What is a Graduated Cut?

Diane Goettel

A graduated cut is a hairstyle in which the hair is cut on a bias, creating an angled look. This kind of style can be applied to hair that is chin-length or longer. The graduated cut is most commonly worn by women with hair that is somewhere between chin- and shoulder-length. While women with hair longer than the tops of their shoulders can have a graduated cut, the style is less apparent and less dramatic with these longer lengths.

A hairstylist cutting a graduated bob.
A hairstylist cutting a graduated bob.

In most cases, a graduated cut is done in such a way that the hair close to the face is the longest. The hair gets shorter and shorter closer to the back of the head. The hair on either sides of the face should be the same length and the graduation on either side of the head should be even to meet at the middle point of the back of the head. It is rare for the angle of the graduation to go in the other direction as this is a haircut that is meant to frame the face.

This kind of hairstyle is most common for women with straight hair. The visual effect of the cut is supposed to be a sharp angle, which is best observed in short straight hair. Curls are less easily tamed into straight lines than straight locks of hair. Women with wavy hair or hair that naturally hangs in loose curls sometimes get a graduated cut and then blow dry their hair straight on a daily basis. In so doing, the angle becomes more visible. To make the angle of the cut especially visible, the hair can be styled perfectly straight with a flat iron.

Depending on the style of the person getting the haircut, the angle of the graduation will change. Someone looking for a very urban, edgy, or fashion-forward style may get a very severe angle in their graduated cut, something around 45 degrees.

A graduated cut is a style that can be worn with or without bangs. The use of bangs in this kind of style just allows for a different way to frame the face. If bangs are cut into the hair with this kind of cut, they are usually cut straight across the forehead and not with any kind of bias.

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Discussion Comments


Layering your hair is adding allover dimension to your hair. A graduation is more of a stacked bob.


What is the difference between layering and graduation? thanks for your answer!

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