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Thinning Shears Basics

As discussed in previous posts, the most important factors to consider in purchasing a standard cutting shear are the comfort of the shear, the quality of the metal, manufacturing, and hardware, and the length of the shear. But when a stylist is looking to purchase a thinning, blending, or notching shear, what are the important factors a stylist should consider?

1. What is the percentage of hair that the thinning shears will remove? Basically, if hair is trapped between the metal teeth and the cutting blade, the hair is cut off. If the hair misses the cutting teeth and falls into the gaps between the teeth, it is left behind. The less space there is between the teeth, the more hair is going to fall to the floor. The hair that is cut off is percent of hair removed. Most standard thinning shears remove 35-40% of your client's hair, but there are shears that remove less than 10% of the hair (e.g. Hikari's Trendy 741 listed at 8% of hair removed), as well as shears that remove only slightly less than a regular cutting shear at close to 90% of the hair removed.

2. What is the shear's tooth pattern? A 40-tooth evenly-spaced standard thinning shear and a a 5-tooth notcher might each remove 50% of the hair, but the effect each shear will give is radically different. The standard thinning shear will be excellent at taking off weight, while the 5-tooth notcher will be used much more for an effect. By knowing the removal percentage, and then looking at the tooth pattern, the stylist can determine what the thinners or notchers are going to do. 

When looking at the tooth pattern, the stylist needs to remember that regardless of the tooth shape (whether the teeth are straight lines, are fat at the blade edge, but really thin further down the tooth, or have any other shape) the focus needs to be on where the metal of the tooth blade contacts the metal of the cutting blade. This is the contact point where the hair is actually cut. The shape of the teeth further down may look cool, but don't affect how much hair is cut.

Again, when evaluating a pair of thinning shears the stylist needs to focus on the percentage of hair removed, and the tooth pattern. These two factors will determine how much or how little hair is removed, and in what pattern the hair is cut.

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