How To Cut Short Hair

How to cut short hair is one of the most popular topics in barbering and men’s hair cutting in general. There are many different definitions of short hair. All of your customers will have a different opinion of what short hair means to them. It is your job during the customer consultation to figure out exactly what they want and determine the best barbering techniques to give it to them. For the most part short hair today means fades, tapers, and graduated haircuts. The key for all of these haircuts is to finish with a perfect blend without any line of demarcation visible. This means any haircut ranging from a bald fade to a graduated haircut with a short taper around the outline and plenty of hair on top to style.


Fades: Fades generally range from a 1 blade or shorter with little hair on top. The key is to see a gradual increase in length without any line of demarcation.

Tapers: Tapers a generally more along the lines of a business cut. The guy wearing a suit and tie to work with a side part and a cleanly tapered outline. This is a more professionally finished haircut than a square back. Imagine a 45 degree bevel around the outline of the haircut and a taper on the back of the neck.

Graduated Haircuts: These are the haircuts that have plenty of hair on the top to style with a clean outline. The outline is generally tapered and the hair gradually gets longer toward the top. A great example of this is Pompadours which are popular right now.

Barbering Techniques For Short Haircuts:

Scissor Over Comb: Scissor over comb is the most basic technique for cutting short hair. My education required me to be able to cut all short men’s haircuts with the exception of bald fades with a scissor and comb. In my opinion this is the best way to learn. It gives you and excellent understanding of the fundamentals of barbering before you pick up a clipper.

Clipper Over Comb: Once you are able to master your scissor and comb clipper over comb will be easy. Now that you have an understanding of how to master the different haircut shapes and graduation the clipper is a tool that can make your job easier.

Blade On Skin: Once you master scissor and clipper over comb you can move on to cutting with attachments. The problem with starting to learn with attachments is that they become a crutch and get in the way of  mastering your barber tools and barbering techniques.

Men’s hair cutting and barbering is a lot of fun, creative, and is very rewarding. Take the time to learn correctly. Master the three types of short haircuts as well as the three barbering techniques for short hair and you will be on your way to a long and profitable career.

Short Men’s Clipper Cuts – The Prep School Taper

In this blog series I am going to cover in detail some of today’s most popular short clipper cuts. The first haircut in this series is a 1/8″ taper or fade blended into a longer top with texture to be worn with a messy look with wet or dry finish. I like to call this haircut The Prep School Taper. It is a modern day version of the Ivy League haircut popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. It is a low maintenance and easy to style haircut. Excellent fading and blending skills are a must to complete this haircut. This haircut is very popular with the private school guys who are required to dress up for school and are not allowed to use wet looking product in their hair.

Short Men’s Clipper Cuts – The Prep School Taper         Short Men's Clipper Cut

  1. Start on the top section in the center. Use the scissor over comb technique and start with a center section. Keeping the comb parallel to the floor move the comb slowly toward the crown. Repeat the right and left sides of the center section. You will have a center guide and a previous guide in the comb.
  2. Cut the round of the head section. Use the scissor over comb technique. Start in the center of the back area. Work through to the right side and then to the left.
  3. Cut the sides and back section. Use the blade on skin technique with the 3 ½ (3/8”) blade and the detachable blade clipper. Work your way around to the left side.
  4. Repeat step 4 with the 2 (¼”)blade on the detachable blade clipper. Start to bevel the clipper slowly away from the head about ¼ of an inch below the previous section. Follow up with the 1/8” or (1 ½ )blade.
  5. While the 1 ½ (1/8”) blade is on the clipper finish the blend from the sides and back into the round of the head section. Use the clipper over comb technique to soften the blend if there are any heavy spots. Use the tip of the blade over the comb to cut and blend at the same time.
  6. Move on to the semi finish area with the adjustable clipper. Open the lever all of the way leaving it at the longest setting. Use a scooping motion about 1-2 fingers width around the outline of the haircut. Follow up with the blade halfway closed and then all of the way closed.
  7. Complete the finish. Use the t-trimmer to edge off the side burn area and clean up around the ears. Trim up the beard on the back of the neck in an upward shaving motion.
  8. Style the hair. A light to medium hold paste will work best for this dry look. Rub the product all of the way down into the roots of the hair and style to the customers’ preference.

The Barbering Basics DVD includes this haircut video as well as a complete clipper guide video to assist you with all of you short men’s clipper cuts.

How To Blend Hair – The Tapered Hairline

In the barbering world the words taper and fade are often used. By definition a tapered haircut means longer hair gradually tapered to shorter hair. By definition a faded haircut means hair that is cut from short to long without a line of demarcation. As you can see both terms have the same meaning. It all comes down to blending a men’s haircut from shorter to longer without a heavy weight line.

The following questions are where the confusion comes in:
–          Should a taper/fade show skin on the sides?
–          How high should the taper/fade be cut?
–          Should the outline of the haircut be tapered, faded, or squared off?
All of these questions should be answered in the customer consultation.

In this blog I am going to expain the tapered/faded hairline. A tapered/faded outline is a great way to finish off a man’s haircut or a boys haircut. It looks more finished and professional than just making a line on the back of the neck. Visualize a 1 finger width area around the perimeter of the haircut. Instead of blocking or lining this area off create a 45 degree bevel which will leave a soft finish that TAPERS/FADES down to the skin without a line of demarcation. The adjustable clipper is the ideal tool to use combined with the clipper over comb and blade on skin men’s haircutting techniques.

Finishing off a men’s haircut in this manner will allow the haircut to grow in much more naturally. A line of demarcation will not be visible when the haircut is  growing out. Probably the most important benefit of finishing a men’s haircut this way is it is difficult to do. This will keep your customer in the barbershop or salon instead of a friend, wife, or girlfriend trimming your customer’s neck in between haircuts.