Barbering Techniques – Traveling Guide

One of the most over looked techniques in barbering/men’s hair cutting is the use of a traveling guide. It can be used in a variety of different ways. For example, you can use it when picking up the hair and cutting with a barber shear, picking up the hair and cutting with a clipper, barber shear over comb, or clipper over comb. In the example below we will be focusing on using the scissor over finger barbering technique while cutting the hair in the top section.

Barbering Techniques – Traveling Guide

1. Pick up the front at 90 degrees and over direct the hair to the recession to avoid leaving any holes in the front. Make your first cut determined in the customer consultation.

2. Without dropping the hair pick up the next section with your comb and fingers only slightly behind the first section. The smaller the sections the more accurate your work will be. You will also be able to see your guide easier.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the right side. Depending on how long the hair is or how the shape of the head you may have to take 2 sections to the right of the center guide. In this step you will actually have 2 guides. Your center guide and your traveling guide.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the left side. Depending on how long the hair is or how the shape of the head you may have to take 2 sections to the left of the center guide as well. In this step you will again have 2 guides. Your center guide and your traveling guide.

This is an excellent way to cut for optimum accuracy instead of dropping the hair and picking up another section. You will always have the previous guide visible in your fingers. Using these smaller sections will result in a more accurate cut and eliminate any blending work and in a lot of cases the need to cross check your work.

Xcluciv Barber Supply Shear and Straight Razor Demonstration

Xcluciv Barber Supply Shear and Straight Razor Demonstration


Our most recent class was hosted by Xcluciv Barber Supply in Middletown, New York. The focus of this barbering demonstration was on hair cutting techniques with a barber shear a straight razor. The class was well attended even though it was in the middle of a snow storm. Everyone braved the elements to come out and learn how to increase and diversify their barbering skills.

The focus of the class was on the following barbering techniques: Scissor over Comb,  Scissor over Fingers, Thinning Shear over Fingers, Thinning Shear over Comb, Straight Razor over Fingers, Straight Razor over Comb, and Straight Razor Sculpting.

We also focused on versatility in hairstyles as well. We demonstrated how you can cut a taper down to a 1/4′ in length with barber shears and then showed how you can cut a disconnected Pompadour with barber shears and texturize with a straight razor.

We had a great time at Xcluciv Barber Supply and can’t wait to go back. For anyone attending the International Beauty Show in New York City this year on March 8th-10th make sure to stop by their booth #2231 and check out my full library of Barbering DVDs on display for sale at a 40% show discount.

How To Cut A Graduated Men’s Haircut

Learning how to cut a graduated men’s haircut is an important skill to have no matter what length haircut you are giving. Most short to medium length haircuts have some degree of graduation. Even fades have graduation. The word “graduation” as it is referred to in haircutting means shorter to longer without a line of demarcation.

Step By Step Guide For Learning How To Cut A Graduated Men’s Haircut:

1.        Start on the top and establish the center guide. Hold your large scissor comb parallel to the floor from a side to side position. Elevate the bangs at a 90 degree angle and begin cutting the desired length with the large scissor and the scissor over comb technique.

2.        Make sure to move the comb slow and open and close the scissor fast to leave a blended cut. Move your comb on an imaginary plane parallel to the floor which will allow for the desired length in the crown area. If the crown is cut too short it will stand up.

3.        Repeat step 2 on the left and right sides. Depending on the size of the scissors being used and the client’s head 2 sections on each side may be necessary. Make sure to remember to keep the comb parallel to the floor. This will leave the necessary weight in the corners for the hair to move or be styled properly.

4.        Blend the round of the head section to the top section. Hold the large scissor comb parallel to the side of the head and move it through the hair to meet the top guide. If you find this too difficult you can pick the hair up with your fingers. Start in the back and hold your fingers parallel to the round of the head and use the scissor over fingers technique. Work from the center to each side using a traveling guide.

5.        Blend the sides and back section to the round of the head section. Hold the large scissor comb parallel to the side of the head and move it through the hair to meet the guide at the round of the head. Start on the right side with the scissor over comb technique and work your way around the head. This way you will always see the previous guide in the comb and will not get lost. When you get to the top guide you may have to angle the comb inward slightly to get the perfect blend. Please do not over due this as it will result in taking the weight out of the corners which is what we are trying to achieve.

6.        Next blend the semi-finish area into the sides and back section. Use the clipper comb at a 45 degree angle and use the clipper over comb technique with the adjustable clipper in the open position. Hold the comb over the ear to leave a fuller hairline. (for a more tapered hairline you will hold the ear down with the comb) At a 45 degree angle cut the hair over the comb elevating the comb at that angle until you run out of hair. Do this all the way around the hairline.

7.        Repeat step five with the finishing comb and the clipper over comb technique with the adjustable clipper in the open position. The difference for this step is to not elevate the comb as high. In other words you are blending this shorter length into a longer length.

8.        Use the adjustable clipper with the blade on skin technique to leave a natural hairline. At this point the hairline is just about complete. Put the clipper in the open position and with the blade on skin technique shave upward toward the hairline and slowly using a scooping motion pull the clipper away from the neck about a 1/4 to a 1/2 an inch below the neckline.

9.        Repeat step 7 twice. First with the clipper in the halfway closed position and second with the clipper all the way closed.

10.      Use the trimmer to complete the finish. Edge up the sideburn area. Pull the ear down and clean up any short hairs that pop out. Do not cut into the hairline. On the bottom of the neck repeat step 7 not coming anywhere near the nice natural hairline you just created.

11.      Texturize the haircut. Repeat the scissor over comb portions of the haircut with the large scissor comb and the 40-44 tooth blending scissor. Depending on the thickness of the hair close the scissor halfway about a 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch down the shaft of the hair. This step will allow the hair to move better and grow in more naturally during the life of the haircut. Always remember less is better when texturizing or thinning.

13.      Style the haircut to the customers liking.

How To Cut Short Hair

Scissor Over Comb

Clipper Over Comb

Many times when beginning a career in barbering or men’s haircutting a barber or cosmetologist will struggle the most with learning how to cut short hair.  Especially, when the hair is too short to pick up with your fingers but the desired length is to be left longer than using the largest clipper attachment. In my opinion this is what separates truly talented and dedicated barbers and cosmetologists from everyone else.

There are two barbering techniques that are used in this situation. The first one is scissor over comb. This barbering technique is used when the comb slowly moves through the hair picking it up and the scissor held in the opposite hand opens and closes quickly cutting the hair. This is the oldest technique in barbering. (Yes, there was a time when the electric clipper did not exist.) With time and practice this barbering technique will become second nature and you will start using it on longer hair instead of picking it up. You will find this barbering technique to be much more efficient as well as more accurate than picking up the hair in many small sections.

The second barbering technique is clipper over comb. This works the same as scissor over comb except you are using a clipper. I recommend using an adjustable clipper or detachable blade clipper but never a trimmer. The trimmer is not powerful enough and the blade is too fine causing clipper lines in the haircut. Another benefit of this technique is you can begin the taper around the outline of the haircut after you finish each section. This will drastically increase the efficiency of your haircutting without increasing your hand speed. It is extremely important that the customer never feels like you are rushing them out of your chair.

Learning these two barbering techniques will improve the quality of your haircuts as well as the different types of men’s hairstyles you will now be able to cut.

How To Cut Men’s Hair: Barbering Scissors – Scissor Over Comb – Shear Over Comb

There was a time when the electric clipper did not exist at all and you were lucky if you had a hand clipper. Hand Clipper? Does anyone even know what that is anymore? It is a clipper blade attached to two metal handles that fit in the palm your hand. It had to be opened and closed as fast as possible to avoid pulling the hair while cutting it. Who would ever want to put themselves and their customer through that?

So how did barbers cut short hair efficiently? They used the oldest and most prestigious barbering technique which is the scissor over comb technique. Different size combs were used the way different size clipper attachments are used today. The outline was done with the point of the scissor and finished with a straight razor shave.

There are two great benefits to cutting hair this way:

  1. Cutting hair with the scissors and the scissor over comb technique teaches a great understanding of graduation (shorter hair graduating into longer hair).
  2. It gives the customer a lot more confidence in the barber cutting their hair. The reason? The perception of a higher level of skill and the barber taking greater care in the finished product. There is a big difference in using this technique versus the barber asking the customer what number they get and running the clipper up the side of their head.

Learning to cut hair with the proper scissor techniques will go a long way to improving the quality of your haircuts and the perceived value of the service you are providing. This is what ultimately leads to greater customer retention, charging higher prices, and receiving larger tips on a consistent basis.