Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for Best hairdressing scissors

Whether you use them to cut your children’s hair, trim your bangs between salon visits, or make money as a professional hairstylist, a good pair of hairdressing scissors is an important and very specific tool. In other words, forget about using the same scissors you use to cut paper or snip your cuticles when cutting hair. Specialized hairdressing scissors — also called haircutting or hairdressing shears — are essential if you want hairdo results that don’t require hiding under a hat.

There’s more to choosing hairdressing scissors than you might think, however. Length, function, blade type, handle style, materials, and price all come into play when choosing the perfect pair of shears. That’s why we’ve written this handy buying guide for choosing and using the best hairdressing scissors. If you’re inclined to snip your tresses at home, scissors designed specifically for the job are a must-have.

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If you want professional-looking results when cutting your hair, you need professional haircutting scissors.

Key considerations

Choose the right length

You’ll find haircutting scissors with blades ranging from four to eight inches long. Choosing the right length is partly a matter of hand size and partly a matter of haircutting technique. Many stylists have multiple scissors in a range of sizes, so the right tool for a specific cut is always on hand.

As a general rule, students in beauty and barber schools learn to cut hair with 5.5-inch scissors, which is considered the industry standard. However, those with large hands may feel more comfortable with correspondingly longer blades. Still, it’s generally believed that the shorter the blade, the better the level of control while cutting hair. Longer blades, however, may make it easier for some to achieve even results, particularly when creating looks with long, precise lines, such as bobs and other straight-edge styles.

Most hair stylists use short scissors with blades under 5.5 inches for precise work. These tasks would include trimming individual hairs or thinning locks of hair around the ears, eyes, and forehead, as well as doing touch-ups and detail work close to the client’s neck. Shorter scissors are also useful for creating tousled or shaggy looks.

Scissors that are 5.5 inches and up are the workhorses of the hairstyling world. These are the tools used for cutting bobs and other blunt cuts, cutting thick hair, using scissor-over-comb techniques, slide cutting, and crafting basic styles on both men and women.

Two basic types of hairdressing scissors

There are a lot of specialized haircutting shears out there, but most fall into two basic groups: straight shears and thinning scissors.

  • Straight shears or scissors are the basic tools of the hairstyling trade. These shears have blades that resemble the scissors used for cutting paper. Straight shears are used for both basic and advanced cutting techniques on every type of hair, from fine to coarse, thin to thick, and straight to curly. If you do a lot of haircutting, enjoy creating a variety of styles, or have a complicated cut, you’ll want to have both a shorter and a longer pair of straight hairdressing scissors.

  • Thinning scissors or shears have small teeth along the cutting edge of the blade. Thinning shears are essential for cutting thick hair, as they can remove weight without reducing the overall hair length, thus helping reduce the tendency for thick or curly hair to take on a triangular, “poofy” outline. Thinning shears are also excellent for blending away cut lines left from the straight scissors and for blending sections of hair together into a seamless style. Most of today’s men’s cuts, in particular, make heavy use of thinning shears.

  • Texturing scissors are a subset of thinning shears. The teeth on these scissors are more widely spaced than those on thinning shears, making them ideal for creating texturized or spiky styles that rely on plenty of volume and lift throughout the hair.

Two basic types of hairdressing scissors

You’ll find two basic types of blades when shopping for hairdressing shears: beveled and convex.

  • Beveled blades have a slightly flattened cutting edge, and many have micro serrations along the blade that help hold hair in place as it’s cut. This makes beveled blades ideal for those new to the hairstyling trade, but they aren’t useful for sliding techniques, such as cutting down into the hair. Still, these basic shears are ideal for most haircutting techniques on dry hair. On the downside, it takes a little more force to cut with a beveled blade than a convex blade, which can lead to hand and wrist fatigue. The beveled blade is durable, however, and won’t need sharpening as often as a convex blade.

  • Convex blades, also called Japanese blades after their country of origin, lack a bevel and instead have a slight curve leading to an extremely sharp cutting edge. This makes them trickier to handle than beveled blades and thus suited to the more experienced barber or hairstylist. It also makes them ideal scissors for advanced cutting techniques, such as chipping and slicing. The sharp edge leaves a very smooth line and cuts through damp hair without catching or tugging. On the downside, these blades require more frequent sharpening than beveled blades and generally are a little bit heavier, as well.

Know your handles

When it comes to hairdressing shears, there are three basic styles of handle: symmetric, offset, and crane. Choosing the right one is mostly a matter of comfort and personal preference.

  • Symmetric handles, also called opposing or even handles, have finger loops that are aligned with the blades and symmetrical to each other. This is the oldest style of haircutting scissors, and many stylists still prefer it, especially those who first learned to cut hair with this type of scissors. The alignment of these scissors tends to force the stylist to keep her elbows raised to a horizontal position while cutting, however, which greatly increases the chances of wrist strain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Offset handles have a thumb loop that is slightly shorter than the finger loop, so the thumb loop is not quite centered with the cutting blades. This reduces strain on the thumb and wrist, but it still requires the stylist to raise her elbows for many techniques.

  • Crane handles are the most ergonomic style. In these scissors, both the thumb and finger loops are angled below the blades, greatly reducing strain on the thumb and wrist and allowing the stylist to carry out most techniques without raising her elbows to an unnatural or uncomfortable height. This is the handle of choice for most professional stylists.

Hairdressing scissors prices

When it comes to hairdressing scissors, it’s often true that you get what you pay for. While the lower-priced shears are generally sufficient if you only plan on using them occasionally to trim your bangs or give simple cuts to your kids, it’s worth paying more if you will use the scissors frequently, especially if you like to experiment with complex techniques.


Low-priced haircutting shears are in the $10 to $50 range. At this price, you’ll generally get a lower level of workmanship, an inferior quality metal, and reduced durability. Still, for infrequent use, these are fine.


Medium-priced hairdressing shears cost $50 to $100. These are professional-quality scissors manufactured of the best stainless steel. Expect a high level of craftsmanship, an adjustable tension knob between the blades, and excellent durability.


High-priced haircutting scissors can hit the $200 mark and beyond. These are the finest scissors and are often handmade in Germany from German or Japanese stainless steel. You’ll get superior craftsmanship for the price, but these scissors are overkill for the average home stylist.

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Did you know?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, scissors are technically six inches long or less, whereas shears are longer than six inches.


Keeping your scissors in good condition will help you achieve the best results. Here’s how to care for your hairdressing shears.

  • Clean away bits of hair after every use, and then wipe the blades with Barbicide or a similar disinfectant specifically formulated for scissors.

  • Always store your shears with the blades closed.

  • Don’t use your haircutting shears to cut other materials, such as paper, fabric, or string. Doing so dulls the blades.

  • While accidents happen, try to avoid setting your scissors where they are likely to be knocked to the floor. Dropping your scissors from a height is a good way to knock them out of alignment, damage the blades, or even snap them apart.

  • Check the tension knob after each use. If necessary, tighten it to keep the blades swinging smoothly without catching or sticking.

  • After every few haircuts, apply a drop of oil to the blades. Open and close them several times to spread the oil evenly over the surface of the metal. Wipe away the excess oil with a soft cloth.

  • If your haircutting shears include a case or protective cover, use it whenever storing your shears.

  • Keep your shears away from high heat, excessive humidity, and freezing temperatures.

  • Have your scissors professionally sharpened annually for the smoothest performance. Note, however, that blades with serrated edges cannot be sharpened.

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Your haircutting scissors should feel comfortable in your hand. They should be neither too big nor too small, and they should be light enough to wield easily without raising your elbows up high.


Q. What’s the best metal for hairdressing shears?

A. The majority of haircutting shears are made of a steel alloy, generally stainless steel. Stainless steel from Germany or Japan is often considered to be of the highest quality. Titanium coating adds color for a distinctive look, but it doesn’t impact the performance of the blades.

You might also see haircutting scissors made from more exotic alloys like cobalt, which resists rust, or molybdenum, which holds a very sharp edge without dulling. These metals are quite a bit more expensive than stainless steel, however, and not really necessary for the average home stylist.

Q. I’m left-handed. Are there haircutting scissors for me?

A. Absolutely. There are left-handed versions of all the various types of haircutting shears, including straight, thinning, and texturizing. And all of them are available in a wide range of lengths.

Q. Can I use my hairdressing scissors on my pet?

A. It’s not just people who need haircuts; many breeds of dogs and some cats require periodic trims, too. You could use your haircutting scissors for your Fido styling session, but take care to clean the blades with disinfectant afterward. Alternatively, you could use shears or clippers specifically designed for use on pets. This is what many vets would recommend.

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