The best way to get that fresh trim feeling without actually having a professional haircut. Third Space talks to London barber Dan The Barberian who gives you the tools to taper at home.
Before we take on the taper, here are a few tips:
Partner Up. Unless you live by yourself, I highly recommend getting a friend to cut your hair for you. Using a mirror to cut your own hair is a challenge even for the pros.
Visualise. Picture what you are trying to achieve before you do anything. Hopefully quarantine hasn’t ruined your memory of what a fresh haircut looks like. But I always find it helpful to have a point of reference. Try Googling the cut you are after or searching Instagram for a few images to refresh your memory.
Practice Makes Perfect. Familiarise yourself with your tools and practice the motion with your trimmers switched off. You won’t have the muscle memory of doing this day in, day out so take a few minutes to practice especially the angle of the clippers.
How To Taper:
- Prepare the hair. Make sure your hair is dry and combed.
- Edging your side-burn. Comb the hair on your side-burn towards your ear. Take your trimmers and either punch a vertical straight line or use the corner of the clippers moving upwards to just above the ear.
- The ear. Rotate your clippers so you are just using the corner of the blade. Press down the top of your ear so you can see better. Using the corner of the blade, go up and around the ear in a natural semicircular motion and stop when you hit the lumpy bone at the back of your ear.
- The nape. When you hit that bone, reset your trimmers and punch a straight line down the nape to the bottom of the hairline. Try not to eat into the hairline, remember you’re trying to clean up and create a straight line rather than reshaping the hairline. Repeat these steps on the other side of your head.
- Neckline. You should now have a neat line on both sides of your head, from the side-burn up, round and down the nape of your neck. Now, match up either side of the neckline with a straight or slightly curved line that mirrors your hair’s natural shape. Once you can visualise your neckline, remove all the hair below it with your trimmers.
- Refinement. Feel free to go back over your line to sharpen it up if your not 100% satisfied. Take your scissors and snip off any unruly or untidy hairs that your trimmers may have missed. Don’t go mad, just a few hairs here or there to keep that line clean.
How To Fade:
- Section the top of the hair from the bottom by creating a horseshoe shape from the recession point to 1cm above your occipital bone and back round to the recession point on the opposite side of your head. Clip the hair on top out of the way if long enough.
- Take your clippers and with a #2 guard, shave all the hair on the back and sides. Be careful not to go over the curvature of the head and shave into the hair on top that we’ve sectioned off. Make sure when you are shaving upwards on the side of the head, move the clippers directly upwards so they are coming off the head square.
- Now, depending on the length you want your fade to be, make a line with the lowest length guard at the point you want your fade to start. I recommend a low fade as it’s less risky and gives you more space between the different lengths. I’m going to do a skin fade so I’ve set my clippers to #0, made my line low and shaved up to it.
- We now have a large space between the #0 and #2 on the back and sides. This area is now your fade zone. Remember a fade is all about a smooth colour change from light to dark. You want the hair to get progressively darker as you move up the head and want to avoid any obvious lines.
- Put a #1 guard on your clippers and make a new line half way between the top of the #0 and the top of the #2. We now have the basic structure so now it’s time to fade using half guards (#0.5 / #1.5 etc). Using the #0.5, rub over the line between the #0 and #1 you created earlier. Focus on the 1cm just above and below the line and remember your focus is to create a smooth colour change.
- Next put your #1.5 follow the same steps on the line between #1 and #2. Well done you’ve now successfully completed your first fade!
How To Cut Your Hair:
- Now our focus is turning this into a complete haircut. Unclip the hair on top of the head and wet it down.
- Find the apex of the head and comb a line from the top of each ear to the other ear.
- Next, create a section about 1-2cm wide from the apex to the front of the head. This is your profile section. Lift up this section of hair and cut to your desired length. Remember, you can always take more off later.
- Now, from the middle and front of the hair, comb, lift up and cut the hair to the guideline you’ve just created.
- Work backwards until you reach the line at the apex you created earlier. Repeat on either side so the hair on top of the head is now a square shape.
- Now we are going to connect the hair on top of the head to the fade underneath. Comb all the hair down so it’s falling naturally. Re-wet if necessary.
- Around the perimeter of the head, starting at one front corner, comb a section of hair outwards, cut a straight line from the point your fade ends to the longer hair on top.
- Repeat around the whole perimeter of the head, making sure when you comb your next section to cut, you include some of the previous section as this provides you with a guide of length to cut. This really helps to make sure the hair has been cut evenly all around the head. Cross check if necessary. Fantastic news! You’ve just completed your first haircut.