Shears and razors are the most important tools in your arsenal—next to your hands, of course. We’ve gathered some perennial hits and soon-to-be favorites and share tips on how to best care for your cutting tools.r cutting tools.
Know Thy Shears
Not all shears are created equal. And that’s a good thing, because no two people are created exactly the same. But having so many options can be intimidating, especially for newbies and seasoned stylists who haven’t shopped around for a while. Aaron Klose, Shear Concierge at Hattori Hanzo Shears, discussed with us the differences between shears and what you should look for before you take the plunge.
First, Klose says, there are three different handle styles: on-set, offset and swivel. On-set shears are the conventional workhorses of the industry. “This is your traditional, old-school Sassoon-type shear,” says Klose. “The handle is straight and is great for precision cuts.” With offset shears, the handles are, well, offset from one another. “This is a more modern shear,” says Klose, who explains that the design is more ergonomic. “It allows you to keep your elbow closer to your body so you’re not ‘chicken-winging’ your arms, as I like to call it.” Finally, swivel shears feature a thumb piece that rotates to a position that’s most comfortable for the stylist. “Swivel shears are the closest you can get to having a shear custom-made for you,” states Klose. They tend to reduce wrist and finger pain and allow for more unique cutting positions, like slide cutting, without the stylist having to adjust her hand. Nevertheless, Klose estimates that only 10 to 15 percent of stylists use swivel shears. “They can take some getting used to,” he admits, “but they’re fun!”
Next are texturizing shears. Blending shears are perfect for removing fade lines, blending layers on a concave bob and anywhere you don’t want to see serious lines of demarcation. A traditional blending shear features 30 to 40 teeth that are straight up and down and offer a medium to fine blend. Debulking shears feature fewer teeth: a 27-tooth shear leaves behind no lines of demarcation and is good for removing bulk, while those with 13 teeth are perfect for use on thick hair without movement. “They also create texture on shorter men’s and women’s styles,” Klose says. Finally, notching shears only have between seven to nine teeth. “They’re really funky texturizers,” he explains. “They’re great for creating a choppy, shattered look.”
Cut Both Ways
Dry cutting is gaining in popularity, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon wet cutting altogether. “When you want precision and
discipline, water’s your best friend,” summarizes Redken Global Artistic Ambassador Sam Villa. “Dry cutting is a visual exercise for the hairdresser.” Here we take a look at the differences between the two.
✒Offers greater control
✒ Perfect for precision work
✒ Good for lighter densities
✒ Create shape and texture simultaneously
✒ Can be done quickly
✒ Can see the result immediately
✒ Works on all hair types
Does Size Really Matter?
Shear blades come in a variety of lengths, from 4.5 inches all the way to 7 inches. So how to choose what’s right for you? For one thing, it isn’t based on the size of your hands. Rather, it’s based on technique and what you want to use the shear for. “For fine, precision cutting, you want as much control as possible, so opt for a shorter shear,” explains Klose, who recommends a 5 to 5.5-inch shear. If speed is key, then a longer blade is best. “The more hair you can cut with each snip, the faster your haircut,” he says.
- The Sam Villa Signature Series InvisiBlend Shear features a straight blade that slides across 23 sharp
teeth with convex edges, creating a seamless blend since no two hairs are cut the same length.
- Measuring 5.75 inches long, the Fromm Edge Ahead Ergo Shear includes a detachable finger rest for comfortable cutting. The hand-honed Japanese steel design features a deep, hollow grind for soft cutting.
- The Cricket Palm
Reader 5.75 Professional Shears feature a Contour Control finger design that unites the thumb and ring finger naturally along with a hyper-palm handle to assist your hand and alleviate stress.
- Hand finished Tweezerman Stainless 2000 Styling Shears are made of ice-tempered stainless steel to provide extra sharp, long-lasting cutting edges, while rounded finger loops provide excellent balance, comfort and control.
- The revolutionary design of the Exthand Expert Shears features a patented grip system that provides control while ensuring a more natural body position as you work. Forged from V1 Japanese steel, the shears are available in left- and right-handed styles and various lengths.
- Available in lengths of 5.75, 6 and 6.25 inches, the Washi AX Ultimate is made with super-sharp authentic Japanese Hitachi ATS-314 steel. It can cut effortlessly on wet or dry hair and features a comfortable drop-finger design handle.
- Featuring hollow ground blades perfect for slice cutting, the Jaguar Goldwing Shears boast an ergonomic, offset design and a Smart-Spin screw system.
- Featuring a proprietary blend of cobalt and molybdenum alloys, The Talon by Hattori Hanzo boasts a slightly offset handle grip and cutaway thumb set for maximum comfort. Each shear comes with a lifetime warranty and a 15-day trial.
A good set of shears is an investment that should be protected with proper maintenance and care. Precision Sharpening in Shelley, Idaho, offers some useful tips.
MAKE SURE TO…
✒clean, dry and oil shears at the end of every day of use.
✒check scissors for adjustment at least once a day.
✒protect the cutting edges from touching anything except human hair.
✒record all identifying marks and serial numbers in case your shears are lost or, worse, stolen. Consider taking a close-up digital photo.
✒store and carry shears in padded cases or pouches, making sure blades are closed.
✒keep shears closed to protect against nicking the blades when not in use.
✒have them professionally sharpened on a regular basis.
BE SURE NOT TO…
✒let shears corrode or get dirty.
✒use them to cut anything other
✒drop or toss shears when putting them down.
✒lend scissors to a fellow stylist. Everyone’s hands are different, and someone else using your shears can alter the balance.
✒“pressure cut,” or torque the blades together. That is, don’t squeeze harder with your thumb when the scissors start to dull, as this can cause excess wear.
✒allow shears to come into contact with sterilizing solution, hair color or other chemicals, to prevent rusting and corrosion.
On the Razor’s Edge
Even as razors are gaining in popularity, many stylists remain wary of using these cutting tools. However, there are some looks that simply can’t be achieved with shears alone. “By naturally creating texture and taper, a razor is an excellent tool to create modern, low-maintenance hairstyles that can be washed and worn with a minimum of fuss,” explains Nick Arrojo, salon owner and Founder of ARROJO products and tools. For one thing, he says, razors can do two jobs in one. “A razor cuts length and weight together, making it easier for stylists to tailor shape and texture.” Since razors create blurred, diffused lines, they’re also excellent at creating softness in addition to short, shaggy looks, which are trending at the moment. “Razors are great for enabling what I term ‘swing and movement,’” states Arrojo. “Essentially the style will feature natural-looking motion—it will swing and move in an organic way. It’s harder to make scissor cuts have the same action.” Another benefit? Razors are great for clients with thick, unruly tresses. “They’re great for getting into the interior, taking out the weight, and lightening the load,” Arrojo states.
And don’t think razors are immune to the wet or dry debate. Educator Ivan Zoot weighs in on behalf of Jatai. For a whole-head haircut, wet is best. “If you’re doing significant cutting, you want to be doing it on wet hair,” he says. This allows for better slip and slide, and he recommends using the Jatai Blade Glide Plus in conjunction with these types of haircuts to ensure hair is evenly damp. “Inconsistencies in hydration or moisture of the hair will lead to inconsistencies in tension and distribution,” Zoot reveals. He relates that this is also the reason it’s more difficult to do precision cuts on dry hair with razors. Also, in the interest of client comfort, opt for cutting hair wet if you’re taking a lot off. Nevertheless, he says there’s definitely room for dry cutting with razors in terms of texturizing and detailing. “It’s great for breaking up a fringe or adding softness to sides of a haircut,” Zoot says. A key point to remember when cutting dry hair with a razor: Always use a brand-new blade.
Lightweight and easy to handle, the ARROJO Straight Edge Razor comes with a detachable razor guard to offer complete creative freedom. Perfectly balanced and precision made, the razor can be used to create a variety of modern, low-maintenance hairstyles. Blade sold separately.
Made with aluminum alloy for optimal comfort, weight and balance, the Donald Scott Chop Stik Pro features adjustable nitrile foam grips to provide nonslip handling, while the tapered end allows for sectioning and weaving.
The lightweight Surface Titanium Razor features a sleek design and smooth, polished finish. Plus, its scuba grip provides easy cutting and creativity with total control.
From the March issue, click here for the digital edition.