Hi! Christina here.

Welcome to graduation haircutting. Graduated haircuts are also known as wedge shapes or 45º angles.

I am going to tell you about the design elements and principles required to create a range of graduated haircuts. This knowledge will help you answer questions such as:

  • What is graduation?
  • How do you recognise a graduated haircut?
  • How does distribution affect graduated haircuts?
  • What are the techniques used for cutting graduation?

You will need to join this information with the actual skills of cutting in the salon or classroom.

Simon Divitaris
Biba for Hair

The graduated haircut appears to have a smooth, unactivated top over the curve of the head with an activated or rough area underneath.

All the layers of hair under the weight line sit with the ends stacked on top of each other creating the graduated textured appearance.

There is an increase in lengths from the exterior to the interior which finishes at a given point part the way up the head in a weight line, usually somewhere between the hairline and the crest area of the head.

When all the lengths fall with gravity, the lengths from the top will fall smooth over the curve of the head down to the weight line.

Sectioning and parting patterns for graduation may be horizontal or variations of diagonal and the fingers holding the hair to be cut would be parallel to the sectioning pattern. You may also section the hair vertically, but the fingers holding the hair to be cut would be diagonal.

All sections on and above the crest area are brought down to this 45º lifted section on the crest, as shown. Note the finger and scissor position.

By combing the hair at right angles, or perpendicular to it's diagonal base parting and cutting; this is called perpendicular distribution.

Hints for Cutting a Graduation Structure

Graduation cuts can be created using several means:

45º projection

  • By lifting the hair at varying degrees out from the head between 0º and 90º and cutting.
  • Graduations can be accentuated creating pressure with your fingers and cutting comb.


  • By shifting the hair away from its natural fall when cutting

Finger and scissors technique

The head position is usually upright, but may be tilted providing you know what result you will achieve.

When cutting graduation, the back of the hand holding the scissors should be facing you, and the palm of the hand holding the hair to be cut is facing you.

The amount of graduation, and the shape of the graduation, would be decided during the consultation about the hairstyle with the client.



Haircut showing taper area

A taper is a very short graduation that would normally be cut on the back and/or sides of the head and is mostly used in men's hair cuts. It has a degree of transparency where you can see the scalp through the hair.

The width of the taper band is usually decided during the consultation when discussing the hair style with the client.

For more information about tapers, go to: Men's Cuts

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