There’s a lot of talk about whether it is okay to cut your hair with regular scissors. I will admit straight up that I am a frequent offender of just cutting my hair with whatever scissors I can find. When I was young, I trimmed split ends with my office scissors, and now that I am old, I trim my bangs and the ends of my hair with kitchen shears.
(let’s face it, I’m a mom and I don’t have time to go to the beauty shop right now, YES it is a travesty and NO I am not posting a picture of what my hair looks like RIGHT THIS INSTANT)
So what’s the big deal?
First, what’s the difference between regular scissors and hair cutting scissors?
Hair cutting scissors are more appropriately called “shears.” There are lots of different types of shears, made for cutting hair, and also for use in the garden or in the kitchen.
Hair cutting shears are made for…well, cutting hair. You can get them in lots of different lengths, but many experts like shears that are no longer than 5.5 inches. Any longer, and the shears are too big to adeptly move around, or open and close without much pressure from the hands. In fact, if you are new to cutting hair, you’ll want to find the smallest shears you can, because big long blades can mean big long whoops cuts.
Hair cutting shears tend to be very sleek (meaning they aren’t thick and the handles are very minimal), and come with a pointed end so that you can get right in and make some very exact cuts. However, you can get them with a slightly rounded end if you are using them around children and individuals who can’t sit still. Some shears come with a “pinkie rest” on the end of one of the finger holes to give you more control while cutting.
But in truth, the primary different between hair cutting shears and regular kitchen scissors is that they are much, much sharper than your regular scissors. In fact, you wouldn’t want to use your shears for cutting other things around the house, like paper or string, at the risk of dulling the sharp edge.
So why can’t I use regular scissors to cut my hair? Why are shears better?
Hair cutting experts argue that using dull tools to cut hair is asking to damage the ends of your hair. One of the analogies I saw was comparing hair to fabric. When you cut fabric with a dull pair of scissors, the edges of the fabric often being to fray, split, and generally look terrible.
Regular scissors tend to be dull, or at least duller than shears. As a result, it is very difficult to cut a straight line through hair with dull scissors.
I can actually attest that this is true. When using kitchen scissors to cut even a small amount of hair, I actually have to cut and cut and cut and cut to get through the lock of hair, sort of like if I was trying to cut a thick piece of rope. I have also tried the same amount of hair with shears and found them to cut right through the hair, like butter.
Yes, dull scissors definitely make it hard to get a good clean look (but I’m not bothered because I have really curly hair and I wear it in a pony tail all the time because I AM A MOM and who has time for that)
But the sum of the objections by professionals is that dull scissors make for dull and uneven haircuts that will need to be cleaned up way sooner than usual, and may even CAUSE split ends.
How do I know if the scissors are sharp enough?
You can test your scissors or shears for sufficient sharpness for cutting hair by taking a piece of thread and doubling it up. Open the scissors and, with gentle pressure, run the doubled thread over one of the blades (without closing the scissors). The thread should cut easily. Then test the other blade. If the blades can cut doubled up thread without having to use much pressure on the thread, you can probably cut hair with them.
However, if you find that while cutting hair, you are opening and closing the scissors over and over to get through small amounts of hair, you need to sharpen them or get a sharper pair, because you are cutting hair with dull scissors.
Shears are shaped differently.
If you check out shears against kitchen scissors, you’ll notice that hair cutting scissors tend to be built to be maneuvered easily, while kitchen scissors are built to get the job done. Shears tend to be lighter, thinner, and have shorter blades.
This makes it much easier for you as the wielder of said blades to cut what you want to cut, instead of cutting someone on accident (or not at all).
Does it really matter then? Scissors or special hair cutting shears?
Honestly, from both personal experience and from my research, it seems to be that if you use a pair of scissors (of any kind) that are sufficiently sharp, you are all good, regardless of what purpose they were made for or sold for.
The recommendation is to get a pair of scissors for hair care and then ONLY use them for hair cuts and for nothing else to keep them sharp. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you buy a pair for $5 or $500, so long as they are easy to use in your hand and they are sharp enough.
What if I can’t find hair cutting shears?
If you want a special pair of scissors for cutting hair but can’t find anything specific for hair, the next best bet would be to look for a pair of fabric scissors. They tend to be sharp, like hair cutting shears, and are made to be maneuvered delicately.
Is it okay to cut my own hair?
Sure! But you have to go about it with the right expectations. If you want to clean up your ends a bit or update your bangs to a soft look, you can probably get it done without too much trouble. But if what you want are some really exact lines, or you want something wild done to the areas of your head where you can’t see all that well, you are probably asking for trouble.
I’d recommend that you cut your own hair only when you don’t have a big event or photos coming up soon. Oh yeah, and don’t cut it too short, you want to leave some hair for the stylist to work with if you need someone to fix it! 😀
I jest, I jest. As I said, I cut my own hair a lot, because I don’t want to take the time to go to a salon or spend the money. No one sees my hair right now anyway! But I think the reason it works for me is that I don’t try to cut my bangs straight across my forehead, and I don’t have to worry about my hair being one length in the back. If I did need bangs or have straight hair, I’d be in a salon every time.
Shears Are Cheaper Than You Think
Think that professional grade hair cutting scissors are out of your budget? Maybe not…..! In creating this article, I took a trip through Amazon’s product offerings, and found that there are several pairs of shears that were actually quite affordable.
(Disclosure: These links to hair cutting products above and below are Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Amazon shows several pairs of hair cutting shears that were so cheap, just a few dollars, like this pair. If all you have is a few bucks, or you aren’t prepared to drop much cash on an experiment that you may never repeat, might be a good option.
There were also some very expensive pairs, which I suspect are aimed more at the professional stylists, like these ones (which come in a set). I honestly am not sure if I really need to pay the premium for titanium, though they look great and probably work really well.
I found this pair of shears that seemed modestly priced and highly rated (almost 5 stars with over 3000 reviews), and something like this is where I would start if you think that a pair of real shears is a better idea than the good old kitchen scissors.
Hair Clippers Aren’t As Scary As You Think
One thing I will also mention that is that I regularly cut my boys’ hair with electric clippers. I do think that this experience has definitely given me more confidence to cut my own hair, with kitchen scissors or with shears.
I think a lot of people are intimidated by electric clippers, because of the noise, or the worry about cutting something like a finger or an ear.
I think cutting hair at home with clippers is an awesome way to save money and to be able to keep my kids’ hair looking neat and tiny, because I’m not having to find time to run them to the barber.
I will also say that my fear of cutting the kids or hurting myself was totally unfounded. Even after five years, I’ve never cut myself or my kids with the trimmer, despite my initial intimidation and fear.
I’ve probably saved myself 4-5 trips to the barber for both boys per year, at a cost of maybe $20 per kid, times two kids, times 4 trips….which easily pays for the cost of the clippers. (Heck, the clippers basically paid for themselves after the first haircut).
This set of clippers for sale on Amazon are reasonably priced, come with tons of guards so that you can do all the fading yourself pretty easily, self-sharpen (a huge plus), and is cordless with a long lasting battery (which I wish mine were).
You can go cheaper, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I bought the cheapest pair I could find when I started cutting my boys’ hair (paid about $25), but the clippers got dull right away and pulled on the kids’ hair more than they cut it, and it wasn’t easy at all to sharpen them back up again.
Do you cut your own hair?
If so, let us know in the comments how that works out! What is your style, how do you do it?
Let our readers know so that we can learn! Thanks everybody, we’ll catch you in the next article.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.