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What are Salon Scissors?

By Darrell Laurant
Updated May 21, 2024
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If a hair stylist is an artist -- and most of them see themselves that way -- then salon scissors are his or her paintbrushes. It is with those specialized tools that the stylist puts the fine points on a haircut that makes each one distinct. They provide the means for making a personal statement, either for the stylist, the customer, or both.

Indeed, ads for salon scissors often sound more as though they were pitched to engineers than hair stylists, touching on the amount of cobalt added to the steel, the degree of tension control and the ergonomic advantages. Prices can range from less than $100 US Dollars (USD) to over $1,000 USD, with a spirited competition currently underway between Japanese-made scissors and all others. As with all tools of a trade, the differences can be subjective, with stylists gravitating toward the scissors that fit their own style.

Salon scissors is a generic term for a wide variety of hair-cutting implements. Some are used in the initial cut, others have serrated blades for thinning, still others are ideal for "texturizing." There are even left-handed and right-handed salon scissors, made to work in concert with the dominant hand and thumb.

With the "wrong" hand, it is difficult for the stylist to see what is being cut, since the cutting edge is behind the top blade. This often forces users to place their hand (and head) at an awkward angle, a repetitive and unnatural motion that can make for a long day and create some long-range physical problems. Today's salon scissors are shaped in such a way that they fit more naturally into the dominant hand.

Salon scissors are made of light steel -- the cobalt adds durability -- because they have to be nimble in their pursuit of style. In the case of many stylists, the right tool is a matter of selective "feel," and if the scissors aren't properly sharpened and lubricated, the "feel" for the customer will be one of pain. There is no surer way of guaranteeing that a first-time customer won't be back.

Oiling scissors and adjusting the pivot screw are key elements of maintenance. For the average hair stylist, it might not be essential to buy the latest trendy Hikari® or Musashi® scissors, but it is important to find a pair that allows ease of movement and a comfortable fit for the hand. Achieving these goals is worth shopping around a little, and a sound investment in the long run.

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Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Dec 14, 2014

Some hair stylists have started using styling razors more and more frequently. I believe it is used mostly at the ends of hair to thin hair out and to create an uneven edge.

I've had a hair stylist use a styling razor once and I absolutely hated the results. It created so many fly-aways and my hair looked kind of damaged too.

Ever since this incident, whenever I go in for a trim or hair cut, I specifically tell the hair stylist that I only want them to use their salon scissors. They're not allowed to use a styling razor on my hair.

By discographer — On Dec 14, 2014

@SteamLouis-- I'm not sure. I'm not a hairdresser. I have a pair of professional hair scissors that I purchased from a beauty store. I cut my own hair at home. But I have no idea if it's up to salon standards for use by a professional. I think if you are wanting something to just practice with, it should be fine. If you are going to school to be a hairdresser, I'm sure that your instructors will specifically recommend salon scissors for you.

People like me who just want a decent pair of hair scissors to trim their own hair or the hair of family members at home can work with one from any beauty store.

By SteamLouis — On Dec 13, 2014

Some beauty stores sell salon scissors at affordable prices. Are these good enough for a hair stylist?

I mean $1,000 is a lot. I can't imagine that most people could invest in such expensive salon scissors. Even several hundred dollars can be a lot for a new hairdresser who hasn't quite started making money yet.

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