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The flat top was made famous in the 80’s by American athlete Carl Lewis and Dolph Lundgren from the Rocky films, and grew in popularity over the years.
Less popular today (although I’ve started to see it more often now), it is a hairstyle that really suits some people, especially guys with thicker hair.
A flat top is designed to be cut so that the hair stands vertically on the head.
The length can be very short with a severe taper at the sides and back or quite long on top, depending on your preference.
You can also go for sharp, straight edges and corners, or a more rounded look.
I used to sport a flat top in my younger days and loved the look.
I get very envious when I see guys with a flat top these days because it still looks cool.
To maintain the flat top ‘look’ you would normally need to visit the hair salon every 2 to 3 weeks, which can become very expensive and time-consuming.
Fortunately you can achieve this look by using a good pair of hair clippers and a special comb.
This is not a style you can easily achieve yourself, and I suggest you don’t try! However it is fairly straight forward to do.
There’s more than one way to achieve a Flat Top, with different tools to help you.
As long as you’ve got a decent clipper, the only other items you’ll need are a good pair of scissors and a Topper Comb.
The traditional Topper Comb is about 6 inches wide and better suited for anyone less experienced in cutting hair.
It looks like a de-tangling comb with long teeth and a handle. You can get them with spirit levels (bubble level) on the top to ensure a completely level finish.
Here’s a neat video showing you this type of comb to create the flat top hair style..
Wahl (and other brands) also do a comb that isn’t as wide, but ideal for more experienced or professional barbers:
Here’s a video showing this type of comb in action..
Follow these 7 steps to create the flat top look:
Get your set-up/work space sorted, and have all your accessories to hand.
Make sure your clippers are clean and oiled.
Always wash and blow dry the hair before you start. That way you’ll achieve a much cleaner/neater cut.
Decide on what length you want the sides and back to be and attach the appropriate sized blade/guard.
A number 2 or 3 is usually the preferred length, although you could go even shorter if you wanted a more dramatic look.
Start at the back of the head and guide the trimmer up to the parietal ridge – just where the head curves round and in line with the temple.
Be careful not to go too far up or you will end up with too small an area at the top of the head.
Use the clipper in the same way around the sides using that imaginary line as a guide.
Now you need to use the comb for the sides and the top of the back part of the head.
First remove the clipper guard. Slide the comb into the hair at whatever angle you desire. It doesn’t have to be a perfect box style cut.
You can taper the cut by angling the comb slightly.
Simply trim the hairs that protrude through the teeth of the comb. Rest the clipper on the comb and guide it against the comb’s teeth at right angles.
Continue until you have cut both sides and the back of the head.
The most important part of this step is to ensure the angles on both sides are evenly matched.
You may need to go over one side a little more in order to even them up, but this can be done when you finish the top of the hair.
The next step is to cut the top of the head. It is important that the person’s head is upright and facing forward.
The topper comb must be parallel to the floor and you can use the bubble level to ensure you have the right angle.
Slide the comb onto the top of the head and lift it until you reach the desired length. Ensure you have the comb level and then cut the hair with your clippers.
Don’t rush this step. You might want to go a little higher at first to check the angle and make any adjustments if required.
A good idea once you’ve finished the cut is to run a comb or brush through the hair in order to identify any stray hairs, or if any of the sides or top need a further cut.
Check the top is level and the sides are perfectly even. Use the topper comb to revisit any areas if necessary.
Now that the flat top has been achieved, it’s time to use a trimmer to outline the areas around the ears and neck, including shaving the neck area.
Don’t worry that it seems to take a long time to complete the entire process at first.
The flat top is not a hard look to achieve, although you will need to practice before the steps become routine.