Ask a Beauty Editor: What Is the Calligraphy Haircut—and Should I Get One?

The breakthrough hair-cutting technique can give you the volume of your dreams.

Profile of a grey haired woman in a bob, cropped.
Photo: Andreas Kuehn/Getty Images

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Reader question: Do you recommend the calligraphy haircut for all hair types? —Courtney Ponti

Despite its name, the calligraphy haircut has nothing to do with perfect penmanship. However, it does require a similar approach of exactness to achieve the perfect aesthetic.

In other words, it's less of a haircut and more of a hair-cutting technique—and it does require a very specific tool to complete. "A calligraphy haircut is an intricate cutting technique originated in Germany by hairstylist Frank Brorman," says celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. "Instead of scissors, it's done with a long, thin tool that looks similar to a pen with a razor blade on the end and done at a sharp 21-degree angle."

Why 21 degrees? According to Rubenstein, this is the golden number for adding volume and texture with no blunt lines. Cutting diagonally across the end of each hair strand creates a much softer look and maximizes the surface area of the hair, allowing each strand to absorb the most amount of moisture from haircare products. This means that it can prevent split ends and help with hair health over time.

Frank Brormann got the inspiration for the haircut from cutting flower stems—he realized that cutting the stems on an angle with scissors pinched the stems, whereas a sharp chef's knife left a fresher and wider cut. Just like you should cut stems at an angle for the flowers to absorb the most nutrients, he figured hair should be considered the same.

Pretty smart, right? The good news: It can be done on just about any hair texture, type, or length, including bobs, pixie cuts, and curly textures. It can even be done on bangs since it's equally about sculpting as cutting. (Because the blade leaves the ends of your hair more tapered and softer than it would with a pair of scissors, you'll get a lot more movement and bounce.) However, one of the biggest benefits of this cut is added volume, so someone with finer hair will probably notice the most difference.

Keep in mind that because of the specific style of the tool and technique, hairstylists have to be specially trained in the calligraphy haircut to be able to do it. FYI, there are three different certifications (black, silver, and gold) one can get to complete this type of haircut, so don't just walk into any hair salon and ask for the cut without doing your research. It's always a good idea to call ahead and make sure your stylist has the right tools and experience.

But based on all these benefits, a little more research (and maybe a small road trip) might be well worth it.

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