Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Buzz and Flat Top

Although I saw a great video on flat top hair cutting on YouTube today, it really isn't appropriate for this, the video quality was pretty bad, even though the cut was great. Also, being that it was a lady that was getting the flat top, and they started out with MUCH longer hair than I am supposing you will have if you are a regular buzz/flat top sort of person.

Anyhow, as Jonathon mentioned a couple of days ago in his great post on StyleDash, this post is going to be instruction on how to do a buzz or flat top. If you are looking to do more complicated cuts, then you should get this book, as it is awesome, gives great illustrations on how to do much more complicated styles.

If you are looking for my article on how to cut your own hair in the taper style, go here.

Start Up Those Clippers

Day before yesterday's post was on the taper cut, and we will be using many of the same instructions on how to do this cut, as this is basically just a modified taper cut (which means you will also need the same tools of the trade). In fact, go read that post do everything that is there until you get to cutting the top, and come back here, because up until the point where we get to the top, this cut is IDENTICAL to a taper as described there.

Blending the Back and Sides

A little tip that I picked up about getting the back and sides to meet up correctly is that you should blend them by criss crossing your clippering over the top of the ears (see image):

Grab the Scissors, Cutting the Bangs and Top

Here is where we need to change things up a little bit from the taper cut. First, you are going to pull out your spray bottle and start wetting down the hair on top and the bangs, give it a few good sprays all over the top of your head. Now, comb all of the hair straight back.

Good, now go ahead and comb the bangs down onto the forehead, collect up the hair between your first two fingers of your comb hand. The purpose here is to cut the hair that is protruding from between your fingers, so keep them flat, and make sure you have the exact length you want. Then, carefully cut the hair across your fingers. Do this on one side of the front, then the other, combing down the hair each time. After you have done this, comb the hair flat against the forehead and trim any loose ends that might be there.

When you have the bangs cut to length, comb them back onto the top.

Similar to how we did the collect-and-cut on top in the taper cut article, we are now going to start on the centerline of the head, and collect hair and cut from front to back, using the bangs as a guide for length. See the pictures below for a demonstration:


When gathering the hair, you will want to comb the hair straight back, then imagine a 2 inch wide mohawk strip of hair where you will be cutting, now, comb everything away from that 2 inch strip, toward whichever side that hair is on, down the head so that it is out of the way, and you have a clear strip of hair to gather and cut.

Repeat from front to back in 2 inch strips starting at the centerline of the head, the going to the sides.

Important Note for Flat Toppers:
At this point, when cutting the top with scissors, ensure that you leave enough length on top to actually have enough room to flatten.

To Flat or Not?

Here is where you have an option, you can basically be done at this point, apply a blow-dry to the hair, brush off, gel the hair and spike it, and call it a buzz at this point, or you can move onto the clipper across comb on top to create the flat top.

For the flat top, you now need to blow dry the hair, blowing from the front back to ensure that the hair is standing as straight up as you can get it. Make sure that the hair is good and dry, and really at attention! Get your clippers out, and set the blade length setting to as short as possible. We won't be using a guard, just the bare clippers.

Now, take your comb and starting from the front, at the height that you want the top of the flat top to be, and keeping your comb flat (like you are balancing an egg on it), comb back from the front a little ways, then hold the comb steady. You are now going to use the clipper-across-comb technique that you used on the sides and back, except here, you will be using it to flatten any hair that is sticking up through the comb.

Be very steady here, as any movement can cause you to cut too much hair, and make it difficult to get the effect. Take a look at this picture:

Do this from front to back, combing the hair back frequently to ensure that it stays standing upward. When you are satisfied that the hair on top is nice and straight, take another look at the sides, and flatten them a little more to be even with the top.

Use the Mirror

Give your hair another blow dry, apply gel if you need it to keep you hair at attention, then get to cleaning up. With this type of cut, you are going to find that you are a lot "hairyer" than normal, many many more small hairs that a normal cut, because of the clippers, so you might want to shower before you finish your styling.

Now, all fresh and styled? Great, now go take a look in the mirror and marvel at your beauty, at your perfection. You handsome stud, you look better than Dolph Lundgren in Red Scorpion!

p.s. If you are still interested, here is a link to that video.
p.p.s. If you are ready to get started, then do it, get started. Hair doesn't get shorter by itself :)

p.p.p.s. One other thing, now that you have your hair cut, if you guys need to get yourself looking your best for a date, an interview, or even if you are getting out of the house to hit the bar or something, you will want to check out this page!

Absolutely the Slickest Way to Shave Your Head

If You Want a Really Close Cut

Haha, ok, this is pretty funny. Watching and listening to this gentleman, you have to laugh! He gives us the ultimate how-to on cutting your own hair, by shaving it all off :)

P.S. Just like him, I am not endorsing this product, or making any money from HeadBlade, I just thought that their product was very very cool. Also, it seems from their front page, that they have one of the top 10 designs of the year, according to Time Magazine for this design:


Saturday, August 18, 2007

How to do a Taper Cut

This cut is mostly for the guys, but some women, my wife included, like a good short taper cut. Here is how to do it the right way (p.s. this kindof depends on you having the scissors and clippers, and clipper guards that go by the guard number system):

Before We Get Started

I am going to write a post on my top 10 tips on how to cut your own hair, and you might want to wait for that post before you cut your hair, because there is going to be some good stuff there that I won't have in this pretty specific post on how to cut a taper cut.

The Clipper Cut

Ok, first, comb all of your hair straight down. Next, get your clipper and put the #3 guard on it. The #3 will cut your hair to the length of 3/8 of an inch. Don't worry, we will taper it up! What's that? You say you might want a different length, maybe shorter? Well, here is a list of guards, and the length they (should) cut to:
  • #1 1/8in
  • #2 1/4in
  • #3 3/8in
  • #4 1/2in

I suggest you have someone else do this for you and you reciprocate the favor to them, as it is a WHOLE lot easier to have someone else do the back for you. Trade, it's worth it.

So, now that you have a partner, or a good mirror and stupendous reverse hand/eye coordination, you are going to start pulling you clippers from the neckline upwards toward the pointy part of the back of your head. Now, you aren't going to just go straight up, you will do this in a rocking motion. Start by having the guard flat on the neck, then as you get toward the pointy part on the back of your head, rock the points of the clipper guard away from your head, until your hand that is on the clipper is touching the neck. Then, while still moving upward, pull away from the head.

This rocking motion is important as it will blend the hair from really short where the #3 is flat against the head at the bottom, toward longer where you rocked out, and it will make it easier to do the clipper across comb method to get a clean transition from bottom to top.

Give the clipper a little flick to remove the hair from it and repeat the rocking motion. Work your way from the back around towards the ears.

If you have ear guards, you will want to use those around the ears, and you will definitely want to sort of criss-cross your clips from behind the ear toward the front, then from in front of the ear towards the back, so as to blend the cuts.

If you don't have ear guards, use the #3 guard, and criss-cross as mentioned before. It will require more strokes, and you will not have as nice a taper down toward the ear. Not much you can do about that, but you might try using a #2 and angling away from the top of the head to give a little taper toward the ear.

Clipper Across Comb

Next, after you have done the clipper to your satisfaction, it's time to do the clipper across comb technique on the transition to the top. Here is how:

Use your comb to roll the hair up from the bottom. Using the point on the back of the head as a guide, you will want to comb upward from the neck toward the point, keeping the comb perpendicular to the head while pulling up and toward you. The point here is to use the comb as a guard agains the head, and clip the hair off of the comb at the desired length (which goes from shorter to longer as you work your way toward the top of the head).

So, pull the comb up and out toward you, then using the clippers without any attachment, pull the clippers flat across the comb, cutting any hair that is sticking through the comb (see picture).

Do this on the back and around the head toward the front from the back.

Trim the Bangs

Now, that is pretty much it for the clippers. Next we will be working with the scissors. We will start with the bangs. Begin by combing the bangs straight down toward the eyes. Use your fingers to pull the hair from the hairline out until the amount of hair sticking out from the fingers is what you want to cut off. Use your scissors to cut across your fingers to protect from cutting too much (see the image below):

Go ahead and do that for all of the bangs, combing the hair down often, then trim freehand with the scissors after you have done this, as necessary, to ensure that the bangs are even.

Over the Top

Ok, so far, so good! Now we will go after the top, and the cleanup and be done. To cut the top, we will do pretty much what we did on the top, collect the hair between our fingers and cut across at the desired length with our scissors.

Now, comb the bang hair back toward the top of the head, as you will use it as a guide for how long you will cut the top. This time, you will end up with your hand on top of the head with your fingers pointing toward the front of the head. So basically run your fingers through the hair from the back until you get to the front of the head, with hair collected in between your fingers, including some of the bang hair for reference. Then, cut the hair that is longer than the bang hair.

Next, use that cut as reference, and move toward the back, staying in the centerline of the head. When you are done going toward the back, and have a reference cut, move back to the front and do each side. Be sure to comb out the hair before each cut, so that you get the long straglers that tend to hide otherwise.

Finishing Up

Ok, that is it for the major cutting, now we go for the finishing work. What we have left is to clean up around the ears, create a clean line on the neck, clean up stray neck hairs, and brush up.

Get your clippers back out, I guess we weren't quite done. For this part you will want to remove any accessories from the clippers, and ensure that the blade of the clippers is at it's shortest setting. How you can tell that it is is by looking at the blade, and adjusting so that the blades are as high on the metal guide as possible. There is usually an adjusting lever or switch that does this.

Now, power those suckers up and and take the pointy corner of the clippers and start working your way around the ear in a circle, basically using the clippers to draw a line like with the point of a pencil from the back to the front. Understand that there is risk here to really screw up the cut, and it won't be terrible if you don't do this part. One shake of your hand can put a gouge in the hair around the ear, and that really looks like crap (trust me :), so be careful or don't do this step.

Last bit of clipping here. First, take a look at the neckline, and determine in your mind where the hair should end. Usually it is approximately an inch below the level of the ears. Draw a mental line there. Now, take your clippers without attachments, and just touch them, lightly, flat against the neck on that imaginary line, then remove, then move down, touch and remove, from the center to either side. You should have a nice straight line.

Some people prefer to have rounded corners at either side on the neck, now is the time to do that. Easiest way is to go diagonal with the clippers and touch the corner at each side.

That's it. All you have left to do is stare in amazement at all the piles of hair on the ground :) So, take the provided brush, brush off the neck and the cape before you remove it. Go admire yourself in a mirror, you stud or studette!

Why do I have this blog?

I hope that this page can help somebody, and I would love your feedback on anything about this page or about anything else if you like! I am a pretty ardent supporter of having faith in yourself, and not wasting money. That is why I started this blog to tell everyone else about cutting hair at home.

The Story of Us :)
About a year ago my wife and I moved to a small town that everyone has heard of now, but that nobody lives in; Forks, Washington. A fairly new series of young adult novels has been released in the last couple of years that are based here, in Forks. (The books, if you are wondering, are the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, check out my Amazon affiliate link if you want a good read, and wooohooo, I could make like 9 cents or something!)

Anyhow, living in a very small town means that options are pretty limited, and we kind of thought we could save a little cash at $20 or $30 a cut.

Aside from saving money we were actually were pretty interested in being able to cut hair when we needed it, because we are pretty busy parents of two pretty busy-bodied little girls. I build websites (here at home) and my wife is an author, so we have plenty to do other than chasing our toddlers around.

Also, I really don't like crappy cuts. Now I cut my wifes hair, which she says I do better than at least half of the people she has paid to do it in the past. I can do it in 30 minutes, and she is able to deal with mine in 20 minutes, cow-licks and all.

One other thing I didn't mention above. We save time. I don't have to schedule around my local stylist who only works part-time (and kind of weird hours at that).

How about you? Do you drive 10-15 minutes to get to your favorite stylist? How long do you have to wait once you get there? How much do you pay that person? Either way, do I think knowing how to cut your own hair home is for everyone? No, but it sure works for us, maybe this site can help you decide if it is for you too!