Perhaps the most important aid you have in achieving a precision haircut is your mirror. It’s always used for short tapered haircuts, and flattops or crewcuts will also need some mirror help.
a. Use the mirror on flattops/crewcuts to see that your top cutting efforts aren’t sloping off to one side or the other. Also use the mirror to check the top while looking at it from the sides–you want that top as smooth as a table top.
b. On tapered haircuts the sides and back hair has two areas of concern: a nice smooth gradual INCREASING LENGTH to the hair as you go up the sides/back, and a GRADUAL SHADING change from the shorter cutting around the lower sides/back to the longer cutting higher up.
To get a gradual increasing length you’ll use the mirror to see any “bulges” where the hair has been left too long in an area, or where your cutting may have created a “line” from cutting the hair too short. The extra distance you get from looking at the mirror helps to see these conditions.
Shading isn’t an issue on longer, more full haircuts, but on shorter haircuts (especially on darker hair) shading is an important part of your cutting efforts. On short clipper cutting around the lower sides/back, the scalp is visible especially on fair-skinned folks. As the hair gradually gets longer higher up, the scalp is hidden. You don’t want an abrupt change from light to dark. If the mirror shows you a dark spot or area, you need to cut that a little shorter to lighten it.
**Extra tip** To achieve the smooth cutting and gradual change from light to dark, always do your cutting with the window light to your back–especially on sunny days.
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