Rock, Paper, Scissors or Clippers
by David Daniels
I’m going to make an observation on male hair styles that I see whilst in the salon or out on the street… 90% of you fellas will have longer hair on the top of your head, compared to the back and sides. Interesting and insightful stuff huh? Oh yes, unless you are rocking the Mullet, the Bruce Willis or sweeping Hollywood locks like Bradley Cooper, you will fall into the industry standard men’s “Short Back & Sides” to some degree. So, where am I going with all this?
I would like to offer my professional opinion and put to rest some misconceptions that I believe men in the salon chair may have about the differences between a scissor-over-comb cut and a clipper cut.
Having spoken to a lot of gentleman clients at my salon, I get the impression that men looking for a more high-end and styled haircut tend to shy away from the usage of mechanical clippers, as they see it as an “easy option”. This is incorrect. Both clippers and scissors are essential weapons in the stylists armoury. Clippers, in the right hands, give a very precise & clean finish and can keep the cut to an exact length. I like to use them both with and without the plastic “grades” or guards to create a really tight faded finish. A lot of current on-trend styles are going very short on the sides whilst leaving a lot a length on top and the clippers provide a great contrast between a clean finish on the back and sides to the longer textured top.
My two main concerns with a clipper cut are misuse and not selecting them for the right job. The fact that the clipper guard follows the contours of the head could potentially highlight any naturally occurring dips, lumps or scars in the hairline. Also, if a very low grade of clipper guard is to be used and is taken too high up on the sides, the effect can be one of a rounded cut, as the head is curved and the hair cut will be the same length from edge line upwards. Your stylist should be able to talk to you about face shape and advise on what is suitable for what you are trying to achieve.
The scissor-over-comb technique is suitable for most hairstyles, the stylist’s only limitation to how short the hair can be cut is dependant on the thickness of the comb. I like the flexibility of scissor-over-comb as I am in complete control of how short I want to cut the hair in a particular place and can keep the cut square if needed, gradually blending the hair from shorter nearer the edgeline to slightly longer towards the temples. Think Jon Hamm as Don Draper and you get the idea.
Stylists may also use clipper-over-comb in the same way to scissors, so don’t be too shocked if you hear the dreaded buzz heading your way!
Whatever style you chose for your next visit to the salon, remember that both scissors and clippers are just tools for the stylist and either (or both) can be used to create the look you want. Let your stylist advise you on what they think might give you the best result and why. Don’t limit yourself or your stylist for in the search for a better haircut!
The Dandy Tip: There are good and bad haircuts no matter what cutting method is used. Find a good stylist and work together to leave the chair happy.