It’s essential to know your hair type. You can choose products and cuts designed for your specific needs to maintain optimal health, condition, and style. As a barber, determining hair type will determine what tools and products I use to achieve the desired cut or style. While you can ask your barber or stylist to help identify your type, there are some easy ways to figure it out. Using some common categories, we can describe types by texture, porosity, curl pattern, density, etc.
Porosity is the measure of how well your hair absorbs moisture. High porosity means that your hair absorbs a lot, but it doesn’t retain it. Medium porosity is a steady rate of absorption and retention. Low porosity is when your hair has trouble absorbing moisture, but once it’s there, it stays well.
Low porosity typically looks healthier and shinier and is not as prone to split ends. High porosity hair would greatly benefit from creamy butters and rich oils to help retain and lock in moisture.
Hair density measures the strands per square inch…so how thick is your hair? We say it is either low, medium, or high density. To measure your density at home, generally, a medium-average is a ponytail that is 2-3 inches in diameter. Less would be considered low, and more would be regarded as high.
Ethnicity can affect the average person’s density. (Measured at the crown) The typical density of Caucasian hair is 1,458 hairs per square inch—Hispanic averages 1,148 and African at 961. Age is a factor; as we age, we lose density in our hair. Healthline has a great article on hair density for further reading, “What Is Hair Density and Why It Matters.”
With low-density hair, product weight, and residue would be a concern. With high-density hair, you would want something with good hold.
A lot goes into typing your hair correctly. By identifying your hair type, you can be sure to use products that will work for you and your specific needs to help you reach your styling goals! You will be able to create a realistic, easy to manage grooming routine for your everyday needs!
Knowledge makes you sharp on the inside. Applying it makes you sharp on the outside!
I was never a strong student in school; however, my passion for all things barbering grew immensely once I started in this field! I have obtained all the necessary credentials, attended numerous conventions, and eagerly mentored every young barber who walks through my door. I take great pride in being a lifelong learner in this industry!
Early Barber Education…the Beginning
I began cutting hair in my mother’s basement in 7th grade. My older sister, Angie, was a cosmetologist and introduced me to my first set of clippers. After high school graduation, she wanted me to work in her shop. I had to get a cosmetologist license as our town didn’t offer barber licenses. I attended Hair Arts Academy as the only black “barber” in Bloomington, so I had a full clientele to work with while in school. What a blessing that was!
I spent 11 years working at my sister’s shop. With no internet or YouTube, and no older, more experienced barbers to follow, I was on my own to sharpen my craft. There are so many resources today that did not exist in the early 2000s! This self-taught struggle is the basis for my passion for teaching today.
Learning From Others All Around Me
Circumstances changed, and I relocated to another local shop for about 4 years. I could observe other barbers and their cutting styles and techniques in this environment. As a visual learner, this was extremely helpful for me. This opportunity was also a time to learn about the business side of things. My wife pushed me to open my own shop, so in preparation, I began to dial in my focus on punctuality, efficiency, customer service, etc. There was so much more to learn than haircutting.
I absorbed the environment and started visiting other barbershops in Bloomington and nearby cities to get a feel of the atmosphere, services, and pricing structures I needed to consider before opening our shop. I booked myself cuts in various shops around Indianapolis. When we traveled on vacations, I always scheduled a haircut in whatever town we ended up in. Research is an invaluable step. It was so interesting to me to see how different shop dynamics were from region to region.
Sacrifices Were Made
Where there is success, there will always be sacrifice. With my wife's push and support, Razors Image opened in 2011. Once established, I knew I would need to return to school to obtain a barber license—in addition to my cosmetology license. Again, this is not offered in our town, and I needed to commute over an hour to school in Castleton to earn this credential. My wife had a newborn at home, her own business she was running, and our shop was open. We sacrificed to make this a reality. I put in 3 ten-hour days in school and worked 4 twelve-hour days. Life was a hustle!
I then knew I wanted to teach. The opportunity was presented to me in Bloomington at Indiana Cosmetology Academy in connection with the Hoosier Hills Career Center. I would be able to obtain an instructor license! Again, it was 3 days of school and 4 days of work, but this was in my hometown, and my son was a bit older. After the 1000 hours were completed, I had all my credentials! I was able to offer my staff the same opportunity for licensing. We became a shop of master barbers and educators, not only to teach new-the-industry barbers but to learn from each other as well. Razors Image Barbershop became a place where sharing ideas and techniques and helping each other became the norm. We all grew in our craft, and our clients felt the benefit of the quality of their cuts!
Because of our instructor status and the director of the Academy’s support, I was able to begin offering Barber Licenses right here in Bloomington for the first time! No more would any hopeful barber need to commute for schooling!
Professional Learning in the Industry
I cannot value trade shows enough! Once I started attending hair shows, it was like getting a second wind. It reignited my passion, and I returned each time ready to try all the new things! My first show was Bronner Bros. in Atlanta. Hair Wars in Las Vegas, Proud Lady in Chicago, BarberCon in New York, and Premier in Orlando were all events that were full of education, exhibitions, and competitions. The highly anticipated Premier Show in Anaheim is scheduled for early 2024. There are full days of lists of classes you can take, from techniques and tools to business-related material. Competitions and exhibitions will showcase the latest and greatest and really motivate your creativity! Vendors set up and show all their best products and teach you about them. Seeing master barbers cut in real life is invaluable. You can see so much more in person than in a video. Posture, the mechanics of the clipper angle, pitch, etc. Celebrity Barbers who you see on YouTube and who are crafting amazing products are at these shows and willing to talk to you directly to answer questions and help you improve your game.
Client Education is an Exchange
I love helping my clients learn about their hair types and products that would be good for them. If someone is having a particular issue, I love to be able to navigate the problem and find a product on our shelf that I can teach them how to use. Helping a client feel and look their best is a wonderful feeling.
Being in a college town, we see a lot of young people. They keep us relevant and trendy. I love to learn the current styles and designs. Young folks fuel my creativity.
I continue to learn from my clients every day. I get to learn about their cultures. People, in general, are so unique and have so much to offer in conversation. There is always something to learn from everyone. I really enjoy that. And by doing so, we can open our shop to become a people-connecting network, thereby helping everyone learn something from someone.
No matter your career path, there will always be opportunities to enhance your education and become an expert in your field. I wholeheartedly recommend pursuing these opportunities! Investing in your education is something you will never regret. Educational possibilities are everywhere, just waiting for you to seize them! Remember, knowledge makes you sharp on the inside. Applying it makes you sharp on the outside!
Aaron & Kristi Brown, Authors
Aaron Brown is a Master Barber, Cosmetologist, Educator, and Entrepreneur. As a shop owner and product developer, he has a passion for promoting healthy hair and scalp. He loves to connect with others and share knowledge on industry trends and products to solve common problems with the hair, scalp, and skin to help clients look and feel their best.