Hair scissors handles guide: Offset, Crane, Classic and Swivel

May 18, 2022

Every student in cosmetology school or barber school will most likely struggle to figure out which hair cutting shears are the best for them. After all, it is a huge investment. Most will choose one that their peers recommend or one that they've seen their favorite hair influencer use, or the gold ones... because they look the most impressive. We rarely think ahead about protecting our most valuable asset- our hands. The right scissor for your co- worker may not be the right one for you, and the gold one, well it may not be ergonomically correct. What d0 you look for in your professional hair cutting scissors?

The first thing you will consider when purchasing hair cutting shears would most likely be the blade and blade lengths. You will want a quality pair of shears, with razor sharp blades, to help you cut hair the best you can. You'll probably spend a good amount of time researching the difference between beveled blades, convex blades and semi convex blades. You'll ponder over wether you need the serrated blade or not. Then, of course, there will be the consideration of thinning shears and texturizing shears. The amount of information may seem overwhelming.

We recommend taking the time to try out the different handles first. They may all seem quite similar, and you may not think much of it, but the proper handle can save your hands, and your career, in the long run.

Why are handles so important?

Being a hairdresser or barber is one of the greatest careers out there. You get to spend your days making others look and feel good. It can be incredibly rewarding, but also incredibly hard work. Cutting hair for long periods of time can lead to repetitive stress injuries that can effect our hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. One of the most common complaints by hairdressers- wrist pain.

This is why it is so important that we use the right tools, to protect our bodies. One of the most common injuries a hairdresser will have is carpal tunnel syndrome. When cutting hair we use our thumb to open and close our shears, this repetitive motion puts pressure on our median nerve. The median nerve, also known as the carpal tunnel, is located on the inside of our wrist. Swelling in our wrists leads to compression of the nerve. Carpal Tunnel is associated with pain, tingling and numbness in your hands. Over time it can lead to weakness in the hands, making everyday tasks very difficult. In severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery may be required. This is why we strongly recommend researching and trying out what type of handle will work for you!


The offset handle has come to be one of the most popular handles. It may look a bit 'off' set when you first look at it. The handles will look uneven, with a slightly shorter thumb handle. The offset grip moves the thumb forward so it rests below the ring and middle fingers, keeping it closer to its more natural position. By keeping your thumb in this position not only will it feel more comfortable, but it will also put less strain on your thumb tendon, helping to prevent injuries.

We also need to be aware of where our elbow is when we cut. When using offset handle shears our elbow is meant to be slightly raised, which helps to straighten our wrist and avoid compression of the nerve. It is best to also try to not raise your shoulder, as that can result in shoulder pain and back pain.

An offset handle is not only great for our hands, wrists and shoulders, but also our cutting. Due to the shorter thumb blade length, our shears will open and close faster, giving us quicker, more controlled, movement. This can lead to better and faster cuts!


The Crane handle is another shear handle that looks different, but feels oh so good ! The handle will look similar to your offset handle, with the placement of the thumb grip being shorter. However the crane handle is on more of angle. The blade on top is a completely straight blade. The thumb grip is placed in line with the index finger, placing our hand in its most natural position. This ergonomic design encourages you to drop your elbow so you are in more of a neutral body position. Crane handles are also best for cutting with your ring finger and thumb. The angle of the handle helps to prevent hand fatigue and take pressure off your wrist. It is important when using a crane handle to remember that the top blade is completely straight and when cutting horizontally will be angled downward, making you lower your elbow for the best results. It also feels so much better to not be raising your elbow and shoulder all day! The crane handle also moves your hand away from the body, which makes you use more of the blade to cut. Making your haircuts more precise, and comfortable! Once you master the art of cutting with a crane handle you will be surprised at how much better your hands and arms feel at the end of a long day!


Now you've seen all these fancy looking handles, what about the classic design? The classic handle has two opposing grip handles that are side by side. Meaning, the handles are completely symmetrical ! Classic handles are not as popular these days. As the hairdressing industry has progressed so has our knowledge of reducing injury. Some old school hairdressers will cut hair using their thumb and middle finger. The classic handle is designed for just that. When using a classic handle shear you are having to bend your thumb at an angle which can cause repetitive strain injuries, and eventually carpal tunnel. However, for some this handle may be most comfortable and easiest for them to use, so use it! Just always be aware of your wrists and hands, do some stretches and find other ways to keep your hands and wrists comfortable and pain free.


Swivel shears are newer to the hair cutting game and use some cutting edge technology to improve the way we hold our shears. They are the most ergonomic design available. They may look intimidating, but once you've mastered the swivel, you may never go back ! The swivel shear is all about protecting your wrists, elbows and shoulders. A swivel shear can help keep you pain free, therefore keep you working longer and happier. The ergonomic design allows you to move the thumb grip 360 degrees. Why is this so important?

We all know not all haircuts you do will be straight cuts. As hairdressers we are constantly lifting and moving our arms around. Most haircuts will require some sort of elevation. When lifting hair up to layer it we automatically lift our shoulder and elbow up above their natural position. Doing this repetitively can lead to injury over time. The swivel shear allows you to "swivel" your thumb to a more comfortable position and bringing your elbow down closer to your body placing your shoulder in its most comfortable position.

Swivel shears are great for texturizing as well. Point cutting is the most popular way to add texture and detail to a haircut, but it involves a lot of twisting and turning for our wrists. With the swivel thumb you will be able to keep your wrist straight and elbow at your side. The swivel handle allows you to move around and get in positions closer to the head, which will really help improve your precision cutting and use all your advanced cutting techniques the best you can. Being able to to move freely will help you with your deep point cutting. Being able to move your thumb 360 degrees will give you a better cutting angle when slide cutting. The less you have to move your wrists in different angles, the more likely you are to get even results. So not only are you helping your body, but you're improving your cutting technique.

Which should you choose?

Like most of our tools, it really all comes down to what feels best for you. If you are investing in quality shears it is best to try them all. You will also be able to find your texturizing and thinning shears with these different handle options. Wether you choose an offset shear or a swivel, you really can't go wrong.

As hairdressers we do need to think about our health and wellbeing. We want to be behind the chair as long as possible. Like the hair industry, our shears are also always evolving. There is always new and improved technology to help us have a long, successful, happy and fulfilling career.

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