Clipper Over Comb V Scissor Over Comb

With Dale Ted Watkins, Stacey Broughton.

Duration 2 hour 33 minutes
Skill level Intermediate
Certificate Build Your Skills: Short Back & Sides


Over-comb techniques are used in men’s and women’s hair cutting but are mainly associated with classic barbering for men’s haircuts.

Over-comb techniques can be used as a graduation method, to create a uniform layer or to produce a square shape. They are often used to blend from very short areas into cut areas, for example a bald fade. Used when the hair is too short to be held in the fingers, over-comb techniques are a methodical sequence with the scissors or clippers and comb used continuously throughout the area being cut.

Learn how to use clipper and scissor over comb techniques in the Build Your Skills: Short Back and Sides Collection on MHDPro today. This intermediate online barbering course features five men’s haircuts that will give you the confidence to cut men’s hair using these essential barbering techniques.

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Clipper Over Comb

Clipper over comb techniques are versatile and can be quick in a busy salon environment. The standard techniques used are freehand clipper cutting and clipper-over-comb cutting. Cutting and tapering the hair with clippers can be accomplished in various ways. Generally you cut against the grain of the hair, against the direction of growth. In some situations, you cut with the grain of the hair, for example with extremely curly hair. Cutting across the grain with clippers is used to blend between areas such as in the widest areas of the head and sides. When dealing with strong irregularities such as cowlicks use circular motions.

Clipper-over-comb cutting can be used for the entire haircut or to blend the hair from shorter tapered areas to longer areas at the top, crest or occipital. The comb is placed at the desired angle of inclination. Place the clipper horizontally and gently move the clippers along the spine of the comb to remove length. This is repeated as you move up each panel of hair, maintaining the correct angle. Start the process with the wide end of the comb and then change to the finer end as you refine.

Clipper guards

Clipper guards are clipper attachments made of plastic or hard rubber. The attachments facilitate graded longer lengths. They can ensure uniformity. They can be used to grade the hair by changing size accordingly. The guards themselves do not cut the hair, a guard is simply used as a length guide and often used as a safe, fast, reliable clipper tool accessory.

Clipper guards come in standard global sizes (grade or number 0-8) for most clipper models: 0 is the use of the clippers with no guard. It leaves stubble equivalent to a day or two of beard growth. It is often used for cutting around the edges of the hairline. 1 leaves the hair 3mm long. Generally, the scalp is clearly visible when using a number 1 clipper guard. It is also often used to blend to a longer length at the top.
2 leaves the hair 6mm long. There will be some scalp exposure with the number 2 clipper guard, unless the hair is very thick.
3 leaves the hair 10mm long. Depending on the thickness of the hair, there may be some scalp visible.
4 leaves the hair 13mm long and is one of the most popular clipper guards. It gives the appearance of the hair being clean cut, and the scalp cannot usually be seen at this length.
5 leaves the hair 16mm long, and is generally visually indistinguishable from the number 4. It is not generally included in clipper kits, and is often purchased separately.
6 leaves the hair 19mm long and is often used to blend shorter to longer clipper lengths from the side to the top.
7 leaves the hair 22mm long.
8 leaves the hair 25mm long and is the longest available guard for haircutting clippers and is often used on the top, while a shorter clipper guard is used on the sides.

Scissor Over Comb

Scissor over comb techniques are generally performed in the lower portion of a haircut, the nape, behind and around the ears and in the sideburn areas. You can also apply a scissors-over-comb technique to an entire haircut. Scissors-over-comb techniques are usually combined with other structures such as graduation and layering. Scissors-over-comb techniques produce a rough or activated surface. Shorter lengths stand out from the surface of the head and expose the scalp, creating a transparent effect – and an illusion of lighter colour, which is referred to as a grade A scissors-over-comb sits close to the head shape. It can be angular, square, triangular or round. It can build up to a weight line or weight area. Its shape depends on the angle and line of inclination.

The scissors-over-comb cutting technique falls into three basic classifications - low, medium and high. A low scissors-over-comb technique is used to re ne the nape perimeter lines in medium or short haircuts to give a clean result. The comb is held out from the head between 0 and 30 degrees. A low application removes excess length and weight along the perimeter only. It shows the least amount of scalp in the finished result.
A medium scissors-over-comb technique is applied to the sides perimeter and back from the occipital bone down to create a tapered and clean area in a short haircut. The comb is held out from the head at 45 degrees. The line of inclination moves closer to the head as it travels to the perimeter and consequently exposes a medium degree of scalp. A high scissors-over-comb technique is applied from the nape to the crest, the widest part of the head or parietal ridge in the back and sides. The comb is held between 45 and 90 degrees to the head and determines the inclination of the shape and the amount of exposed scalp and transparency.

A scissors-over-comb technique requires:
• No sectioning - the hair is cut in panels and the guide is the angle of the comb in relation of the scissor blades to the spine of the comb and your previously cut internal high guides
• A consistent action - cutting up the panel
• The scissors must be aligned to the spine of the comb
• The hair is cut as it enters the back of the comb
• The focus is the blend from the perimeter to the cutting line
• Generally, begin with the side areas in order to address the highest point of the head
• Work from the perimeter upward
• Initially use the wide teeth end of the comb
• Use the fine teeth end of the comb to refine