Principle-Based Design


Complete principle-based hair design training for stylists. Know how to see a design and break it down to its elements: point, line, and angle. Master elevation and over-direction. Everything you need to create, recreate, and communicate any hair design any time.

Complete Design Education

When you have mastered the principles of design, you will never need to learn another haircut. Just by seeing it, you will know how to do it. Unlock your creativity and create any design any time — on any head of hair. In less time that you thought possible, and for far less investment, you will have the skills most career and platform artists spend a lifetime learning.

The Principles of Shape

At its heart, any hair design, however complex, comes down to its shape. And shape comes from three elements: point, line, and angle.

When you break it down, the universe is simple. Points mark a change in direction where two lines create an angle. Lines are straight or curved. They travel on the horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Join a few points together with lines and you’ve got a shape. That’s it. Change just one of those lines and you’ve changed the shape. Powerful stuff!

The principles of shape allow us to express our creativity. They allow us to be exact in the shapes we create. They allow us to go back whenever we want or to take a magazine picture and recreate that shape. And for the first time ever we can communicate to our fellow stylists exactly what we did.

The Principles of Movement

Haircutting is a series of movements. We move the hair up and down to elevate it, we move it to the side to over-direct it, and we move the angle of our fingers in toward the head or out from it to create a cutting angle.

It’s the movements that create graduation in the design.

The Principles of Headform

It’s safe to say that every guest’s head shape is unique. If we had ten different guests with the same hair type and the same hair density and we did exactly the same haircut on each, the finished shapes would all look different due to the variations in their headform.

It’s also safe to say that we have certain things in common, and we can use those common things as reference points.

Knowing the points of reference allows us to think of the perimeter in smaller bites. Breaking the shape down into simpler predictable parts makes balance and consistency much easier to achieve.

The Principles of Graduation

Hair design can be simplified into two haircuts: blunt or graduated. In other words, a hair design is either all one length, or it has some sort of layering.

There are all sorts of names for graduation in the hair: layers, feathering, taper,
square, round, and many others. These terms can be misunderstood, so for clarity we keep it simple and bring them all under one roof:

The type of graduation we use gives us dramatically difference results, whether it be straight, scooping, swelling, or cutting to the planes of the head.

Hairstyle Analysis

Here’s how you apply the principles to know how to recreate any design you see, even if it’s just a photo. Break any design down into its component parts: point, line, and angle. Recognize graduation easily and accurately. Then recreate the look or modify it to suit any client.


The way you section hair before cutting will have a profound effect on your result. Do you want to modify a style to better suit a client’s wider face shape? Or you might want to maintain volume at the top of the head. Plan for these results right from the start to streamline your process for maximum efficiency and consistency.

The Principles in Action

Work along with Chris Baran as he shows how applying the principles will unlock your creativity in powerful ways.

  • Swelling Graduation with Denyc
  • Scooping Graduation with Janice
  • Planes of the Head with Alexis
  • Finger Angle with Christy
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