Basic Barbering Techniques

Peter Wells of Ali Babas takes you through some foundation barbering techniques

Like all apprentices, barbers start by learning foundation techniques. Peter takes you through some of the basic barbering cuts and cutting techniques and then shows the correct way to apply those techniques on a client.
Before you can use basic barbering techniques on a client, you need to learn what the different techniques are and how they work.

Barbering cutting techniques

As a barber, you need to know seven cutting techniques and their effect on hair:

  • Clipper – a short, blunt, even finish.
  • Clipper using attachment – a short, layered, blunt, even finish.
  • Free hand clipper – a blunt, sculpted finish.
  • Scissor cutting – a blunt, even finish (not a traditional barbering technique).
  • Scissor over comb – a layered, blunt, even finish.
  • Razor cutting – creates texturised hair, removes bulk, and gives you an uneven finish.
  • Razor over comb – a layered, texturised, uneven finish.

Barbering haircut types

There are four different haircut types you need to learn about as a barber:
  • Graduation – short back & sides hairstyle, faded with length at the top.
  • Increase layer – mullet hairstyle, shorter length at top getting longer at the bottom.
  • Solid form – bob hairstyle, longer hair at top getting shorter in one length.
  • Uniform layer – clipper cut, all same length.

Barbering techniques

These are four finishing techniques important to any barber:
  • Nape shaping – the correct tapering for the hairstyle working with the hair-line to finish and shape the back.
  • Line outs – to bluntly cut and shape the perimeter of the haircut (boxed).
  • Free hand clipper – to sculpt and give a solid and precise finish.
  • #0-4 Clipper guard work – smooth graduation.

Blunt cutting and texturising

You’ll use both of these techniques frequently in your barbering career:
  • Blunt cutting – straight cut, blunt solid even finish, bulky result.
  • Texturising – feathered cut, thin uneven finish, blended result.

Applying what you know

Once you’ve learned the techniques above, it’s time to use them on a real client.

Step 1

The first step is to always consult with your client. Agree the haircut they need and discuss whether they’d like any other services. Over a 30 second conversation, I discovered that my client, Hayden, wants “a short back and sides” haircut and would also like his nose hair trimmed.


Step 2

STOP! Don’t start cutting yet. You need to analyse the hair and scalp to make sure it’s okay to go ahead with the cut you’ve planned. After analysing Hayden’s hair and scalp, I discovered:
  • Movement – the hair moves left to right and down at the back.
  • Growth pattern – he has a single crown and a cowlick at the front.
  • Scalp irregularities – there is a wart on the top right side.
  • Scalp condition – the scalp is dry and flaky with a potential melanoma.
  • Texture – the hair texture is medium.
  • Density – the hair is thick and high density per square centimetre.
  • Length – short.
  • Porosity – resistant.
  • Elasticity – good.
Before you go ahead with the cut, check the cut the client wants possible based on the hair and scalp analysis. Also check if the cut will meet the client’s needs.

Step 3

Protect the client by using a cape and neck strip. The client should leave with clean clothes and skin. There should be no spilt product or loose hair.


Step 4

Select the tools you need. You’ll know what you need based on the cut you’re trying to achieve and the sort of hair your client has.


Step 5

Start cutting. For Hayden’s hair, I used scissor over comb, clipper over comb, clipper with a guard, neck trimmers, free hand clipper and line outs.

Make sure your grip on the clippers is right. If it’s not, you could find yourself with anything from a bad haircut to a hand or wrist injury.


Step 6

It’s time for the finishing steps. Hayden wants his nose hair trimmed. At this point you’d also remove ear or eyebrow hair if the client had requested it.


Step 7

Next up, trim the hair at the base of the neck. You need to remove the cape and neck strip carefully before you trim the neck hair.

Step 8

Get rid of all the loose hair left behind from trimming the neck hair.


Step 9

Finish up by styling the hair with product. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also make sure your styling and choice of products meet the desired outcome agreed at the consultation.


Step 10

Show the client the finished style using the back mirror. Make sure the style meets their requirements.


Step 11

Clean up. Remove the client’s protection and make sure their clothes are clean and free of hair and product.


Once your client has left, you need to clean up your work area. Sanitise your tools thoroughly and clean your work station.

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