- What Are Hair Cutting Shears
- Benefits of Using Hair Cutting Shears
- How Do Hair Cutting Shears Work
- Pros and Cons of Using Hair Cutting Shears
- Types of Hair Cutting Shears
- Materials of Hair Cutting Shears
- How to Choose the Best Hair Cutting Shears
- How to Use Hair Cutting Shears
- How to Clean and Maintain Your Hair Cutting Shears
- How to Sharpen Hair Cutting Shears
- Step 1 – Get a proper whetstone
- Step 2 – Lubricate the whetstone using mineral oil or water
- Step 3 – Dismantle the shears
- Step 4 – Slide the blade over the whetstone
- Step 5 – Use the finer side of the whetstone to polish the cutting edge
- Step 6 – Get rid of metal shavings
- Step 7 – Put the blades back together
- Step 6 – Clean and oil the scissors
- Must-Have Accessories to Use With Hair Cutting Shears
- Does More Spending Mean More Quality
- Do’s and Don’ts With Hair Cutting Shears
- FAQ About Hair Cutting Shears
- Which scissors are best for cutting hair at home?
- How do I adjust the tension on hair scissors?
- How often should I lubricate a hair shear?
- How often should I sharpen hair shears?
- Does it matter what kind of scissors you cut your hair with?
- Why are barber shears so expensive?
- Can you trim a beard with hair cutting scissors?
What Are Hair Cutting Shears
As the name suggests, hair cutting shears are scissors specifically made for cutting and styling hair. What makes these scissors different from the ones you use around the house is that they are usually thinner and have an additional finger rest to provide the user with more control.
Because of the recent health pandemic, many people have started learning to cut their own hair. If you are thinking of doing the same, you will need the right hair cutting shears to do the job right.
Benefits of Using Hair Cutting Shears
Is buying hair cutting shears a perfect decision? Here are some benefits that this hair grooming tool can surely provide you:
Sharper Compared to Regular Scissors
You may think that your kitchen scissors are sharp enough to cut thin and flimsy hair, but you really do not want to try your theory out. Kitchen scissors are not as sharp as you think. If you use it to cut hair, you will be at risk of having cut ends that are all jagged and uneven. A real pair of hair cutting shears will require very little force to cut because of its sharpness.
Can Prevent Hair Damage
Using the wrong scissors to cut hair can potentially damage them. Regular kitchen scissors are not sharp enough to cut through the hair cleanly. This may leave split ends or any possible hair damage behind. You can prevent such issues when you use cutting shears specifically designed for the hair.
Easier to Control
A pair of hair cutting shears also has the advantage of being easier to control than other tools. One reason behind it is its compact size and weight. With that, you can easily manipulate your hair cutting shears to do whatever you want. You can use them to cut at sharp angles.
Aside from that, they are thin enough that they can get into tight spaces. They also have pointed ends that you can use to cut precise amounts of hair. Also, unlike a high-quality trimmer, you have absolute control over the amount of hair you take off.
Available in Different Types
You can now find different shears available for different tasks. This means that there is more than just one type of hair cutting shears, with each one having different uses. Some shears can cut straight across strands of hair, while others allow you to cut the soft edges. You can do all sorts of hairstyles by using different kinds of scissors.
More Precise Than Other Tools
Hair cutting shears are quite thin and narrow, making them the ideal shape to make precise cuts on a person’s hair. For instance, if you find a couple of stray hairs around the ears, hair cutting shears can eliminate them without cutting the other surrounding hair strands.
How Do Hair Cutting Shears Work
Hair cutting shears, also called barber’s scissors, work just like regular scissors. There are two blades joined at a fulcrum and when they close, they cut anything that is in between them. The main differences are that hair shears are smaller, sharper, and thinner than your regular kitchen knife.
Pros and Cons of Using Hair Cutting Shears
- Lightweight. Hair cutting shears need to be light because they need to be easy to manipulate. Also, working with a heavy pair of scissors all day can be troublesome and difficult for your wrist and hands if you are a hairstylist. The lightness of the hair cutting shears can solve that problem.
- Comfortable to use. Aside from being lightweight, hair cutting shears are comfortable to use as well. These shears have ergonomic designs that allow for a comfortable grip and easier manipulation, unlike regular scissors that can only cut a straight line.
- Cut hair evenly. Kitchen shears, compared to hair cutting shears, are not as sharp. If you try cutting a clump of hair, you will notice that the blades of a regular pair of scissors will push some of the strands to the side, resulting in an uneven cut. When wielded properly, hair cutting shears can cut straight across a bunch of hair.
- Hold an edge longer. A good quality pair of hair cutting shears are made of high-quality stainless steel. As such, this item can hold an edge for an incredibly long time. Most kitchen shears, while also made from stainless steel, contain more carbon for hardness and durability. However, their blades’ thin edge is brittle and would significantly get blunt after a couple of uses.
- Quite expensive. If you want to become a professional hairstylist, you will need to invest in a good set of hair cutting shears. The bad news is that they can range from $200 to more than a thousand dollars depending on the brand, making them costlier than other types.
Types of Hair Cutting Shears
Although it is possible to use just one pair of hair cutting shears for cutting hair, it will severely limit the kinds of hairstyles you can do. You will need different kinds of hair cutting shears if you want near-professional haircuts. Here are a few of your choices:
As the name suggests, this type of shears is ideal for use if you intend to cut straight into your hair. These scissors have blades positioned just like regular ones so that you can cut clear across a bunch of hair. It is also the type you can use when cutting the hair down to the desired length.
This type of hair cutting shears is designed in a way that one side looks like a comb. It has two blades – one of which has teeth, which is why it resembles a comb’s look. The other side is a plain blade without teeth. The purpose of this design is to soften the edges made by the straight shears. The teeth in the shears are small grooves that work in quickly taking out your hair evenly, alleviating excess weight, blending each section, and softening the lines.
This type is a pair of thinning shears that have more teeth in them. With more teeth integrated into the shears, it can remove an even amount of weight from the hair. It works well in layering the hair or putting a good fade on a man’s haircut. One advantage of blending/texturing shears is that they are highly versatile. They are also capable of cutting up to forty to seventy percent of your hair in just a few fast cuts.
Materials of Hair Cutting Shears
As mentioned before, hair cutting shears come in many different varieties, and one of these categories includes the metal used in making them. Currently, there are two different metal alloys used for making high-quality shears, namely:
Stainless Steel Alloy
The most popular metal alloy used for making hair cutting shears is stainless steel – the main reasons include it being cheap and easy to work with. The two main types of stainless-steel alloy grades used for making hair cutting shears and other metal tools used in the hairdressing industry are 440C and 420A.
Among these two stainless steel types, 440C is the better choice because it has a higher carbon content, making it harder than 420A. It also means that you can temper 440C stainless steel to make it even harder.
If you want to use stainless steel hair cutting shears, your best bet is to get the ones from Japan or Germany. These countries have a reputation for making some of the world’s best cutleries and their stainless-steel shears are no exception. Japan and Germany also have the technology to create refined stainless steel that makes some of the best shears in the world.
Cobalt Base Alloy
Cobalt base alloy is another metal used in making cutlery, including shears and scissors. One of the reasons why cobalt gained its popularity is that it is highly resistant to corrosion and many chemicals. However, cobalt base alloy hair cutting shears still have not overtaken stainless steel ones in terms of popularity because they could not hold an edge quite as long.
Cobalt hair cutting shears are sharper than most stainless-steel ones, but their cutting edges are also quite brittle. If you accidentally drop cobalt shears on the floor, there is a good chance that the edge got chipped. It also means that you can only sharpen cobalt shears a limited number of times. They become impossible to adjust after some time. Despite that, cobalt hair cutting shears are still more expensive than stainless steel.
Molybdenum is a far superior metal alloy compared to stainless steel and cobalt alloy. It has an extremely high heat-resistance, which means you can heat and temper it to a high degree of hardness without causing it to become brittle.
Thanks to molybdenum alloy’s inherent flexibility, the hair cutting shears made from this material can hold an edge longer than stainless steel. However, such flexibility is also why you cannot sharpen it to the same degree as cobalt hair cutting shears.
Cobalt Molybdenum Base Alloy
If you want the hardness and edge-retention of cobalt and the flexibility of molybdenum, then you should get shears made from a stainless-steel alloy containing the two metals. You can now find several brands that use cobalt molybdenum base alloy for hair cutting shears, but be forewarned, as they can cost a pretty penny.
Sintered Steel and Carbide Steel
Some hair cutting shears offered by top brands these days use exotic materials. For instance, you can find high-end ones that use sintered steel. Sintering involves superheating powdered steel and compacting it using intense pressure. This process heats the steel to just below its melting temperature and the extreme pressure will cause the particles to bond together.
Sintered steel hair cutting shears are extremely hard and you can sharpen them to a ridiculous degree. However, it is also a bit brittle and hard to sharpen. Another material used by top-brand shears is carbide steel. This material has just the right amounts of hardness and flexibility, resulting in long edge retention. However, carbide steel shears are often expensive mainly because it is a difficult material to work with.
Although it is not really a primary material used for making the shears, you can still use titanium as a thin coating or covering to them. Doing so can add special colors to the shears. The edges of the scissors themselves are not coated. The only reason why most barbers even use titanium-coated shears is that they look nice. Aside from that, it is the only thing that they can use on customers with nickel allergies.
How to Choose the Best Hair Cutting Shears
If you are currently in the market for your first couple of hair cutting shears, then some key points and factors you ought to consider to ensure that you get the best ones are the following:
The size is probably one of the most vital factors that those who intend to buy hair cutting shears should consider. Note that you need to choose one with a size that fits perfectly in your hands.
Shears that are too small or too big for your hands are not just difficult to use but will also cause discomfort. Your scissors should feel like extensions of your hands. If they feel awkward when you use them, then they might be the wrong size.
Type of Shears
Have you already decided on the type of hair cutting shears you need to buy? Note that you have several options in terms of its types. Each one also has a different use. If you start from scratch, you should get at least one basic pair from each type of scissors. You also have to think of the specific purpose that you intend the shears to fulfill so that you can pick the appropriate type.
If you are only thinking of cutting your friends’ and family’s hair and having no intentions of becoming a professional hairstylist, you should get the 420 stainless steel shears as they are the most affordable. Shears containing cobalt, vanadium, and manganese are best left for professionals.
Handle and Grip
Do your fingers fit comfortably in the shears’ handles? The fit should not be too snug that it pinches the skin of your fingers after fifteen minutes or so of use, nor should it be too loose that the shears slip off your hands.
Speaking of slipping from your hands, you can opt for shears with a lightly rubberized grip for comfort and a secure hold. You can also get those with bare-metal grips that are more comfortable to use during long sessions.
You have a choice between convex and beveled edge blades when you are shopping for hair cutting shears. The convex bladed shears have a curved edge, making them ideal for precise and straight edge cutting. On the other hand, if you need a pair of shears for tapered or layered haircuts, get one with beveled edges.
Scissor tension pertains to the amount of resistance provided by the pivot point of the scissor. Do you like your scissors to open and shut with hardly any effort? Or do you want it to have a bit of tension to make you feel every cut much better?
You should get shears that are easy to adjust the tension. Most hair cutting shears have a screw on the pivot. If you want to adjust the tension, you just loosen or tighten the screw accordingly.
If you want high-quality hair cutting shears, search for the brands from Japan, Germany, and South Korea. Scissors from these countries usually contain high-quality stainless steel and assembled with quality in mind. Brands that come from Pakistan or India are still perfectly usable despite using low-quality stainless steel. However, this also means that they get dull much faster.
If you are on a budget, there are passable hair cutting shears that cost around $20. These items will do if you are only thinking of giving quarantine haircuts for the time being. If you are thinking of going into the hairstyling industry, you need to spend quite a bit of money on your tools.
How to Use Hair Cutting Shears
Step 1 – Dry your hair
Make sure that the hair is dehydrated and clean. If you style your hair using hair gel, you need to rinse it off and dry it completely. When you cut the hair dry, you will immediately see what it will look like and how it will lie immediately afterward.
Step 2 – Part the hair down the middle
Even if the person whose hair you are cutting does not part their hair that way, parting the hair down the middle makes it easier to make a symmetrical haircut. You can also use hair clips to keep the hair parted properly.
Step 3 – Grab a section of hair
Use a comb to get an even section and then hold it between your pointer and index finger. After that, slide them down near the ends. Pointcut the very ends of the hair. This means you have to use the point of the scissors to cut into the ends. Let go of the hair to see how it lies on the head.
Step 4 – Carefully cut the ends
To maintain a face-framing hairstyle, grab a clump of hair about an inch away from the hairline and then just carefully cut the strands’ ends. Do not take off too much and let go of the hair and see where it falls. Repeat this step until you are satisfied with the final length.
Step 5 – Make your bangs
If you will be making bangs, comb the hair to the front of the face and then gradually point cut until you reach your desired length. Do not take off too much at once. Hair loss shampoos work but not as fast as most people would like them to be. Soften the ends using the tip of a pair of thinning shears.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Hair Cutting Shears
Step 1 – Remove any styling aid residue
After every use, clean your shears using a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. It can help remove any remaining hair styling products on the tool and sanitize it for the next person.
Step 2 – Oil the pivot at the end of every day
Hold your shears with the tips pointing down, and the blades open at around 45 degrees. Place a couple of drops of shear oil right on the pivot point and then open and close the scissors a couple of times so the oil can penetrate deeper.
Step 3 – Snip, snip, snip
The following morning, hold the shears with the tip pointing downward and open and close the shears a couple of times. It will let the oil flush out any bits of hair that got caught inside the pivot point.
Step 4 – Wipe and store
Wipe the blades and body of the shears clean and store them in a protective carrying case. The case will protect the blades of the scissors from getting damaged by it hitting the other tools.
How to Sharpen Hair Cutting Shears
Step 1 – Get a proper whetstone
There are plenty of life hacks for sharpening household scissors, but they are not enough for professional-grade hair cutting shears. Those crude methods may even damage them. You should get a proper sharpening stone or whetstone for a sharper and cleaner edge. With that said, never use the sharpening gadgets that you see on TV. Those gimmicky things are only good for kitchen shears.
Step 2 – Lubricate the whetstone using mineral oil or water
Never use a dry whetstone. It will take off too much material and ruin the edge. Use a good quality mineral oil or just keep a bowl of water nearby to wet the stone. If you are using mineral oil, let the whetstone soak in it overnight before using it. You can then rinse off the mineral oil later after you finish sharpening your scissors.
Step 3 – Dismantle the shears
Loosen and remove the screw that holds the two shear blades together at the pivot. This is an optional step as you can still sharpen your shears without dismantling them. However, it is highly recommended to do so as it can make the task easier. Just focusing on one blade at a time means you can evenly apply pressure on the blade later.
Step 4 – Slide the blade over the whetstone
First, using the whetstone’s coarser side, slide one of the blades over it, starting from the pivot to the edge. Apply firm and even pressure when doing this. Do it around ten times or until you are satisfied with its sharpness. Repeat this step with the other blade.
Step 5 – Use the finer side of the whetstone to polish the cutting edge
Repeat step 3, but this time, use the whetstone’s reverse side, which is the one with a finer grit surface. It will further refine the cutting edge and get rid of any jagged parts. You can test for sharpness by using the blade to shave off a couple of hairs from your forearm. If a single blade can easily cut through thin hairs, imagine what two can do.
Step 6 – Get rid of metal shavings
Hold the scissors with the tip pointing down and open and close them. It will shake off most of the metal shavings left behind by the sharpening steps. Any metal shavings left might find their way into the pivot and cause considerable wear in a short period.
Step 7 – Put the blades back together
If you opted to dismantle the scissors, now is the time for you to put the blades back together. It is also the time when you can adjust the pivot screw to provide just enough tension.
Step 6 – Clean and oil the scissors
Using a cotton ball dipped in some rubbing alcohol, thoroughly clean the surface of the shears. It can help get rid of any minuscule metal shavings left. After cleaning, put a couple of drops of shear oil in the pivot and then store the scissors somewhere safe until the next time you need to use them.
Must-Have Accessories to Use With Hair Cutting Shears
Although the hair cutting shears is the primary tool you will use for cutting hair, remember that it will only work with other accessories. Here are the other items and accessories you have to consider investing in aside from the hair cutting shears themselves.
You will need to wet the hair to make sure that your cuts are precise and so you do not miss any stray hairs. With that said, it is advisable to have a basic hair dryer at least to get rid of the excess moisture. Doing so will help you see immediately if you have done a good job with the haircut.
When shopping for the best men’s hair dryer, choose one with variable settings for heat and fan power. The cheaper ones only let you turn the heat on and off, which gives you less control. They could also accidentally burn and damage the hair.
A carrying case for all your haircutting tools would be a must, especially if you invested a lot of money on high-quality hair cutting shears. Aside from protecting your precious tools, a carrying case will also help keep them organized and prevent them from hitting each other. It is like what would happen if you just kept all your tools in one bag.
Combs will help you divide and gather bunches of hair so you will know where to cut. Make sure that you get different sizes of combs as people have different types of hair. For instance, if you will be giving a haircut to someone with thick, wavy hair, you will need a comb with big teeth and larger spaces between them.
You will need one or two barber’s hairpins to hold clumps of hair away from the parts you need to cut. If you have not used hairpins yet, you will discover that they can really help you trimming long hair.
You do not want hair clippings from getting on clothes while cutting hair, so you will need a barber cape to go with your other kit pieces. You do not even have to think too much about this decision as barbers’ capes are pretty much all the same. Your choice of barber cape will then be just a matter of preference.
After a couple of uses, you may notice that your scissors are no longer as sharp as they used to be. When that time comes, you will need to use a sharpening stone to restore the edge. Aside from a sharpening stone, you should also invest in a good sharpening guide so that you can give a proper cutting edge to your scissors.
However, if you will be using your scissors in a professional capacity, it is better to have a professional sharpen them, especially if you are using expensive brands of shears. You should not risk ruining a perfect pair of Japanese stainless-steel shears by using a dollar-store whetstone to sharpen it.
Short of installing a towel warmer in your bathroom, you will already have everything that you will need to give professional-looking haircuts from home.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to hair cutting scissors, it is greatly possible for the highest-quality hair cutting shears to come with a premium price tag. Besides paying extra for the expensive materials used for making the said shears, you will also have to pay for the craftsmanship. The difference between the cheapest and the most expensive pair of hair cutting shears are as distinct as night and day.
However, if you know what to look for in hair cutting shears, you might chance upon a cheap Pakistani stainless-steel pair that is above-average in quality. Do bear in mind that cheap yet quality hair cutting shears are very few and far between.
Do’s and Don’ts With Hair Cutting Shears
- Be extra careful when handling hair cutting shears. Unlike regular household shears, hair cutting shears are very expensive and delicate. You should not just throw them on the counter or let them fall on the floor. Doing so might cause the edge of the blades to chip or get misaligned.
- Clean your shears every day. This is especially true if you will be using them in a professional capacity. You need to clean all your tools, not just the shears, between clients. You have to wipe your shears often during the working day to prevent sweat from affecting your grip. Aside from that, remove residue like premium leave-in conditioner from the blades.
- Hold the shears by the handles all the time. You do not want the oils from your hands to contact the shears’ blades, as this will greatly affect their sharpness. However, it is almost impossible that you will not touch the blades even once, which is why it is important to clean your shears after every use.
- Do not let your shears just lay on your table. You must have a protective carrying case for your shears and other hair grooming tools. Having this carrying case around will not only keep your shears safe from damage but will also help keep your tools organized.
- Do not use your hair cutting shears for anything else. As its name suggests, hair cutting shears are for hair only. Do not use it to cut paper, textiles, or anything else. Hair has a completely different texture to other materials and using your shears on things other than that will cause a significant amount of misalignment.
FAQ About Hair Cutting Shears
Which scissors are best for cutting hair at home?
The only types of scissors that you should use for cutting hair at home are hair cutting shears and nothing else. Using regular household scissors or kitchen shears is not advisable as they would not provide the needed precision. Moreover, regular household scissors are not as sharp as you think they are, so there is a chance that using them to cut hair will result in jagged edges.
Instead of using household scissors, you should at least try to find cheap hair cutting shears. Even though they are not comparable in quality as those that cost hundreds of dollars, they are still better suited for cutting hair than regular scissors.
How do I adjust the tension on hair scissors?
If you feel that your shears’ tension is too loose or too tight, you can adjust it by loosening or tightening the adjuster at the pivot. Most scissors have a screw on the pivot, so you can use any screwdriver to make the necessary adjustments, but be sure to use the right size to prevent the head’s stripping.
Other hair cutting shears have an actual dial that you can twist by hand to adjust the tension. These items are standard in the popular brands of professional hair shears.
How often should I lubricate a hair shear?
If you are planning to be a professional hairstylist, you need to lubricate all your shears’ pivot point at the end of every working day. If the pivot is not properly lubed, it will greatly affect the tension of the scissors.
Even if you just had one or two clients for that day, you must not forget to lubricate your shears before you stow them away for the day. The reason for this is that the lubrication helps dislodge the minuscule bits of hair that might have gotten into the pivot, which can greatly affect the scissor’s tension over time.
How often should I sharpen hair shears?
You need to have your hair cutting shears sharpened, on average, every 6 to 24 months. This will depend on the frequency of use as well as the kinds of hair you cut regularly. For instance, dry hair is harder to cut compared to damp hair. The quality of the stainless steel used for making the scissors is also a factor.
High-carbon steel tends to hold an edge longer than regular stainless steel. Also, if you accidentally let your shears fall on a hard surface, you should have them checked for any nicks on the blades, just in case.
Does it matter what kind of scissors you cut your hair with?
Many kinds of hair cutting scissors are available at present and each one has specific uses. For instance, if you want to cut a clean line straight through a bunch of hair, you will need straight-edged shears. However, if you plan to get a bit of weight from the hair or want to give the hair a softer edge, your best choice would be thinning/texturizing hair cutting shears. This means that cutting your hair based on a specific purpose also requires you to pick the right kind of scissors.
Why are barber shears so expensive?
The biggest factor contributing to the cost of professional hair cutting shears is the craftsmanship and design that went into making them. Barber’s shears have an ergonomic design that allows you to use them comfortably for hours.
Another reason why barber shears have ridiculously high price tags is the steel used in constructing them. Arguably, the best hair cutting shears you can get these days are made using high-quality Japanese stainless steel. This specific material is exponentially better than the run-of-the-mill stainless steel used in the scissors that came from Pakistan or India.
Can you trim a beard with hair cutting scissors?
Yes, and it is recommended that you use stainless steel beard scissors. The thin blades and pointy tips of these scissors make them ideal for trimming beards. Moreover, these kinds of scissors are sharp enough to cut through coarse facial hair. You will discover that facial hair often just gets caught in between the blades of regular scissors, sometimes painfully pulling out the hairs.
Scissors are also the ideal tool for trimming your beard effectively. Electric professional hair clippers might be convenient, but it is easy to take off too much facial hair if you are not careful. On the other hand, scissors provide you with precise control over the amount of hair you take out, making it perfect for shaping your own beard. However, you should use a good shaving mirror for better precision.
Before trimming your beard, though, you should wash it using a commercial beard shampoo or make your own beard shampoo at home. This will soften your facial hair a bit, making them easier to style.
Unless you are a highly skilled hairdresser, you should not expect to get even a passable-looking haircut using just regular household scissors. If you want to give haircuts that other people would be proud to wear out in public, you will need a couple of actual hair cutting shears.
Because of the global health pandemic, many people could not get a proper, professional-grade haircut for months, so many have tried and failed to give themselves and other people haircuts. Most of these mistakes they attribute to the kind of scissors they used. Do not make the same mistakes they made. Invest in a couple of good hair cutting shears and see the difference that they make.
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