How to Find The Right Pair of Shears

(Sam Villa)

The handle design of shears is key to reducing the chance of stress and injury to hands, arms and shoulders, but at the end of the day, stylists must remember that the decision depends on their personal needs as a hairdresser. Below, the Sam Villa Team outlines the benefits and drawbacks of different types of shear handles, so that you can find the perfect fit: 

Opposing Grip Shears 

Traditionally, shears were designed with a symmetrical handle and opposing rings. This places the finger rings directly across from each other and is the least ergonomic configuration. 

The user of an opposing grip shear will be inclined to raise their elbow high in the air for many techniques, which causes unnecessary strain on the shoulder. The only real benefit of this design is leverage. With the thumb being furthest away from the pivot, leverage is maximized, but at the cost of ergonomics. 


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The one shear that really benefits from an opposing symmetrical grip is a blending or thinning shear. With a blending shear, stylists need the ability to decide what direction the teeth are pointing, so an opposing grip allows a blending or thinning scissor to be “reversible.” This is ergonomically beneficial because the wrist and elbow don’t need to be in awkward positions to reverse the tooth position—the shear can simply be flipped over. 

Offset Grip Shears 

Offset ring configurations shorten the thumb handle, which lessens the distance the thumb must move to open and close the shear. 

When compared with a shear with a symmetrical handle and opposing rings, a professional haircutting shear with a symmetrical handle and offset ring configuration will cause the thumb to move less, thereby reducing the risk of repetitive stress injury. However, regardless of the degree of offset, a shear with symmetrical handles can still cause the user to raise their elbow. 

Crane & Forward Set Thumb Shears 

Shears with a “Crane” handle feature an offset thumb ring with a ring handle aligned straight in-line with the blade. The straight ring handle allows the elbow and hand to move at a lower position - reducing strain on the shoulder. 

The “Forward Set” thumb configuration features a thumb handle that is much shorter than an offset shear, placing the thumb in a neutral position across from the index finger. This mimics the hand at rest, which minimizes strain on the tendons in the hand and arm. Because the thumb is now much closer to the pivot, it also requires much less movement to fully open and close the shear, which helps with repetitive use injuries.  

When combined with a crane handle, this combination creates an incredibly ergonomic shear that leaves the hand in a very comfortable position and allows the stylist to work without raising the elbow and shoulders in a way that creates tension and strain.  

Swivel Shears

The Rotating Thumb Handle, or Swivel Thumb, places the thumb ring on a pivot, giving the user freedom to position their thumb comfortably while maintaining a grip on the shear. With practice, swivel thumb shears will allow the user to keep their elbow low for the entire haircut, providing the maximum ergonomic benefit. 

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