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Shear Genius

A hairstylist without a pair of shears is about as useful as a carpenter without a hammer or a doctor without a stethoscope. Your shears are arguably the most important tool in your kit, so it's important to choose a pair that's right for you. Fortunately, many new models are available to choose from and the options continue to grow as a few notable hairstylists get into the game.



Take Mark Garrison, for instance. This year, the New York City stylist and successful salon owner plans to launch a line of shears specially designed to facilitate his haircutting technique. Garrison is testing the prototypes now, but has been working on the line for quite some time.

Then there's Sam Villa, Redken's education artistic director, who recently launched a line of styling tools, including four ergonomically friendly shears, designed especially for the cutting and blending techniques he teaches. The collection includes a 7-inch shear intended to make dry-cutting easier. "Many hairdressers use the same shear on both wet and dry hair," Villa says. "But dry-cutting puts more wear and tear on the edge so you have to sharpen the blades more often. My dry-cutting shear is heavier and made with the best Japanese steel so it maintains the edge." Villa also developed a unique, reversible blending shear that can cut with the blunt end up or down.

Hairstylist and educator Mike Karg, who is probably best known for his wildly successful eponymous line of shears, recently released a new one, the K-Wide, much to the delight of his many loyal fans. Made for dry-cutting, the blade is 1.2 centimeters wide at the thickest part, creating a larger concave blade edge. "The K-Wide cuts while it pushes so you can slice perfectly with it," Karg says. "It's a great freehand shear. With it, perfect blends and soft lines virtually create themselves."



Karg says the most exciting thing about using the K-Wide is that it makes it easy to create new looks for clients, since various tools react differently to the hair and produce different results. "Trying a variety of shears keeps things fresh and improves your haircutting skills," Karg says.

Garrison says that trying out new tools also keeps you from getting bored. He recommends buying shears in the $200 or less range when you're just starting out and still discovering what you like best. "Shears can be very expensive, but you don't have to spend upward of $1,000 to get a good pair," he says. "The main thing is the balance—how it feels in your hand—and the type of steel."

What it comes down to, Karg says, is not whether the tool is handmade or cast, costly or affordable, or if it's crafted in Germany or Japan. "Hairstylists want to know one thing," he says. "Does this thing perform, yes or no?"

Creative License

Style renegade David Guerin says you're limiting yourself creatively if you're not cutting with clippers.

Clipper cutting may not drive the trends in hairstyles, but clipper techniques do progress as styles change, according to David Guerin, an industry veteran of three decades and global artistic director for Oster Professional. "We develop new techniques based on where the trends are in hair," says Guerin, who leads a team of 23 educators. They travel to more than 120 educational events each year, and the methods they teach are never the same. Basically, you're guaranteed never to see the same show twice.



To get the best performance out of your clipper, Guerin suggests doling out the money for one that's truly top of the line. "The more money you spend, the better the tool you'll get," says Guerin, who calls the Oster Titan the Cadillac of clippers. He recommends investing in a tool that has power, range and detachable blades, so that you can take the clipper head off and pop on a different size in the middle of the haircut. "Clippers can make a hairstylist's job easier," he says. "They should be a part of every hairdresser's arsenal." Visit Guerin's Web site at stylerenegade.com.

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About the Author

Carrie Watson

Carrie Watson