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Tapering and blending are two techniques used to create various hairstyles. When cutting hair, it's all about shape and angles, baby. Take some bulk out here, blend two different lengths there. The end result, if it's done right, is a flowing, shapely hair cut.
What is Tapering?
Tapering is a cutting technique that involves going from a longer length to a shorter length. It can be done with scissors or an electric clipper, depending on the hairstyle and application of the tapering. But no matter how it's executed, the one rule of tapering is it always ends up with the hair going from longer to shorter to reduce length, bulk and create an angled line in that area.
When It's Used
Short haircuts where the nape area is cut down short are a typical example of tapering. When done right the tapering will make the hair literally hug the nape area. By contrast, the upper crown area will look fuller. Tapering can also be done on the sides when your stylist adds multiple layers to get rid of excess bulk. A short pixie cut is the perfect example of a closely tapered hairstyle.
What is Blending?
Blending is a technique used in just about every single hairstyle created. Simply put, blending means connecting two different lengths of hair. When your stylist is creating your fabulous new hairstyle he is constantly blending one section's length with another. The sides are blended with the top. The back is blended with the sides and the bangs may or may not be blended with the surrounding hair.
How to Blend
The technique of blending is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. When you blend two different lengths you grab a small section of hair that spans both sections. Between your index and middle finger you should be holding a section of hair that has one length of hair at one end of your fingers and the other length at the opposite end. You'll likely have to angle your fingers to catch both lengths. The hair in between the two lengths is what you'll cut, and that snipped section is what will blend the two different lengths. It's like drawing a line from point A to point B.