Over the past couple of years, Sal Salcedo, the co-owner of Nova Arts Salon, has become one of Los Angeles' most in-demand stylists, well known for combining edginess and timelessness to create individualized cuts. Salcedo, who has over 150,000 Instagram followers, says one of his secrets to success is dry cutting, a technique that many stylists shy away from. "For years, cutting wet was what was taught and so it's all [stylists] know," Salcedo says. "It's been programmed into their minds that cutting hair wet is the only way, but just because something is done for a long time doesn't mean we can't change it now. It's about simplifying, minimizing and evolving."
Salcedo dry cuts all of his clients in his downtown Los Angeles salon, and fell for the technique because of its simplicity. "Dry hair doesn't lie. You can see the hair in its true form without guessing what it will turn into once it dries," he says. "When hair is wet, it becomes about 50 percent more elastic than dry hair and it's easy to accidentally cut too much."
What's more, dry cutting allows the client's natural texture to reveal itself. "When the hair is fully dry, you can easily identify key factors like the density of the hair and the way the hair moves or cowlicks," Salcedo says. "The main benefit is to be able to tailor the haircut to each individual client instead of giving a cookie-cutter cut to everyone. No head of hair is the same." Through deep-point cutting, slicing, sliding and detailing, dry cutting allows stylists to fully customize cuts based on the individual in the chair.
For someone looking to dabble in dry cutting, Salcedo‘s biggest piece of advice is to simplify the thought process. "When I started cutting hair at 13, I was given a pair of scissors and hair to cut," he says. "And the most direct way of doing so was without wetting the hair—if you wanted a layer or a length somewhere, you just cut it."