The Prep School Taper

The Prep School Taper 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. It can be styled with a wet look but is generally styled with a dry paste to provide a dry looking finish. 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. Step by Step Guide

  • Understand the concept of a square shaped haircut
  • Understand the concept of beginning the haircut on the top
  • Demonstrate the scissor over comb technique
  • Understand fading techniques starting with the longer blades and working down to the shortest blades
  • Demonstrate the clipper over comb technique
  • Demonstrate a defined and tapered outline
Step by Step Guide
  1. Start on the top section in the center. Use the scissor over comb or scissor over fingers technique and start with a 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.
  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. Repeat this step as many times as necessary until there is not any 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. Cut the round of the head section. Use a scissor over comb or a clipper over comb technique. In this lesson we are using a 1 ½ (1/8”) blade on the detachable blade clipper. It leaves a more blended finish which is perfect for thick hair that grows straight out from the side of the head. Blend into the previous cut guide from the top section. You will see a slight line of demarcation from the previous step that you will blend into.
  4. Start sides and back section. Cut the sides and back section. Use the blade on skin technique with the 3 ½ (3/8”)  blade and the detachable blade clipper. Start at the right sideburn and run the clipper up the side of the head slowly. As the round of the head pushes the blade away from the head follow that angle until you run out of hair. This will blend the sides and back into the round of the head section. If done correctly there will be a minimal if any amount of blending left to do.
  5. 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.
  6. Repeat step 5 with the 1 ½ (1/8”) inch 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 ½ (1/8”) 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.)
  7. Finish the blend if needed from the sides and back to the round of the head section. Use the 1 ½ (1/8”) blade on the detachable blade clipper and the clipper comb. Hold the comb parallel to the head and run the blade across the comb while moving the comb upward. Start out with the heel of the blade on the comb and slowly pull the heel of the blade away from the comb so just the tip of the blade is in contact with the comb. The closer the heel of the blade is to the comb more length will be taken. The farther away less length will be taken and the blade will just blend.
  8. 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.
  9. 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. (If the customer has a thin or high hairline around the ears skip this step on the sideburn area and around the ears.)
  10. 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. ((If the customer has a thin or high hairline around the ears skip this step on the sideburn area and around the ears.)
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Finish the opposite side of the neck and sideburn area.
  15. 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.
  16. Style the hair. Ask the client if they prefer the wet or dry look. Typically this style is worn with a dry look. Most private schools do not allow students to have product in their 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. Comb the crown in the direction it grows and push the top forward and to the side. Comb the bangs to the side it grows and push up slightly in front.
REVIEW QUESTIONS
  1. In what section should the haircut begin?
  2. What technique is best used in the top section for the required length of hair?
  3. What section should be cut after the top section?
  4. Which techniques can be used in the round of the head section?
  5. Should the fade area begin with the largest or shortest blade?
  6. Which clipper is best for the semi-finish area?
  7. What is the most appropriate finish for The Prep School Taper – Wet or Dry?

AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY Pay close attention to the growth pattern of the hair. This hairstyle is perfect for the client whose hair grows in a circle pattern around their head with a strong forward growth pattern on top. The finish/outline of the haircut is extremely important. The cleaner the taper and outline is the more the different dimensions of the haircut will stand out. This haircut can be styled very neat or with a more textured look. Use the wide teeth of the large scissor comb or a vent brush for a more textured look. You can use a rubber brush with the teeth close together or the wide teeth of the finishing comb for a neater look. Either way, make sure to rub the product all the way into the roots of the hair.

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