Clipper Over Comb

Simply put this technique is superior because it cuts the hair evenly at the exterior rather than to the uneven scalp. The scalp has bumps and ridges. If you slap on a blade or guard the hair is cut like a lawnmower, just grazing over the surface and showing all the bumps in the road. When you want a haircut that grows out nicely, you cut the exterior evenly despite what is going on at the scalp. It will last longer, I promise.

Granted this only works for cuts at a “#2”, 6.3mm, 2/8 inch, or longer. Anything shorter and you must use your blades directly.

I have tried every clipper out there, even the American Crew approved version of Oster clippers- pretty much the highest quality available in U.S.. My preference is the Oster Fast Feed, simply because the blades and motor are high quality and there is a trigger on the side. I still have the same clipper from 2000, at a whopping $90 and I have worked in barbershops as well as salons where we did a lot of clipper cutting. They work well on damp or dry hair, even function better than those with a fan on the motor because the dry hair clippings don’t blow in your face. You can purchase new blades for somewhere around $18 and they last a decent couple of years before dulling.

The trigger is key for these clippers because you can do fades. You can graduate any lengths to the scalp by “feathering” or flicking your wrist gently and angling the clipper perpendicular to the scalp with the trigger manipulated at different levels to blend those weird bumps, dents, and ridges in the scalp for a smooth fade.

You got it, I’m a white girl that can do a fade. Not one of those chop shop clipper guard fades either, mine actually look faded, like from dark (hair) to light (scalp) with a soft shadow graduating between the two.

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Secret #2: Get Technical Skills

Technical Skills:

In no profession can you get away without performing. There is an old adage “fake it till you make it”, and this is unfortunately true. In most cases, even a hairdresser that is a natural will fumble at first. On the same note, every seasoned professional will find a client in their chair that they will not be able to satisfy once in a while. On-going training is imperative to stay current with trends, and innovative techniques often accompany flashy new equipment.

If you are just beginning, this is the best thing you can do for your career. PAY ATTENTION!

Attend as many classes as you can afford.

Apprentice or assist in a salon you want to work in long-term, build a career instead of a job.

Learn how to use every piece of equipment you own, and learn it well.

Learn the difference between cutting hair dry, damp, and wet.

Learn the difference between razor, scissor, and clipper.

Learn the textures and densities of each client. Also, how weather affects the texture of each clients hair.

Learn the products that make your job easier. This will make your clients hair work for them, rather than your client work for their hair.

Practice, practice, practice!

When you are new, offer to do everyone’s hair you know. Make sure they are aware of your skill level, though.

Pay attention to what you are doing. Be present with the hair and build on your skills in steps.

Watch others and learn from them. Notice the details- tension, where to begin, systems, directional cutting, ask coworkers what color formulas they are using and take mental note of consultation, clients hair before, and results.

Color can be very tricky- stick to one line until you fully understand how color works. Once you get a few tricks up your sleeve, experiment with other color lines and see the differences. Once you work with different ones you will see which you prefer, and which your clients prefer as well.

Don’t trash the clients hair, be cautious if you are unsure.

ASK FOR ADVICE!!! Don’t be a know-it-all from the get-go, you will fail. You will get sued. You will lose your job.

In summary, know what you are doing. If you don’t know yet… learn!


Secret #1: Value of communication

Communication: This must be crystal in order to know what the client wants. Not only words, of course communication is a whole body experience. Touch their shoulder before you touch their head to reassure them of your grace, this establishes trust in contact. Look in their eyes so they know they have your attention, listen to their choice of words in describing what they want, and analyze where they are coming from. Ask the questions that feel natural for you to comprehend what they need from you, and give them an understanding of the limitations you have (whether it is time, training, or their hair is simply not going to do what they want). Let them know your rates for their request, offer alternatives to their service and pricing if you aren’t sure they are certain or dead-set on what they want. Have consistent pricing too. People hate going to the hairdresser and having the surprise ending- that she is now charging you more than she did before but forgot to tell you. I always quote the work before I begin. It’s the only way to be fair to both the client and yourself. Don’t just come up with something either, have a base and structure additionals consistently.

Make sure you are actually connecting with your client, tap into the way they understand the world, look at their hair from their perspective. Ask as many questions as necessary, in ways that speak to that person…

Every now and then I will have a client who says, “maybe I didn’t tell the last girl what I really wanted, because look at it, it’s______.” That undesirable trait may or may not be your idea of foul play, but it most certainly is according to the client (who is no longer patronizing the last hairdresser). Communicate clearly to avoid repeat offending. My response to this is almost always, “I am the professional here, it is MY responsibility to make sure I know what you want before we begin.” Don’t argue with a client about whether their hair is gold or not, accept how they see it and make sure you do it how you have agreed.

Additionally, it’s not enough to know what someone does want, you must know what they do not want.

For all the readers who are clients, this series of articles is a valuable tool for you too. Make sure the hairdresser doesn’t proceed until you are comfortable with the communication.

Stay tuned for the 2nd secret….