How To Use Thinning Shears

April 27, 2021

Thinning shears are an essential part of a hairdresser’s arsenal. Really learning how to use thinning shears is essential. While they aren’t used on every client like the trusty hair cutting shears, they’re a great scissor for attaining the right look for some clients.

In the right hands, hair thinning scissors can do wonders.

How to use hair thinning scissors

Thinning shears are designed to enhance the shape created by cutting scissors. A hair stylist comes in at the end with thinning scissors to soften the haircut, not change the shape or structure. They may be used to remove unwanted bulk or for blending out a short or layered haircut.

If you go in too close to the scalp with thinning scissors, you run the risk of having short hairs that stand up rather than lie flat. It’s essential that thinning scissors only cut the mid-length and ends of the hair. Thinning scissors may not always be needed at the end of every haircut or trim. They’re only needed when the hair needs thinning or removing unwanted bulk.

Overuse can cause a change to the texture of the hair making it thin towards the ends. The hair can feel weak, thin and brittle if not used correctly.

Tips to thin out hair with thinning shears

The hair is separated into sections. For long hair, clips may be needed to control the sections of hair. Working on one section of hair at a time, the hairdresser or barber will hold the section or use a comb to keep it steady.

The thinning scissors can be held horizontal or with the tip of the scissors pointed towards the ceiling or towards the floor.


The hair is cut mid-way along the hair shaft, never close to the crown. The hair that frames the face is often avoided too.

The same section may be cut multiple times depending on the hair’s length. The hair is combed through to remove any loose hair and to see if the desired look has been achieved. If needed, the hair can be cut again to remove more hair.

If you don’t want to remove as much hair as the shears’ teeth are designed to do, you can use the blunt blade and tail comb to weave the shears in and out of the section of hair while you hold it. Less hair is cut when the scissors are closed.

Check out this helpful video showing how to thin hair to remove weight!

How to thin out thick hair

One of the main benefits of using thinners is to reduce the bulk from thick hair. Learning how to use thinning shears on thick hair requires some extra experience. When a client has too much hair, the cut lacks volume and movement that so many clients are looking for. Thinned hair often makes maintenance easier with less drying and styling time required. Some hair stylists prefer to use long layers while others prefer thinning shears.

It’s best to thin when the hair is dry so you can see the effect of your cuts as you go. Comb out the loose hair after you’ve made the cuts and decide if you’ve reduced enough of the bulk to achieve your intended look.

You may decide to use a mix of angles while holding the shears to achieve a more natural look. Work in sections around the back of the head until you’re happy with the amount of removed hair.

No matter how thick the hair is, don’t use thinning shears in the top section of the hair known as the crown or halo area or you risk not enough hair falling on top of the haircut to achieve the desired style.


How To Use Thinning Shears FAQ

Below are some of the most common questions we receive about thinning scissors. If you need an A to your Q, don’t hesitate to contact us.

What thinning shears to buy?

Some would argue it’s even more important to use a quality steel in thinning and texturizing than a cutting scissor. While you might not use a thinner or texturizing shear as often as your cutting shears, it only takes one broken tooth to render the scissors useless.

Good quality steel thinner scissors are less likely to catch and pull the hair as they move through the hair.

Should you use thinning shears on wet or dry hair?

Generally best used on dry hair but can also be used on wet. If used on wet hair, you need to be extra careful to not over use them. Once the hair is dried you may realise the style/cut has been lost or even ruined! So it’s best to use with dry hair.

Are thinning shears bad?

Thinning shears aren’t bad in the hands of an experienced hairdresser. Problems occur when the shears are used incorrectly or on hair that’s not designed for thinning shears. For example, some curly hair is best ‘thinned’ using standard cutting shears to make layers. Read more about the dangers of using thinning shears on thick or curly hair.

Is it good to use thinning shears?

Thinning shears enhance many haircut styles. They can remove unwanted bulk to add volume and fade heavy cutting lines. Thinning shears are used on both men and women, it all depends on the hair type and desired style.

What does thinning scissors do to your hair?

The teeth on thinning scissors means some hair strands are cut while others stay the full length. Thinning shears allow hairdressers to remove some of the bulk or weight from the hair without losing any length.

What are the cutting terms you use with thinning shears?

  • Point, slithering or notching are some of the terms related to using thinning shears. Point cutting means pointing the shears into the hair and making your cut. It’s used to create softer layers and leave curly hair with a softer, textured look.
  • Slithering, unlike point cutting, is where instead of cutting we hold the scissors slightly open to the hair and simply slide away from the length of the hair. Best used on straight, soft waved hair so it’s more subtle.
  • Notching is very similar to the point cutting, only it’s used on much shorter hair. Typically short pixie cuts or men’s cuts are the right fit for this method to give a very textured, messy look.

How do I thin out hair using thinning shears?

Hair is cut in sections where weight of the hair is removed to improve volume. Make sure you never start thinning your hair from the crown/halo area, start further down your head where the hair lies vertically otherwise you are going to see the cut hair sticking up. Start slowly and check your progress by combing out the loose hair to check how much is being removed. You can always make more cuts but you can’t go the other way!

Does thinning your hair make it grow back thicker?

Some people believe thinning is one way to thicken hair (sounds a bit strange I know!). However, the thickening process is simply the hair growing between haircuts and the extra weight makes it look thicker. A thinning shear won’t make a strand of hair thicker or make more hair, the hair grows back the same.

How often should you use thinning shears?

This all depends on the hair. For some types of hair the answer is never! Very thin hair shouldn’t see a pair of thinning shears because they will make the problem worse and you may see the different lengths of hair in lines (not a good look!). Some curly and frizzy hair should stick to standard cutting shears as thinners can make it more frizzy and difficult to manage.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, very thick hair can have thinner shears used at every haircut to remove some of the unwanted weight and increase volume.

What’s the difference between thinning shears and texturizing shears?

To the newbie hairdresser it’s easy to get thinners and texturizing scissors mixed up with their menacing looking little teeth. Thinners and texturisers both remove hair but they do have different jobs. It’s important to learn the difference between the two so you know which scissors to grab and when to ensure the client gets the best outcome.


Thinning shears have around 28-40 teeth whose job is to remove excess weight from hair and blend the demarcation lines left by cutting scissors. They don’t create visible texture or volume to the hair. Cut and uncut hair blend together. They are often used to soften and remove bluntness from the haircut.

Texturizing shears have fewer but wider teeth with more space between each one so they remove a larger section of hair and create volume and texture through layers. There are subtle and aggressive forms of texturizing shears. An aggressive texturizing shear may have as few as five teeth so they take out a significant notch of hair. They leave wider sections of uncut and cut hair. Thinners and texturizing shears are used to create specialty looks that can be subtle or dramatic.

So to sum up, it really comes down to what you’re most comfortable with using and of course what type of haircut/style you’re trying to achieve. As the rule of hairdressing goes – Less is more! Start off with a little and if you need to do more you can, because as we all know once it’s gone – it’s gone.

Happy thinning!

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