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Why are hairdressing scissors so expensive?

May 12, 2022

These days, it's hard to come across something that isn't stupidly over priced or extremely expensive and way out of our budget. It's unfortunately the reality of the 21st century. So why and how do hairdressing scissors fall into that category? As every hairdresser and barber knows, the most expensive part of becoming a stylist is the set up of tools. While some professional tools are much cheaper than other tools, professional hair cutting shears are one of the more expensive tools any barber or hairdresser will own.

An easy rule of thumb one should know in the hair industry is ' the more expensive the tool - the longer it should last'. Take for example your haircutting shears, clippers and hair dryers, all of these products are generally listed over the $100 mark and will easily get you set up for an absolute minimum of 1 year.

Whereas clips, combs and brushes are certainly below the $100 mark and depending how often they are used (in most cases, every day) then you can expect the life of them to last up to a couple months if not more sometimes. Other than a price tag next to something, how do we know 'why' something is so expensive? Especially hair cutting scissors!? The most expensive tool a stylist could own! Let's find out why below.

Steel

While this may be obvious for some, it's not the case for everyone. You see, hairdressing scissors aren't made up of cheap, nasty or easy to source steel, it's made up of the highest quality steel imaginable! Regular scissors, like kitchen scissors, are the perfect example of cheap material (steel) used for scissors. Your standard kitchen scissors aren't as delicate as what your hair shears are. They are designed for more hard and robust types of things to be cut, rather than something as soft as hair.

The most common type of steel used for hair cutting shears is Japanese steel and German Steel. The Japanese and German steel is constructed so that it requires less sharpening, ensures the edges stay sharper for longer and a lighter feel for hairdressers.

Steel used for hairdressing scissors are generally graded from level 1 through to level 6. However we don't say 'these scissors are level 2. or 4 or whichever.' We generally call it by its conversion name like 'Hitachi 440c'steel. Below is a conversion chart to know what level/grade the steel is. Remembering level 1 is the lower grade steel and level 6 is the higher grade steel. Each level is considered good quality in its own way, but mainly because no matter the level of steel used for hair cutting scissors the Japanese and German steel is specifically designed for hairdressing scissors. So as long as it's one of the grades below, you can be sure that the hair scissors will be of quality to be able to cut hair.

Level 1-440A

Level 2-440C

Level 3-V1 (VG1) 

Level 4-V10 (VG10) 

Level 5-Hitachi 440c Level 5

Level 6-Hitachi ATS 314 

We can easily tell you that the stainless steel hair cutting shears are of course high quality materials but how can we prove it? Well, that's easy.

Have you ever seen someone cut hair with kitchen scissors and notice that the hair doesn't stay still and will slide or move across the blade and not make a clean snip? Whereas if you use professional quality hair cutting shears on human hair you'll notice that the way the blade of the steel has been crafted is either a convex edge, bevelled edge or semi convex edges, which are designed to cut the finest of things like hair and only hair! Which is why professional hairdressers are told to use their hair shears on hair and hair only!

If your unsure about the meaning of the edges we just spoke about here is a reference below to help you understand the difference

Bevelled edge - The bevelled edge is a more older and less common edge in scissors, however they are still used and more commonly used with barbers as they are great for blunt cutting and scissor over comb. You can be a little more rough with this edge design as it's not as fine or razor sharp like the convex edge is.

Convex edge - The Convex blade is usually a sharper edge than the rest and requires highly trained professionals to use this edge of a scissor.  The convex edged scissors are very fine and razor sharp, and tend to need more care taken with them and be really well looked after. The convex edge is not designed for your every day cutting hair shears and are usually best for slide cutting hair.

Semi Convex edge - The semi convex edge is perfect for your '2nd' scissor to have at hand. It has what we like to say a mix of bevelled and convex. It's more narrow than the bevelled edge but not even close to a true convex edge. So if your main scissors is either a convex or a bevelled edge then it's certainly a good idea to have a semi convex edge scissor as your back up to do more with your cuts.

Craftsmanship

Like anything these days, there needs to be someone behind it all making and creating, spending their time and sweat into crafting such a particular fine product. Unfortunately the average hair stylist forgets that with expensive hair shears comes a lot more high quality craftsmanship that's been put into the expensive scissors. Professional shears don't have just a blade and handle, it's much more than that.

For example the design, the fusing of very hard steel together to form good quality shears with the best materials possible. They don't just magically work together like a magnet, they need to be professionally designed and crafted. If not, then expect inferior quality materials to be either not as good quality or even work at all. So to put it simply, when paying for your brand spanking new hair scissors expect to pay for the work and craftsmanship that's been put into it as well as the steel used. 

 

So there we have it, some reasoning behind why hairdressing scissors and barber shears can be so expensive. Most hairdressers know that if you've ever purchased cheap hair shears you'll soon realise and feel the difference of a cheap pair of scissors as opposed to expensive shears. Sure, there is also the mid range but trust us when we say 'You get what you pay for'. Expensive shears are of course professional shears that will never rust easily, even if they haven't been taken care of properly.

Whereas the cheap hair shears that you paid maybe $50.00 for just won't hold the quality that the more expensive shears will and in hairdressing and barbering one of the rules is to spend extra money on your tools because they are essentially your tools for your whole career. So choose wisely for the best scissors a stylist can have!


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