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Wet Cutting Vs. Dry: Which One Is Best For Your Hair?

The debate over wet cutting vs. dry cutting is still hot among salon professionals, but which method is better for your hair? Our expert sounds off on the pros and cons of both.

A trip to get a haircut usually goes a little something like this: You get to the salon, sit in the chair, and let your stylist know what look you’re going for. Then, your hair is washed and conditioned before you sit back down to cut your split ends. What if your stylist decided to switch things up a bit. Instead of cutting your hair after it’s been washed, your stylist cut your hair as soon as you sat down in your seat?

Dry cutting has become very popular over the last few years, particularly in the curly hair community. But is it better than the wet cutting technique we’ve come to know and love? Pepper Pastor, Kérastase brand ambassador and stylist, is breaking down everything you need to know about wet cutting vs. dry cutting.

What is a wet cut?

A wet haircut is exactly what it sounds like: When your stylist cuts your hair while it is wet. This is the most common methods of hair cutting so chances are good you’ve had a few wet haircuts if you maintain a regular salon trim schedule.

To prep your strands before your cut, your stylist will wash and condition your hair. If you’ve been using products to mask your split ends temporarily, your ends may appear healthier than they actually are. Washing all of the dirt, pollution, and hair products from your strands helps to give your stylist a better idea about the health of your hair and lets them know just how much of your damaged hair needs to go.

Your desired final style will help your stylist determine which hair cutting technique is best for you and your hair. Normally, however, wet haircuts are suitable for all hair types and textures.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of cutting wet hair?

Pastor says it’s no secret why stylists have chosen to cut wet hair for so long: It allows stylists to cut the most precise lines. Because wet hair condenses, cutting hair while it is wet is ideal if you’re looking for a cut with sharp lines, like a bob.

On the other hand, cutting layered haircuts is much more difficult to do on wet hair. Pastor explains that when your hair is wet, it can be difficult for stylists to see how layers will look in your mane. This can often lead to unbalanced haircuts. If you’re heading back to the salon to fix a cut that looks a bit wonky, be sure your stylist cuts your hair while it is dry.

Good hair day by @rogermolinahair.

What is a dry cut?

Much like wet cuts, dry haircuts are pretty self-explanatory. They happen when your stylist cuts your hair while it’s dry. Dry cuts can take place two times during the styling process: as soon as you sit in the chair (before the stylist washes) or after. If your stylist likes to start the haircut process before wetting your strands, they may ask you to come in with recently washed hair. This way they’re not cutting hair with tons of product build-up.

Alternatively, your stylist can finish your dry haircut after your hair has been washed, dried, and sometimes even after styling. This particular dry cut typically comes after your hair has been washed and conditioned and the initial wet cut. Think of it less as a haircut and more like a finishing touch.

Good hair day by @cesar4styles.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of cutting dry hair?

The greatest benefit of cutting hair while it is dry is that you and your stylist can see exactly what your final look is going to look like while they’re cutting. Be sure to bring photos of the style you’re hoping to recreate so that you and your stylist can refer to the images as they transform your mane. There is no need to wait to dry and style your hair to see if you like the length or movement—you’ll see it as it’s happening.

“Since the hair is in its natural state, it is essentially it’s most truthful,” Pastor says. “You can really see the move went and how the hair actually lays day-to-day.”

While Pastor says anyone can benefit from a dry cut—no matter their hair type or texture—many stylists who specialize in cutting curly hair prefer to cut hair when it is dry. It is nearly impossible to know how each of your curls is going to dry, so cutting dry prevents your stylist from accidentally giving you the dreaded triangle haircut.

The only real disadvantage of dry cutting hair is that it can be difficult to create precise lines. If you’re looking for an A-line or very blunt bob, you’re probably better off getting your cut while your hair is wet.

Can the techniques be combined?

The techniques can not only be combined—they should be! Pastor says cutting hair while it is wet and then again when it is dry (or vice versa) is the best way to ensure a flawless haircut.

“I highly recommend cutting hair both wet and dry every time. I love trimming hair and shaping when they just sit in the chair, and the hair is styled or air dried as they wear it every day. After I shampoo and treat it, I cut the hair again wet, then I check everything for balance and further details after their blowout,” Pastor explains. “Clients appreciate it, and you truly can customize an ideal haircut.”

Which cut is best for your hair?

Deciding on the best haircut method for your hair is a lot like finding the perfect hair care routine—no two heads of hair are the same. Furthermore, your preferred haircut method may change depending on the style you’re hoping to achieve. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which method is best for you.

If you’re looking to slay a geometric inspired style or very blunt bob, be sure your stylist begins with a wet haircut as that will give your the sharpest and most precise lines. Opt for a wet cut if your hair is experiencing a lot of damage, as your stylist will better be able to assess the health of your freshly washed strands.

If you have naturally curly hair and wear your texture every day, you may want to ask for a dry cut. Dry cuts are also great for anyone hoping to slay layered locks. Whether your hair is textured, straight, or something in between, a dry cut will create the most accurate layers.

Ultimately, you and your stylist will come up with the best haircut method for you and if all else fails—you can’t get wrong with a wet and dry combination cut!

Interested in advice about the best haircut technique for you? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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