What’s In a Pair of Salon Shears?

The secret of sleek and beautiful hairstyles lies not only in the artistic abilities of expert hairstylists but also on the type of professional shears and scissors that they are using. A hairstylist is often judged by the tools that he employs in his trade. A good hairstylist should know what he needs in order to deliver superior service and keep his clients happy and satisfied with their hairstyles.

Since salon shears and scissors can grab a hefty share of your investment, this Buyer’s Guide will attempt to help you delve through the intricacies of picking out “your” very own scissors and shears. While there are many high-end well-known brands of shears and scissors that stand out, it is not enough that you dive right in and part with your hard-earned money. A good hairstylist knows that quality and durability always come first when selecting salon tools...

 

Contents at a Glance


Types of Salon Shears

The type of salon shears can often spell a world of difference between a disastrous haircut and a fabulously-styled mane. With so many brands of shears in the market, it is no wonder that many become overwhelmed and clueless on what would be the best value-for-money salon tools that will fit their needs.


Texturizing Shears

Texturizing shears are the best tools for bangs and wisping. It enables you to get rid of hair bulk from the inside and edge of the haircut. In doing so, the cut will facilitate movement and position of hair. This type of shear also helps create body for clients with   thinner hair. Although some companies may use texturizing and thinning shears interchangeably, the two shears vary in the amount of hair that is cut. Texturizing scissors take hair out in large sections to create noticeable amount of lift and movement while reducing bulk.  Most texturizing shears possess between 13 to 16 teeth and are used in feathering bangs and provide texture to a hairstyle.


Thinning Shears

Thinning scissors are a stylist’s favorite tools for removing hair volume without a drastic change to the hairstyle. Instead of blades, thinning shears have teeth that permit lesser amount of hair removed with each snip. The shears’ teeth separate hair   better than blades thus it can also be used even on wet hair. It’s the best tool for creating feathering, adding volume, and giving the hairstyle an overall soft finish. This type of shears is excellent for thick hair which is often hard to style. Thinning allows you to keep the hair’s length while adding soft texture and even layers.

View our Top 10 Best Rated Texturizing & Thinning Shears


Titanium Shears

Titanium shears are so-called because they possess a Titanium coating rather than being made of Titanium. Coatings come in different colors that can last for a long time. Many hairstylists love the shears’ pretty surface because it does not easily chip or peel off.  Being coated with Titanium, the scissors are more resistant to corrosion brought about by the use of acids or chlorides.

Examples of Titanium Coated Shears:

Kamisori Black Diamond Shears
Kamisori Rosa Shears
Joewell Cobalt Shears
Kamisori Jewel Shears
Kamisori Cahira Swivel Shears

 

Tempered Scissors

Tempered scissors have been subjected to a process called Tempering. It involves subjecting the steel blades to control re-heating and cooling process at low temperatures. Tempering reinforces the steel structure thereby adding toughness. The   tempered blades of the scissors can also be easily sharpened and are rust-resistant.


Left-Handed Scissors

Left-handed scissors are designed for the lefties. The only difference it has with regular scissors is the orientation of the blades. You can tell that a pair of shears are truly left-handed when the blade on which you position your finger is always on top. Beneath the finger hold blade is the blade where your thumb is placed. You can easily see this orientation when you view the shear straight down. Styling tools designed for left-handed hairstylists enable  them to serve their customers with the same ease and comfort.

View Lefty Shears

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Important Features of Salon Shears

Although salon shears share a common purpose, they possess different styles, handles, colors, edges, shapes, blades, and the material with which they are made of.  Different hair types, customer preferences, ease of use, usability, and durability call for different types of salon shears. Each shear is tailored to achieve a specific task. For professional hairstylists, outstanding work is achieve not only by one’s skill but by his choice of tools. As advancements in the hairstyling industry grow by leaps and bounds, manufacturers have come up with designs which are not only useful and durable but also user-friendly. If you are looking for the best professional scissors that will perfectly suit your needs, here are the most important factors that should help you decide.


Blade Types

Different types of blades allow different haircuts and styles. Shears are made up of blades which are either convex or bevel.

Convex Blades

Shears with convex blades are designed for slide cutting and precision cutting.  Styling is easier because the razor-sharp blades don’t need too much force to use thus it is ideal for those who spent most of each day cutting hair which increases the likelihood of suffering from muscle strain. Compared to the bevel blades, convex blades have just been recently introduced and used in the industry. These type of blades have been popularized by the Japanese. The blades’ design protects hair strands from friction while allowing you more power behind each snip, producing a smooth and flawless cut. Convex blades are harder and a bit more expensive compared to shears with bevel blades. Additionally they may require more frequent sharpening.


Beveled Blades

Shears with beveled blades have been used for a long time. The Germans were the first to use and introduce these shear blades into the hairstyling industry. In fact, these type of blades were the only ones which were used in   the past. The serrated edge of beveled blades is perfect for  layering, tapering, and “shears over the comb” cutting style which is popularly associated with barbers. To prevent hair from sliding towards the front, you will find that one edge of the shear is serrated.

These scissors require considerable effort to use particularly when working on achieving a closely cropped hair. In fact, scissors with this type of blades have often been associated with work-related issues including strained muscles in the fingers and hands. Beveled blades should never be used for sliding cuts because it  can result in a choppy and gapped appearance. Compared to Convex blades, Beveled blades are harder and eventually lasts longer. It is also less prone to nicks and damages. However, you need to exert more effort when cutting and that can increase chances of work-related strain or injury.

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Blade Lengths

 The length of blades to use will depend highly on your own personal preferences and styling techniques. There are blades of different lengths which are available but whatever you use, it should be “friendly” to your hands and fingers.


Short Blades

Less than 5.5 inches and ideal for intricate cutting styles and when cutting hair close to the ears or skin. They are also excellent for meticulous touch-ups.

Long Blades

Long blades on the other hand are highly versatile. They are used for bobbed cuts, slide cutting, “scissor over comb” cutting style, and for cutting thick hair. Some of the cutting styles that are much easier to accomplish with long blades include bob lines, cutting on the skin, scissor over comb, slide cutting, and when cutting around the face.
 

Finding the Right Size

Many hairstylists still lay the scissors on the palm of their hands to determine if it is the right size for them. The “Palm Sizing Method” has been commonly used to measure sizes of scissors and involves resting the shear with its finger rest on the base of your thumb with the tip of the shears falling between your middle finger’s first knuckle and end of the finger.  
However, more and more hairstylists now prefer following their instincts when selecting the perfect size of shears. Their choices will mainly depend on several important factors including the way that the stylist is using the scissors and the ease with which they can carry on their work. Since most schools use the 5 ½ scissors for instruction and training, many hairstylists have become used to this specific length. Generally, hairstylists choose scissors that allow them to have more control without sacrificing comfort and balance.
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Tension Systems

A shear’s tension system allows easier adjustments and better accuracy. It can also enable the hairstylist to make adjustments on the degree by which the shears will open and close. An over-tight tension system can result in a poorly cut hair while a too-loose tension system won’t cut but will simply bend the hair. There are five types of tension systems which are found in professional hairs scissors today.

 

Coin Adjustable Tension System


Coin Adjustable Tension

This is considered the oldest type of tension system in the business.  It is often viewed as an industry standard and is still one of the favored tension systems because of its reliability. As its name implies, it can be adjusted using a coin.

Examples of Coin Adjustable Shears:

Joewell Cobalt Offset Series
Joewell K1 Series
Kamisori Teuton Series
Kamisori Paladin Series
Joewell Pro 600 Series

 


Round Click Dial Adjustable


Round Click Tension

This type of tension system shares the same features with the coin adjustable system but it also allows a hairstylist to easily determine the tension based on whether there is a need to increase or decrease associated with each click.

Examples of Round Click Adjustable Shears:

Kasho Green Series Shears
Joewell FX Series Shears
Joewell S4 Series Shears
Kamisori Black Diamond Shears
Bonika Silk Scissors

 


Leaf Spring Assembly


Leaf Spring Tension

The leaf spring assembly permits a hairstylist to have more control and consequently accuracy when doing adjustments. Shears with this type of tension system often lasts longer because of the balance and stability that the blades possess over a wider area.

Examples of Leaf Spring Assembly Shears:

Joewell JPS Series
Kamisori Rosa Shears
Bonika Mama Series
Bonika Baby Shears


Ball Bearing Pivot System


Ball Bearing Tension

 

The ball bearing pivot system has ball bearings which are sealed and embedded into the shears’ handle. This feature allows better thumb rotation compared to other types of tension systems. The ball bearings also reinforce the strength and durability of the shears.The ball bearings which are designed as sealed rings promote stabilization of the pivot action. This type of tension system has been proven to be durable and can last years of constant use by professional hairstylists.

Examples of Ball Bearing Pivot System Shears:

Leader-Cam Kiss Series
Joewell Pink FX Pro Series
Kasho Green Series
Joewell Cobalt SCC Series

 

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Differences in Material

The type of stainless steel shears will determine the strength and resilience of your scissors. It will also help determine the rate or frequency of sharpening your professional shears. It should be noted that the amount or combination of carbon and chromium is responsible for the quality and durability of a pair of shears. Carbon is responsible for the strength of the material while chromium protects the shears from rust. Metals such as Cobalt (prolongs and strengthens) and Molybdenum (increases flexibility and strength) are used to prevent corrosion. While shears coated with titanium tend to be more durable as the coating makes the scissors stronger and creates a sharper cutting-edge. You can count on steel shears to take you through thousands of cuts and still maintain thier strength and cutting edge.

There are various recognized types of stainless steel shears which are used in the hairstyling industry. The main difference between the steel types is the amount of carbon and chromium present in the material.

 

Rockwell Hardness Rating

One important factor when it comes to determining the durability and quality of professional scissors is the hardness rating of the steel. The Rockwell Scale, otherwise know as the HRC measures the hardness of the particular steel. Generally speaking, good quality steel will have a Rockwell Hardness rating of between 58 - 59. However higher quality scissors made with top grade steel should have a rating of between 60 - 64. This is particularly important with Japanese style shears as they tend to have an extremely fine edge which means they must be very hard in order to maintain a sharp edge. While the hardness rating is important in choosing your next pair of shears, there are other factors that ultimately determine the quality of a pair of hair cutting scissors - namely the various types of steel alloys from which they are constructed.

420 or J2 Steel (Surgical Steel)

This type contains negligible amounts of carbon but lots of chromium in the material thus making it very soft and very resistant to rust. Being soft, it can easily be sharpened, making it ideal for surgical use. It can also be re-sharpened easily and sanitized for reuse. This is the type of steel which is often used in shears manufactured Japanese style.

 

440 Steel (Cutlery Steel)

Shears with 440 steel often possess a convex edge that enables sharper performance. A rating system or grade system (A-C) classifies the quality and stability of 440 steel shears.

440A:  Least expensive and not as strong; it contains the lowest carbon-chromium combination among the three.
440B:  Possess intermediate qualities of the 440A and 440C
440C:  Most expensive; strongest; contains the highest carbon content among the three. Most shears with a 440C rating often have a sign of quality on the back.

Examples of 440C Steel Shears:

Bonika Rainbow Disco Series
Bonika Jazzy Series
Bonika Rocker Series
Kamisori Rosa Series
Kamisori Jewel Series

Cobalt Steel

There are two types of Cobalt Scissors—the Powdered or Sintered Metal and Forged Steel. Powdered or sintered metal cobalt alloy known for a shears’ outstanding cutting performance and exceptional mechanical properties. However, shears made of this type of material are very much susceptible to breaking. On the other hand, forged steel metal cobalt alloy are much tougher and don’t break easily yet they have a Rockwell rating of around 58Rc, which is way below the ideal which is between 60-64 Rc.

Examples of Cobalt Shears:

Joewell Cobalt SCC Series
Kamisori Kaos Series
Kamisori Parana Series

V-10 Steel

V-10, (also known as VG10) is a superior grade stainless steel for cutlery that is produced in Japan. This specialty metal is a unique formulation of steel with a high carbon content along with a significant amount of Cobalt. Also known as "super steel", V-10 is an exceptional material used in top-quality professional grade scissors. Specifically designed to maintain durability and sharpness, V-10 provides a huge advantage of not becoming brittle over time, which is a major flaw normally associated with exceptionally hard steel. In situations where an extremely sharp edge is desired, these are ideal attributes as most other steels will not take or maintain the edge of V-10.

 

Examples of V-10 Steel Shears:

Kamisori Black Diamond
Kamisori Serenity
Kamisori Revolver
  

Hitachi ATS-314

Hitachi ATS-314 steel is known for its high wear resistance, corrosion resistant, hardness and strength qualities and capable of attaining the highest of hardness ratings. Imported from Japan, ATS314 is a specialty steel and considered to be one of the best quality steel alloys in the world. Forged in Japan, the inner-structure is extremely stable giving hairdressing scissors crafted from this highly durable metal a smoothly polished surface and razor sharp edges. Widely considered to be among the best scissors available with the promise of the longest life compared with most other shears.

 

Examples of ATS-314 Shears:

Kamisori Kaos Series
Kamisori Teuton Series
Kamisori Paladin Series
  

Damascus Steel

Damascus steel is a rare stainless steel and considered the best material for shears . It is forged from 2 kinds of cobalt stainless-steel alloys which have been repeatedly folded and tempered, the same painstaking process used in the ancient tradition of sword making. The result is a beautiful steel blade with visible marble lines running through the entire structure of the metal. In addition to being one of the hardest materials around, Damascus steel shears possess both extraordinary hardness and pliability which helps to absorb the vibration caused by closing the scissors to create an extremely soft cutting sensation for superior performance. Moreover, the hardness will keep the edge sharp to allow smooth cuts while remaining pliable enough to keep the blade from breaking. Although quite expensive, shears made of Damascus steel will last you many years of cutting-edge work performance. 

 

Examples of Damascus Steel Shears:

Kamisori Emerald Series
Kamsiori Champion Series
Kamisori Frost Series
Kamisori Smoke Series 
  


Handle Designs


Offset Handle


Offset Grip Handle

Hairstylists who are at ease with a natural handle on their professional scissors would prefer an ‘offset holding’.  Its short thumb handle coupled with its longer finger handle enable you to execute natural fluid movements with your hands. A barber will also prefer offset holding handle for its ergonomic design. The shears’ short thumb handle decreases the tendency of over extension of the thumb and allowing you to cut hair with a more open and flexible hand.

 

Examples of Offset Handle Scissors:

Kamisori Paladin Series
Kamisori Revolver Series


Crane Handle


Crane Grip Handle

Hairstylists love shears with an angled thumb and long finger handle for it exerts lesser strain on their shoulder and wrist. The handle design also permits you an open cut with less restrictions. Shears with Crane Finger Patterns are perfect for hairstylists who frequently use the the palm-to-palm classic cutting technique.

Examples of Crane Handle Scissors:

Bonika Silk Crane Series
Kamisori Black Diamond Series  


Opposing Grip


Opposing Grip Handle

Unlike the first two types of handles, the handles of opposing grips are of the same length. This is considered as the oldest handle design of shears but hairstylists who prefer working with the thumb and middle finger will find shears with opposing grips perfect for the job.

Examples of Opposing Grip Scissors:

Bonika Silk Series
Leader-Cam Venezia Series  

Thumb Grips & Finger Rests

Finger rests are important considerations when you are looking for professional shears that offer comfort and stability. While there are hairstylists who prefer shears with finger rests, some are perfectly as ease without them. This is the reason why there are shears that are available with finger rests while others don’t have any. For versatility, there are professional shears with removable finger rests to cater to different preferences. Using shears with finger rests have also been shown to lessen muscle stress while preventing  job related injuries particularly Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Strain Injury.

 

Standard Thumb 

Standard Thumb

Professional shears with standard thumb are highly versatile. They are fitted with a finger resting attachment that can be removed or reversed. The attachment can also be fixed on either of the shears’ left or right side. Another added bonus--you can use this type of scissor on your left or right hand. With these features, you can decide whatever works best for you without compromising the results.


Cutaway Grip

Cutaway Thumb

Professional shears with a cutaway grip is the most comfortable shear grip in the industry. Unlike other shears, the finger resting piece is fixed and not reversible thus your thumb has more moving space which equates to lesser or no cramps.


Anatomic Thumb

Anatomic Thumb

Shears with anatomic thumb grip has a rounded design that gives your thumb more freedom to move around. It’s curved design allows your thumb to fit it naturally for greater radial movement. This type of design offers the same flexibility with shears having cutaway grip. The grip’s design gives you lesser restrictions and more movement to get the desired cut.


Rotating Thumb

Rotating Thumb

Shears with rotating thumb grips are perfect for reducing stress and strain of the hand and wrist. This type of shears which offers an open hand design is the latest in the industry. The design offers more comfort because it reduces thumb movement.

Examples of Rotating Thumb Scissors:

Kamisori Revolver
Bonika Rocker Shear


Other Important Considerations When Buying Professional Shears


Safety and Well-Being of Hairstylists

As professional hairstylists become more aware of work-related stress and injuries, the need to invest in the right cutting implements is of utmost importance. This need has also been recognized by manufacturers for there are continually coming up with designs that can reduce or altogether stop the incidence of work-related injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Strain Injury. Ergonomic shear handles, lightweight shears, and thumb openings have all been designed with only the hair stylist's comfort in mind.

Left-handed hairstylists can now perform better without being hindered by shears designed for right-hand users because they now have a variety of shears which have been specifically designed for “south paws”. Gone are the days when lefties are forced to use right-handed shears causing them to pull with their thumbs in an effort to bring the blades together. Repetitive hand movements will eventually cause fatigue and stress in left-handed individuals.

 

Scissor Maintenance

Without question, properly maintaining your cutlery investment will extend the life of your scissors. Because perming, color, or other hair products can be extremely corrosive and can cause permanent damage to the blades, it's important to keep your cutting tools clean. It's recommended that you wipe hair and dirt from the blades after each use with a tissue or soft cloth. If you notice an increased build up of hair products on your scissors, you should wash them with either HOT water or surgical spirits and dry them with a soft chamois cloth. It's very important to never use detergent when cleaning your scissors, as this can damage the integrity and overall quality of the metal.

Another important aspect of maintenance is lubricating your scissors on a regular basis. To properly lubricate them, fully open the blades and apply a small amount of scissor oil to the inner part of the blades right behind the center screw, then evenly apply the oil along the blades with a cloth or tissue and remove the excess. It's also recommended that scissors are stored in a safe place, mainly their original box or a good quality scissor pouch or holster.

Additionally scissors should be serviced regularly. How often they should be serviced largely depends on how many haircuts you perform on a daily basis and the type of hair that you are cutting i.e. coarse or ethnic, short, long, wet, or unwashed. While intervals of 3 or 4 months is considered average, if you feel the need to have them sharpened it's likely they need to be. One method to determine whether sharpening is needed, lightly moisten a piece of single ply tissue and attempt to cut it with your shears. If the result is a clean cut, sharpening is not likely needed. Whereas if the tissue tears when attempting to make the cut then it's probably time to have them serviced.


Price

Price and quality always go hand-in-hand. If you are just starting out, there is a good number of high quality but budget-friendly shears that you can buy to practice and hone your skills. As you become more adept and competent at what you are doing, you can now choose to make a  big investment for one of the most important tools of your trade. Your budget will certainly have a big say on what professional shears you will finally buy however be sure you’ll  be getting your money’s worth. Don’t forget to ask about guarantees and warranties to ensure that your consumer rights are protected.


Product Reviews

Other people’s opinions and feedback are important when you are in looking for your very own professional shears. These product reviews matter because they come from people who have used and assessed the product for themselves. Oftentimes, we can be carried away by the manufacturer’s extensive marketing campaign and too many times, we forget that they are out to get our money. When you are reading product reviews, take particular notice on these important points: a product’s durability, efficiency, flexibility, durability, comfort and ease of use, care and cleaning, etc.

Hair shears are the most important and most fundamental tool for cutting hair. Whether you are a budding hairstylist or an accomplished one, a good pair of shears will help you work your magic and accomplish your full potential.


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