You received your brand new thinning shears and you’re excited to start using them! Seasoned veterans will create art and texture with a great pair but for all the newcomers, what are thinning shears and how do we best use them?
Thinning shears are the hair scissors you see that have a distinct row of teeth across them. They are designed to remove weight in specific areas where hair can be too dense. When cutting with thinning shears, the length of hair is still preserved but there is less bulk retained than originally. For those with really thick hair, thinning shears can help reduce volume while adding texture to desired sections. You will be able to comfortably blow dry the trimmed sections of hair and they will be visibly brighter and glisten more due to the reduced density. If you want your hair to feel noticeably softer, a pair of reliable thinning shears can do wonders.
It is not uncommon for really thick pockets of hair to feel dryer than normal and more difficult to manage. Moisturizing and hydrating hair products may not be enough to prevent these stubborn strands from making you feel uncomfortable.
For women, it is important to section off hair in bundles first. Position the shears so that the thinning teeth are at the top while the cutting blade is at the bottom. Do not thin the portions of hair on the frontal part of the head including the hairline because this tends to cause noticeable protrusions of smaller hairs that do not look as appealing. Bundle up these frontal sections and keep them conspicuously away from the other areas you are removing weight from. If a more wavy look is desired, thinning shears can be a fantastic way to give it a softer look without the need for perm rods or other tools. You can also blend lines in with thinning shears to show cleaner consistency or create a look of movement.
For men, the same techniques would apply, but you can easily get the job done with just one cut near the mid to end of the hair strands. Use your hands or a comb to feel the areas that feel the most heavy and need weight reduction.
Pro-tip: Do not open the shears completely wide and place hair at the innermost edges of your thinning shears. You will end up unintentionally removing the actual length of your hair. Only use the serrated sections of the shear containing the thinning teeth by not opening the shears completely. Also avoid using your thinning shears too closely to your scalp and near your neck as that will lead to odd hair protrusions.
For any specific section of hair, you are simply cutting with precisely one closure of the shears and moving from the upper region all the way down. You will be trimming downward using three to five trims. Comb through the hair section immediately after to easily remove the weight. This method is known as point cutting. You may use thinning shears on either wet or dry hair, although it is easier to see the blending on dry hair. Wet hair can often be more deceiving in terms of thickness and volume so we generally recommend using your thinning shears with dry hair.
If a more subtle thinning is required you can instead leave the shear slightly gapped when closing and then slide the shear towards the end of the hair. This method is known as slithering. Section off only a slight amount of hair if you only want a small amount of bulk removed. Normally you would section off hair that is half an inch to an inch in thickness. Twisting the hair in each region can also help add texture there when you are slithering. A feather razor is also an excellent companion tool to help thin out bulky sections of hair for clients.
If you are simply blending or softening lines, the focus will be on the ends of your hair to add a feathering effect.
In addition, if you want to thin an even lesser amount of hair in a particular area you can weave the non-jagged blade of the shear in and out of a section of hair that you are targeting. This will apply the cut on fewer strands of hair over that section.
Of note when picking a pair of thinning shears is that each one can differ based on how big the individual teeth physically are, as well as how wide of a gap there is between each tooth. Larger teeth will cut more hair than thinner teeth, and narrower gaps between teeth will also take more hair away. Depending on the goal of the haircut, using more aggressive thinning shears with these characteristics can sometimes be all you need to get the job done. It is however recommended to have both an aggressive and a finer thinning shear to be able to achieve the right balance for most jobs.
While most applications for thinning shears are used for long strands of hair, short hair can have a variety of uses as well. Buzz cuts can also benefit from thinning shears despite being short, because all of the hair is already upright and not weighed downward by gravity. Doing this can help you shape the hair with the desired contours.
Thinning shears are an essential part of every toolkit and with improved techniques, you will build a greater level of mastery.