Hairdresser Training Videos
Hairdresser Training Videos

The Essential Guide to Graduated Haircuts

Sarah Oglesby - October 3, 2016 Hair Cutting, Hairdressing Education, Hairdressing tutorials

The Essential Guide to Graduated Haircuts

What is a graduated haircut?

Are you searching for new ways to inspire your hairdressing students or salon trainees? Or perhaps you’re just beginning your hairdressing journey? Whichever category you fall into, don’t miss my essential guide to graduated haircuts.

Graduation compared to uniform layering, graduated haircut,

Graduation compared to uniform layering

What is a graduated haircut? It’s a cut where weight is built up within the shape or the external line – a gradual progression of lengths from short to longer. Graduation can be performed at any length, however at longer lengths the results can be more diffused.

With graduated cuts, you’re in complete control of the outcome as you can place your graduation to influence the shape. By adjusting your angle or elevation you can create low, medium or high graduation. Remember, your body position – and the tension you create with your comb and fingers – are critical factors in ensuring you nail graduated techniques every time.

In this short guide, I’ve outlined the main types of graduated haircuts and who they might suit. For each section, I’ve also included a link to a relevant tutorial from one of our inspirational instructors. Why not put your skills to the test after reading the blog? Or, if you’re an educator, challenge your students to recreate every haircut.

Graduation on long hair

This is a tricky concept for many of us to get our heads around

“Graduation on long hair?” we’re often asked by those at the start of their hairdressing journeys, “Isn’t that layering?”

No! Unlike uniform layering, graduation on longer hair allows you to remove internal weight and create bulk around the external lengths.

Long graduation cut at 135 degrees, graduated haircut,

Long graduation creates bulk around the external lengths

This is an ideal technique for clients who would like layers but also want to keep fullness around the outline of their haircut. Remember, long graduation is usually cut at 135°.

Long graduation with low fringe by Graham Oglesby

For additional detail, insight and tips – and to put your skills to the test – check out Graham Oglesby’s full-length long graduation tutorial here.

Forward or C-Shape graduated haircuts

Also performed on longer lengths, forward (or C-shaped) graduation is a variation of long graduation and creates a very different look. The technique involves pulling the hair forward and cutting from shorter to longer.


The Shake Haircut by Graham Oglesby


This is a great technique if you’re looking for ways to release and support the natural curl, as demonstrated by Graham Oglesby in his Shake tutorial.

Mid-length graduated haircuts

When it comes to mid-length graduated haircuts, you need to use low or stacked graduation – between 1° and 44° – to create volume and texture around the perimeter of the hair.

Stacked graduation example with Stacey Broughton

Stacked graduation example, graduated haircut

Low or stacked graduation is often featured in collar length or jaw length bobs – commonly known as graduated bob haircuts. The graduation extends the base and is excellent at accentuating concave techniques.

Stacey Broughton’s Long A-line Shape is a classic mid-length graduated cut – Why not take the tutorial?

Long A-line Shape by Stacey Broughton

Short graduated haircuts

Traditionally, a short graduated haircut is cut using 45°. This means that you comb the roots and place your fingers in the 45° angle at the desired length.

Short graduation example with Tim Hartley

Short graduation is created by combing the roots down and placing the fingers

Using short graduation is a fantastic way to add volume to fine hair, creating the impression of fullness. What’s more, it’s a versatile technique, not to mention a salon staple for men’s and ladies’ haircuts.

Watch the inspirational Stelios Chondros demonstrate a short graduated haircut in his men’s Square Graduation With Disconnected Parting – then challenge yourself or a member of your team to do the same.

Square Graduation With Disconnected Parting by Stelios Chondros

Combined graduated haircuts

The brilliant thing about graduation is that you can combine it with layering, disconnection, texturizing, free handing and clipper cutting techniques to create fashion forward looks.

In this Flat Graduation with Disconnection tutorial, Tim Harley combines cutting techniques to create an ultra-modern graduated haircut.

Flat Graduation with Disconnection by Tim Hartley

Alexander Dinter’s creative haircut tutorial features a combination of one length, graduation and layering. He demonstrates how hair quality, choice of technique, positioning of layering and graduation are key to your technique choice and suitability for your client.

Combination of one length, graduation and layering by Alexander Dinter

Create your own PLAYLIST of graduated haircuts

MHD’s innovative PLAYLIST functionality gives you the power to create playlists using our 500+ tutorials – in the same way as you would using iTunes.

If you’re training students or apprentices, just drop the tutorials you need into a playlist then drip feed the content to your learners so that they gradually build their skills and increase their confidence.

Leading salons and educators around the globe are using our resource to complement and enhance then education they deliver. Join them and you’ll see the benefits in everything from motivation to outcomes and profits.

Not an MHD member yet? Whether you’re a stylist, a barber, a salon owner or hairdressing educator, our world-class education gives you a competitive advantage – supercharging your career, boosting salon profitability or improving results for every student.

Find out more
Find out more×