The Physician’s Taper

This haircut is the popular choice for medical students and young physicians alike. It is low maintenance and looks professional at the same time. The doctors love it because their hair always looks good even when they are taking the surgical cap on and off all day. It is more important than ever on this particular haircut to be a smooth as you can with the tools. Straight dark hair like this will show every single clipper or scissor mark if you are not careful.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
  • Understand the concepts of fading straight hair.
  • Understand the concept of cutting a fade by starting with the longest blade and working down to the shortest.
  • Understand the concept of cutting a fade without making a line of demarcation that has to be blended out.
  • Demonstrate the scissor over comb technique.
  • Demonstrate the clipper over comb technique.
  • Demonstrate a blended fade without a line of demarcation in the transition area from shorter hair to longer hair.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
  1. Start on the top section. The hair will be too short to pick up with your fingers so you will use the scissor over comb technique. Start by getting a center guide and work from the bangs to the crown in the center section. Keep the comb parallel to the floor and pull the bangs upward perpendicular to the floor. This will leave the bangs at the correct length. If you comb the bangs straight down and cut across you run the risk of cutting them too short and not having enough hair to comb to the side or back. Keeping the comb parallel to the floor will also ensure the hair will be left long enough in the crown so the hair does not stand up.
  2. Take one to two sections on either side of the center guide to complete the top. Make sure you can see the center guide and the previous guide in the comb at all times.
  3. Next, cut a guide around the round of the head. This will make it much easier and help avoid leaving a line when you cut the fade/taper. Use either the scissor over comb or clipper over comb technique. Start in the back and hold the comb parallel. Take and imaginary line straight up in the air at this angle until you run out of hair. This will create a guide and blend that guide into the top.
  4. Cut the sides and back. Start with the 3 ½ (3/8”) blade. Use the blade on skin technique and follow that same imaginary line straight up in the air parallel to the head. As the head rounds in keep moving the clipper straight up in the air. This will leave a nice smooth blend into the previous cut guide.
  5. Next, use the 2 (1/4”) blade. Repeat step 4 except this time when you get to the round of the head let it push the clipper blade outward and follow that line slowly until you run out of hair. This will blend into the previous cut without a line.
  6. Use the 1 ½ (1/8”) blade next. About ¼ – ½ inch below the round of the head start pulling the clipper blade away from the head in a scooping motion very slowly. This will blend into the previously cut area without a line. 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. If the previous steps were done correctly there should be minimal blending to do.
  7. Move on to the semi finish area next. Open the lever to the adjustable clipper 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.
  8. Repeat step 7 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.
  9. Repeat step 7 with the lever to the adjustable clipper in the closed position. Use a 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Finish the opposite side of the neck and sideburn area.
  14. 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 stroke 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.
  15. Style the hair to the client’s request. Ask if they prefer the wet or dry look and how they part and comb their hair. Find out how often they taking the cap on and off during the day to determine what would be the best. The client will need whatever is the least maintenance while keeping the hair looking good.
REVIEW QUESTIONS
  1. What section does the haircut start on?
  2. What technique is used in the top section?
  3. What two techniques can be used for cutting a guide in the round of the head section?
  4. Will you start the fade with the largest clipper blade or the shortest?
  5. What length blade will you start the fade with?
  6. List in order the two other blade/attachment lengths that will be used in the sides and back section.
  7. What clipper is used for the semi-finish?
  8. What clipper is used for the finish?
  9. Describe the cutting motion used with the trimmer.

AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY
Make sure you are very comfortable with the tapered look and techniques. This is a very precise haircut and no hair should be out of place. This client is very meticulous and looking for extremely low maintenance. Work slowly through each step and take more sections. Black straight hair will show any little scissor or clipper mark if you are not careful.

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