How to Taper Down Natural Hair

Singer Rihanna rocks a chic cut with a short, tapered back at Nickelodeon's 2008 Kids' Choice Awards in California.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Tapering down natural hair creates a shortened, styled effect in your strands, which results in a deliberately shaped cut that gives your hair a big boost. Even the finest, straightest strands look instantly fuller and more voluminous with a properly done tapered cut. You don't actually have to head to a professional stylist to get the professional-looking results though; get the right tools and do it yourself at home.

Trimming Extra Length


Brush through your hair to get rid of any tangles. If your hair's already quite short -- so much so that you can't put it in a ponytail -- you can skip this step. Otherwise, cutting off some of the length before trying to create the tapered effect will give you the most professional look, not to mention saving you a ton of stress later on.


Pull your hair together into a low ponytail and secure it with an elastic.


Move the elastic up or down, to position it so it sits at about the same level as the nape of your neck.


Cut across your hair, just underneath the elastic, working in small, short cuts. Use sharp scissors, and put a mirror in front and one behind you so you can see what you're doing behind your head.

Tapering the Ends


Attach the No. 4 clipper guard onto your clippers and run it over the hair around the back of your head, from the crown down to the nape of your neck. Of the three, this clipper guard leaves your hair the longest.


Switch to a No. 3 clipper guard and go over the back of your head in the same manner, only skip the very top section to avoid making it any shorter.


Attach the No. 2 guard and use it to go over the very top of your hair. You should now see a series of three areas of different lengths. To blend these together better and create the professional-looking tapered effect, run the clippers with no guard over your hair. A pair of small shears and a fine-toothed comb also help, to provide some grip on the hair as you go over it with the clippers.

Things You'll Need



3.Clippers with guards -- Nos. 2, 3 & 4



Tips & Tricks


Tapered ends in tresses not only require more work when achieving the look to start with, but also in terms of maintenance. Trim your hair regularly -- whether you do it yourself or take a break one time and head to the stylist -- to prevent your hair from growing out too long and looking sloppy.

You can switch up your clipper guards for a shorter or longer length; the lower number of clipper guard you use, the shorter it cuts your hair and vice versa.


Related Videos




Hairfinder: How to Do Taper Cutting
"Milady's Standard Textbook of Cosmetology"; Milady, et al.; 2008

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