You want to deliver when your client comes in with Instagram inspiration or a Pinterest board showcasing their desired new look, and the best way to do that is by having the proper hair-cutting tools to get the job done. After all, they can make or break a haircut, so you need the correct equipment to address texture, precision, and overall style.
Is it better to cut hair with scissors or clippers? What’s the difference between clippers and trimmers? Texturizing shears vs Thinning Shears? Don't worry, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at the different tools for cutting hair so you can achieve the perfect cut regardless of style.
Scissors, or hair-cutting shears, are the cornerstone of almost every type of cut, but sometimes, it’s necessary to switch up the pair you’re using in order to achieve a specific result; so it's important to understand the different types.
To be clear, regular shears aren’t the kind you use to cut paper or snip herbs in the kitchen. These scissors are explicitly constructed to cut hair. A typical pair has two extremely sharp blades, a specific handle design, finger holes and a rest, and adjustable screws to manage the tension of your shears. The blades average anywhere between 4.5 inches up to 8 — though most hairdressers avoid anything longer than 6.5 inches because longer blades are harder to control. However, It’s important to note that barbers usually use longer shears — above 6.5 inches, because of their go-to shear over comb technique. However, the most popular size overall is generally around six inches.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Jaguar White Line Silver Ice Shears have a classic design and a traditional feel while cutting. They’re well-suited for slice cutting, thanks to hollow grinding and honing. One blade has a flat cutting angle, and the other is micro-serrated for precision and easy cutting.
Texturizing and Thinning Shears
As the name suggests, texturizing shears make it easier for the stylist to add texture, shape, and movement to the cut — think of it as giving the hair some personality. Most models have approximately 7-15 teeth on one blade, and a regular straight blade on the other side. Texturizing shears tend to work best with larger sections (or chunks) of hair versus individual strands. For the most part, texturizing and thinning shears are the same, but it’s somewhat of a debatable topic amongst hairdressers. Some believe that the former has fewer teeth with wider gaps to create texture, whereas the latter has more teeth and less space to remove weight from the hair.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Sukotto Dragonfly 14-Tooth Dragon Texturizing & Thinning Shears are designed with an ergonomic offset handle. And 14 teeth with three steps for deeper texture — also available with 46 teeth. The pair is forged with 440C Certified Japanese Steel.
Offset handle scissors are distinguished by having one handle that’s longer than the other. This design makes it easier for the arm and elbow to be in a lower position when cutting. Because of this positioning, offset shears place less stress on the fingers and hands.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Jaguar Pre Style Relax Shears Offset The Pre Style Relax features an offset design with an ergonomic handle for relaxed working. Both cutting edges have a satin finish; one cutting edge is micro-serrated. Available in 5.5- and 6-inches.
Thinning shears help remove the weight or bulk of a haircut — especially shorter styles. They have more teeth, up to 40 on the non-straight blade side. This specific scissor type works best on dry hair, though it can be used on wet tresses with caution — it’s possible to thin out too much of the hair because it’s not in its natural state. Unlike texturizing shears, thinning shears are designed to cut hair strands versus larger chunks.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Jaguar CJ 40 Plus Thinning Shears - 5.5" Offset The Silver Line CJ 40 Plus thinning shears come in an offset design with an ergonomic handle for relaxed working. These shears feature 40 thinning teeth with fine V-teeth serration for a pleasantly smooth, precise cut. The angled thumb ring helps to provide a relaxed working posture without pressure marks.
The blades on left-handed scissors are reversed, so lefties can always see their cutting line and feel comfortable and natural when squeezing the blades together. With left-handed scissors, the finger ring for the thumb is on the right, whereas with right-handed scissors it’s on the left.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Kenchii Professional Matrix Lefty Hair Shears provide impressive performance on all hair types. The offset handle with permanent finger rest offers comfort and control during your styling session. Available with a 5.5 or 6-inch blade length.
Although shear length ultimately comes down to personal preference, barbers typically gravitate towards scissors with longer blades ranging from 6.5 inches all the way up to 9 inches. Some barber shears have serrated edges that make it easier to cut hair faster without the blades slipping. They should not be used for slide-cutting because they pull at the client’s hair. As mentioned, traditionally, longer shears (typically in the 7-8-inch range) have been used mostly by barbers because of their go-to shear over comb technique
- ProStylingTools Pick: Kenchii Professional Scorpion Barber Shear The Scorpion model is an affordable shear perfect for the beginner or home barbers, thanks to its classic design with an even handle for maximum comfort. It's made from authentic Japanese Steel, allowing for a sharp edge that will melt through hair. Our technology makes it a perfect tool for sliding cutting on dry or wet hair.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Kenchii Professional Shinobi Barber Shear The Shinobi line of shears provides an exceptionally smooth cut and the handle is designed for maximum comfort. This is a medium weight shear that is forged by the best Japanese steel for durability and strength. Enjoy using the semi-convex edge that offers exceptional performance that will cut, slide, point cut and slide through your hair easily.
Dating back to 1919 when they were first invented by Wahl Professional, clippers remain as one of the most fundamental tools for barbering. Thanks to advances in battery technology, pretty much all new clippers on the market today have gone cordless.
In short, clippers are used to cut large sections of hair at a consistent length. They’re typically used with cutting guides (or guards) to control the cutting length of each pass in order to achieve various lengths with precision and consistency. Most clippers are designed with a blade adjustment lever to help guide the blade up and down. This feature helps to further control the cutting length between guard sizes, which is how blended fades and tapers are achieved.
Pro Tip: The numbers on the guards indicate how many eighths of an inch the length of the hair will be after cut. For example:
- ProStylingTools Pick: Wahl Professional 5 Star Magic Clip Cordless Clipper The Gold Magic Clip cordless clipper is lightweight and features the patented stagger-tooth blade which is designed for creating seamless blends while hard or soft line fading. Uses an even stronger motor to cut through thick and textured hair smoothly and easily. The stagger-tooth blade has titanium and DLC coatings that make blades extremely strong, corrosion resistant, and lower blade temperatures while in use delivering the highest performance.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Stylecraft Rebel Professional Super-Torque Modular Cordless Clipper (SC601) is considered the brand’s most powerful clipper to date, thanks to its super-torque rotary motor working at a level of 7,200 rpm. Its lithium-ion battery delivers a leading three hours of cordless run-time. Simply click the freestyle lever taper to control the five different positions.
Unlike clippers, trimmers get as close to the skin as possible with precision. They’re used for outlining, edging, dry shaving, and shaping smaller, harder-to-reach areas like around the ears, sideburns, and the back of the neck. Trimmers aren’t typically used with cutting guards or guides (although many can be), nor do they have adjustment levers.
Aside from being used in barbershops, trimmers are one of the most vital grooming essentials for men as they are great for doing at home maintenance in-between hair cuts.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Andis GTX-EXO T-Outlining Cordless Trimmer Better than ever. Take your styling and creativity to the next level with the GTX-EXO™ Trimmer. While keeping everything you love about the pro standard T-Outliner, precision has taken a huge leap forward. An intuitive shape gives crystal clear visibility as you outline, shave and fade. The better-than-ever GTX-Z blades are retooled to cut closer than before and can be zero-gapped and are finished in Gold — without modification — and cordless means more flow and less restriction.
- ProStylingTools Pick: StyleCraft Saber Cordless Digital Brushless Motor Metal Trimmer The high torque, low vibration digital brushless motor in the trimmer runs at 7,500 RPMs offering more power with efficient, quiet hair cutting. Unlike other hair trimmers, the Saber Trimmer has a sleek and modern slim tapered design with a full metal super durable body, that incredibly only weighs in at 3.5 ounces offering the ultimate in comfort and agility. It’s completely rechargeable for corded or cordless use with a universal micro-USB cord and charging stand included in the box.
Most men own an electric shaver, which is used to achieve a close-to-the-skin clean-shaven look as you would with a traditional manual razor blade, but without the mess of shaving creams or gels. Foil shavers are often used to put the finished touches on a cut like cleaning up the neck areas or blending/removing lines from skin fades. In order for most foil shavers to be effective the hair cannot be longer than 1/32 of an inch, ideally, so that the hairs can pass through the little holes in the foil and be cut by the moving cutter bar underneath. If the hair is too long, you should first use a trimmer to get it down to a stubble so that the shaver can work as intended.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Wahl Professional 5 Star Vanish Cordless Double Foil Shaver Success as a barber is all about the final impression — it’s those close-up details that keep clients coming back to your chair. The Wahl Professional 5 Star Vanish Shaver harnesses the power of an independent suspension cutting system to hug every neck and facial contour, and micro-thin gold foils, so you’re ensured a clean finish and a smooth shave without bumps or irritation. It’s ergonomically designed with finger grips for comfort and confidence through every finish. It features individual pop-out foil cartridges that can be easily replaced or rotated, which means you can cut costs by replacing single foils instead of the whole shaver head.
- ProStylingTools Pick: BaByliss PRO FX3 Matte Black Professional High Speed Foil Shaver The FX3 Collection is the 3rd generation of European design, High Torque Brushless motor products from BaBylissPRO. Standout features of this foil shaver include a high-speed rotary engine (10,000 RPM), ultra-sleek ergonomic European housings, offset double-foil system, cordless mobility and a unique embedded carbon texture grip surface.
When it comes to razor handles, they can be broken down into two main types: styling razors (used for hair cutting), and straight razors (used for shaving).
Styling Razors are typically used on damp or dry hair to add texture and movement while removing bulk, which makes the hair feel lighter. They have a safety guard over the blade which makes it harder to cut someone's skin with. Hair cutting razors are not typically a replacement for shears, though they are often used instead of thinning scissors.
Another type of razor is a straight razor for shaving, which is what barbers use to finish their cuts and for detailing around the neck or designs. Cosmetologists are not allowed to use shaving razors because they have a completely exposed blade, whereas cutting/styling razor handles will have some sort of safety guard so it's hard to cut someone's skin, and you can't actually get a close-to-skin shave, which they don't need because they are using it to cut and texture hair.
It’s also important to note that not all razor handles are designed to hold disposable single use blades as per required by sanitation guidelines.
- ProStylingTools Pick: Feather Professional Styling Razor This model has been the world’s number one haircutting razor and LaunchPad Reader’s Choice Award winner year after year, thanks to the balance and feel that allows the razor to become an extension of your hand. Guarded blades protect you and your client while fitting snug in the handle. They’re removed and replaced with a no-touch blade system. You also won’t have to worry about the hassle of hair clogging between the guard and the blade. Use any of the 3 Feather Styling Razor Blades to tailor your haircutting needs — Standard, R-Type, or Texturizing.
- ProStylingTools Pick: L3VEL3 Straight Razor Holder Shaving with a double-edge blade doesn’t have to be a risky task that produces unpredictable results. Offering enhanced control for optimal precision and a flawless finish, the brand’s straight razor holder enables a closer, smoother shave via a slim, stainless steel body and a hard-wearing, easy-grip plastic handle that features three rivets for sturdiness and a longer lifespan. It’s slimline and lightweight, making it comfortable to use and easy to control.
You never know what type of client can wind up in your chair, so ensure that your station is well-equipped with all of the proper tools, from clippers and trimmers to shears and razors, to achieve a variety of cuts, from short to long, simple to avant-garde. Of course, everyone has their preferred go-to lineup of tools that they rely on to get the job done and execute their signature looks. There are even other unique tools out there that don't conform into any of the aforementioned categories, such as the Talavera Split Ender, which is a trimmer that only cuts the split ends of your hair! It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what helps you achieve the results you and your client are looking for.