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Hair Length

Hair Length

Hair travels in the direction of growth until the length and weight of it are sufficient to pull the hair in another direction.

Long hair is heavy. The weight causes the hair to fall straight, from the roots to the ends, towards the ground.

Short hair has little weight and travels in the direction of growth.

Hair grows approximately half an inch a month in a healthy person. Most hair follicles will produce hair that is between 28 and 36 inches if it is uncut.

By controlling the length and weight of the hair, you can control the hair travel - the direction of growth - throughout a haircut.

The two principal cutting techniques you can use to control the length and weight of the hair are:

The two techniques you can use to influence the shape as well as the length and weight of the hair are:


Graduation is the technique of cutting hair when it is held at an angle of less than 90 degrees to the head.

Graduation works by creating different lengths in the upper and lower layers of a section of hair.  The term 'graduation' refers to the angle you produce between the long ends of the hair and the short ends.

By cutting hair in this way, you can control the build-up of weight and length in the outline shape of your haircut. It allows you to direct the hair forward or backwards across the perimeter of your cut.

The technique of graduation is divided into shapes:

There are a number of basic rules that apply to graduation for controlling the weight of hair. When you understand how and why elevation and comb direction work, you can make creative use of the technique of graduation.

Reverse graduation

This technique is used mainly on hair of one length. An obvious example of reverse graduation is the classic, one-length bob. The hair is combed towards the longest point. This creates an overlapping of graduation which allows the hair to turn under.


Layering controls the weight and length of the hair within the perimeter of the haircut.

Layering is the technique of cutting hair at an angle to the head of 90 degrees of more. It follows the principle of using straight lines and angles to create weight and volume in hair. You can cut the hair to produce similar lengths, which gives you a uniform shape, or you can cut the hair to produce different lengths. You choose which system is right for the hairstyle you want to achieve.

Layering can be used to create many different shapes and angles. You can use several layering methods within each haircut or one at a time.

When you are deciding which layering method to use, there are a number of factors to consider:

See steps for more details on layering techniques.

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