Break Points

Hair cutting
Q: Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me definitions of break points in a hair cut. Like, say I established a seven inch guide from the bottom section like my guide and then I began to work up the head in 1/2 inch sections vertical layering the hair, versus if I would bring down sections blunt until the top of the ear or the occipital bone and then I began to cut vertical layers from that parting.
What is the difference? When I read a lot of magazines about hair cuts they seem to begin the hair cut with horizontal sections to the top of the ears. Could you explain these differences to avoid confusion? Thanks.

A: I'm not familiar with the term "break points" in cutting hair, and I suspect these are local terms or specific to the salon or trainer under whom you studied. Typically, the use of horizontal slices when cutting the hair is intended to maintain smoothness and evenness of the cutting line as you travel around the head on a horizontal plane.
Horizontal slices can be used when over-directing the hair to create a weight line by combing the hair below the horizontal slice up to join the slice and cutting it all at the same point. This means that the hairs below the horizontal slice are progressively longer. Horizontal cutting generally creates more clearly defined weight lines.
Vertical slices are used in order to create smoother and more even layering.
The difference between the techniques seen in magazines and what you may use on your own clients is often simply a matter of stylist's creating their own processes for cutting the hair. If you understand the basic shape of the hairstyle you intend to make, the method for creating that shape is less important than the outcome.
A hairstylist in training is taught the methods favored by his or her instructor or patron. In cosmetology schools these techniques are usually standardized and can lead to some confusion when the student goes out and works in salons with established stylists who have their own methods or who were trained as apprentices to other stylists.
See also:
Could you please explain what mobile, stationary, and shifted methods are in haircutting?
Haircutting angles and elevations
Hair sectioning with the 7-section parting
Star sectioning