it’s easier to see the direction of European and Asian hair, there is still a growth pattern under the bushiness of Afro hair. The crown will always provide clues as to what this direction is,” explained Mark.
To get the best results from your cuts, make sure your consultation with your client is thorough and you take the time to correctly identify the direction of growth.
Watch out for ingrown hairs
Wet shaving has seen a dramatic return to fashion in recent years, but offering this service to customers with Afro hair can sometimes be challenging. According to Mark, this is because the natural curl in Afro hair causes many men to suffer with ingrown hairs when cut or shaved too close. “Make sure to wash and work the skin in circular motions before and after a cut/shave,” said Mark. “This helps to open the pores and limit the curl of the hair, meaning it should grow slightly straighter in its early days and is therefore less likely to curl back in to the skin.”
When performing a wet shave, The Bluebeards Revenge team suggests using its Vanguard Shaving Brush. The dense population of hairs in this brush helps to raise facial fuzz when used in circular motions – like the methods Mark suggested above.
Manage client expectations
Hair types are on a spectrum. However, Mark points out that Afro hair also has its own sub-spectrum and that this needs to be considered when customers ask for particular styles. He said: “When it comes to cutting Afro hair, the difference in the density of curls can mean that the same clipper grade looks completely different on two separate customers. This is the sort of thing that’s very hard to judge and only comes through building a rapport with your clients: over time you learn how their hair reacts and what will work best for them.”
Recently, many of Mark’s loyal customers have been asking him to give them the same look that he creates for TV presenter and radio DJ Reggie Yates. Mark explained: “Customers come in and say, ‘I want the same cut as Reggie’ but they don’t understand that his hair is different to theirs and get confused when I say they will need a different grade. It’s all about educating them in the subtleties.”