Tuesday, April 13, 2010

M: Clipper free hand cutting at perimeter

Watched a DVD that demonstrated free hand cutting with the clipper around the perimeter of the hair cut. The hair was sectioned with a horse shoe shaped parting starting at the deepest part of the recession area on each side.

Cutting the sides
The clipper was placed on the skin beneath the hair line. It was left on the scalp and advanced upward while tilting it out slightly as it went up vertically. The amount of tilting of the teeth away from the skin is small. This only slightly increases the length of the hair as the clipper goes up toward the parietal ridge. I estimate this tilt difference to be about 2 mm from hairline to the beginning of the parietal ridge. When the heel of the clipper begins up the parietal ridge from underneath, the tilt of the teeth away from the scalp is increased by the slope of the parietal ridge.

The clipper is advanced vertically upward with the heel against the scalp until reaching the widest part of the parietal ridge. It then continues straight up toward the ceiling on a straight line. The heel lifts off the scalp above the midpoint of the parietal ridge as it goes straight up.

The result is that weight or hair length is left above the parietal ridge. This result is the same as pulling the hair above the parietal ridge out to 90 degrees and using the widest part of the parietal ridge as the guide to length.

In the video, a vertical section, at the front hair line on the side, was cut freehand using just the clipper to establish the length of the hair above the parietal ridge. They then switched to a clipper over comb technique to cut the hair above the parietal ridge. The comb was brought straight up vertically. The client's head was narrower at the front and wider to the back. The comb was help parallel to the head shape. It was not held parallel to the wall on the side of the client.

The end of the comb near the front of the face was used to pick up the guide which had been cut in the vertical freehand section cut by the clipper. The clipper then made a cut parallel to the floor along the comb.

The hair cut in the clipper over comb technique now became the upper guide for the next free hand vertical section to be cut by the clipper. The other guide for the next vertical free hand section is previously cut free hand section. This gives the current free hand vertical section two guides: the first is the previously cut free hand vertical section and the second it the guide at the top of the vertical section which had been cut using clipper over comb.
These vertical sections are then cut free hand with the clipper until the end of the clipper over comb section. Another clipper over comb section is then done to continue the process.

The blending between the free hand and the clipper over comb was done by using clipper over comb using vertical strokes of the clipper over a horizontal comb. The comb is brought up to the line between the two methods and used to check for differences in length and to blend the two areas together. The comb is tilted away from the scalp at an angle to just pick up the hair above the parietal ridge as the guide. The clipper is then gently brushed vertically across the comb. This is the same blending technique used to cut a fade as described in another post. It is good to do small areas where the two areas meet so that the closely cut free hand area does not creep up the head.

Above the ears
At the hair line over the ear the clipper is tilted in the usual way to have the teeth that are close to the ear closer to the scalp. The teeth further up from the ear are further from the scalp so they can be at the same level as the guide cut in the free hand sections in front of the ear.

Nape area
In the nape area starting at the hair line, the free hand cutting is continued very close to the scalp up to the level of the occipital bone. The clipper will then tilt away from the scalp while the heel of the clipper still rests on the scalp. As the clipper continues up the head the clipper should be tilted out to meet the hair cut in the clipper over comb area which will be above the section.

This process was continued to the opposite front hair line.

Connect top to sides
To connect the top to the sides a wagon wheel distribution of sections was taken starting at the distribution point in the crown. In the back of the head the sections were vertical and cut perpendicular to the floor. As the sections rotated around the distribution point in the crown going to the front of the head, they became longer and longer until they reached the center of the forehead. On reaching the side from the crown area, the section is no longer up and down. It is lying along the top side of the head. These sections are pulled perpendicular to the head form in the wagon wheel partings and are cut more nearly horizontal to the floor. They are cut to the guide above the parietal ridge. Each subsequent wagon wheel section then moves closer to the middle of the head top and each is pulled perpendicular to the head shape.

On the sides of the top, as the sections got longer they were pulled to 90 degrees from the head form. The sections down the middle top of the head were pulled straight up. The hair in the middle sections was cut flat with the ceiling in the front but to the head shape near the crown. The other sections had been cut to follow the head shape. Because the sections on either side of the middle of the head top were cut flat to the ceiling they were longer than the ones on the sides of the top which had been cut to follow the head form. This will give the middle of the head a slightly convex form.

While working toward the top middle of the head, hair in the recession area was over directed to the previous section to give it more length. Over directing them back to the previous section means they were pulled back and to the side to meet the previous wagon wheel section.

Blending and finishing

This was done with free hand clipper work and with clipper over comb. Emphasis was put on removing shadows and/or unblended cutting transitions. In previous videos, these have also been addressed with scissor over comb techniques using a barber's comb. Here the stylist used the corner of the clipper blade over a barber's comb with some pressure to reach into shadowy areas.

(For some people with rolls of flesh on their necks and scalps, creases will need to be cleaned out so they fit with the rest of the hair cut. I have these referred to affectionately as their bull dog creases.)

More details were added with shears over comb.

The video is very good and the haircut looks exceptionally well polished. In my experience the finishing is a skill of first seeing the inconsistencies of the hair cut. If they are not seen they cannot be addressed.


The usual method of starting at the bottom hair line and working up to the top was followed. The hair was cut free hand with the clippers up to the wider parts of the head at the parietal ridge and the occipital bone. Above these wide parts the cut was continued vertically up to the top as outlined by a horse shoe shaped parting done above the recession area.

The hair on the side was connected to the top and the top was cut all in the next step of the haircut. Frequently these steps are disconnected into two steps in other hair cuts. Here a wagon wheel distribution was taken in the crown area. ( These sections have also been referred to as pie sections or pivoting sections in other cuts. )

Around the crown area the sections were pulled to 90 degrees and cut to follow the head shape. This is true even directly on the top. In areas close to edges of head, these will look nearly like vertical sections and be cut straight up and down. In the top forward crown area they will be cut at 90 degrees to the head shape.

As the sections get longer along the side of the head top they are pulled straight out from the partings and are initially cut in horizontal sections parallel to the floor. ( To pull a section straight out from the parting, pull it perpendicular to the head shape along the parting.)

In the top middle, pulling the section straight out from the partings brings it more vertical to the head. Until reaching the middle of the top, the sections are cut to the head shape. In the middle top in front of the crown, the sections are cut flat to the ceiling. Near the crown they are cut to follow the head shape.

The overall effect is a man's hair cut with short hair. There is almost no hair left on the sides or back beneath the widest parts of the head. It is not quite as bald as a fade haircut. On the top the hair is blended to fit the sides and to transition to slightly longer hair in the middle of the head. The longest hair on the top middle looks to be less than 2 inches.

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