Hairstylists are creatures of habit. Once we have a system for creating a perfectly smooth bob, Hollywood curls or a va-va-voom blowout, there is little chance we will ever give up a favorite brush, comb or technique. Every hairstylist likes a different set of tools to do their job, and each prefers a different method of cutting, styling and blow-drying to make magic. Read on for the five essential items in every hairdresser's toolkit.
Brushes and Combs:
These tools seem idiot-proof, but I think everyone has made the mistake of rolling a round brush all the way to the scalp, only to have it horrifyingly stick to the head in a rat's nest. Round brushes come in a number of sizes and are best for use on the last three or four inches of the hair to give it bounce and curl. A paddle brush with a rectangular head and widely spaced plastic bristles will stretch out long hair to make it straight and shiny. Vent brushes allow for lots of air movement between bristles and dry hair quickly. To finish a medium length style into shine and smoothness, nothing beats a boar-bristle or Denman 7-row brush to pull out the hair gently and distribute heat evenly.
Keep your shears sharp and steady to make sure they don't tug at the hair and to help it cut easily. Dropping your shears can jar the blades and ruin the interior surface, which is finely honed to cut properly. A short blade (4 to 5 inches) is appropriate for detail work and short haircuts, since the compact blades allow for precision. A longer blade (6 to 7 inches) is ideal for very thick hair, as a longer blade reduces the number of snips you have to make, or for deep point cutting to texture ends. Shears are available in a number of different shapes, sizes and adjustable ergonomic parts to fit comfortably into every stylist's hand.
Major selling points for stylists and clients include ceramic and ionic heat, even some with tourmaline added to the heating elements. As a stylist, I am most concerned with the weight and noise production of my blow-dryer, since I want to prevent as much muscle fatigue and hearing loss as possible. Regardless of your choice, every blow-dryer has a variety of heat and speed settings to dry all textures of hair appropriately, and a cool shot for a freezing style in place.
Essential for smoothing the last little frizzies from an otherwise polished style, a flat iron can also be used to make waves or crimps in the hair by twisting it around the barrel or pressing a fold of hair between the plates. My personal favorite flat iron is a professional model from UNITE Eurotherapy with cushioned plates and adjustable heat to 450 degrees. To iron the hair perfectly the first time, use a high heat and an even, slow motion to pull the hair through the plates. Watch out for tender areas like ears, the forehead and neckline to prevent burns.
Curling irons come in a variety of barrel sizes and shapes from the waving iron to the marcel to the spiral rod. The high heat of professional curling irons ensures that your style will last even on fine or limp hair (make sure to clip the curls so they have time to cool off before working with them). Practice makes perfect with many of these implements, especially the marcel iron which requires quite a bit of dexterity to use without burning your client or putting a crimp in an otherwise perfect curl. Each iron yields a slightly different kind of curl, and the best styles are ones that mix all of them together for a gorgeous, multi-textured fall of curls.