Flames and swords shape an extreme haircut experience

Barbers and hairdressers are celebrated throughout history for their craft. The way you cut and style your hair makes a statement about your wealth, social class and personal identity. Every cut is shaped by the tools and techniques behind it. Tools of the barbershop trade have evolved from sharpened rocks and bronze razors to specifically designed scissors and electric razors. Barbers specialize in shorter, men’s haircuts and are trained to trim neck hairs and beards. Hairdressers and salon stylists have more training in a variety of longer styles for both men and women. Both barbers and hairdressers use slightly different methods, but few professionals have mastered the art of cutting hair with fire and swords.

Fire cutting

Recently, a video of a Pakistani barber lighting a man’s head on fire to give him a haircut went viral. Viewers around the world were shocked by the unconventional method and the fact that the man left unfazed and unharmed. Cutting hair with fire is not a new phenomenon. Italian barber Franco Bompieri has been cutting hair for over 70 years and still uses fire as part of his craft. Fire cutting is a rare art that few men and women have experienced, but it’s starting to make a come back.

Candle cutting

“Velaterapia” is the Brazilian hair treatment that translates to “candle cutting” in English. It’s been practiced across South America since the 1960s, and now it’s starting to show up in the US. Basically, people are lighting their hair on fire to get rid of split ends. The crazy thing is that it’s working. The reasoning behind this eccentric hair care method is to open your hair follicles, so conditioner will be more effective. Supposedly, it won’t change the length of your hair, unless something goes wrong and it all catches on fire. As far as I know that hasn’t happened, but considering how flammable hair is it seems possible.

With candle cutting, a stylist will twist a section of hair and cauterize split ends with an open flame, usually from a candle. The fire singes off your split ends. After all the twisted sections are burned, the candle wax is washed out and your hair undergoes a deep conditioning. It seems simple enough, but do not try this at home. Stylists recommend getting the treatment by a professional every eight to 12 weeks, instead of traditional trims with scissors.

cutting hair with fire

Hairdressers in the US are still skeptical of this practice. Split ends happen at the bottom of your hair, not throughout the whole strand. Many don’t see the advantage of burning your hair versus getting a regular trim. The flame could make follicles weak and dull colored hair. Plus, the smell is pretty unpleasant. Whether you believe in the benefits of burning your hair or not, do not try this at home. While I was writing this blog, my friend decided to try it on herself. The results were just short of disastrous. Seriously, you don’t want to try this at home.

Sword cutting

Another hair cutting method that’s best left to the professionals uses samurai swords to slice away your hair. Talk about the ultimate trust exercise with your hair dresser. If you can sit calmly through your haircut while swords are whirling around your head, schedule an appointment with one of these master hairdressers. Two men have achieved fame for their alternative styling methods. Nguyen Hoang Hung has spent years perfecting his craft in Vietnam, and Alberto Olmedo has gained fame as the Spanish version of Edward Scissorhands. Swords apparently help Hoang Hung and Olmedo give more precise and symmetrical haircuts. These unconventional stylists get clients from all over the world who want to experience their techniques firsthand.

Conventional haircut methods

More likely than not, the tools for your haircut will not be as extreme as fire and swords. Today barbers and hairdressers use safe, boring techniques featuring scissors, combs and clippers. Scissors, also called shears, are fundamental to a good haircut, because their blade is thinner and sharper than regular, paper-cutting scissors. This gives stylists more precision, no swords needed. Clippers have sharp blades that adjust to different hair lengths, and safely shear the hair close to your skin. The most important part of good clippers is choosing one with a powerful motor.

The tools and techniques behind every haircut shape its look and feel. Barbers and hairdressers have been developing their craft throughout history, evolving their styles and methods. Many hairstylists today demonstrate their talent with conventional tools, like scissors. Other professionals explore more unusual options. Fire and swords both effectively cut hair, but they’re on a whole other level of extreme techniques. At-home haircuts are one thing, but please leave these alternative and dangerous haircut methods to the professionals. Your at-home extreme haircut attempts could easily go up in flames.

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