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What Is a Tapered Haircut?

By Angela Colley
Updated May 21, 2024
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While there are a variety of haircut types available, many people prefer a tapered haircut over other styles. A tapered hair cut starts with longer hair on the top of the head and gradually decreases to shorter lengths, with the shortest lengths resting along the ears and neckline. Both men and women can wear a tapered haircut, although the cut does require the wearer to have shorter hair.

Traditionally, a tapered haircut is short and surrounds the crown of the head. The haircut layers down from the crown towards the neckline. Each layer is tapered into the next, with a slightly shorter length then the previous row. The hair around the neckline is the shortest. Often, barbers or stylists will give the hair around the neckline a buzz cut so that the hair is barely visible in comparison to the hair on the crown of the head.

Both men and women can wear a tapered haircut style. Men in the military often wear a classic version of the tapered haircut, which features hair shorter than 1 inch in length around the crown that tapers down to a buzz cut or a complete shave around the ear line. Other classic styles also feature shorter hair on the top. In some cuts, the hair on the crown of the head is buzzed to 0.5 inches in length or shorter with edges that taper into a shaved style around the neckline.

Many stylists have added their own variations to the classic tapered haircut. For example, a stylist may keep the top portion of the hair somewhat longer but still cut the lower tapers much shorter. Men can pull the top portions of the hair towards the center and upwards, creating a Mohawk. With the longer style, men can also add product to the hair to make the top portion spike out at different angles.

Women can wear tapered haircuts as well. Typically, the hair is cut to ear length and formed into a bob. The layers underneath the main bob are tapered in descending lengths to the neckline. Longer pieces of hair can be curled or spiked. The stylist can also add product to the hair to give it more volume and to change the appearance of the haircut.

Stylists typically use hair cutting scissors and an electric buzz cutter to get the tapered look for both men and women. Beauty specialty stores carry these buzz cutter sets. These sets can be used at home to create an effect similar to what a stylist a might achieve.

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Discussion Comments

By DylanB — On Feb 10, 2013

I think that tapered haircuts are stylish and look good on just about everyone. I find hair that is the same length all over to be boring. Tapering involves making layers, which add interest to a hairdo.

Women can have cute tapered cuts with long sideswept bangs and short hair in the back, and so can men. Some styles do appear more masculine than others, but there are versions of different cuts that can work for both men and women.

I have always had layers in my hair, even though mine is long. Layers in a tapered cut are much shorter, but they work to accomplish the same purpose, which is to provide style.

By lighth0se33 — On Feb 10, 2013

@feasting – I have a friend with tapered haircut that resembles a bob. She has long pieces in the front, but the entire back of her head has short layers that taper down to almost nothing at the bottom.

She gets her neck shaved regularly. This keeps the cut looking sharp.

By JackWhack — On Feb 09, 2013

I've seen guys with long hair on top and shaved hair underneath. This style was popular back in the nineties.

You wouldn't really notice that their hair wasn't long all over until they pulled it back into a ponytail. Then, you could see the close shave that started just above the ears and went all around the head.

It's a good way to thin out your hair and still have part of it long. It's definitely a distinctive look that stands out from the crowd.

By feasting — On Feb 08, 2013

I didn't know that a woman's bob haircut could be considered a tapered haircut. I always think of men's styles that are shaved on the bottom when I think of this type of hairdo. I suppose that a bob does meet the definition, though you don't generally hear it referred to as a tapered haircut.

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