Alan Benfield Bush does not consider himself to be the creator of The Method—a way to communicate the language of haircutting—he considers himself as its messenger. “I’m not the creator of The Method, yet I found it," he says. "It’s always been there and there have been many interpretations of it. I just discovered it and now I’ve been its messenger since 1973.” Bush was first inspired to create his now renowned language of hair design known as “The Method,” while managing and educating at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in San Francisco. Bush essentially discovered how all hairdressers cut hair, while serving as the Managing Director of Education for Sassoon. He would observe the hairstylists and students working on clients. He shares, “They were all moving the same way and standing the same way, yet their results were very different. I wanted to know why? Then a lightbulb went off. They were cutting the hair the same way using length and upward movement called elevation. Next they were creating width, which is lateral side to side movements. Depth was created with the hands moving in and out, constructing the shape. It became clear to me that once you understand those movements, you would understand the craft of hair.”
Science of Hair
Bush realized that hairstylists were already using The Method intuitively, yet most did not have the basic understanding in description. He researched the terminology from the dictionary to talk about the science of hair design based on Vidal Sassoon’s structured, architectural hairstyling. Bush shares, “I do not teach haircuts. I teach how to cut hair. Discovering The Method set me free in allowing my full creativity to be released. To understand the Method is to understand the full content of hair design. It is then up to each individual to express that through their own great creativity. We all use the same method but we all approach it differently.” Bush knew Vidal personally while working as his Managing Director of Education and was in awe of his presence. He is proud and thankful to be able to share The Method with countless other professionals and to add to their entrepreneurship and their careers. Vidal Sassoon himself congratulated Bush on developing the Method, saying “Your teaching ability amazes me and you’ve put the language to the craft.”
The Method has three forms of haircutting called geometric, volumetric and trimetric projection. The Method also works for haircolor in addition to haircutting. The same technique of considering length, width and depth is used to apply haircolor and simplifies the process. Bush notes, “You can get coverage for the entire head with only four or five foils. There is very little amount of placement which is a huge advantage in time. The technique is in the placement. Where you are pulling the hair from and to is the importance."
Know Your Worth
Learning The Method while gaining the confidence and knowledge it brings, will help all beauty professionals to recognize their true worth. Bush says, “Hairstylists are the stars! They are the experts as they touch the hair of every client and they will have different needs. The hairdressers are the doctors prescribing their haircare maintenance between salon visits. Ninety five percent of clients will buy what we recommend. The hairdressers are bigger than any brand and the brands need them. They do not need the brands. The psychological belief is that the brand names have the power, yet it is always the hairdresser. The brands take away power by selling over the counter products and accessories for homecare that keep clients out of the salon, battling against the industry who they’re using to sell and recommend products. We should only sell products through hairdressers. When a brand goes public, we should applaud them as we helped them to get there. That gives us the next step – to drop that line and get a new and upcoming one! I am always upgrading product lines for my clients. It is my job to be the expert; to make sure I’ve got the newest and latest thing. I don’t want to offer products that clients can buy over the counter, that fluctuate in ingredients and quality of performance.”
Bush advises professionals to look for the positive in any negative results, so you can turn it around. An example of turning a negative into a positive would be a hairstylist asking a client, “How would you like your hair cut today?” Bush says, “That means you’re asking her how to cut her own hair; not asking her about the end result. Keep her mind on the end result instead. Ask her, ‘Is there any particular hair design that you have seen that you think may suit you?’ We should know how to get there based on what she tells us or whether she tells you something she doesn’t like.” The consultation will be key for gathering the information you need from the client and setting up important retailing opportunities. “Never sell products. Instead, educate your client on the products she’s going to use at home between salon visits. Ask questions like, ‘How is the condition of your hair since I’ve seen you last?’ Open up that dialogue so she can discuss her likes and dislikes. The more she opens up the more information you have. Never do what a client says, but always give her what she wants!”
Bush says The Method is an established standard in the industry and would like to see it established as a standard for beauty schools. “Early in my career I pretended I knew what I was doing and copied other designs. I didn’t really understand the totality of what I was doing until I discovered the Method while working as the Managing Director of Education at Vidal Sassoon and that’s when it exploded. I gained confidence and knew what I was going to talk about. I have all the answers; I just need all the questions!” Bush continues to be the messenger for The Method, sharing it with hair professionals around the globe while empowering and enriching hairdressers’ lives.