“You know, as a curly girl, it’s frightening to walk into a salon and not know whether or not the stylist just wants to straighten my hair or actually knows how to cut and color my hair without me losing curl integrity,” says hair guru Tippi Shorter. That’s why she created a haircutting method called ‘AirCut,’ which is designed for curly, coiled and textured hair types. L’Oreal has adopted the method under their brand, and Shorter’s goal is “make sure that stylists across the globe are certified and understand how to work with hair that’s not naturally straight—because hair is hair.”
Shorter has been in the hair industry since the mid-’90s. She is originally from Southern California and moved to New York to work as a personal hairstylist for celebrities like Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. Eventually, she started her own salon in Manhattan and then became a spokesperson for big hair brands like Pantene, Aveda and L’Oreal. Now she spends most of her time helping such brands with product development and educating people about curls, coils and waves so that they are considered equally and seen as visibly as straight hair. She’s now based in Lee’s Summit, where she and her husband have settled to raise their family. Every now and then, she takes appointments at local salons in the area, which she announces on her Instagram (@tippishorter) and in newsletters, which you can sign up for on her website (tippishorter.com).
“I’ve invested the last fifteen years of my career giving what might be considered graduate school type of instruction,” Shorter says. “All hair professionals should learn how to work with all hair types. But unfortunately, working with textured hair isn’t really something that’s learned at beauty school.”
Often, hairstylists are taught to straighten curly hair before working with it. The AirCut, however, is designed to honor the integrity of naturally curly hair. It’s also meant to be versatile in that, when done properly, it looks good when hair is straightened as well. “I set out to create something that allowed the client to go back and forth from curly and straight,” Shorter says. “I’m a style shifter. I love to go from curly to straight and back. With other methods, my hair was left super choppy.”
The AirCut works for all textures because it’s based on the density of the hair and what hair challenges each client has. And it’s not just about the cut. Stylists using this method should diagnose each client’s hair texture, growth patterns, density, volume and challenges. Once those factors are considered, the hair is cut totally dry and in its natural state. Within the AirCut method, there are six different base techniques that Shorter created to be tailored to individual clients. Salons here in Kansas City are increasingly becoming certified in the method.
You can find certified stylists on the Insta page @mizani_aircut. Sessions Salon in Westwood is one local salon that offers the AirCut, so if you’re looking to rock your natural hair in a shag, bob or another current style trend, you can visit Sessions or other local salons where the AirCut method is being practiced.
Mary Henn is a national award-winning writer with an MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is the current associate editor at Kansas City magazine.
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