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What are Thinning Scissors?

Stylists use thinning scissors to remove volume from thick, unruly, or very curly hair.
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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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Thinning scissors, also called thinning shears, are an important tool for barbers and hairstylists around the world. Although they are similar to a traditional pair of scissors, they differ by their shape and use. They have two blades, just like regular scissors, but the blades are very jagged, like a comb. Some more specialized scissors, referred to as blending scissors or shears, have one jagged blade and one normal scissor blade.

These scissors are not used to perform haircuts, but instead are used to remove volume from thick and unruly or extremely curly hair. They are also used to help create texture or blend layers in straighter hairstyles so they look less choppy and more natural. The scissors help “thin out” or add texture to hairstyles by only allowing part of the hair to be cut in the blades, while the rest falls in the gaps.

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Professional beauty supply stores sell thinning scissors, and there are a wide variety of prices that are based on the quality of the product. Many models are made of stainless steel and sometimes have another metal, such as cobalt, mixed with it to help strengthen them. In addition, many of the highest quality scissors are coated in titanium to increase the sharpness and life of the blades. Different models should also be chosen by how much hair the hairstylist would like to remove from a client, since ones with more teeth will remove the least amount of hair and, conversely, the scissors with the least teeth will remove the most.

When stylists or barbers use thinning shears, they usually section off the hair and pass through it with the scissors at least two times. If the hair is extra thick or curly, they may make a third pass. The goal is to have the hair weigh the same on each side of the head after weight is removed.

For stylists and their customers, it is important to remember that thinning scissors should never be used near the roots or ends of the hair because the scissors will not adequately remove volume. It will wreck the ends of long hair or create uneven spikes that will show through the rest of the hair when used close to the roots. It is also important to remember that too much hair should never be removed with these scissors, as this may cause too much volume loss, resulting in a stringy looking hairstyle. Hair experts often recommend not thinning hair in this way more than three times per year.

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anon322501
Post 6

I'd rather live with thick, unruly hair than strands full of static. Recently, a hairdresser I hadn't been to before decided to use thinning shears to reduce some of the volume in my semi-wavy hair - she didn't discuss it with me, she just did it at the end of an otherwise decent cut. I do like the overall softer look, but the volume is now all wrong and it will take ages to grow this out properly. There's no way I'd let anyone use thinning shears in my hair in the future.

golf07
Post 5

I bought a pair of thinning scissors at my local beauty supply store. If you don't know how to use thinning scissors, they can take a little bit of getting used to.

I use these between hair cuts to keep my bangs textured. My bangs grow so fast, and I can stretch out my time between haircuts if I do this myself.

I have been doing it so long that I have gotten pretty good at it. When I first started doing this myself, it didn't look so great.

The thinning scissors are definitely much different than using a regular pair of angle scissors. They have a different function though, and are a great way to add some texture so my bangs don't have such a blunt cut.

bagley79
Post 4

This is the first time I have heard that you should not use thinning hair scissors more than three times a year.

I have very thick hair, and get my hair thinned every time I get my hair cut. Since I usually get my hair cut every six weeks, I have my hair thinned a lot more than three times a year.

My hair would be very bushy and hard to work with if I didn't get it thinned out on a regular basis.

I usually keep my hair about shoulder length and usually have it in layers so it is easier to work with.

When my stylist uses thinning scissors on my hair, she always uses them in the middle portion of my hair and never near the roots or on the ends.

burcidi
Post 3

I think thinning scissors is necessary for some type of hair cuts and it can really make a difference for thick hair. But I'm getting the feeling recently that it is used too often or incorrectly.

The other day at the salon, I actually saw a stylist use a thinning scissors on wet hair. The instructors at my beauty school had always advised against that because when the hair is wet, too much hair is cut off. And just because someone's hair is thick, it doesn't mean that their hair requires to be cut with thinning scissors. A lot of times, it doesn't work, especially if it's a short hair cut.

Unfortunately, not all hair stylists know how use thinning scissors correctly. In my view, thinning scissors work best with long hair and only when it's used at the ends. And it doesn't need to be used at every trim either.

discographer
Post 2

I actually use a thinning scissors to groom my dog. Not the ones for human hair though, there are ones especially made for dogs. Regular scissors doesn't work as well, especially for trimming hair in the ears, around the eyes, the chin and under the tail. Regular scissors remove too much hair, it looks choppy. They also scare me because they have such sharp ends. I feel like I'm accidentally going to poke or cut my dog with them.

I use a dog thinning scissors with a lot of teeth to groom my Maltese. She has very long hair and she likes to keep it that way. But I have to trim around her eyes to prevent eyebrows / eyelashes from going into her eyes. Also her ears, chin and tail area for hygiene. The thinning scissors removes just enough hair. Not enough to show the skin, but short enough to keep it clean. Works really well.

turquoise
Post 1

I always prefer my hair stylist to use a thinning scissors rather than one of those razors they use to thin hair. The razors are horrible, it damages hair so much and it makes extremely fine layers that are prone to static.

I have really thick hair and I remember the first time I got a hair cut where the stylist used thinning scissors. I always get hair cuts with layers because I have a round face. The layers add movement near my face and just looks better.

The problem is that since my hair is thick, thick layers look droopy and uneven. To get rid of that, my hair stylist first cuts layers with regular hair scissors. Then, she holds the ends of the layers between her fingers and thins them out using the hair thinning scissors. So my layers are no longer heavy, they look light and even. My haircut always turns out great with this technique.

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