From the chair to the mood in the salon or shop, you’ve gone to great lengths to make sure your clients are relaxed while you’re cutting their hair. But here’s a question for you: Are you making the same efforts to ensure that the shears or scissors you’re using are comfortable for your hands? The cutting instrument you choose is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your profession. Choose wrong, and you might find yourself distracted by the pain in your fingers.
Ouch for you. Yikes for your client’s hair.
But with all of the different options available, how do you select the right ones? Before we go over the five essential questions to ask when in the market for a new pair, let’s talk about the parts of the scissors that directly impact your hand’s wellbeing.
Hairdressing shears come in all shapes and sizes. But they are essentially structured the same. And when we're talking about shears in terms of comfort and functionality, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the handle and ring configuration.
If you’ve read up onergonomics and the prevention of repetitive strain injuries, you already know that using the wrong pair of shears won’t just leave you sore at the end of the day. It may even limit your range of motion and your ability to do what you do best. So let’s start with breaking down the parts that can determine your ability to work pain-free.
All shears come with two rings. One is the insert ring, while the other is the thumb ring. The scissor’s size determines the size of the ring. The design of the handle dictates the position of the rings and can also influence how you position your arms and elbow when cutting hair.
What type of handle will be the most comfortable for you? Let’s look at your three main options:
- Classic or Straight handle: This basic design positions the handles symmetrical from each other. If you use your middle finger instead of your ring finger, you’ll find this setup optimal.
- Crane handle: This style is considered the most ergonomic. The top handle of the shears is very straight and requires a ring finger grip.
- Offset: This type of scissor features one handle that’s longer than the other. They also require a ring finger grip and are considered more comfortable if you prefer to cut hair with your arm and elbow in a lower position.
- Swivel: Do we really need to explain this one!? The swivel motion allows you to fully open and close your hand thus preventing any injuries in your career (How cool!)
The shape and length of the blade can also impact comfort levels. For example, a dull blade can lead to unnecessary repetitive motions and discomfort – not ideal when you’re trying to complete a haircut.
The blades on your sheers are composed of multiple parts, including:
Depending on the types of haircuts you offer, a longer blade may be necessary. The good news is you can find ergonomic shears among both long and short scissors.
The pivot screw brings the rings and blade components together. It’s what holds the scissors in place and determines their tension. The shaft connects the finger ring to the pivot screw. While the tang provides extra comfort by giving your pinky a resting place.
Comfort, of course, is subjective. Your hands are unique, and so are the factors that determine whether you’ll need a pain reliever at the end of the day. So while you may sometimes need to borrow a pair of shears from your fellow hairdressers, as much as possible, you’ll want to use your own.
Are you ready to start adding to your collection of comfortable (and ergo-friendly) shears?
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Or in this case, comfort is in the hand of the cutter. Here are five questions to ask yourself when trying out scissors.
1. Are the scissors for lefties or right-handed hair magicians?
This quickly eliminates about half of the options available in the market. Finding sheers that are made specifically for the anatomy of your hand will save you discomfort down the road.
2. What size are the scissors?
Use the length of the blade and measure it against your middle finger. And then measure the total length of the scissors against the palm of your hand. Smaller hands can fit a 5" to 5.5" pair. While larger hands can use shears measuring 6" to 6.5".
It’s also important to note that your haircutting technique can impact whether you lean toward longer or shorter scissors. Try different pairs and find one that fits your hand and your cutting style.
3. Is there a proper way to hold the shears?
You already know that there are ergonomic ways to hold your scissors. But depending on the type of handles, there are ways to maximize comfort and your creativity.
Pick up the pair you are currently using and see if you can position your fingers as follows:
Place your thumb into the larger of the two finger holes on the shear. And place your ring finger in the smaller hole with the tang on the end. Rest your middle and index finger on the back arm of the scissors. How does that feel?
Does it feel hard to grip? Your scissors may be too big. Are you unable to position your ring and thumb into the holes? The scissors might be too small.
4. How much do the shears weigh?
When you’re trying out shears, the weight may seem negligible. But the weight will impact your ability to not only use the scissors but also find the most comfortable grip over an extended period.
5. Are there reviews from professional hairdressers using these scissors?
Experience is the best teacher. But if you can’t try a pair of scissors yourself, the next best thing is to read reviews from other hairdressers. Look out for feedback that mentions neck, shoulder, elbow, hand, or back pain. Even after making a purchase, pay close attention to how the shears impact the way you position your body and any new aches and pains you feel.
As a professional hairdresser, your shears or scissors are your most essential tools. And like any occupation where repeated motions are required, finding a pair that is both comfortable and an ergonomic fit is a key to enjoying a career undisrupted by pain and discomfort.
Here at Scissors Tech, we’ve curated our collection of professional sheers by type, color, and brand. But we get it. There are already many factors to consider when choosing new hairdressing shears – finding a pair that's easy and comfortable to use may seem daunting.