The Academy Taper

This is another haircut that is a timeless classic. It is a low taper with the hair long enough on top to be styled conservatively. You will see this haircut in young men across the country attending private military academies. This style is also popular among professionals who need a neat look for work. The close tapered outline perfectly blended into a longer top makes this haircut stand out, especially in uniform.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Understand the concepts of a basic square shape layer cut.
  • Understand what a classic tapered hairline should look like.
  • Demonstrate the scissor over fingers technique.
  • Demonstrate the scissor over comb technique.
  • Demonstrate clipper over comb technique.
  • Demonstrate scissor over comb with a thinning scissor technique.
  • Demonstrate a straight razor neck shave.

Step by Step Guide

  1. Start on the top section in the center. Use the scissor over fingers technique and start with the center section. Hold the comb parallel to the floor and pull the hair straight up using the bangs as a guide. Take off the desired length in the first section and this will serve as the traveling guide. Keeping the comb parallel to the floor move the comb slowly toward the crown with the proper angle so the hair will be left long enough not to stick up. The more sections taken the more even the cut will be.
  2. Repeat step 1 on the right and left sides of the center section. You will have a center guide and a previous guide in the comb. If there is any recession in the corners make sure to over direct the hair to the point of the recession. In this case there is not so the hair can be cut even with the center section. Repeat this step as many times as necessary until there is no more hair to cut. When you get to the round of the head and the comb is parallel to the floor there will be a point that the hair will not reach the comb. This is OK because we are cutting a square shape and need the weight in the corners.
  3. Texturize the top using the scissor over comb technique with the 40-44 thinning scissor. Use the same sectioning as in step 1 and 2 only the hair is too short after layering to pick up with your fingers
  4. Blend the round of the head section to the top section. Use the scissor over fingers technique and start in the back or crown area. Take a section in the center with your fingers positioned parallel to the head. This will ensure the square shape leaving weight in the corners. Take small sections and work to the right side and then back to the center and work to the left. The smaller the sections the easier it will be to see the traveling guide and the more even the cut will be.
  5. Use the scissor over comb technique to start the first part of the sides and back section. Start at the right front temple. Hold the large scissor comb parallel to the head and blend into the round of the head section. This will remove enough weight making it easier for the clipper to go through the hair in the next step.
  6. Continue on the sides and back section with the detachable blade clipper. Start with the 3 ½ (3/8”) blade. Use the blade on skin technique and blend to the previous cut area where you left off with the scissor over comb technique. Start to bevel the clipper slowly away from the head about ½ an inch below the previous section. This will leave a nice smooth blend into the previous cut guide.
  7. Repeat step 6 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.
  8. Repeat step 7 with the 1 ½ (1/8”) 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. While the 1/8 inch blade is on the clipper use the clipper over comb technique to soften the blend around the round of the head if there are any heavy spots. Remember, this is the blending blade. Use the tip of the blade over the comb to cut and blend at the same time. (There should be very little blending to do if the previous steps were done correctly.)
  9. 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. This will start the taper.
  10. Repeat step 9 with the lever of the adjustable clipper halfway closed. Use the same scooping motion around the outline of the haircut ½ to 1 finger width.
  11. Repeat step 10 with the lever to the adjustable clipper in the closed position. Use the scooping motion about ¼ – ½ inch around the perimeter of the haircut. After this step is done the taper is complete and the haircut is ready for the finish.
  12. Complete the finish. Use the t-trimmer to edge off the side burn area and clean up around the ears. Pull the ear down to make it easier to see any excess hair behind the ear. Just cut the hair that pops out. Do not go in to far. That will leave too big of an arc around the ear sometimes referred to as a white wall.
  13. Make the diagonal line on the neck behind the ear. Leave the line out as far as possible. Do not go in off the natural hairline and cut into the taper.
  14. Use an upward shaving motion to clean up the back of the neck. The taper is already complete so it is extremely important not to get anywhere near the hairline. Stop ½ -1 inch below the taper so a line is not made.
  15. Finish the opposite side of the neck and sideburn area.
  16. Depending on the age of the child shave the neck with the straight razor. Always check with the parents first to make sure it is OK with them.
  17. Style the clients hair. With certain military academy requirements the kids are not allowed to have any product in their hair. If that is the case they can usually get away with a light cream or light dry paste. Make sure the hair is dry before styling so it does not look like the hair has product in it.

REVIEW QUESTIONS

  1. What section should the haircut start in?
  2. What technique is used in the top section?
  3. What should you see in the comb when cutting the hair?
  4. What tool is used to texturize the top section?
  5. Does the taper in the sides and back section begin with the longest or shortest blade/attachment?
  6. What blade/attachment should the taper in the sides and back section begin with?
  7. What position should the blade on the adjustable clipper be in when starting the semi-finish?
  8. How do you measure the semi-finish section?
  9. What tool is used for the finish?
  10. What type of hair styling product can be used for dry finish?

AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY

The taper on this particular haircut needs to be 100% technically correct to pass inspection. Hair cannot touch the ears or the collar and there can be no line. Take your time and just focus on the current section you are working on. This will make the next section easier and the haircut more accurate. Make sure to find out from the client any extra requirements of the academy if any.