Tuesday, May 11, 2010

M: clipper, short, ethnic, bald fade

This is another look at the bald fade haircut.

This haircut was described using a different method in the post: M: Cutting a fade

In this post the clipper blade is held perpendicular to the floor. It makes contact with the scalp at the point the fade is to start. It is held so that the closest cut is at the fade line. Above the fade line the hair is tapered with gradually increasing length as you go up the head away from the fade line. It is an attempt to blend the line between the bald part of the head and the part with hair as you cut the fade line.

Cutting the fade line

In the post today, the fade line is cut without any attempt to fade it while cutting it. This line is cut by holding the clipper with the blade horizontal to the floor. The clipper is held rolled over in the hand so that the heel of the blade is to the ceiling. This makes it easier to see where the blade is cutting as it is inserted into the hair.

The blade is pushed into the hair along the line where the fade or tapering of the hair will start.

After pushing the blade into the hair it is dragged down toward the floor to cut the hair below the fade line. It can be dragged all the way to the hairline beneath.

Each blade width is cut and then overlapped with the next blade width to get all the hair and not skip any areas.

In the demonstration today, the fade line is cut starting about 1/2 to 1 inch above the eyebrow and about 1 inch above the top of the ear. When the line is first cut it looks like it slopes slightly down as it goes to the back of the head. As the line goes behind the ear there is a downward slope toward the occipital bone. This is a slight slope downward.

In the finished haircut, the line is faded higher near the front hairline. This gives the line a slope toward the occipital bone which is noticeable.

It is not clear from the video how the initial fade line was chosen. Clients will frequently tell me exactly where they want the fade line. Some clients looking for a military fade want the fade line to be close to the top of the head and some clients want the fade line only 1/2 inch above the ear. I try to accommodate them all.

If there is a design principle here, I have not found it. It may be something like trying to put the faded area over the widest part of the head to keep the shape of the head lean????

When the fade line was cut in today's demonstration, the cutting was started at the front hairline and worked through the back and to the front hairline on the other side.

In my experience, I start at the front hairline on one side and work to the center back. Then I go to the front hairline on the other side and work to the back. I do this to try and get the starting points at the two front hairlines to be at about the same level.

When coming around behind the ear on the second side, the target for the slope in the back is where the line stopped from the first side.

Comparing the two methods

The fade cut in the previous post: M: Cutting a fade , requires some practice in holding the clipper blade vertical while cutting along the fade line. If the top of the blade is waving closer and further from the head, the fade line will look wavy. This will require some additional work to smooth it out.

In today's demonstration, the line is clearly cut so you can see exactly where it is going. It does require a little more work to fade the hair along the fade line so it blends with the bald area below the fade line.

For less experienced cutters, the second method may be easier to do in steps. For more experienced cutters, holding the blade vertical and cutting a line with some built in fading may not be a challenge.

Choice of tool for the fade

This demonstration today uses the T Outliner to cut the line. This would not be my choice. I tend to use the replaceable blade clipper with a 00000 blade. This tool seems to be a lot more powerful than a trimmer. At hair shows I have seen the fade line cut with a clipper with no guard and the blade closed.

Connecting the side to the top

The demonstration uses a clipper with the blade opened to the number 1 position (from the video this is seen as having the blade fully opened).

The cutting is done vertically starting at the bald area below the fade line and goes up about an inch at the front hair line and 1 1/2 inches at the occipital bone. This line is parallel to the fade line. It follows the same slope toward the back of the head.

Whether you will use a blade in the number 1 position or some other guard on the clipper, will depend on how long the top is to be left. A clipper over comb technique could also be used to smoothly connect the line to the top of the head.

Reduce the top to the desired length

In today's video, a number one guard is placed on the closed blade. This blade is used to cut the hair on the top from the front hairline to the distribution point in the crown. The sections are started at the front middle forehead and then pivoted around to each side and the back to keep the blade headed into the grain of the hair.

For different lengths on the top, use different guards.

Notice the two areas where blending or fading is needed

The way the demonstration is cutting this haircut leaves two areas that need to be blended or faded together. The first is the line where the hair starts above the bald area of the head. The second is where the hair cut with the blade in the number 1 position meets the hair on the top which was cut with a number 1 guard.

Blending and fading the two areas
In today's demonstration, a clipper with no guard is used for these two areas.


At the line where the bald lower part of the head and the hair meet, the clipper is used with the blade fully closed. The clipper blade is started on the scalp below the hair line and is rocked up and out through the hair line. The blade only travels about 1/4 of an inch in making this cut.

The demonstration makes a rocking, flicking motion in making this cut. It is done rapidly and goes smoothly. In my experience, it takes some practice to be able to do this with speed. Speed is not necessary to accomplish this cut. A slow deliberate cutting also works very well. Speed comes with practice.

If I have cut the bald area with a 00000 blade, I will frequently do this part of the fading with an 0A blade.


The second part of the blending is where the connection from the side meets the top. In this demonstration, they use the clipper with the blade fully opened. The same rocking motion is used.

With longer hair on top, a guard with a higher number could be used.

Another alternative is to use a clipper over comb techniques to blend this area.

This demonstration showed the blending and fading being done in vertical sections. This would start with fading first and then go up the head to do the blending in the same vertical section.

Refine the fading

In this part they used the T Outliner.

Another way to do this would be to use either a 00000 blade or an 0A or a clipper with no guard and the blade fully closed. In the case of the 0A or the clipper with no guard, the clipper is pressed a little more firmly into the scalp. Be sure to keep the movement of the clipper very short in the vertical direction. If a 1/4 inch was used for the first part of the fade, then less than this is used with the refinement of the fade. Use the same rocking movement to keep the fade well blended.

This is a time to make sure the fade line follows the curve you want. Irregularities in the fade line can be erased.

Line the front of the haircut

This is the usual method of just touching the front hairline with the trimmer or your 00000 blade.

Cut the top with the grain

This is done with the clipper blade completely open in the demonstration. The heel of the clipper is placed on the hair and the teeth of the blade glides just above the cut hair to catch any random hair sticking above the desired length.
Don't led the blade edge get into the hair.

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