How To Use Swivel Shears

August 14, 2022

If you're a seasoned stylist and been behind the chair for quite sometime you have probably experienced it all when it comes to shears. You've tried every type of blade, length, shape.. etc etc. If you have seen a swivel shear and aren't using one yet... it's time to get behind this shear! The shape and movement may seem intimidating at first, but we promise over time these shears will win you over.

What are swivel shears

Before we teach you how to use swivel shears, let's have a quick look at exactly what these shears are, and why they are such a big deal!

Any licensed cosmetologist will tell you that after years of cutting hair, we begin to develop some aches and pains. Our wrists and hands may begin to tire quickly and at the end of the day many stylists find their hand and wrist are very uncomfortable. This is caused by the repetitive motions that we use, all day, everyday. Repetitive use injuries, or strain injuries, are very common with hair dressers. The most commonly known one is Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the tendons in our wrist become inflamed. These inflamed tendons then cause compression of the median nerve. The median nerve runs along our elbow, wrist and hand. When it is compressed we may experience pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in our hands and wrists. Why would our tendons become inflamed ?

Well, day in and day out we are using our thumb to open and close our shears. Depending on what kind of hair cutting shears you are using you may be causing more harm than good. The classic scissor handle had the thumb ring positioned in line with the finger hole. This would place your thumb quite far back and away from its natural position. Now all day you're repeating the same open and close motion, with your thumb in an unnatural position. This will cause strain on your muscles and tendons of your wrist and hand. These tendons then become inflamed and begin to put pressure on the nerve... and there ya have it- carpal tunnel syndrome. You may find that you also are constantly trying to move your hands into awkward angles to achieve certain styles. For example, trying to slide cut a face frame and having to cut backhand. This unnatural angle can add to our muscle strain. Placing our body in these positions can add to our repetitive motion injuries.

Well this is where the swivel shears come into play. The swivel thumb of the shear allows you to move more freely, using different tendons, and not repetitively using the same one, in the same position over and over again. You no longer will find yourself twisting into unnatural and uncomfortable positions. Not only beneficial for your body, but also for your haircuts. With the swivel shear you can easily move to get all the details of your haircuts perfect!

We as hairdressers also put a lot of strain on our shoulder when we cut hair. The constant lifting of our arms and elbow can begin to put pressure on our shoulders and muscles of our upper back. Swivel shears are designed to have you drop your elbow when you cut. This brings your elbow down beside your body. Keeping your shoulder in its natural position, and preventing pain in the long run. No more leaving the salon with tired arms and a sore back!

How to use your swivel shears

Well we have convinced you to buy a pair of shears. You've spent some hard earned cash on a good quality scissor. It arrives and you open your brand new scissor case. But now what? The swivel shears can look a little intimidating at first so let us help introduce you to your new shears!

Like all scissors you will notice these shears have a finger hole for your ring finger. This hole is fixed and will not move. You'll notice there are two, long, sharp blades, just like your regular scissors. But then there is the thumb. The thumb hole moves, or swivels. The swiveling thumb hole moves 360 degrees around. This is so unlike your usual fixed position thumb hole you can move your thumb around to a more comfortable position when cutting.

Let's start with practicing the basic positions of the swivel shear. Hold your hair cutting shears in your hand, facing straight up. Support your elbow with your other hand. Simply move the swivel thumb so that it is perpendicular to the shear. This will be the basic position you use when cutting. 

Then let's practice how to hold shears when layering hair. If you comb a section of hair straight up from the head and pretend to cut it, with normal shears you will notice your elbow is up above your shoulder. Simply drop your elbow alongside your body. You will notice that the swivel thumb moves naturally into a more comfortable position. 

Now let's say you're going to point cut that top layer. Again let's point our shear up and support our elbow. Slowly pull the blades towards you. This will again swivel the thumb hole to its most natural position, and take the strain off your wrists when you are point cutting. You have also kept your elbow down, and in its safest, most comfortable position.

Your new favorite hair cutting shears!

We know learning to cut with these new scissors may be a bit of an adjustment for you. The swivel thumb ring will take time, patience and practice to get used to. Be patient! And remember you are doing this for your career! The less pain and injury you have, the happier you will be behind the chair... for many years to come!

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