Whether you’re a professional barber or stylist or someone who isn’t afraid of making a haircut a do-it-yourself project, you need the right tools. Those tools include shears and scissors.
In this article, we’ll review the best hair cutting shears, including the highly-rated and best-selling Equinox Razor Edge Series while also discussing things to keep in mind when buying shears, how to use shears to get the best results, and a look at how shears differ from scissors.
Let’s start with some buying tips.
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Before you buy: 6 Things to consider when purchasing hair cutting shears
You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a pair of hair cutting shears that suits your needs, considering the many options available to consumers. Within those options, however, are several factors to consider before making your final choice.
1. Size of the Shears
One of the most important factors when choosing the right shears is size. They must fit your hand comfortably. Shears that are too small for your hand limit your range of motion. Shears that are too large have a negative effect on your cutting motion.
The industry standard for shears (by size) is 5.5 inches, and it’s the size usually used when teaching future barbers and stylists. Only if your hands are larger than normal should you choose larger shears, such as 6.5-inch shears.
You also should take into consideration the size of the shear’s finger rings. One way to check for the proper fit is to slide your ring finger into a finger ring: the handle should not go past your second knuckle. The thumb ring, meanwhile, should extend only a little beyond the tip of your thumb.
The size also depends on the job; shorter shears generally work better for precision point cutting. No matter what type of job – or hand size – the bottom line is that you should have full control of the shears without forcing your hand and fingers into uncomfortable positions.
2. Type of Shears
Shears come in a variety of types, and the type you choose depends on your needs. Here are some of the most common types:
- Straight shears
A straight shear represents a do-it-all tool for professional and DIY barbers and is the type used for most cutting jobs. Professionals typically have two types of straight shears: one long and one short.
Smaller straight shears work best when you’re pulling hair up over your fingers to cut it because the smaller blade lessens the risk of cutting too much or cutting crookedly. Smaller shears also work better at cutting around the ears and on the back of the neck, because you’ll have better overall control.
Longer straight shears work best when you’re lifting the hair with a comb to cut it, because they can cover a larger surface more efficiently. They’re also heavier than smaller straight shears, which makes them well suited for cutting wet or thick hair.
- Thinning shears
Thinning shears are the go-to tool for cutting the bulk of thick hair and are essential for achieving the most common men’s hairstyles. Like straight shears, thinning shears generally come in two types based on the number of teeth in the blade. Shears with a smaller number of teeth (usually 28) are best for trimming and texturing hair that’s very thick. Those with more teeth work well for blending, tapering, and adding texture to hair.
Some other things to keep in mind when choosing the type of shears that best fits your needs include:
- Shears made of harder steel are best for cutting dry hair. As a general rule, heavier blades work better on dry hair, and the blade should be thicker in the middle before tapering down to the end.
- Double swivel shears have two swivel joints on the thumb ring to minimize movement of the thumb, which is ideal for stylists who suffer from joint issues, such as carpal tunnel.
- Shears with curved blades help to achieve precise, straight, and consistent cuts along the length of the blade.
- Pinking shears have blades with teeth that are zig-zagged – like on a saw – and work well for creating jagged-edged cuts.
Most professional shears consist of steel and, even if you’re an at-home amateur stylist, you should always choose steel. Germany and Japan, in general, have the best steel for making blades, but that doesn’t mean you should never choose shears made in other countries.
4. The Handle
The type of handle, or grip, is another key factor to consider when choosing shears.
- Offset grip shears
Offset grip shears allow for more movement and help reduce some of the over-extension of the thumb. They consist of asymmetrical rings in which the blade is in line with the handle.
- Opposing grip
Opposing grip shears represent the oldest design and are most often used by stylists who cut with their middle finger and thumb.
- Swivel thumb
Swivel thumb shears have a swivel joint that connects to the shear’s shank. A major benefit of swivel thumb shears is its ergonomic design that limits thumb movement while allowing the wrist to flatten.
- Left-handed grip
Left-handers understand the struggle that comes with living in a right-handers’ world. Southpaw barbers and stylists must work around the adjustment dial on right-handed shears, but, luckily, shears with left-handed grips eliminate that issue. Trim away, lefties!
The main blade types found on shears are convex and beveled.
Convex shears, which originated in Japan, work well for cutting all hairstyles and for all cutting techniques. Their blades are very sharp, which makes them better suited for more experienced users. They also help create a smooth cutting action.
Beveled edge blades consist of alloys that are of a lighter weight and often include micro-serrations that help prevent hair from sliding from the blade. It makes them ideal for anyone learning how to cut hair or who doesn’t have a lot of experience. While they’re good for all-around use, beveled edge blades work well for detail cutting and for cutting dry hair.
6. Tension System
Each shear has a certain amount of tension at the joint between the blade and handle. The proper balance, generally speaking, is neither too tight nor too loose. Tension that’s too loose won’t cut as effectively, while one that’s too tight requires a greater amount of force needed to open and close the blades.
- Adjustment screw
Pivots on a screw with a groove on top enable users to adjust the shear’s tension with a screwdriver or coin.
- Leaf spring
A shear with this type of tension system features a leaf spring added below the dial that spreads the tension along the pivot area. In turn, the blades are more stable, have a more balanced wear system, and should last longer.
- Reversible leaf spring
Take heart lefties – there’s also a tension system with you in mind. A reversible leaf spring allows users to reassemble the blade and screw on the opposite side of the shear to make it more comfortable for non-righties.
The flat-bearing tension system consists of internal ball bearings between the joint blades.
- Ball bearing
Ball bearings help increase the stability of the blades because the blades rotate on a ball bearing, rather than on a washer.
Next, let’s look at our reviews of the best hair cutting shears and scissors.
The 8 best hair cutting shears & scissors 2019
Professional barbers and stylists don’t have the time to mess around with a pair of crappy shears. Too much is at stake, not the least of which is money and building a long list of repeat customers.
That’s one reason why a pair of Equinox Professional Shears is like gold in the hand of a pro; it’s a quality brand that delivers quality results time after time. There is also a multitude of reasons why pros choose Equinox over other brands:
- The Equinox Professional Shears are versatile, among other things. Whether you’re a professional barber or stylist or someone who likes to trim hair at home, they’re easy to use on men, women, senior citizens, and children. Their sleek design and stainless steel texture reduce the clumps of messy hair, because the hair doesn’t get stuck between the blades.
- They come with an easy-to-grip handle design that’s ergonomic and enables users to deliver a clean, precise cut every time. The handle design includes removable finger and thumb inserts for increased comfort.
- They’re longer than many other shears – measuring 6.5 inches – but are lightweight enough that anyone can handle them without excess strain. One of the things you’ll notice right away is how nicely balanced these shears are – which translates into less fatigue in your arms and wrists.
- They consist of Japanese stainless steel (as mentioned, some of the best stainless steel in the world) and feature hand-sharpened cutting edges that trim hair evenly and with ease.
- Manually-sharpened stainless steel blades
- Ideal for pros and do-it-yourselfers
- Well-balanced design eases hand and wrist strain
- Some users have expressed concern about their durability
The Equinox Professional Shears represent a lot of things, including that they’re the best professional hair shears around, but they’re just as good for non-professionals who don’t mind doing a bit of trimming at home.
While stainless steel often is the material of choice for companies that design hair shears and other trimming tools, and with good reason, other materials – such as those used in the JOHN 6.5 barber scissors – also rate very high on the list.
The Japanese ATS314 alloy, which consists of cobalt and steel, is said to last longer than stainless steel. That means you’ll get plenty of use from the JOHN 6.5 scissors, which we think are the second best barber scissors available today.
All of the JOHN 6.5 scissors are manually sharpened, and they also come with a 2-year warranty that includes free service, such as shear sharpening during that time. Chances are, though, that you won’t need to sharpen the shears any time soon.
The overall length of the JOHN 6.5 scissors is, as its name suggests, 6.5 inches. However, you can adjust the tension precisely for smooth movement and easy cutting comfortability. The handle, considered “semi-offset,” features an anti-slip curved pattern that helps lessen hand and wrist fatigue.
You’ll also like how these scissors cut hair smoothly but without ripping or pulling it. The blades are sharp enough to cut through even the thickest hair without a problem.
- Cut hair smoothly and precisely
- Precise tension
- Handle is very comfortable
- Some say the blades dull faster than on other scissors
The JOHN 6.5 scissors are the second best barber scissors on our list but also scissors that non-pros can use comfortably without worrying about botching the job. You’ll also get years of use from them. Put simply, they’re premium hair cutting scissors.
Kovira is another company that professional barbers around the world trust, and you’ll often find their products in salons and barbershops. Like many of the other top-quality shears on our list, they’re also suitable for DIY home trimming and cutting.
Moreover, Kovira’s Barber & Cutting Scissors – like other scissors reviewed here – will provide plenty of years of use. Kovira’s products are known for their durability, after all.
But, what else? Well, there are plenty of reasons for choosing Kovira’s Barber & Cutting scissors:
- The blades consist of 100% Japanese stainless steel that’s extremely sharp and provides a clean cut without damaging your hair or causing split ends.
- The smooth tension screw system provides the fine-tuning needed for adjusting the scissors to get the type of cut or style you prefer. The tension adjustment is easy to use, including a knurled knob for convenience.
- These scissors are hygienic, easy to clean, and non-tarnishable.
- They have a nice feel and balance, and you can use them for hours without feeling any undue strain on your hands, fingers, or wrists.
The Kovira Barber & Cutting Scissors measure 6.5-inches in length and have a stylish look that helps them stand out from many other brands. Kovira’s scissors also come with black leather, zippered, and cushioned carrying case that uses elastic bands to keep the scissors in place (while also preventing accidents).
- Sharp blades provide a clean cut
- Stylish design
- Good for pros and do-it-yourselfers
- Perhaps not as good for stylists with smaller hands
Kovira’s scissors rank among the best professional hair shears but are easy enough to use for hair trimming amateurs and newbies. You’ll get a close, clean cut that won’t damage hair, and they’re easy to use.
Another contender among the best professional hair shears is ShearGuru’s scissors or, in this case, their professional scissor set. It’s a kit that includes straight scissors and thinning shears, both built from high-quality Japanese stainless steel.
There’s a lot to like about ShearGuru’s scissors. Many professionals prefer them because of how comfortable they are to use throughout a long day in the barbershop or salon. Cutting hair for eight hours takes its toll on your hands, wrists – even your shoulders – but the ShearGuru grip makes it easier to cut for an extended period.
The hand-sharpened stainless steel blades, made in Japan, are durable and also sharp enough to provide an even cut every time without leaving hair damaged or ravaged with split ends. A custom-designed tension adjustment screw is another plus.
Some reviewers say that the blades are hard and durable enough to last several times longer than other models. In any case, they come with a lifetime warranty that means you can send them back for any manufacturer defect.
ShearGuru is serious about providing the best products to professionals, and they consult with pros throughout the development process. They understand that a professional stylist or barber needs shears and scissors that provide the perfect cut throughout the day while not putting undue stress on hands, arms, and shoulders.
Finally, both the shears and scissors come with a leather carrying case that protects both you and the products.
- Made from durable stainless steel designed to stay sharp for a long time
- Lifetime warranty for manufacturer defects
- Comfortable enough for extensive use
- Some users say the thinning shears don’t work as well as the scissors
Many professionals choose ShearGuru products because, well, they’re made for professionals. Their blades are sharp, while their shears and scissors provide all-day use without causing undue stress and fatigue.
Who doesn’t like a two-for-one deal, especially when the product rocks? Such is the case with the Elfina Hair Cutting Shears set; you get a 6-inch hair-cutting shear and a pair of thinning scissors, all at a nice price.
Whether you cut hair in a professional shop or at home, you’ll appreciate the quality of both products and how easy they make it for you to get the haircut or trim you desire. You’ll have the ability to cut hair at its thickest and longest, as well as the ability to texturize and style hair.
The Elfina kit also comes with a grooming comb, stainless steel hairpins, a leather zip-up case, and a cleaning cloth, but all the stuff you get with your purchase isn’t the only reason we’ve included these shears on our list.
For one, you’ll appreciate the sharpness of the shears’ stainless steel blades, and the steel is built to last. You’ll get plenty of years of use from the shears and thinning scissors.
But users also appreciate the rubber gasket located in the handle, which cuts down on the fatigue that they may feel after hours of cutting hair. Both the shears and scissors have ergonomically-friendly designs that ease the strain on barbers and stylists.
Another cool feature is a tension adjustment mechanism that makes it easy to tighten or loosen the shears, depending on the thickness and length of the hair.
You’ll also appreciate the free leather zip-up case that provides storage but also adds protection.
Check out this video to see more about Elfina’s hair shears and thinning scissors:
- Multiple tools come with the purchase
- Help fight user fatigue
- Some reviewers say the thinning scissors aren’t as sharp
Elfina has you covered in a variety of ways with its Hair Cutting Shears/Scissors set. Whether you use them for home or professional use, you’ll appreciate how they help you to do the job right.
We talk a lot about ergonomics in this article, but we think it’s important. Anyone who thinks it’s easy to cut and trim hair for long hours, several days a week, just isn’t very enlightened.
Cutting hair can take its toll on professionals, especially on their hands, arms, elbows, neck, and even their back. An important reason why we include the ZZZRT ZT-4444 shears/scissors on our list is how well their design addresses the physical aspects of the job.
ZZZRT’s shears feature a curved and bent down finger thumb hole and ring that’s designed to reduce the stress and strain of a long day cutting hair.
The blades, meanwhile, consist of titanium-coated Japanese steel that’s rust-resistant and sharp, although some reviewers say you may need to sharpen the blades a bit more often than with other hair-cutting tools – depending on how many miles you put on them, so to speak.
The ZZZRT ZT-4444 also features an adjustable tension screw that allows you to customize your cut and to effectively work with hair of different lengths and thicknesses.
We also appreciate the multi-colored design that definitely stands out amongst almost all other shears and scissors. They’re eye-catching, to say the least.
The ZZZRT-4444 kit includes hairdressing scissors, hair-thinning scissors, a hair-thinning razor, as well as a matching pouch.
- Reduces strain and fatigue
- Colorful design
- Tension screw may not hold well
The ZZZRT-4444 shears enable you to cut, style, and trim without placing undue stress on your hands, wrists, shoulders, etc. You’ll like how they feel during the long hours of a typical work day.
Professional barbers and stylists – and even at-home barbers – need shears that hold their edge for a long time. The demands are high when shears must hold up to several hours of cutting and trimming per day, and shears that become dull quickly are simply a pain in the ass.
Utopia Care says the blades on its Razor Edge Hair Cutting Shears hold their sharp edge up to five times longer than standard stainless steel. The Razor Edge consists of the finest quality J2 420 Japanese stainless steel and won’t dull for a long time, even when faced with the demands of professional work.
The sharp cutting edge also helps provide a clean cut that eliminates the likelihood of chaotic, clumping hair in the middle of a job. They’re also safe enough – and simple enough – to use even on children and senior citizens.
Utopia’s Razor Edge Shears measure 6.5 inches in length and have 2.5-inch cutting blades. They also feature a hand-crafted change screw that makes it easy to adjust the shears’ tension. Removable rubber finger inserts make it easy to find a fit for all shapes and sizes of thumbs and fingers. All in all, these shears provide a comfortable grip.
- Edges stay sharp for a long time
- Easy and safe to use
- Provide a clean, mess-free cut
- A small number of users aren’t in love with the finger holes
Utopia Care’s Razor Edge shears are built to last and comfortable to use. Crafted from quality Japanese stainless steel, you don’t have to worry about their edges becoming dull any time soon.
Mosher Salon Tools has over two decades of experience in designing high-quality hair-cutting tools for professional barbers and stylists. Their Professional Diamond Series Hair Cutting Shears help to highlight the company’s commitment to craftsmanship.
Let’s look at Diamond Series specs and what these shears have to offer:
- They’re handmade and measure 6 inches long
- Designed for professionals, they’re also a good fit for home use
- The Diamond Series is made with high-quality Japanese steel and features long-lasting convex edges
- Their ergonomic design features hand-molded finger rests that fit hands and fingers of all sizes while greatly reducing the kind of fatigue that’s common during a long day in the salon
- The well-oiled blades provide a smooth cutting experience without placing undue stress on your hands, shoulders, or back
- Moshon Salon Tools offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which demonstrates the confidence they have in their products, including the Diamond Series shears
- Their shears and scissors are extremely lightweight and maneuverable, making it easy to perform all types of hair-cutting tasks – from trimming to tapering.
- Ergonomic design reduces stress and fatigue
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Comfortable finger rests
- Some users say the blades aren’t as sharp as on other shears
It’s hard to go wrong with Moshon Salon Tools’ Diamond Series Shears. They’re comfortable to use and reduce stress and fatigue while also providing a smooth cut every time.
6 Tips for using cutting shears to trim your hair like a pro
If you’re a pro, then you already have a good idea about how to use shears (and scissors) to cut hair effectively. If you prefer to trim someone’s hair at home and don’t have a lot of cutting experience, the following tips will help:
1. Wet the hair, but don’t soak it
It’s important that the hair is damp before you trim it with cutting shears or scissors. An easy way to dampen it is by using a spray bottle filled with water, but only “spritz” the water onto the hair. Hair that’s completely wet is harder to cut, especially with thinning shears.
Also, your hair expands when it’s wet, and you’ll end up cutting off more hair than intended when you cut it right after you hop out of the shower.
2. Comb your hair
Detangle the hair by running a comb through it. Doing so will give you an idea of how much and where to cut. You should also comb the hair into the desired style before you begin to cut it.
3. Start with a section of hair
Grab a section of the hair and hold it in the ends of your fingers with one hand, leaving about two inches of hair at the top of your fingers. Using your shears – thinning shears, typically – cut the hair diagonally one inch inward from its tips. Next, take the section immediately behind the section you just cut and repeat the process. Continue to do this until you’ve gone all around the head. You may have to make some small overlapping cuts to make sure you trim all the hair.
4. Give it a careful look
Take a long look at the hair after you’ve finished trimming. Some areas may seem too bulky or misshapen. Feel free to go back and trim those areas some more, but be careful not to trim too much hair in the process.
5. Trimming the bangs
The same rule for trimming the various parts of your head and hair applies to trimming your bangs: whatever you do, don’t cut off too much. Make small snips with the points of the scissors. You can always cut more off, but you can’t put hair it back in place once you’ve trimmed it. Your bangs should be damp, not overly wet, before you trim them.
6. Cleaning up
Run a towel through your hair, or even your hands, to loosen up trimmed hair so it will fall to the ground. Many barbers and salons offer to wash your hair after you’ve trimmed it.
What is the difference between shears and scissors, or is there one?
So far, we’ve talked both about shears and scissors. It’s easy to get the two confused because, in fact, they really aren’t much different at all.
Shears look a lot like scissors and vice versa. They both feature two blades on a joint that’s connected to a handle (with two shanks and rings). Both are staples of a barber or stylist’s tool kit, and, if you’re a do-it-yourself barber, you’ll need both of them, too.
That said, what is the difference? The most significant one is the length of the cutting tool: shears are typically longer than 6 inches while scissors are shorter. Since we’re using the terms “shears” and “scissors” somewhat interchangeably, we talked about the varying lengths of shears earlier when discussing the things consumers should take into account before buying shears.
However, a true shear is over 6 inches. It doesn’t get much more complicated than that. Nonetheless, there are different types of shears, which we covered earlier, and that includes thinning shears – a certain type of scissors that has a solid blade (like normal scissors) and another blade that has gaps which create rows of teeth.
The teeth of thinning shears cut individual strands of hair while those that fall into the gaps remain uncut. Thinning shears have a variety of uses, such as softening cutting lines and corners and thinning the thickest parts of the hair. Blending, tapering, and texturing shears are all examples of thinning shears.
The greater the number of teeth on a pair of shears, the easier it is to cut hair finely without leaving tell-tale cut marks.
Convex and bevel-edge are the two main types of shears. Convex-edge blades are sharp and provide a quick, smooth cut, while bevel-edge blades are usually serrated and give a firmer, crisper cut. A bevel-edge blade is thicker than a convex blade and doesn’t provide quite as clean of a cut. Which one you, or your barber/stylist, choose depends on various factors, including cutting technique, experience, and comfort.
“Hybrid” shears and scissors include a combination of edges; for instance, you may have a convex shear that also has a beveled edge.
Shears have also come a long way ergonomically over the past several years, thanks to design elements such as finger rests, finger inserts, and asymmetric handles. Each element is designed to reduce the risk of occupational injuries and fatigue.
How we determined the best shears for 2019
One thing we discovered when reviewing the best shears is that there isn’t a lot of separation between the highest-quality products. The best shears shared a lot of similar characteristics – including the type of steel used – but there were enough subtle differences to separate the wheat from the chaff.
We gave high marks to shears that both professionals and amateurs can use safely. Home hair-cutting isn’t for the faint of heart, unless you have plenty of experience, and it’s mandatory to have tools that make the job easier and reduce stress.
Ergonomics was another important consideration: shears and scissors that place undue stress on hands, shoulders, fingers, and the back can not only lead to physical problems but also to mistakes as one becomes fatigued during a long day in the barbershop or salon.
Finally, we carefully studied the reviews of others, especially those of customers who have plenty of experience with using a particular shear or scissors.
What’s your take? What brand of shears and scissors would you recommend? Do you use any of the products on our list? We always welcome your feedback and suggestions.