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Last updated: June 13, 2022

13 Tips You Didn’t Learn in Beauty School

Fashion Week and editorial styling legend Peter Gray gives it to us straight with 13 cutting and styling tips and no-BS hairdressing #truths.

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What They Didn’t Teach You In Beauty School…

When Fashion Week and editorial styling legend Peter Gray (@petergrayhair) talks, you listen. Peter’s known for his brass tacks, tell-it-like-it-is education. Put him next to educators Kelli Fahey (@kellifahey) and Kevin Hughes (@hairbyeleven) at the Moroccanoil® Academy in NYC? You’ve got the perfect recipe for no-BS education, practical cutting and styling how-tos with plenty of hairdressing #truths.

“A lot of problems in hairdressing come from over-complication,” says Peter. “Our whole industry has gotten stuck in this singular way of doing things.” The goal of the Moroccanoil® Academy courses? Teach students to think practically, work efficiently and challenge everything they’ve been taught in the past.

BTC recently had the opportunity to sit in on one of the academy courses—which covered everything from the consultation to layering and graduation techniques to unconventional styling practices. Here are a few of the educators’ takes on basic hairdressing principles, as well as some of our favorite aha moments.



1. The Consultation

The worst thing you can do during a consultation is stand behind your chair and use your mirror as a crutch. Instead, pull up a chair next to your client, get down on his or her level and make it a personal experience. “Ask them what they like and don’t like about their hair,” suggests Kelli. “Find out what they do for a living, how often they wash their hair, if they style their hair, etc. Figure out their style and daily routine.” Also, pay attention to their body language. “Do they hide their face with their hair? Are they moving their hair up off their face? This will help determine what they want in a style.” 


2. Cutting Lines Into Hair

“Why do we cut straight lines into the hair?” asks Peter. “So we can blend them out afterward? It doesn’t make any sense!” To save time, Peter says, if you’re creating a textured look, point-cut your line from the beginning instead of blunt-cutting and going back in with a texturizing shear.


3. Tool Selection

Y.S. Park combs? Great for sectioning—not so much for cutting, says Peter. “You’ll always have a notch missing because of the gap in the teeth at the end, and it will mess up your tension.” Instead, Peter uses Beuy combs when cutting. On that note, Peter says the most important tool when cutting hair isn’t your shears—it’s your comb. “I use $120 shears,” says Peter. “They’re really basic, but they do the job. Because it’s not the blade that does the work when you’re cutting. The comb is the most important thing to me.”     



4. Maintaining Straight Guides 

The biggest thing when cutting a straight line is to keep your client’s head upright, in one position. “This is one of the things we all suffer from balance-wise,” notes Peter. “You do one side, and then she uncrosses her legs and crosses them the other way or sits back and you’re all screwed up. So when I’m cutting one length, I’ll often have a client stand and hold onto the back of a chair. This ensures I’m cutting a straight line.”


5. Accommodating Every Type Of Client

When you’re working with a heavier client whose hair is past her shoulders, go one step further and ask her to stand at a table and lean slightly forward, resting her hand on the table. This will allow her hair to fall straight in front of her, ensuring a clean line, every time.


6. First Impressions

When you first meet a client, introduce yourself, face-to-face. Shake hands. Go into a relationship with your client straight-on, as equals. “If you’re a hugger or a kisser, that’s fine, but commit,” says Peter. “There’s nothing worse than a fashion air kiss” (see below).


Tip: don’t greet clients like this…

7. Proper Posture

Remember how your tee-ball instructor always told you to keep your elbow up when you were up to bat? The same goes for cutting hair. Make sure the elbow you use to hold your comb never relaxes. “If you get too relaxed, your comb will turn down,” shares Kelli. “Keeping your elbow up will keep the line consistent.”


For a consistent line, keep that elbow up!


8. Retail Cheats

“I use a lot of hand cream [from the Moroccanoil® body line] on set,” says Peter. “It’s much lighter than most styling creams, and it gives you a nice, lived-in look.” Plus, it’s a great retail product. It’s an easy sell because your clients will love that they can use it on their hair and their hands. And they’ll be using twice as much!


9. Shampooing Your Clients

Think shampooing is beneath you? Think again. “I try to always shampoo my clients because it’s a really intimate part of the process, and my clients are quite happy to give me money for that personal attention,” says Peter. “Plus, I can get a better sense of what their hair condition is, and I’ve always sold more product this way. I’ll tell my client, ‘We’re using this on you, and this is why.’ And I’ll walk over and put it on the counter in front of them and walk away. You’re literally giving away money not shampooing your clients.”


10. Blow-Drying Tricks

To create volume, eliminate hard parts and create a longer-lasting blowout, diffuse the client’s desired part with a weaving technique using your tail comb. Once the blowout is complete, finish with a clean parting.


11. Bridal Tips

You know those annoying gaps you end up with in the front hairline after creating an updo? Keep a pigmented powder or even an eye pencil in your bag and use it to fill in wide gaps where you can see the scalp. Your bridal client will thank you when she sees her wedding photos!


12. Slide Cutting Hack 

When slice-cutting, it’s important to open and close your shears instead of sliding them down the hair shaft, says Kelli. Also, make sure to pinch the strand in place as you move your shears down the hair shaft. 


13. Preventing Clients From Leaving

By now, everyone knows the number one reason clients leave a stylist is because there was never a change. So how do you prevent this from happening? “Even if they don’t say they want something different, just throw it out there,” says Kevin. “Plant the seed. You could say something like, ‘You’d look really good with a shorter piece in the front. We won’t do it today, but think about it.’ They’ll go home and think it over and next time they come in they’ll probably get it.” Even better? Something like, “I just learned this new technique and thought of you. Want to try it out?” This will make them feel special and more open to a new look!


To get more tips like these from Peter and the
Moroccanoil® team,
sign up for an academy class

A Moroccanoil® Academy class poses for a “behind the chair” photo!