At UOMO Modern Barber, the ratio of scissors cuts to clippers cuts is about 80:20. But what are the differences between the two — and why do so many of our clients go with scissors cuts over clipper cuts?
A scissors cut is basically a more ‘natural’ cut. It contours to the head better than a clipper cut, which often cuts too short. The hair blends in better with a scissors cut, and the hair grows in more naturally. It’s a ‘looser’ cut, whereas a clippers cut is usually tighter.
As a barber, you have more control with a scissors cut than with clippers. Because of the way it grows out, a scissors cut tends to last longer. And overall…a scissors cut just grows out better.
If you want a very close cut — like a military cut — then a clipper cut is the better choice. A clipper cut tends to grow out more “porcupine-like” because each hair follicle grows at a different rate. Scissor cuts don’t have that problem because they generally aren’t cut as short, so that kind of thing is far less noticeable.
Should a barber use clippers while doing a scissor cut, they usually only use it around the edges. They use them in that area to trim out the edges and clean them out a bit. If you want a scissors cut and your barber starts to move up your head (to about a quarter of the way from the bottom) with a clipper, then you might want to say something. Anything beyond that point and you’re looking at a full-on clipper cut.
When it coms to the number you find on clipper guards (the one that indicates how short you’re going to clip the hair), no matter what brand of clipper is used, the measurements are generally universal. So if you usually get a “3” on the side, then you should be safe no matter what barber you go to. Your barber may even ask you whether you want a number “3” with scissors or with a clipper. That’s a matter of personal preference, just remember the points above regarding the results of a scissor cut versus a clipper cut. The way you get a “3” (or any number, for that matter) with scissors is when the barber cuts “scissor over comb”. That’s the way it was done before clippers became widely available. Scissor over comb is a more natural and more tapered way to get the same look a clipper can give. The number indicates length, the types of cutting instrument indicates how the length is going to be achieved.
Now you’ve got a sense of the difference between a scissor and clipper cut. So which way do you go now? Are you a scissor or clipper cut guy — and why? Let us know in the comments.
Photo credit: morberg (CC BY-NC 2.0)