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Sara and Lune
Photography Elizabeth Ibarra

‘Intuitive dry cutting’ is the new trend here to change haircuts forever

New York hair studio Salune believes its signature process of cutting hair according to an individual’s ‘whorl’ leads to total self-acceptance and avoids those awkward moments of hating your haircut

So many of my past haircuts are littered with the distress of not feeling heard by different stylists, which has often resulted in a haircut that was far from what I wanted. This is a situation many people experience according to Lune Wynyard, a hairstylist and salon owner currently based in Hudson, New York. In fact, it’s a phenomenon they tell me is called one’s “hair trauma” – a symptom of the beauty and hair industry being founded on the idea that people constantly need to change their appearance in order to look the way society expects them to look. 

Breaking down the ways in which the system is built to feed off people’s insecurities is one of the many aims of their hair studio Salune, which opened two years ago and takes a genderless approach by pricing haircuts based on hair length rather than sex. The space focuses on the process of ‘intuitive dry cutting’ where Wynyard and an intimate team of four stylists and three assistants cut people’s hair exactly as it would look dry. While they admit the concept sounds basic at first, in a time when hair is more often than not cut while wet, it’s an idea they believe is going to revolutionise the way we treat our hair. 

Wynyard officially came up with the process about three years ago after working as a hairstylist in cities including Charlottesville, Manhattan, and now Hudson. It puts forth the concept that hair should be cut according to each person’s spiral hair growth pattern – something (it’s also called a “whorl”) that is only visible when the hair is dry. Rather than trying to force the hair to look a certain way with hot tools and excessive products, the thinking behind their approach is to embrace the hair’s natural arrangement and elevate that through precise shaping, almost like a sculptor perfecting a clay structure. But they say they’ve been intuitively practicing since high school when they started cutting their friends hair just for fun. “I kept learning and incorporating my own approach without any instruction until I went to beauty school in 2011,” they tell us.

Most of the curriculum for hair cutting was developed in the 1950s when people were very anti-nature, Wynyard explains. “Grey hair. Curly hair. Coarse ‘difficult’ hair, or even thin and straight, it can all look its best based on how it’s cut.” Accordingly, this approach is ideal for clients like me who want to do minimal to no styling on a regular basis, which Wynyard believes is the majority of today’s population. “It’s rooted in ideas of self-acceptance and acceptance of what is without trying to force them to be different.” The salon believes consumers are becoming more attracted to the concept of having lower maintenance hair that looks good no matter what and looks just as good, if not better, while growing out. It feels incredibly serendipitous when an invite to try out their services miraculously finds its way into my inbox only four days after I leave a job writing stories about fashion and beauty during a time in which I didn’t feel all that great about my hairstyle.

Salune’s clients are travelling further and further to get this kind of haircut and this is exactly my experience when I travel the nearly two hours from Brooklyn to Hudson to get a haircut at the studio. Wynyard and their staff give me a warm welcome into their space and I watch as another woman ahead of me gets her tight curls transformed from a shoulder-length hairdo to a cropped look that seems to make her feel energised. “Just look at those healthy, happy curls!!” the salon posts on Instagram with a side-by-side comparison of her hair before and after the cut.

We start off my appointment by talking about my relationship with haircuts. I complain about how I always feel like I look as though I’m going to a pageant after, that haircuts often make me cry because I never end up feeling good about myself. How I wish someone would cut my hair so it looks good with its natural texture and wave, after all, I haven’t put a flat iron to it in nearly 10 years and I don’t like to style it too much. Wynyard tells me I’ve come to exactly the right place (hooray!), shows me my whorl pattern with a mirror then begins chopping away at my three-day-old hair that’s been worn tied up in a scrunchie since late 2018.

“If we are paying close attention to your hair’s unique signature, we are connecting to an expression of your essence. To bring that out and into the haircut can be healing for many people who may get lost in comparing themselves to others, or may have never known what their own hair was capable of doing when treated from a place of total acceptance” – Lune Wynyard, founder, Salune 

“People don’t really have the time to style their hair for hours nowadays,” they explain. After my cut, I sit under three infrared circulating hair dryers that rotate around my head while simulating the experience of air drying, then Wynyard uses a moisture-lock curl smooth serum by Afterworld Organics, which is made from natural ingredients, and cuts away a few final pieces. Lastly, they take a Dyson Supersonic blow dryer to my hair for a few minutes and voila! I rejoice over the fact that my hair has its natural wave again for the first time in over a year. Plus, Wynyard also tells me the cut is designed so that it grows in nicely too.

“If we are paying close attention to your hair’s unique signature, which is different for each person, we are connecting to an expression of your essence,” they say. “To bring that out and into the haircut can be healing for many people who may get lost in comparing themselves to others, or may have never known what their own hair was capable of doing when treated from a place of total acceptance. It’s alchemical.” This is why Wynyard cuts their clients’ hair dry first, then washes it and dries it with a special dryer that mimics the process of air drying, and then goes back in to cut it again to make sure the hair is in line with the client’s wishes. This exercise doesn’t necessarily take longer than a regular haircut, but there seems to be more intentionality behind it and purposely so. “Most people’s minds are blown by how common sense this process is and the question is: why doesn’t everyone cut hair this way?”

Moreover, the expectation that one is supposed to style their hair for hours in order to look presentable is something that’s been passed down through different generations. “Products are great, and there is a time and place for heat styling, but both should be used minimally to bring out the beauty of the natural hair, just like salt or spices should accentuate the natural flavour of a vegetable,” they say. Looking back on my childhood, watching my mother spend ample time “getting ready” for different commitments was a formidable experience in my own maturation and femininity. In the process, I learned that looking good means feeling good, a toxic idea that has shaped much of my self-image. It’s only now in my early 30s that I’ve been waking up to the ways capitalism has dictated my relationship to beauty, and realised that beauty truly is skin deep.

With this in mind, Wynyard tells me it’s incredibly rare for people to love their hair. “The concept of working with instead of against one’s natural hair, which is more en vogue as I’m sure you’re noticing too, is representative of a movement toward sustainability and self-love as a form of resistance,” they share. These connections are something Wynyard is trying to foster in their studio, in order to bring people back into harmony with their hair. It’s for this very reason that they train their stylists to be more present and hold space for their clients so that they can share their experiences in a way that doesn’t feel hurried but safe and non-judgemental. 

“When we accept ourselves the way nature has created us, we are liberated,” says Wynyard, “and that sense of freedom translates as confidence and beauty. We are empowered to be ourselves.” While the stylist believes every person can benefit from this type of haircut, and they’ve had no problem finding customers, they are having trouble finding more stylists to join their salon and get on board with practising this approach. 

“I’m increasingly desperate to get the word out about what a great working environment this is for stylists or recent beauty-school graduates who want to work in a more sustainable, holistic, and nontraditional way with hair. I’ve finally started developing as a larger teaching and philosophy for hairstylists,” they share. Soon they will launch a website specifically about intuitive dry cutting and in March 2020, they plan to begin hosting a monthly introductory workshop in New York City to garner attention and hopefully recruit more talent. 

In only a few weeks, my new haircut is growing in perfectly wavy and natural, just the way I’ve always wanted. This is a welcome development after not feeling like my hair has looked like its authentic self in over a year, which has caused me a great deal of stress and frustration. In turn, I’m feeling more confident in my appearance than I have in some time, and I can definitely recognise the part this haircut has played in this new chapter. I’m in harmony with my hair and I have Salune to thank for that.