Trimming Tip: Dull vs. Sharp Shears

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between dull verses sharp shears and/or the impact it plays on the health of your ends? Do you know how to test your shears to see if they are sharp enough?

Being the inquisitive person that I am, all of these questions have been floating around in my mind for years! I had the opportunity to ask a professional and was able to set my mind at ease. Andy, co-owner of Hoshi Shears (where I got my shears from), was kind enough to answer my questions regarding Dull vs. Sharp Shears. Check out Andy's response below:

Dangers of Dull Shears
When your shears are dull, that means the edges have been worn down so they no longer taper to a point. They have become rounded or nicked from everyday use and/or abuse. When this happens, the shears will no longer leave a clean line when you are working. They will push, fold, or bend the hair. This usually is first noticeable at or near the tips, because the tips are the most frequently used portion of the blades. Also, there is less pressure between the blades at the tips, and this pressure helps the edges cut.

The reason dull shears ruin the ends is that they don't slice through the hair cleanly. The edges will break the hair or stretch and snap it (like pulling a rubber band until it breaks). Dull shears hack or chop the hair, leaving damaged ends. Think of a newspaper that you tried to cut with a butter knife. It's torn, uneven, haphazard.

Benefits of Sharp Shears
Sharp shears will slice the hair cleanly, leaving the ends undamaged. Cleaving through the hair will be effortless. They slice each piece, leaving a clean, even end, no matter the angle between hair and shears. A sharp set of shears will let you perform any cutting tchnique you like, leaving a workable - or finished - line. Think of that same newspaper after you cut it with a razor blade. The cut is clean and smooth - there are no loose fibers hanging.

Sharp vs. Dull Test
A simple test for sharpness that I employ on shears is : wet a paper napkin (single ply - if it's too thick, it makes it too easy for the shears. I just use the kind you find at McDonald's). Make sure to wet a portion that is as long as the blades. Let the napkin hang from your fingers vertically. Position the shears under the napkin, and open them wide - all the way to the pivot point. Bring the pivot right up to the bottom edge of the napkin. You will be cutting upwards - in a floor-to-ceiling direction. Close the shears on the napkin all the way to the tip. Pull the shear away, and inspect the cut. The edges of the napkin that you cut should be smooth, without tears or loose fibers. 

If part of the napkin comes with the shears when you pull them away, it means the napkin was pinched, not cut, and the shears grabbed it. Imagine doing that to a client's hair - ouch. When your shears pinch or tear the napkin, your shears are probably due to be sharpened.

Please keep these tips in mind when you are due for your next trim! :)

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  1. Lovely tips, thanks for sharing! Hoping you will be doing a length check post soon!