Christo believes cutting the hair wet gives his clients more options.
Austin stylist Georgia Bramhall of Pink Salon cuts all of her curly clients' hair dry.
"It shows me their real hair and what it naturally wants to do," Bramhall says. "When it’s wet, it totally changes into something different. If it’s wet, it’s practically straight."
Mia Fanali of D. Sabrina Salon in Westport, Conn., never cuts hair dry.
"When you comb out the curl and you try to cut it dry, it won't fall that way again.," Fanali says. "I also like to get all the dead ends off — from the perimeter to the layers. When you cut the hair dry, it doesn't give you that opportunity."
Scottsdale, Ariz., stylist Victor Sabino always starts off his curly cuts on dry hair to get a basic shape. Then he shampoos it and cleans it up when it's wet.
"Then I dry it and finish up the cut from there," Sabino says.
Three stylists. Three different philosophies about whether curls should be cut wet or dry. It's no wonder curlies are confused.
Curl experts all are passionate about their techniques, whether they cut the hair wet, dry, wet into dry, dry into wet, or some other variation on the theme.
Cutting hair dry is not a new concept. Many hairstylists over the years have used variations of dry haircutting techniques. The late John Sahag is generally considered to be the pioneer in the the dry-cut technique. Sahag, who advocated the shift to dry cutting in the late 1970s, believed that when the hair is cut dry, it creates a natural shape according to the way the hair grows, enabling the stylist to remove bulk and weight to create movement and dimension. Wet hair, he believed, did not allow for natural inconsistencies.
All stylists at Devachan Salon, including Lorraine Massey, cut curls dry.
In recent times, one of the biggest proponents of cutting curls dry is "Curly Girl" author Lorraine Massey of Devachan Salon in New York. All stylists at Devachan Salon cut curls dry.
"Unless a stylist can see how much spring there is in your curls, he won't understand your hair and he's likely to cut too much when it's wet, only to discover that fact after your hair dries," Massey writes in her book "Curly Girl."
Rosie Da Silva of Devachan Salon likes to cut her client's hair curl by curl.
"I can't do that with dry hair," Da Silva says. "You have to feel the texture. When you cut curly hair wet, you're not really seeing how it's going to look."
New York stylist Jose Valdez has been cutting hair dry for the past 15 years. He believes it enables him to sculpt the hair, chiseling away to create shapes with dimension and balance.
"Why not cut hair dry?" Valdez says. "You do, after all, wear your hair dry. Cutting the hair dry lets me see exactly how your hair will fall as you're wearing it. I can create perfect angles that not only accentuate your best features, but that suit your personality as well."
Stylists who cut curly hair wet also have valid reasons why they prefer to do it that way.
Jonathan Torch of the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto says he prefers to cut curly hair wet because he can manipulate the curls and read the ringlets.
"When I work with dry hair, the more I play with it, the bigger it gets," Torch says.
If a person has a combination of loose and tight curls, Torch said he might cut the looser curls dry to help them blend it with the rest of the hair.
"Then I wash the hair and do the full design," Torch says.
Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue believes cutting the hair wet gives his clients more options.
"You can wear it curly, wavy or straight," Christo
Dustin David of the Dustin David Salon in Los Gatos, Calif., takes a customized approach to his clients. For clients with tight curls, he cuts it dry, shampoos and styles it and then cuts it again. For clients with looser, wavier curls who wear their hair both curly and straight, he irons it straight and cuts it flat ironed. If the curls are looser and the client always wears her hair curly, David cuts it wet.
"To me, each person is an individual," David says. "No matter how similar their hair seems, the cut needs to be customized to take into account their texture, density, length and lifestyle."
All stylists stressed the importance of having the client come in with their dry and styled so they get a realistic look at the the curl pattern.
"Before I do the haircut, I analyze the curl, analyze the volume, touch the hair to see how much it expands," Torch says. "But I couldn't even imagine cutting curly hair dry."