The Executive Taper

This haircut is one of the most difficult and popular haircuts you will come across. The hairstyle requires the ability to blend from a skin length to a professional length on the top without a weight line. The taper must be kept low so there is enough weight left in the corners for the hair to be combed into place. The client that generally gets this haircut is a young professional that is extremely meticulous. If one hair is out of place they will notice it. When you master this haircut you will have a customer for life.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
  • Understand the reasoning for a square shaped haircut.
  • Understand the concept of blending extremely short hair into hair long enough to comb.
  • Demonstrate scissor over comb.
  • Understand the concept of starting on the top section and working down to shorter lengths.
  • Identify when a blending/thinning scissor is needed for completing the fade.
  • Demonstrate a straight razor neck shave.
Step by Step Guide
  1. Determine the shape of haircut. This haircut will be square in shape to leave weight in the corners, bangs, and crown to allow the hair to be styled somewhat conservatively without the hair sticking up or out.
  2. You will be starting on the top area and using the scissor over comb technique for greater accuracy on this length of hair.
  3. Using the scissor over comb method get your center guide by pulling the bangs up at a 90 degree angle and work your way back to the crown. Move the comb slowly so you can always see your previous guide in the comb. Make sure to adjust the angle of the comb higher for a higher crown or lower for a lower crown. Follow the plane you are cutting on until you run out of hair. This technique will allow you to avoid leaving weight lines.
  4. Take a section to the right of the center guide making sure you can see the center guide in the comb at all times. Make sure to keep the comb parallel to floor to insure a square shape (leaving weight in the corners). After establishing the center guide you will now see two guides in your comb. If you don’t see both guides you are moving the comb too fast or the section is too far to the right.
  5. Repeat step 4 one more time to the right. Make sure to the comb is holding the hair at a 90 degree angle around the parietal area of the head. This is also where the border of the top area and sides and back area meet.
  6. For this step you can either start in the back or either side depending on if you are right or left handed. Use a scissor and comb technique holding the comb parallel to the sides and back area of the head and blend to the top area guide. Follow this line until there is no hair in the comb to avoid a weight line. If hair is too short you will go right to the 3/8 attachment or blade and use same technique. The detachable blades will be much more efficient on wet and/or thick hair.
  7. For the sides and back section use the 3 ½ (3/8”) blade on the detachable blade clipper and the blade on skin technique. You will start to bevel the blade out slightly just below the temple area to meet the guide you left with your scissor over comb. Follow that plane until you run out of hair to avoid weight line.
  8. Repeat step 7 with the 2 (1/4”) blade and then the 1 ½ (1/8”) blade. Make sure each time you drop down a blade size you start beveling the clipper about 1/2 inch below your previous guide (where you left off with your previous blade).  This will complete the sides and back area.
  9. You will now move on to the semi-finish area which is 1-2 fingers in width depending on size of your fingers. Now switch to your adjustable clipper and 1/16” attachment. For this step you are going to use a more extreme angle of about 45 degrees. Set the lever to an open position to allow for a longer length. Very slowly use the tip or your attachment and use a scooping motion to bevel the semi-finish area into the sides and back area. Using a very slow motion and following your imaginary plane until you run out of hair will allow you to avoid leaving a weight line. Now close the lever on you clipper and repeat the step using the same scooping motion a little lower.
  10. Now take off the attachment and repeat the above step 3 times. First with the lever all the way open, next with the lever closed half way, and last with the lever closed all the way. It may seem tedious and complicated at first but with practice comes a feel for the different lengths. These short haircuts are consistently achievable with this repeatable system.
  11. Move on to the finish with the trimmer using the blade on skin technique. Make sure to hold the trimmer properly with the stationary blade (not the cutting blade) touching the skin. Stretch the skin around the finish area and use a scooping with the same 45 degree angle to complete the fade.
  12. (Optional) Depending on a few factors you may have to go over the transition area between sides and back area and top area with the 40-44 tooth blending scissor. These would include variations in the scalp causing the hair to look a different color because of the different lengths, different thicknesses of hair between the different areas of the head, scars, and different colors (black to grey, grey to white). If this step is necessary you will use the scissor over comb technique.
  13. The final step of the finishing area is the straight razor shave on sideburns, around the ears, and back of the neck. Apply shaving cream on the areas to be shaved. Start on the right sideburn and grip the side of the head with the palm of your hand. Place your thumb on the side burn and stretch the skin. Shave the bottom of sideburn using a free hand stroke. Next shave the right side of the neck below the ear with a freehand stroke. Move on to the hairline using the freehand stoke all the way across. Use your backhand stoke for the opposite portion of neck below the ear. Lastly use your backhand stoke again for the opposite sideburn. Wipe off excess shaving cream with a clean towel and apply aftershave.
  14. Check your work with the mirror by turning your chair slowly 180 degrees and double check with your hand mirror.
  15. Style the models hair with appropriate product and get their approval.
REVIEW QUESTIONS
  1. What shape is this haircut?
  2. What section should the haircut start in?
  3. What haircutting technique is used in the top section/
  4. What should you see in your comb at all times when picking up the hair?
  5. Is the fade started with the longest blade or the shortest blade?
  6. Which clipper is used in the semi-finish area?
  7. Upon completing the fade what scissor can be used to further blend the fade if necessary?
  8. What is applied to the skin before the straight razor neck shave?
  9. What tool is best for double checking your work before allowing the customer to get out of your chair?

AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY
The most difficult haircut in barbering is the low skin fade with longer hair on top to comb. There is an extreme difference in length from the top to the bottom. When this haircut is blended correctly it will stand out by far. It takes practice and knowledge of all of the tools and techniques to deliver time after time. Do not get discouraged if you can’t get it right away. Be persistent and it will come.