“If you cut hair, scissors are a critical element in your craft. Understanding this tool and how it works best helps with precision, timing, and ultimately success,” says Roger Molina, Sam Villa Ambassador (@rogermolinahair), who dove deep into scissor-over-comb essentials in a recent Facebook Live now streaming on YouTube.
“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 explains.
Elevation is the key to consistent layering and graduation. When working with hair at 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 important—change 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
Fine-tooth combs provide the most tension and are useful on short, curly, or “hard to hold” 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. They’re 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 texture to pass through. They’re the key choice for the refining stages of long hair and bobs. Pick up big sub-sections, use reciprocal angles, and lighten with a Sam Villa Signature Series Reversible Blending Shear for thicker hair and InvisiBlend for finer hair.
Fabric is key in deciding a shear. Is the hair fine enough to require a blunt and strong line, or thick enough to break out a 42-tooth shear? Regardless, 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.
InvisiBlend: 23 convex teeth promote maximum softness. Texture scissors typically have blunt teeth and a sharp blade; these have sharp teeth and a blunt blade. The result is a seriously diffused line that still removes length with scissor over comb.
Reversible Blending Shear: 42 teeth remove bulk softly and quickly. Absolutely top class at blending on tight fades. Keep the teeth on the top to ensure the hair around the parietal ridge lays down and maintains the strength of the shape.
Sam Villa Artist Series Shear 6.25": Creates blunt, clean lines to build strength in a cutting line. A sculpted handle allows ideal hand position for scissor over comb, and a contoured blade cuts smooth and clean and stays sharp with next-level hardened metal.
A stable hand is key to a steady line. Positioning a pinky 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. The bottom blade should be still; the cutting blade should be the only movement. Try resting your pointer finger of the blade hand on the comb for more stability.
“Once you have the right tools and master how to use them, you’re cooking with the right recipe. Whether a seasoned stylist or just starting out, achieving mastery only takes one thing: practice,” Molina says. Tune in weekly to learn more valuable information from Sam Villa and team.