The North End Taper

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[adrotate banner=”3″]This haircut is named after a hairstyle that is extremely common in the North End of Boston. It is a predominantly Italian section of the city famous for its restaurants and bakeries. This hairstyle is perfect for the client with thick, dark, wavy hair that likes a neatly tapered look with some hair to comb or brush. What really makes this style stand out is the longer textured hair tapering down to a neatly finished outline.

[highlight]LEARNING OBJECTIVES[/highlight]

  • Understand how to blend a tapered outline into longer length hair on the top and sides.
  • Understand how to leave the sides and back longer while tapering the outline of the haircut close.
  • Understand a larger degree of graduation.
  • Identify when the hair is too short to pick up with your fingers but needs to be left longer than the largest clipper blade.
  • Become more comfortable with the scissor over comb and clipper over comb techniques’.
  • Demonstrate a graduated hairstyle with a close taper around the outline of the haircut.

[highlight]LEARNING OBJECTIVES[/highlight]

  1. Cut the top section. Use the scissor over comb technique with a 40-44 tooth thinning scissor. This scissor works best on thick wavy hair for cutting length and leaving texture. (Start from the back if the hair grows from front to back. Start in the front if the hair grows from back to front).  Cut the center section first. Over direct the hair away from the crown so the hair is left long enough not to stand up. Keep the comb parallel to the floor and cut from the back to the front. Move the comb slow and start 1/3 of the way down the shaft of the hair. Slowly elevate the comb and make 2 half closes and 1 full close with the scissor. This will texturize and cut length at the same time. As the fore head rounds down make sure to keep the comb parallel to the floor. This will automatically over direct the front leaving the hair longer in the bang area and the corners of the hairline (if receding).
  2. Repeat step 1 on the left and right sides using the center as the guide. Keep the comb parallel to the floor and take as many sections necessary until the comb does not pick up any hair at the round of the head. Keeping the comb parallel will establish the square shape leaving the desired weight in the corners for the hair to move properly.
  3. Blend the round of the head section into the top. Use the same technique as on top. Start in the back and hold the comb parallel to the side of the head. Cut the hair on that plane until you run out of hair. This will complete the square shape leaving the necessary weight in the corners.
  4. Complete the sides and back section. Use the detachable blade clipper, clipper comb, and the 1 ½ (1/8”) blade with the clipper over comb technique. The 1 ½  inch blade is being used because it leaves soft straight hair with a blended cut. The closer blades tend to leave clipper marks or lines of demarcation. Start in the front right side burn area and keep the parallel to the side of the head. Cut and blend the hair into the round of the head section. When you get to the round of the head pull the heel of the blade away from the comb and just run the tip of the blade across the comb a few times. This will take off the faint line if any of demarcation in that area.
  5. Start the semi-finish. The first part of the semi-finish can be done during step 4 or after. Hold the clipper comb at a 45 degree angle and taper out the 1-2 finger width around the ears and on the hairline. (If starting the semi-finish after step 4 you can use the adjustable in the open position. If doing it during step 4 you will stick with the detachable blade clipper and the 1 ½ blade. If the hair is a little longer it will be easier to start out with the bigger clipper before moving on to the adjustable clipper). Follow the 45 degree angle until you run out of hair. This will allow for a smooth blend into the sides and back section.
  6. Continue the semi finish with the adjustable clipper in the open position using the blade on skin technique. Using a scooping motion with the blade facing upward and pull the clipper away from the head when it reaches the hairline. This will leave a nice natural/tapered hairline. Follow this step from right side burn area around the head to the other side.
  7. Repeat previous step with the adjustable clipper halfway closed and start scooping the blade about ¼ of an inch below where you left off in step 6.
  8. Repeat step 7 with the adjustable clipper in the closed position and start scooping the blade about ¼ of an inch below where you left off in step 7. This will complete the taper.
  9. 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.
  10. Make the diagonal line on the neck behind the ear. Leave the line out as far as possible. Do not cut off the natural hairline and into the taper.
  11. 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.
  12. Finish the opposite side of the neck and sideburn area.
  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 stroke all the way across. Use your backhand stoke for the opposite portion of neck below the ear. Lastly use your backhand stroke again for the opposite sideburn. Wipe off excess shaving cream with a clean towel and apply aftershave.
  14. Style the hair. This hairstyle is generally worn with the wet look. Dampen the hair a little and apply the product. Use either pomade for movability or a firm hold gel. Rub the product in good down to the roots and just use your fingers to style. This will show off the texture nicely.

[highlight]REVIEW QUESTIONS[/highlight]

  1. What section does the haircut start in?
  2. What technique and tool is used in the top section?
  3. Explain why the 40-44 tooth thinning scissor is best for top section of this haircut.
  4. What technique is used for the sides and back section?
  5. Why is the 1/8 inch blade the best blade to use with the clipper over comb technique for this type of hair?
  6. What angle should the comb be held at when beginning the semi-finish?
  7. Explain where the diagonal outline behind the ear be cut.
  8. What type of styling products work best for the wet look?

[highlight]AUTHORS COMMENTARY[/highlight]
This is a natural looking haircut and should have a natural finish. This finish will show off the different textures and lengths of the haircut. Make sure to be comfortable with the advanced technique of scissor over comb with the thinning scissor. A low tapered hairline is essential to make this haircut stand out. When the hair is cut correctly it will just fall into place when styled with your fingers.