Not All Heads Are Made Equal


Like most of you, unless you have got a job in the Key Worker Sector, I have been on Lockdown! Which means no cutting hair, no teaching workshops, no stage shows, and no photoshoots…

Somewhat different to when I agreed to take the new post as resident columnist, some months ago, when standing closer than 2 metres to someone was OK!

So what have you been up to? Cleaning, gardening, painting, or fading the dog?

After a few weeks of all-day phone calls, form filling, and website checking, I took a few days to chill and enjoy the time with the family.

Then I got down to producing my first online course. It’s called “Three Ways To Boost Your Barbering Profits” and I have already started production of my second one.

This will be an in-depth course, which will focus on the Barbering Basics, covering equipment, layering, scissor skills, and clipper work. And since I’m not allowed (and neither are you) to get my hands on any live models at the moment, it is all going to be shot using ‘Mannequin Heads’ or ‘Block Heads’ as they are commonly known…An essential training tool for the hair industry.

I spoke to a few of my colleagues in the business, to see what insight they could offer, of why mannequins are so useful and some pitfalls to look out for.

Edward Hemmings, Creative Director at Alan d Hairdressing Education offered up some sage words “Mannequins are so important in hairdressing/barbering education, as they don’t have an opinion, they don’t complain, they don’t move and they don’t have to be at the dentist in 45 mins. You can recreate without compromise.” he added “ and great for more advance learning for understanding and perfecting new techniques”

Another good tip, Edward explained, “The quality is important, cheap is never cheap, look out for 100% Human Hair, so many claim to be ‘real hair’…it’s just not human!”

Grand Master Barber, Allan Stone, of Stoney’s Barber Shop, who is an educator for the Great British Barbering Academy, gave me his thoughts about using block heads.

“They are fantastic for new learners who may be nervous speaking to clients, or carrying out a consultation…they don’t talk back! It is really important to get a good mannequin, as the cheap ones from Amazon, get all matted and hard to comb and section, when you wet the hair, rendering it useless,” he said.

Having delivered education to a wide variety of the industry, I have often found when teaching beginner level students, that they can become overzealous with the scissors or clippers, chopping off far too much hair and then having to sit out the class or go and buy a new one. And if students have to use the desk clamps, it can be murder on their backs and legs. Which is why I always encourage learners to invest in a good quality tripod, which might seem weird, because everyone wants to quit cutting blocks as soon as possible, but if you are to keep investing in yourself and your education, you are going to be working with mannequins for many years to come, so the tripod will serve you well.

Joe Cartmel, of Cartmel Barbers, and regular at major hair shows and competitions, told me what advice he gives his apprentices and attendees of his workshops “Don’t waste the hair! Make sure you do as many different styles as possible using all the length. Remove the length slowly to get the most out of the block”

“I think mannequin heads are extremely important for early development, practicing skills, and building confidence, as we know it can be extremely difficult to get clients that would be willing for you to practice on. Although, unlike a client, you CAN tip it upside down to check the shape!”

He added, “For Advanced Education I like to use better quality blocks like the ones made by Pivot Point, are a brilliant way to help you expand your creativity and let you experiment with different techniques and styles, a better quality block will reflect your finished result.”

And I couldn’t agree more with all these points, buy a decent quality block head, a good tripod and cut the hair off wisely.

A final tip from me is, get a pillowcase and fill it with some heavy books then use it across the bottom of the tripod to keep it stable.

For this issue I have some amazing offers, first of all, my latest course “Three Ways To Boost Your Barbering Profits” is FREE to all BarberNV readers available at and I have spoken to the UK wholesaler for Pivot Point Mannequin heads,, and to support your education during the lockdown, they are offering VAT FREE on all purchases of  Pivot Point mannequins.

Use the code BARBERNV

Stay Safe, Keep Learning… and see you soon.

Tony Haresign