Cutting a ShagQ: If you put your hair in a ponytail on top of your head and cut it how would it turn out? Like a shag?
A: This is an interesting question. In theory, you would end up with a cut very similar to a shag haircut. However, you would need to be very careful to have all the hair combed evenly and aligned within the ponytail to avoid any unevenness. There are stylists who use this technique to make initial cuts with very long hairstyles. The hair will always need to be finished properly.
The hazard with trying this in order to accomplish a proper shag haircut is that using a ponytail creates a single point to which all the hair is directed. You'll want to be careful not to end up with hair too short at the top of the head.
There is also the fact that the ponytail will distort the lengths of the hair by following the scalp to the central point. If you were going to use this method, you would need to loosen the ponytail holder to the shortest length desired at the top of the head. You would also need to make certain that the hair within the ponytail remains uniformly taut.
There is another method that is similar in principle to the method you describe for cutting the hair in perfect layers. As a matter of fact, most of the women I know whom have had this done were completely thrilled with the result. All that is needed is for the client to be positioned so that they can hang their head straight down.
The easiest method to achieve this is to have the person lie on a countertop or high table (on his/her back) with his/her head hanging. The stylist then combs the hair straight down and cuts the hair so that all of the ends hang evenly, creating a flat plane. The result is a haircut that has perfectly even layering and is flattering to most women.
This only works to create long layers, and is especially good for women with very long hair. What is best about this technique is that with very long hair, often the hair becomes unwieldy in trying to raise it to the needed elevation to cut long layers. With the hair hanging down, the haircut goes much more quickly, but can be uncomfortable for the client. There is also the fact that achieving the position necessary to have the hair hang straight down is often problematic. It is rarely possible to use this method in a salon setting.
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