The Tool That Gets Hairdressers in the Most Trouble

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“If there is any tool that gets us in trouble when cutting, it’s the comb and not using it enough,” says Sam Villa, co-founder and chief creative officer of Sam Villa. Every comb is designed with a specific purpose in mind, and when utilized properly, can aid in a hairdresser elevating their skillset from good to outstanding, the Redken global artistic ambassador adds. Here, Villa shares his advice on mastering the tool and putting it to good use.

  • Combs can affect the ergonomics of the body. No matter where a comb starts, when pulled towards the body it defaults to the center of the chest. Ever notice why right-handed stylists tend to cut the right side of the head longer than the left and vice versa for southpaws? It’s because they favor one side and are off-center. Where you stand affects the action of the comb which in turn affects the cutting line.
  • Master the comb flip and the increased dexterity adds control and saves time from putting tools down or switching from hand to hand. Practice enough to work equally efficient with both hands and anything is possible.
  • Understand when to use each side of the comb or it will create inconsistencies in cutting. Fine teeth clean sections for cutting and provide high tension, whereas wide teeth allow hair to move through with less effort, which is ideal for cutting curly hair and creating looser texture. Wide teeth are also ideal for cutting one length bobs to create consistent tension and ensure even one-length hair.
  • Think of the comb as a guide to read the angle, elevation and cutting line. Use a black comb on lighter hair and a white on darker levels—the contrasting colors clearly define the cutting line and angle. 
  • Consider the length of the spine—shorter combs are best on shorter hair because they get up close to the scalp for tapering around the ears and the neckline. Longer combs are designed for longer hair because they can handle larger sections. Line up the spine of a comb correctly and cutting will be spot on.

Learn more about the what, when, why and how of each comb and how to master the comb flip here.