6 Tips for Scissor-Over-Comb Cutting

Img 2577
Courtesy of Sam Villa

The scissor-over-comb technique is a staple behind the chair.

Roger Molina, hairstylist, Sam Villa ambassador and content creator, gives his professional tips on the technique.

“We’re trained to break down haircuts into sections and hold hair at a certain elevation and angle to get consistency in weight and shape. And, since some hair is too short for holding in our fingers, scissor-over-comb was born. In fact, scissor-over-comb techniques apply to any length of hair, it’s simply holding the hair in a comb versus your fingers,” Molina notes. 

Molina’s six key takeaways include:

  • Elevation is the key to consistent layering and graduation. When working with hair of any length, always be mindful of how high each section is coming off the plane it lives on in relation to other sections. Recognize that low elevation keeps and even builds weight, while higher elevation releases weight.
  • The comb determines the plane in which the scissors will cut. Visualize the overall shape and match the angle of the comb to each plane.
  • Sectioning is importantchange the weight by changing the line. Work slowly, taking a measurement of the previous cut to guide the next.
    • Horizontal sections build weight and can balance a narrow shape.
    • Vertical sections tend to lengthen or lean out a shape.
    • Diagonal sections round out or blend corners of a shape.
  • Comb choice makes a difference.
    • Fine-tooth combs provide the most tension and are useful on short hair. And, to get very close in hard-to-reach spots like the nape, sideburns and ear area, it is important to have a very thin comb. For really short tapers, try the Sam Villa Artist Series Detail Comb.
    • Medium-tooth combs offer medium tension and control the elevation and over-direction while not exhibiting the same persuasive nature of finer teeth. These types of combs are most often used for slightly longer tapers and scissor-over-comb applications. Keep hair in the teeth; the parting pick will hold hair differently and change the results a bit.
    • Wide-tooth combs provide the least amount of tension and are ideal for curly hair/natural texture.  The loose hold leaves room for curls to pass through. These combs are a key choice for the refining stages of long hair and bobs: Pick up big subsections, use reciprocal angles and lighten with a blending shear for those with thicker hair.
  • Shear choice is extremely important. The more teeth a shear has, the more hair it removes. If a scissor has a ton of fine teeth, it will give a soft, light result. If it has bigger teeth, it will give more texture in the result. 
  • A stable hand is key to a steady line. Positioning your pinkie finger on the client’s head is a good way to control the comb hand. To steady the blade hand, focus on moving the thumb only. A still blade on the bottom and the cutting blade should be the only movement. Try resting the pointer finger of the blade hand on the comb for more stability.
More in Cut