Blog reader Charese has given me another reason to use my microscope, yay! She asks,
‘I’ve heard many people say that hair shears are superior to paper scissors and the hair trimmed with anything other than hair shears will soon split again. Is this true? Are hair shears so sharp that cutting paper or fabric with them with ruin them? Finally, is there any difference between a cut made with $5 shears vs. say $90 ones?’
The natural thing to do was to experiment! I used my own shed hair for the process. I snapped it with my hands, cut it with blunt scissors, a sharp pair of paper scissors and with hair shears (which cost about $25). I then looked at each cut end under the microscope.
First, if you didn’t think snapping your hair is bad, well here is the proof! It is terrible for your hair, creating a fibrillated end that is just ripe for splitting. Cutting hair with blunt scissors creates a slightly jagged cut and there are signs of damage to the cuticle where the scissor repeatedly rubbed against the fibre before cutting (highlighted within the white circles).
Hair cut with a sharp pair of paper scissors and hair cut with shears both produced a nice clean end. I would say though that this was just a single hair strand and I would subjectively prefer the hair shears when cutting more hair as the blades are slimmer which would prevent hair getting caught. Paper scissors have thicker blades so when handling a small fistful of hair, may not work so well.
Do you need to purchase an expensive pair of shears? Perhaps not, unless you are a hairdresser. They are often more expensive because the blades are thinner and they may be lighter but sturdy and therefore can be used more times before becoming blunt. They can also often be professionally sharpened. Cheaper shears will still do the job, they will just blunt faster (I had a $10 pair that lasted about 2 years, my $25 pair is going on 4 years, probably will be replaced soon).