Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Stylist's Toolbox: Shears

The tools of a hairstylist are so very important. Every stylist needs quality instruments to perform her job (and her art) at her very best. Beyond quality, there is also an issue of comfort. No two stylists are the same and therefore each of their tools varies as much as they do. Here at Believe, we like to occasionally profile some of those tools that we use to help our friends and clients understand a bit more about the art that is hair styling.

This edition: Shears

You may know them as scissors, but there is probably no more vital of a tool to a hairstylist than her shears. Sure, they can cost a few bucks in the drug store but did you know that a good quality pair of shears can cost into the thousands? So let's look at some of the variables that goes into quality shears.

Yes, shears are typically made from metal but this can vary. 440c stainless steel is common in cheaper shears, as well as many blades used for carpentry and various other industries. However, the higher quality shears are often made from cobalt steel, which is a much harder steel. This will improve the sharpness of the blade, the quality of the cut, and the long term life of the shears themselves.

A stylist is cutting hair for hours, each and every day. So while the comfort of a pair of scissors might seem silly to those outside of the industry, for a stylist, it is so very important. There are offset and straight handles, swivel and fixed thumbs, permanent and removable pinky rests (tangs), large and small finger holes, fat and thin handles. Add to this list the various weights and lengths of the blades themselves, and you will see a surprising number of factors that go into the comfort of a pair of shears.

Yep, length does matter. In the world of styling shears and barber shears, different sizes are good for different things. A long shear (6.5” – 7”) is great for making long, even cuts quickly and accurately. Shorter shears (5”) are good for detailed work around the ear, etc. A shear that is 5.5” to 6.0” is generally thought of as the “workhorse” or all-around shear. You can pretty much do anything you want with them.

So what does this all mean?
At the end of the day, the shears of a stylist are an extension of herself. Build, length, material, and comfort all matter. However, having said that, a true artist can paint with any brush, and price, quality, and quantity do not always tell the whole story. 

Just see what Believe Owner and Stylist Lisa Koebbe Bevan has to say about her wide array of shears:

"If you were to look in my station drawer you would probably be surprised to find approximately 16 pair of shears (and that's with having gotten rid of several.) Naturally the next question would be "why?" An experienced hair cutter can execute most cutting techniques using a single pair of scissors. In emergency cutting requests, I've actually used kitchen shears, pinking shears, and a mini extremely sharp folding pair I keep on my key ring. 

So then why have so many?
Well, just as a painter has a variety of brushes at his disposal, a seamstress has a variety of needles, and a sportsman has a variety of clubs bats balls rackets, my variety of sharp edges (whether they be shears, razors, or clippers) make for creating lines and texture more efficaciously and more fun. I also believe it's important for my clients to see a variety of tools that are used so that they see my interest and excitement about my profession, and so that they can learn more about what I do."