In this new blog series I will be giving you many different tips on barber tools. There is a saying in the trades: : “You are only as good as your tools”. I would like to take that one step further and say that the best tools in the world will not guarantee results, knowing how to use them correctly will.
Barber Tool Tips: How To Hold Barber Shears
Their are three areas that I would like to talk about when it comes to holding your barber shears correctly. The first is hand positioning, the second is body positioning in relation to the head, and the last is your posture.
1. Hand Positioning: Your ring finger should be placed into the barber shear down to just above your second knuckle. Your middle finger and index finger should wrap around the shear applying pressure to secure the shear in your hand. Your thumb should be placed in the shear just above your knuckle and is the only finger that should move when cutting.
2. Body Positioning: You should be standing slightly to the left of your customer with a slight lean away from your customer. This will force your elbow up in the air and support your grip so just your thumb moves. If you stand in front of your work both of your fingers will be moving and the barber shear will not cut properly.
3. Posture: You should be standing without any body lean whatsoever. This will avoid long term back pain or just general fatigue at the end of the day. Make sure your elbow is slightly elevated. This will force you to straighten out your arm and keep your work in front of you. This will in turn force you to stand upright with the correct posture.
It will be very easy to tell if you are not performing the above tasks correctly. You will be feeling extreme fatigue in your lower back at the end of your work day. It may feel awkward at first but if you take a quick peek at yourself in the mirror you will be able to see that you posture is correct. With time and practice this process will become automatic.
A successful career in barbering or any profession for that matter is dependent on many factors. Many books have been written on this subject. When it comes to barbering or men’s haircutting I feel that there are 10 things you must know to have a successful career. In this 10 part blog series I will go into each one in detail.
Barber Success Tips – Part 8
Scissor Over Comb – The Ultimate Technique For Men’s Haircutting.
I refer to this as the secret weapon in men’s haircutting. Scissor over comb is the oldest and most efficeint men’s haircutting technique . There was a time when the electric clipper did not exist and all cutting was done with different size combs, scissors, hand clippers, and straight razors. Clients associate a higher level of skill with this technique instead of just putting an attachment on a clipper an running a number 3 up the sides. This is a great way to show your clients that you have a superior skill level and take a lot of pride in your haircuts.
Many times when beginning a career in barbering or men’s haircutting the barber or cosmetologist will struggle with haircutting techniques for short hair. In particular when the hair is too short to pick up with your fingers and the desired length is longer than using the largest clipper attachment will allow for.
There are two haircutting techniques that are used in this situation. The first one is called scissor over comb. This haircutting technique is 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 technique will become second nature and you can start using it on longer hair as well instead of picking it up. You will find this haircutting technique to be much more efficient and accurate than picking up the hair in many small sections.
The second haircutting 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 too 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.
Success in men’s haircutting depends on being able to deliver a blended haircut in a reasonable amount of time. This will allow you to give enough haircuts in a day to make a good living. The trick is not to ever let the customer feel rushed. Cutting hair efficiently with these techniques instead of cutting faster will allow you to accomplish this.
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:
Cutting hair with the scissors and the scissor over comb technique teaches a great understanding of graduation (shorter hair graduating into longer hair).
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.
Learning how to cut men’s hair at an expert level requires an understanding of the different shapes of a man’s haircut and the degree of graduation required for the haircut. These two terms may sound complicated but I am going to make it real simple for you to understand.
There are two basic shapes of a men’s haircut:
Square: Think about a flat top. You are putting a square shape on a round object. The hair is longer in the corners and in the front. The majority of men’s haircuts are very similar. The hair needs to be longer in the bang area so the client can comb them to the side or back, longer in the round of the head section so the hair can be combed down or back without sticking out, and longer in the crown so the hair will not stand up. All of your business type haircuts, classic boys haircuts, and the majority of low fade haircuts fall into this category.
Contoured: These are the haircuts that follow the shape of the head. Instead of leaving the hair longer in the corners or the round of the head section the hair is cut to the shape of the head. Some of these haircuts include brush cuts, faux hawks (and all of their variations), Cesar haircuts, and most variations of short, bed head style haircuts.
This word is nothing more than a fancy way to say taper or fade. It means the hair is gradually cut from shorter to longer. When cutting any men’s hairstyle you need to determine ahead of time the best area of the haircut for the graduation. The area of graduation is determined by the length of the top. The longer the top the more extreme and lower on the head the graduation should be. The shorter the haircut the higher on the head form the graduation can be. The principles are the same whether the haircut is a low skin fade, a blowout haircut, or businessman’s haircut. The only differences are the tools and techniques used.
Through the proper men’s haircutting education and experience these concepts will become second nature. Mastering this attention to detail will keep your barber chair booked up weeks in advance.