Guest Blog: Sam's Playlist - Hair Cutting Foundations & Elevation

Elevation, over direction and finger angle. You know all of these haircutting terms from hair school, but do you really understand what each of these terms mean and how they affect the end result of your haircut?

We feel that it’s so important for you as hairdressers to understand these hair cutting foundations and principles that we have created a 3-part video series. For many of you, this will be a refresher course and for others it will change the way you look at cutting hair. Now, let’s get to education…it's all about elevation!


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What is Elevation?

Elevation is the up and down (vertical) movement of hair. Whether you take a section that is horizontal, vertical or diagonal, the hair within those sections must always travel up or down to control your elevation.

What Does Elevation Do?

Elevation changes the silhouette vertically. For example: If you want to collapse the bottom and leave weight up top, or perhaps you want to remove weight from the top and leave weight at the bottom, this is all controlled through the elevation of your sections.

Cutting Hair in Natural Fall

If hair is combed into natural fall and you cut the hair without any elevation (haven’t lifted the hair at all away from the head) you will create the maximum amount of weight and density at the perimeter. This happens because all of the hair you cut are sitting at the same point.

Building Density Away From The Perimeter

In order to build density up and away from the head, you need to elevate the hair vertically from natural fall. When you lift or elevate the hair in-between natural fall and 90° from the head shape, you’re going to take weight away from the bottom and build weight up and away from the head shape.

Leaving Length and Weight Through The Perimeter

When you elevate the hair above 90° from the head shape, you will keep more length and weight through the perimeter while removing length and weight from the upper surface.

Most Extreme Form of Elevation

If you’ve been to The Redken Exchange in NYC and have taken the class called Cut & Know Why, you’re probably familiar with Redken Principle Based Design (also called Redken PBD) and a term called swelling graduation. This is the most extreme form of elevation. For this technique, you are elevating hair from one side of the head up and across to the other side of the head where you will cut the hair. Since you will be elevating the hair as far as possible from natural fall, you will end up with a maximum amount of movement on the upper surface while allowing for the maximum amount of density to be preserved through the ends.

We encourage you to watch the video above to learn more about how elevation affects your haircuts. Be sure to check back next week as we will post the 2nd part to this hair cutting foundations, over direction.

About: Sam Villa is founding partner of the Sam Villa brand (Allvus, LLC), designed to bring “More Sam to More People.”  The educational world of this Favorite Platform Artist and Educator (2012, 2011 and 2007), Favorite Overall Educator of the Year (2015) and Education Artistic Director for Redken 5th Avenue, can be experienced on

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