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The power of graduation

Does the word ‘graduation’ conjure images of bad ‘80s-esque mushroom cuts? Andrew Carruthers wants to push things forward to the present, to show that graduation can be an incredible tool to build weight into a shape

Graduation is one of those core techniques that is so easily glossed over or dismissed – wrongly so! Andrew Carruthers, education director for Sam Villa, shows us how to create structure and stronger silhouettes, with no mushroom cloud shapes in sight, thanks to some savvy shaping…

Andrew’s top tips for graduation

  1. Work with the head-shape. Creating cutting lines that curve with the natural head shape are more balanced and softer.
  2. Choose a higher elevation and use finger angle/cutting line to develop the graduation. This produces a leaner graduation that works well for super short haircuts
  3. Choose a lower elevation for areas that you want to maintain more weight in the shape.
  4. Opt for more vertical sections for lean graduation, horizontal sections for low and heavy graduation, or diagonal sections when attempting to build weight in a certain direction.
  5. Razors and graduation play well together, because it keeps the edge more lived-in and it’s easier to create a curved cutting line.

Step one – Prep wet hair with a cutting lotion, such as Redken Satin Wear 04. Section crown area and tilt off centre to the left side, with a circular section from the high point of the head to mid-occipital.

Step two – Create a curved section from front hairline to the crown section about an inch above the hairline on the left side and right below the vertical transition (or parietal ridge) on the right.

Step three – Isolate the small rectangle left on top.

Step four – Take a diagonal back section at the front hairline, elevate 90 degrees horizontal (so that all hair is parallel to the floor), and deep razor cut from longer at the top to shorter at the bottom with a razor. Continue with diagonal back sections until reaching centre back. Over-direct forward to the previous cut section with each new section and follow the traveling guide. Repeat on the opposite side.

Step five – Wrap dry the undercut area smooth and detail this portion of the haircut by point-cutting around the perimeter edge. Do this now for efficiency rather than waiting until the end of the haircut when the longer hair is hanging over this area.

Step six – Split the crown section into four equal triangles meeting at the high point of the head. Take one of the four sections and use a ‘triangular pinch’ so that all hair within the section is pinched to the centre of the section, creating over-direction and building length towards the outside edge of the triangle. Elevation is again 90 degrees horizontal and the cutting line is graduated from longer at the top to shorter at the bottom, creating a detached longer length on top. Repeat in the other three sections using a small slice of the previous section as a guide.

Step seven – Within the rectangle on top of the head, divide into four equal triangles from the high point of the head. Use the triangular pinch and elevate 90 degrees vertical (parallel with the walls). Use the length at the high point as a guide for your shortest point and cut short to long within each of the four triangles. Don’t worry that these sections do not blend with the previous. Detachment creates visual texture!

Step eight – Apply a root lifting foam, such as Redken Guts 10, at the base and wrap dry everything off the high point into natural fall.

Step nine – Polish the ends with a straightener. Again, use a point-cutting technique to detail the long top. Use your own creative eye working along with the natural tilt to the left side created by the asymmetric parting.

Hair: Sam Villa ArTeam
Photo: Shalem Kitter
Make-up artist: Lorina Alailefaleula
Wardrobe: Rachel Droeg