How to master the scissor-over-comb technique.

The scissor over comb technique is one of the most frequently used techniques for barbers. A mastery of this skill is essential for crafting many hairstyles for both men and women, particularly on shorter hair. It allows the barber to cut close to the head, following the hairline for precise results. While clippers result in a shaved look, using scissors results in a softer hairstyle. It’s often used to create defined shapes or a look that tapers in at the side areas and nape of the head. By blunting the cut or softening the edges with thinning scissors, the cut can be shaped and styled as desired. The comb plays just as important of a role as the scissors in this technique, helping lift the hair and guide the scissors to shape the cut. This technique is extensively covered on our beginner NVQ2 course.

Watch how our lead educator Bryony shows how to use the scissor over comb technique to remove weight in a haircut.

How to Use the Scissor over Comb Technique

To begin a scissor over comb haircut, you’ll need to start off with damp hair and remove bulk from the top portion of the haircut. After this you’ll be ready to get to work on shaping the bottom half using the scissor over comb technique. Stand to the left or right of the person receiving the haircut, because this will give you a better view of the full head.

Holding the comb in your less dominant hand, you can lift one section of hair at a time. You’ll hold the scissors in your dominant hand and cut off hair sticking past the comb, holding the blade parallel to the comb. It’s important to keep your scissors blade moving as you cut each section of hair for smooth and consistent ends. Although you’ll cut close to the comb, you won’t actually touch it unless you’re crafting a very short style. The top portion of the scissors will be doing most of the moving, with the bottom blade held stationary in your hand.

Once the first section has been cut, you can use this as your guide for the rest of the sections. As you work onto the next section, you’ll want to use your comb to lift some of the cut hair along with the next section to see the length. This will help you keep the comb at a consistent angle and distance from the scalp for consistency. Work your way around the haircut, lifting each section either vertically or diagonally.

Tips for Success

  • To prevent horizontal steps from forming in the haircut, it’s best to perform this technique fairly quickly. Hesitation could lead to a less even cut.
  • When cutting, it’s better to open and close the blades fully to ensure that the cutting is completed with the centre portion of the blades. Cutting with the tips could lead to a choppier cut, when what you’re aiming for with the scissor over comb technique is blended consistency.
  • Long scissor blades tend to work better for this technique, as with shorter scissors your hand may get in the way of the cut. This could lead to choppiness or even horizontal steps in the haircut.


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