No matter which salon you visit, a haircut typically follows the same structure. First, a quick consultation to decide on the style. Then a speedy wash, cut and blowdry, in that order. That’s not the case at Michael Van Clarke’s London salon, where I recently visited for a haircut. Here, the staff cut everyone’s hair while it’s completely dry.
Dry cutting is not exactly a new or unusual method. Salons up and down the country, have offered dry cuts for years. The difference is that Van Clarke’s version has a unique name and the mesmerising results are going viral on TikTok.
Enter: the "diamond dry cut".
Beauty content creators on TikTok are calling the diamond dry haircut "the best haircut in the world" and a handful have even referred to Van Clarke as "the best hairdresser in London". It makes sense: the various transformations shared online are captivating. With a flick of the wrist, each person’s hair gains twice as much volume thanks to a few expertly crafted layers. Then there’s the glass-like shine. The result is reminiscent of the swooshy cuts that dominated the '90s (think: Cindy Crawford or Rachel Green in Friends).
As a beauty journalist with a penchant for all things hair, I felt obliged to book in myself.
What is the diamond haircut?
The diamond dry haircut involves painstakingly cutting each dry section of hair upwards and at various angles. As a result, the hair strands assume a 3D shape when they sit flat, capturing and scattering natural light, exactly like the facets of a diamond.
Rather than wetting the hair and then trying to imagine how different sections might behave when dry, this method makes it easier for a hairdresser to ensure that your hair moves as it should, falls where it needs to and suits your face shape. Because of this, the diamond dry haircut is suitable for all hair types, textures and lengths. Dry cutting is especially popular among hairdressers with curly-haired clients as it's easier to see exactly how each curl will fall. (Hair tends to appear longer when wet, so any curls will bounce up considerably during styling.)
What are the benefits of the diamond haircut?
Today’s approach to cutting hair when wet was designed with the ‘60s bob haircut in mind, suggests Van Clarke: poker-straight and super blunt. But it's not exactly ideal if you’ve got medium-length, long or layered hair. "You want your hair to move, and a wet cut designed for bobs is actually causing it to hang lifelessly," he told me.
Unless you’re going for a bob, cutting hair wet is pretty nonsensical when you think about it. Van Clarke put forward an interesting analogy: tailors don’t dunk fabric in water before draping it over you to decide the shape of an outfit, so why would you cut hair when it’s soaking wet? "So often with simple, wet cutting, the client is in the dark," said Van Clarke. "Styling after a wet cut covers a multitude of errors and then the problems fall to the client once they wash their hair at home." Dry cutting requires more skill, said Van Clarke. The hairdresser sees the hair evolve throughout the cut, rather than trusting the process until your hair is dry. Another reason why dry cutting is favoured among expert stylists is that it's a great way to ensure client involvement and to guarantee satisfaction at home.
Besides allowing for a haircut that is totally tailored to your hair, bone structure and preferences, the main benefit of the diamond dry haircut is that it allows the hairdresser to work in three dimensions rather than two, allowing for a better shape, lots more movement and a high-shine finish.
What happens during the diamond haircut?
I've had more than my fair share of awkward haircuts, so I appreciated Van Clarke’s efforts to explain the process. The dry-cutting technique focuses on what suits an individual and it takes away the pressure of having to explain the name of a new haircut trend (shixie, anyone?) or the need to come armed with pictures of celebrities for inspiration.
As Van Clarke lifted each section of hair up into the air, it was like watching a sculptor carve away at a block of marble. It felt good to see the real impact of every little snip. Van Clarke knew exactly which moves to play and I could see his vision unfolding before my eyes. Happily, cutting the hair dry removes the anxiety of not liking the results. I haven’t seen my hair look this good, ever. The end result was a style that felt very "me" as each subtle layer framed my face and gave my hair a beautiful bounce.
How do you style the diamond haircut?
Even after washing my hair and blowdrying it myself at home, I’m still in love with the results. My previous layers were limp, lifeless and didn’t hold a wave or a curl. Now, even when I let my hair dry naturally, it falls exactly how it did when I left the salon. The way it has been cut at different angles enhances my natural waves, too.
When I blowdry my hair with the Dyson Airwrap, $759.20, or create bigger waves with a hair straightener, the result looks even better, but I no longer feel like styling it is an essential step before leaving the house. I’ve also found that my liquid brunette hair colour has been boosted thanks to each section being cut at a different angle, which means fewer hair appointments in the future.
How do you maintain the diamond haircut?
The whole point of a good haircut like this is to minimise the effort you have to make at home. The diamond dry haircut is certainly very low maintenance. A haircut like this is the foundation for everything, Van Clarke told me. "If the haircut isn’t right, it will waste more of your time with excessive styling, which will impact the condition of your hair," resulting in split ends and colour fade.
The average client comes back every five to six weeks for a cut, said Van Clarke, but he mentioned that I could stretch my appointments to every two to three months. If you have shorter hair, you might want to book in for a trim a little more often than that, perhaps around every four weeks, to dust off any dry ends and freshen up any layers.
How do you ask for the diamond haircut in a salon?
Technically, the diamond dry haircut is only available at Michael Van Clarke’s London salon. Here, each stylist is taught the technique of sculpting and layering each section of hair to enhance it with a 3D effect. However, cutting layers into dry hair is becoming increasingly popular at many other hair salons. Simply ask your stylist for face-framing layers around your jawline and longer layers throughout the lengths. It pays to bring in photos of similar styles, too.
After experiencing the diamond haircut, I honestly don’t think I could ever let a hairdresser cut my hair wet again. Van Clarke warned me of this ahead of the appointment. "Once you’ve had your hair done properly, it’s very difficult to go back," he said. I couldn’t agree more.