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Razor Sharp: Shredded, Chopped & Sliced Hair


Callista Flockhart Ally McBeal 2001

When it comes to hair what goes around comes around. Such is the case with razored, sharp, shredded hair and choppy hairstyle. In the past Britney's long blonde locks had the chopped look for her Las Vegas/HBO show, Madonna had it for her own spectacular Drowned World Tour.

While Madonna's razored hair took advantage of her natural waves and gave her hair a soft romantic look, Britney's shattered lengths gave her long hair a very sexy and playful look.

So what is shredded, shattered, chopped hair? Ally McBeal had the look back in the 2001 Fall TV season. Sarah Jessica Parker had one in her private life. Will it show up on Sex In The City? Still no word on that.

The world famous hairstylist, Charles Worthington says "Right now hair is choppy, choppy, choppy with absolutely no straight lines."

Photo Courtesy of ARTec 2001

All rights reserved

"Shredded hair is weightless hair," said Michael Mazzei, Co-owner of ARTec Worldwide.

Note: ARTec was sold to L'Oreal.

He continued "it's hair that's been fractured with a razor so just the right amount of weight is removed. It's rough, it's edgy, it's shredded!. This old technique-turned-new is great for women or men, short hair or long. It's street wise and straight up.

Hair that is shredded allows hair color to really shine and blast out a sexy, edgy, hot look.

Photo Courtesy of John Sahag 2001

All rights reserved

Almost as hot as the choppy look, is layered color that takes advantage of the shredded layers. Britney and Madonna both had dark undertones to their blonde tresses which were played up by the shredded looks.

So what is all this buzz about? Quite simply it is the hot new hair look that is created with a blade. While it may seem odd that your stylist can achieve a hot new shredded look with a razor blade, this is exactly the rage in salons around the world.

What can a razor do that scissors can't? By gently slicing through the hair, a straight three inch blade adds texture and movement to a selected style. Razoring is a completely different technique from using a scissors which achieves more of a looping effect on hair.

Razoring is a type of tapering except without the scissors. A razor is used to reduce any unwanted bulkiness and is most often performed on wet hair for manageability and ease. A razor cut helps the ends of the hair to blend together well so there is never that "I just got a new haircut" look.

A razor allows a stylist to remove hair bulk in a planned calculated way to give your look that can not be duplicated. Ironically a razor style appears to add volume while at the same time it removes hair. Huh? Without getting into logistics, razored strands are "stacked" so that shorted strands support longer ones. Yes, it is a paradox but it is also part of the great appeal of using a razor.

Does A Razor Cut Work For Everyone?

Photo Courtesy of ARTec 2001

All rights reserved

Does a razor cut work for everyone? Absolutely not. Even though it is one of the hottest looks around and can look smashing on a lot of different heads, it is definitely not for everyone.

A razor-cut tends to work best with longer lengths of medium-thick hair. Hair that is too short or thin will not behave as well with a razor cut. As a rule razor cuts are not advised for hair that tends to be frizzy.

Although some stylists feel that curly hair will work with a carefully shredded cut, many stylists would disagree. Sarah Jessica Parker has naturally curly hair and she seems to look good in her cut. Will it work for you if you have curly hair? Only a good stylist can tell you for sure.

Photo Courtesy of ARTec 2001

All rights reserved

Razor cuts can work great for people with long hair that don't want to lose their hard earned hair lengths, but want to break the boredom of the same old look. Many hairstylists will use a razor on bangs to give people with long hair a new look without touching the overall length.

Some hairstylists will also carefully use a razor to cut a slight triangular wedge shape around the face to open it up without impacting long hair. The wedge shape is carved into the overall hair shape for an invisible re-growth process.

In the past I have worn my long hair with razored bangs and the wedge shape. It was a great and different look without any danger to my long strands.

A modification to razor cutting is when a sharp scissors is used on dry hair to create a tapered effect and a more controlled shape. Razor cutting requires a high skill level of the stylist. The scissors cut is less tricky and easier to accomplish.

Success Depends On Skill Of Stylist

While many stylists can handle use of a razor on small sections of hair, some stylists have a hard time using a razor on hair.

Stylists that use a razor on the entire head of hair (like with Britney's HBO show look) are few and far between. Why? First of all, learning to control the razor takes time and practice. A light, controlled touch and practiced eye will prevent too much hair from getting sliced off.

Photo Courtesy of ARTec 2001

All rights reserved

Yes, a good razor cut can seriously impact the way any ordinary hairstyle looks. A razored bob can be more fluid and much softer than a traditional bob that was cut with scissors.

Shattered, razored looks require that the stylist have the skill to cut on the diagonal without a heavy hand.

A successful razored cut depends on the successful placement of graduated lengths of hair which are stacked within a cut to support graduated longer strands and enhance the hair's natural textures. This gives the look fullness without bulk and allows the hair to flow.

Does that sound easy? Think again. It can be quite complicated.

Razored cuts take a precise eye and experience. If you visit a stylist and they tell you they are just learning razor cuts, don't volunteer to be a test subject unless you are willing to let the hair fall where it might.


If you want the sexy, soft, fluid healthy looks of the shattered hair styles, find someone with a shattered style that you love. Ask them to refer you to their stylist.

Before you subject your hair to the razor, make an appointment for a consultation only. Make it clear that you intend to pay for a consultation but will come back at another time for a cut. This allows you to take your time and find a stylist that can work well with your hair type and texture.

If you are unsure about getting a shattered cut, visit more than one stylist and ask their opinion about whether your hair is right for a razor cut. Be sure to question the stylist about their experiences with using a razor. The key to a stunning look is the expertise of the stylist along with the type of hair you have.

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Original Publication Date: 11/18/01 - Revised Publication Date: 04/27/11

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