Choosing Shears for Cutting Curly Hair

Hands with shears cutting curls

Over my 30+ years I have had the opportunity to use many different types of shears. And learned quite a lot! You see, when I started my career in the late 80’s everything was about precision work. Which means we were using 4 ½ -5 inch shears. As the cutting techniques were changing so were the shear lengths. Now I like to use a 5 ½-6 inch shear. I am also not cutting with precision any longer. Therefore, the very short shears are not the most effective choice. Here I’m going to give you a rundown on how to find the shear that will work best for you.

Shears are kind of like cars and trucks. You would use a truck for heavy duty and a Lamborghini for speed. Think of shears the same. Longer, thicker and wider blade length will be capable of handling thicker sections of hair and be good for longer length removal. Blades that are thinner, shorter and more delicate are designed for detailing, precision and finer cutting. 4 ½ inch – 5 inch shears will be for detailing and precision work. 5 ½ -6 inch are generally for the middle of the road. 6-7 inch would be for your larger sections of hair. These size ranges would also apply for matching for comfort with the size of your hands. Balance of shears to hands will make all the difference for hand fatigue. 

Now let’s talk about shear blades. The shear blades are to a hairstylist as knives are to a chef. A proper chef would never use the same knife for their meat as they would for their tomatoes. Some shear blades are designed for dry cutting, some for wet cutting and some are interchangeable for both. I have found that wet cutting blades will have a grip when cutting. This is so the hair doesn’t move when you are trying to create a laser sharp edge. This is what creates the precision cut. Blades designed for dry cutting will have a little slip. This is very important so as to not create rough edges with too much grip. A softer cut is created. Hair cut dry will have choppy cut lines if an extreme blunt edge is created. 

Most importantly, you will want to know what tools are available to you. Just as an artist knows and understands the canvas and brushes available to create the desired effects, you will need to understand the hair and your cutting tools to create your desired effects.

Think out of the box and create beautiful curls!


-By Amy Bush