Method Haircutting: Getting Into Your Client's Head, Hair and Beard
TOP PHOTO: Bradford Davison (center, fourth from the left) at Opening Night 2014. BOTTOM LEFT: Davison, with short hair and a beard, at work. BOTTOM RIGHT: Davison when he won American Crew US All-Star Challenge in December 2013.
The best actors truly inhabit their roles. To bring a part to life, they get into the skin of the character they are playing. Bradford Davison (@bdavison13, @barberexchange), the U.S. American Crew All-Star Challenge Winner from 2013, has deliberately experimented with his hair length and facial hair configurations so he would better understand his clients. Sort of the method acting version of haircutting.
“It started in cosmetology school, when you are learning to cut women’s hair,” explains Davison. “As a guy, the layers and the length can be quite intimidating. Also, I didn’t understand the attachment that women had to their hair. When I started working, I would watch other people who had clients become really upset because of the amount of length taken off. The client would say one thing and the hairdresser might do another.”
For over a year, Davison went without a cut. His inspiration was rock legend and lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison, whose famously full head of hair inspired countless men in the 1960’s.
“Doing it meant I could see what phases and stages you have to go through as you’re growing your hair out. At around a year, I let someone trim it and just like my female clients would do, I asked for half an inch and they went closer to two inches. Cutting it off really helped me figure out that emotional attachment people can have with their hair. You go from identifying yourself as someone with long hair to, “How do I wear it now?’ It becomes part of your personal brand and now you’ve changed the way you’re expressing that brand. It’s all about the consultation and gaining an understanding of your client and how they see themselves.”
He practiced the same kind of putting-himself-in-his-client’s-shoes again when he grew a beard.
“Working in the salon world, I never had to experience grooming a beard, too much. I had a guy come into a barbershop where I worked and I asked if he wanted a beard trim and he absolutely refused. I asked him why and he said at a different shop they had removed way too much length and totally botched it and I didn’t understand what that meant because I usually just keep stubble.”
So he grew a beard and the beard, well, kind of grew on him.
“Over time, you get a really strong attachment to your beard if you have grown it past that one month of stubble phase. Men who have one tend to touch their beard often. And if I would ask someone to shape it and not take off length but they did, I immediately noticed a difference. A beard is like a hedge on the face; you can shape it a certain way and it can change the aspect of your face. Cutting it off was the quickest weight loss you can have. For me, it immediately showed my jaw line, which made me look slimmer and many years younger.
“In the end, it’s all about the consultation and also suggesting the proper care. You want to check and double check with your client to make sure you’re both on the same page. It shows you care and that you have credibility. I recently had a guy in who is known as Evan the Beard and he wanted to knock his beard down to about half the length. I did a pre-check, I talked to him while I was shaping it, because after having a beard, I understand those fine details. It’s not a guessing game anymore.”